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Thursday, July 23, 2009
"Fake" Screech

By Laura Doering
Join in on Laura's fun and experiences of bird ownership, and share in her adventures as the editor of BIRD TALK, the world’s most widely read pet bird magazine, in Wayward Feathers.

I just read a fascinating article about how Capuchin monkeys in Argentina sometimes sound the “predator cry” to trick other monkeys into fleeing so they can stay and eat, basically scoring some extra servings for themselves.

I know this trick all too well with my flock, except it’s not so much food motivated but more along the lines of scoring more out-of-cage time (I’m onto to you Gracie!) or to simply play mind games with me (How about it Ollie?). I often experience the “OMG, predator!” contact whistle and subsequent bat-out-of-hell fly about courtesy of Gracie my ’tiel. I swear he thinks I’ll forget that I was just carrying him back to his cage by doing this. I roll my eyes, say “Come on now Gracie, there’s absolutely nothing scary here.” Then he’ll scream/whistle again, fly to highest, most inconvenient spot, like the little edge on our crown molding, let out a little chirp, and then he repeats it as soon as I climb on a chair to retrieve him. He only gives up when I say “Fine, you can stay there if you like” and pretend like I’m leaving the room; then he’ll step obligingly on to my hand.

Ollie, well he just seems to randomly do his predator call to mess with me. Like the time I was on the phone trying to use one of those automated payment systems. Every time, I tried to say my name, Ollie screeched, and the automated operator would say, “I’m sorry, I did not get that information. Please try again” After five tries, I was told, “I’m sorry, we could not get your information, please hang up and try you call again.” 

So that’s why I do a lot of phone calls from inside my car parked on the driveway.

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