Monday, June 13, 2011

How Does Your Parrot Communicate With You?

How do you communicate with your parrot? More importantly, how does your parrot communicate with you? How does your parrot for example, tell you when he or she is hungry or thirsty? With our parrots it's simple. They tell us. In plain English! At least some of them do.

When our female Congo African grey parrot Arua wants food she tells us: Apple. This is actually a change from her original word for food: Hot. So when it comes dinner time she starts asking for Apple. And when we give her her food dish, she confirms that it is in fact Apple. Of course Apple, or even Hot, is certainly better than the extreme pressure that she used to put on us when we were fixing birdie meals, when she would  insistently repeat: You Done Yet?

Our male Blue and Gold macaw Aboo draws a distinction between people food and parrot food. When he wants people food Aboo says: Hot. When Aboo wants parrot food he says: Crack. Presumably Crack is short for cracker, and not the other thing. But Aboo is a rescue bird, so no telling! When Aboo is thirsty, he occasionally says: Water.

Our female Blue and Gold macaw Bubba Boy (no, we didn't name her) also tends to say Hot when she wants to be fed. Makes us curious if they learned this word independently of each other, or learned it from each other. We're pretty sure Aboo started saying Hot when asking for food before the others picked it up.

Sometimes but not always, our foster Ruby macaw Mr. Cracker simply says: Food when he wants food. No mistaking his meaning there. Mostly when he's hungry he dances for his food. If he's really hungry he starts whacking his treat box.

Since we originally posted this story, Mr. Cracker has come up with a new phrase we've never heard before, and almost a complete sentence by macaw standards. We like to sleep in on weekends. One Saturday morning recently we awoke to Mr. Cracker calling out several times: Cracker. Food. Come here! Nothing like waking up to a demanding macaw.

A lady of few words, our Hyacinth macaw Princess Tara will on a rare occasion say Water when asking to drink water from the kitchen faucet. We all know that the best water in the house comes from the kitchen faucet! When she's hungry and wants to be fed she just starts honking, and anyone who's been around a honking Hyacinth macaw knows how ear-splitting that can be!

So that's five out of eight parrots in our flock that can actually ask for food or water by simply asking for food or water! So how about you? How do your parrots communicate to you that they are hungry or thirsty? Or any of their other needs and desires. Both of our Blue and Gold macaws for example, say Let Out, or Let Me Out when they want out of their cages.

Of course we're partial to our littlest parrot, our female Timneh African grey Tillie. When she wants our attention she doesn't scream or honk. She just pipes up in the sweetest little voice and says: Hi Sweetie! It's Me!

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