My African Grey Smarty Pants
I was out with a small group of friends the other night telling stories about Smokey and realized "Smokey" stories tend to be good ice breakers at parties. People are always charmed by and interested in talking parrots. Then I thought not only are the stories great for awkward social moments but are a rich source of blogging material!
Like all the pets I have now, Smokey came to me from other owners. I already had a cocker spaniel, amazon parrot and a cockatiel when a friend found out he was allergic to Smokey. He got him from an ad in the paper. A family with kids needed to find a home for him since the kids terrified the bird and he was pulling out his feathers. He was almost completely bald when Dennis saved him from that situation. It was 3 months later when Dennis sadly had to give him up and I just couldn't stand seeing him go to a pet store. I've lost track of how long I've had him but it's well over 10 years.
The first week I had him I woke in the middle of the night to a deep man's voice in the livingroom saying "hello - hello" then a sound which I choose to think is a burp but other people think it's another even less sociable sound. I flew out of bed thinking someone had broken in then realized the voice and sound were coming from the covered cage.
That same week he watched me give meds to the cocker and by the end of the week when I picked up the bottle he said in my voice "come here - c'mon". As the dog swallowed the drops Smokey said "good girl" exactly like me! I honestly couldn't believe what I heard but from that moment on he never failed to say it when he saw the medicine bottle come out.
I've lost track of everything he says. The words I try to get him to say he never will pick up but he'll always try out what he hears me say to the other animals.
When I'm home I do have a favorite swear word I'm sure would shock people who look at my white hair and think it's not possible I use it. It's the "F" word and I say it with great gusto when I'm alone and watching the political news on TV. One day I heard Smoke trying to form a new word and couldn't figure out what it was but it was becoming clearer as he kept practicing. It finally dawned on me it was THAT word. Thank god he stopped trying when I stopped using it - I had visions of guests listening to the "burp" sound followed by the "F" word.
Smokey has a built in earthquake meter. If he falls off his perch and starts fluttering at the bottom of the cage I know he's felt an earthquake somewhere in California. The first time it happened it was the exact moment of the Northridge quake in southern California and we're up here in the north. Since then I always note the time and after he's calmed down I look up the US Geological Survey site to see where there was an earthquake. He's tracked with an earthquake every single time...if only he could give me a clue BEFORE the quake hits!
At night when I feed the birds before bedtime he will finish his meal first and start quietly saying "good night" because he wants to be covered and have the lights out. When I don't react "good night" gets progressively louder until he finally lets out a blood curdling scream to get my attention. There are moments I know he's smarter than I am......