As some of you know, my birds can talk. We taught the parrot to talk, sort of. It’s not as if we went to any great lengths. We simply repeated certain words to her as a matter of course, as a part of teaching her what we wanted her to do. We never expected her to talk.
However, Tibby learned to say and do:
“Step up.” On her own she added the word “Wanna,” as in “Wanna step up.” Which means, obviously, she wants to step up on our finger and get out of her cage. She also managed to put together the word “Please” with “Step up” as in, “Please step up.”
She learned “C’mere.” ”C’mere, Tibby.” ”Tibby.” ”Tibber.” ”Tibs.” ”Kiss.” ”Night.” “Night, Tib.” ”Wake up.” ”So…?” ”I think so.” The “I think so” never fails to get a laugh, especially because it is her pat answer to any question. Both birds also imitate various sounds – dripping water, my husband’s electric shaver, the garbage truck, the screech of a hawk, the chirp of the towhee, the call of the blue jay.
Tibby knows her own name. She doesn’t, for instance, answer to Little Girl, her parakeet companion. And Little Girl answers to Little Girl, never to Tibby. In fact, Little Girl addresses Tibby as Tibby, Tib or Tibber. And when she’s in the mood for mutual feather grooming, she’ll lean over and say, “C’mere, Tibby.” Tibby always comes since she loves to have her head scratched.
We made no effort whatsoever to teach Little Girl to talk. Tibby taught her everything she knows. Tibby enunciates well, but Little Girl has her beat. When she speaks her words are always clear and concise. She says what she means and she means what she says.
Tibby, for example, will often confuse “Wake up” and “Night-night.”
Little Girl never confuses the two. In the morning, as soon as the bedroom grows light, she says, “Wake up.” At night, when I cover the cage, she says, “Night-night.”
Both birds laugh. They chat together in English. Talk in their sleep, in English.
Makes you wonder if regular outdoor birds talk in their sleep.
Remember Alex? The intelligent African Grey Parrot? I do. My kids loved to have me read them books about Alex.
Anyway, just thinking about the only other species on this planet that can actually learn to speak our language – whether it’s mere imitation or not.