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Wrapped Around Their Talons

By Linda Costello
Explore the diaries of daily life with large birds.

Molly and McMurphy plead for a taste of pizza 
Courtesy Linda Costello
Green wings McMurphy and Molly make sure they're included in pizza night.

Morgan calls to Linda for attention
Courtesy Linda Costello
Blue & gold Morgan lets Linda know when she needs attention.

I have conversations with my birds all the time. I've lived with them since 1987 and I guess I take it for granted that I can talk to them like I would a child and that they will understand and even answer me.
My green-winged macaws are in their cage in another room and I just heard McMurphy saying, "I love you guys."

I said, "Mommy loves you too babies. You know that?"

It really put a big smile on my face when McMurphy answered, "Yeah, that's right."

Sometimes I can't help thinking to myself how lucky I am to have these birds in my life.
This morning as I cleaned the cage-bottom trays, my African grey, Muggsy, kept saying my daughter Valerie's name. She often calls me when she has a break at work.

I asked Muggsy, "Did you hear the phone?" At that moment the house phone rang. When I answered it was Valerie. She had called my cell phone but I didn't hear it. Well, Muggsy did and she was trying to tell me.
I asked Valerie if, like me, she was amazed that Muggsy was trying to tell me she called. Of course she was. Who wouldn't be amazed at such a display of intelligence from a little bird?
I put the phone close to Muggsy and let her say “Hello.” Then she did her kitty cat impression when Valerie asked her to. I said to Valerie, "She is sooo smart!" Muggsy asked, "Did you say that?" Then I had to carry the phone around to all the other bird's cages so they could all get their turn to say hello to Valerie.

My one blue-and-gold macaw, Morgan, pouts and makes little huffy noises if she sees another bird getting attention when she is not to let you know she is really put out.
I see my green wings look out the window behind their cage and say, "There's a bird outside.” “Where's daddy?” “Hey daddy, that bird's outside!” “That's right.” “Yeah, that's right!"
Believe me, there's no way we can eat pizza or popcorn in front of them in peace unless we give them  bites of unsalted popcorn or dry crust. They will make us feel too guilty to enjoy it with their pleas of, "Is it good?” “Ummm, I like it." "Want some."
The other day I was on the computer and heard Muggsy keep calling, "Mom?" Finally I answered, "What do you want Muggsy?" She said, "What are you doing?" I said, "I'm using the computer. What do you want?" She ever so sweetly said, "Come here!" Naturally, I dropped everything and went to her.

These birds have me wrapped around their little talons. I'll bet your birds do, too. Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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Wrapped Around Their Talons

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Reader Comments
I loved the article and can relate to it too. I have an African Grey called Cracky, he is 17 years old and I have had him since he came out of the nest and spoon fed him baby food. He went through his teens with the usual teenage tantrums and is once again become a nice boy and doesn't bite as much. He is very talkative and Eddie Murphy films are out, he listens to the TV and picks up everything so we have to be careful what we watch. He rings the phone and we beat him at that game by having a phone in every room now. When we had just one phone and he rang it, we rushed to answer the phone and he would sit there laughing at us. He blows kisses and raspberrys too, he is wonderful and I wouldn't be without him.
Laura, Dumfries, Scotland
Posted: 3/28/2010 3:29:44 AM
Thanks for sharing your story! My Quaker parrot says 'want a treat' when he wants a treat. I sing him to sleep every night and have done this since I got him nearly 8 years ago..the other night I said night night and he said 'sweetheart" and gave me kisses (I always tell him night night sweetheart Love you" He will also let me know when he's not happy when I have to take his fave toys out to wash..screams at me until I give them back! I love living with a parrot! He also laughs at the appropriate times-he's so smart! and gets smarter everyday!
Mchelle, Springdale, AR
Posted: 3/26/2010 2:53:18 PM
Many birds will say "Step Up" when they want to get picked up. My B&G will run through his entire vocabulary to get attention. Picasso is getting to be quite the communicator.
Charles, Orlando, FL
Posted: 3/26/2010 12:41:44 PM
I loved your story. Josie my B&G Say want water if she see I have a glass of water and wants a drink.If she wants the window opened in her room,she says up up or says go for a walk when she wants to go outside.She always seems to know whats she is saying not just repeating what she has heard. I always talk to her as if she is our child
mark, coos bay, OR
Posted: 3/26/2010 10:02:39 AM
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