Friday, May 8, 2009
Birds Know What They’re Saying
By Linda Costello
Explore the diaries of daily life with large birds.
Photos courtesy of Linda Costello
Muggsy, my African grey parrot.
McMurphy and Molly, my green-winged macaws.
My birds never cease to amaze me. When I talk to them, they look me in the eye as they cock their head knowingly. In my experience, it’s the African grey parrots and macaws who seem so able to communicate on a more mutual level.
As I prepared their food this morning, they repeatedly told me, “I’m hungry.” My daughter Valerie phoned, and I talked to her on the speaker as I continued to get the birds’ food ready. She was astonished to hear the birds in the background repeatedly telling me they were hungry, even though she knows they can talk. The birds leave absolutely no doubt that they know what they are talking about.
This usually goes on every morning. I often think, with some guilt, that maybe I should get the food ready the night before for my poor, starving birds.
Later in the day, Molly and McMurphy, my green-winged macaws, played the sound effects game with me. When I asked, “What’s a duck say?” They responded, “Quack, Quack.” I then got otherwise occupied, but McMurphy kept on with the quacks, even though I didn’t respond. To my surprise, he then said, “What’s that?” Of course, I answered, “That’s a duck!”
To me, this is proof that my birds are not just mimicking me. They know what they mean, and they say what they mean!
My African grey, Muggsy, is a phenomenal communicator/talker – but she only talks when it suits her. One day, I was carrying Muggsy back to the car after we had participated in a fourth of July parade. Muggsy wore her Flightsuit. A man on his front porch called out to me as we passed. He asked if we could wait a minute while he called into the house for his children to come outside to see the birds.
A little girl came outside eating a popsicle. Muggsy spotted it right away, and asked her, “Is it good?” That little girl’s eyes grew wide in disbelief. It was a hot, summer afternoon, and I’m sure Muggsy would have liked a taste of that popsicle!
More recently, I moved Molly and McMurphy’s cage away from a window that the birds love to look out of as they exclaim, “Look, look at the birdie outside!” “I see the birdies outside!”
The new spot for the cage had a mirror behind it. After the move, I was surprised to hear McMurphy say, “Look, look in the mirror.” “I see a birdie!” This tells me that she does indeed know the difference between looking out the window and looking into a mirror!
One day, I was telling the macaws what good birds they were being, and Muggsy chimed in with, “Muggsy’s a good bird. Yea, I’m so good!”
Muggsy is special, and she knows it. And she makes sure I don’t forget it either!
I know I don’t have to convince most bird owners just how amazing birds are. I’m sure you have many such stories of your own birds that are quite amazing too.
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Birds Know What They’re Saying