THE FRENCH CONNECTION
By Aimee Nicole Hartmann(Drawing by B. Courtney Driscoll)
If I ever before believed that parrots understood what we were saying to them, I certainly did after this experience:
I was working for an acquaintance of mine in her bird shop, helping out in the “back,” with the parrots that were being boarded and the parrots for sale and the babies. There was one male Eclectus who was a frequent boarder whose owner insisted he was a big talker but no one had ever heard him say a word. He was always quiet and somewhat defensive when he boarded until I discovered that his owner was a French-Canadian from Montreal. He was a French-speaking bird!
I also speak French, so I started speaking to this beautiful Eclectus in French, just saying hi, and asking him how he was and how it was going. The bird—whose name I can’t remember at the moment but I do remember that it was not particularly French-sounding, it was like Paco or Coco or something—looked at me and broke out in speech, totally relieved, and began to yell “Oui! Oui! Oui! ça va? ça va bien!!! OUI! OUI!
It was so adorable. He looked like he’d just come home. He was so relieved like he’d finally made a connection among all these weirdos making these odd sounds. He spoke in perfect French whenever he saw me but was totally silent otherwise. Voilà.