One of the first questions I am asked when someone learns that I have a bird is whether he talks. I find myself replying that he mimics, which is true, but I do it in a way that is almost apologetic. I explain that he was in a bird rescue before coming to his forever home with us five years ago, as if his Oliver Twist history is an excuse for him not talking. I know better. I have been a bird mom for over twenty years, first to our lutino cockatiel, Cato, and now to Piper, an orange-fronted conure. I need to stop doing this. Instead I should try to educate the person that not all birds talk, just like not all dogs can catch a frisbee.
I have heard the horror stories of people bringing a bird into their homes expecting it to talk and abandoning it when it doesn’t. The rescue where Piper lived was filled with over 200 birds when we adopted him. I don’t have any hard data but I have no doubt that many of the birds were there because someone gave them up when they didn’t talk. Please don’t bring a bird into your life because you expect it to talk. Those YouTube videos we have all seen where a parrot is tormenting the dog by calling it in their human’s voice is the exception and definitely not the rule. Bring a bird, or any animal, into your life because you want to love it unconditionally and only after you have done lots of research and spent time getting to know each other.
Although I can talk, I am visually impaired. I have learned to adapt and use all my other senses and abilities to compensate for this loss. Piper, in somewhat the same way, is able to communicate to us what he needs and wants and the usual fact that he wants it NOW! We all like to think we have the upper zygodactyl and paw when it comes to our feathered and furry family members but we aren’t fooling anyone, especially them. They have us trained and right where they want us; no human speech necessary.
Well, I’ve got to go. Someone wants to be picked up NOW. He didn’t say a word and I can’t see him very well, but it doesn’t matter. “Pick me up, Mommy”, is loud and clear.