African Grey Jimbo"Hi Bird, Are You Hungry?"
By Bev Llewellyn
We live on an 80-acre farm in North West Arkansas. Jimbo has a playgym by the bay window in the kitchen that overlooks the farm. My parents live in a mobile home about 100 yards away and since my mother loves to cook, we go there for dinner almost every evening. Jimbo always goes along. Both of my parents love Jimbo but my mother is afraid to touch him. She does talk to him and when he was young, she played to “peek-a-boo” with him with a wash rag. Because of this, Jimbo calls her “Peek-a-boo.” When Bill and I start to get ready for dinner, Jimbo says, “Can we go to Poppa’s and Peek-a-boo’s for dinner; Okay?, Come-On!
One of my favorite times is when I sit with Jimbo in the kitchen by the window. I talk to him a lot about what we see out the window. We talk about the grass, the birds, the trees, and whatever else is going on outside. We often talk to the wild birds and ask them how they are. One day it was raining and I asked Jimbo what he saw. He said, “Water”. It is not unusual for him to say to me, “Momma, look out the window” when he sees something that attracts his attention. I will ask him, “What do you see?” One day he answered, “Poppa” and sure enough, my father was walking up to the back door. I know there are people who will at be skeptical about Jimbo’s talking ability and while some of the things he says may be a coincidence or simple association, his words are very appropriate most of the time. I know on some level he understands what he is saying.
Not long ago, he was on his playgym in the kitchen. He looked out the window and saw a roadrunner that was exploring the patio. Jimbo said, “Momma look out window - a bird.” Then he said, “Hi bird, are you hungry? Do you want to go to Poppa and Peek-a-boo’s for supper? Peek-a-boo cooks chicken and corn.” This is the longest thing he has ever said that made any sense. Jimbo is very food oriented and I have taught him the names of most of the foods I feed him. Sometimes he labels them properly, sometimes he just makes stuff up, and other times he comes up with something original. When I ask him in the morning what he wants for breakfast, he will often answer, “whatcha got?” One morning he replied, “Do you have corn?” I said, “Yes I have corn and I have some chicken?” He replied, “oohhh wee - chicken, do you have cheese?” I laughed and said, “Yes, I have some cheese.” to which he said, “oohh wee - cheese, chicken; corn, TACOS!” He counts to 5 very well when he wants to. One morning, I asked him what he wanted for breakfast and he answered, “one, scrambled egg and 3 corn!” Obviously, he likes corn, chicken, cheese, eggs, and tacos!