Scares and Laughs – Life with Parrots

I had a slightly alarming moment a few nights ago. Ptak, my parrotlet, was contentedly sitting on my shoulder as I wrote. I use a ballpoint pen (that fact is important) in a journal to make notes and jot down the things I need to do. As I began to write, I heard Ptak make a repetitive clicking noise deep in his chest. Anyone who’s owned birds knows that respiratory clicking is bad news.

Heart in my throat, I paused, and Ptak nonchalantly preened his wings. The clicking stopped.

I started to write again, and the clicking started anew. This went on a few times more before I realised that he was mimicking the sound my pen -specifically, the ball – against the paper! What a relief… I start, he starts; I stop, he stops – down to the millisecond. It’s pretty cute.

My parrotlet is actually a very good mimic; he has sound effects for most everything he encounters. As I get ready for the day, for example, he makes the schweep noise of me dusting off my jeans, the snap of elastic, the rustle of papers, and the sounds of me eating my breakfast (clangs, bangs, and chewing).

Mavi the Senegal parrot has also really been improving his speech. He has many different ‘voices,’ which he’s perfected, and recently even learned some new phrases. As I woke him this morning, he climbed down to his bowl and declared, ‘Hey, Buddy!’

He also has started saying ‘step up,’ and ‘I love you.’ Most Senegal parrots have a raspy voice (described a lot as sandpapery), but Maverick does an adorable and clear imitation of me speaking to him. Mind you, he does also have plenty of so-called sandpaper voices. But he’s not limited to these. Mostly he does sound effects – like letting me know how tired he is by imitating the squeal of the door hinge, followed by the light switch click – and is getting very good at communicating through these sounds. If he wants me to leave, he mimics the sound of the door!

Mavi’s newest thing, though, is to hush himself whenever he gets loud. If he’s being hyper (not screaming or making particularly undesirable noises, by the way – just being rowdy), I’ll sometimes tell him, ‘Shh.’ Recently, he applied this noise to his own shrieking. So he goes, ‘Shriek, shriek, shriek! SHHHH.’ And yes, he definitely tells me to hush sometimes.

In any event, things are sloooowly settling down after springtime. My Senegal is still rather short with me, but I am allowed to talk to him again, and sometimes even give him a scratch or two. He still can’t be out while I’m in the room, but he is no longer reacting violently to the mere sound of my voice. Big improvement!

Meanwhile, Ptak is doing great. He has discovered a love of window-watching and spends much of his time observing the world go by. In fact, he is very fond of the bees that frequent our roof, and loves to chatter at them. He calls big ones ‘silly birds.’ When the wild wrens come in to investigate, Ptak does his best to scare them off. We don’t get too many birds in our front garden since he discovered the window. 😛

That’s about all here. Long time no write, I know. I have some posts in the works for the upcoming week – check in soon!

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9 thoughts on “Scares and Laughs – Life with Parrots

  1. I remember when our Quaker once started laughing and mimicking us…something he only did once in 10 years. It was hilarious but he never repeated it…I think he had the last laugh!

      • He has quite a vocabulary, actually. Hi. Hi? Hello. HELLO (when he gets exasperated, just like a person). Ow (although he doesn’t say that much anymore). Okay. Okay? OKAY. WHAT?!? Hi Baby. Hi Bee (lazy form of “Hi Baby.” And finally… buh-BYE!

      • Oh, and he also mimics jingling keys and pouring water. In fact, one must close the bathroom door, even when one lives alone, because if he hears you pee, he makes the water sound. D’OH!

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