An "aDOORable" African Grey
by Sally Blanchard
My Late Great Grey Bongo Marie showed her manipulative cleverness in many ways. Her cage was in the kitchen right next to the swinging café style doors to the living room. If she was on the top of her cage, she would stretch her short little body as far as it would go to grab the swinging door with her beak. It was pine and just perfect to chew on. She learned quickly that if I knew she was on the door, I would come running into the room and put her back on her cage. Of course, at that time, I would give her a great deal of drama by giving her a dissertation on why she was not allowed to climb over and chew on the door — a drama reward and certainly not the right thing for me to do to get her to stop.
One afternoon as I was talking on the phone in the bedroom, I heard the all too familiar sounds of her chewing on the door. I put the phone down and ran into the living room but she was sitting on her cage behaving herself. As I went back to finish my conversation, I heard the same sounds again. She was still just sitting on her cage. It took me a while to figure out that she had learned to make the sounds of chewing on the door. It got just as much attention from me and saved her the energy of stretching her body out to climb on the door.