AFRICAN GREYRude Conversations
by Sally Blanchard
I never think it is funny when a person purposely teaches their parrot to say vulgar words or phrases. We should also be very careful about what we or do around our intelligent talking parrots or we will eventually be embarrassed. Several years ago I did a consultation with a bachelor who had recently purchased an imported African Grey. He was a musician and evidently had a lot of girlfriends. The man lived in a small apartment and the bird’s cage was outside his bedroom door. I did suggest that the grey should be in his living room. The first visit I showed him how to tame the grey in a trust-building manner. We also talked about diet and the man was very interested in working with his bird to teach him to talk so we talked at great length about that.
A couple of years later he called me to do a second consultation. He wanted his new wife to be able to handle the now tame African grey but she was afraid of the bird because she had been bitten a couple of times. When I arrived I realized that the parrot was feeding off of the favored person’s energy and he wasn’t really helping either his wife or the bird to calm down enough to get along. I had him leave so she and I could get the grey to relax. It took about an hour of trust-building work before she could handle him. When he started stepping on her hand she was delighted. Since the grey was strongly bonded to her husband, I told her that she needed to work with the parrot for a few weeks or so when her husband wasn’t there and then start handling him when he was there but not in their faces. After we worked with the African grey and she thought they would get along just fine, she asked me a question, “How long do you think it will take the parrot to stop talking in the very personal voices of all of my husband’s ex-girlfriends?”