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Thursday, April 8, 2010
Kids And Parrots

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

The love of parrots runs in Linda's family 
Photos courtesy Linda Costello
Linda's grandson, Austin, was fascinated with parrots from a very early age.

Austin and Muggsy's first close encounter 
With close supervision, Austin learned to hold Muggsy, Linda's African grey parrot.

CooCoo and Austin share a special bond 
One of Austin's favorite birds is Linda's blue-crowned conure, CooCoo.

Austin, my grandson, turned 4 in March. Before he could even walk or talk he was fascinated by my parrots. He would laugh when my African grey parrot, Muggsy, said “Hello” to him; when it is time to go home, Muggsy, flaps her wings up and down as if waving while saying, "Bye, bye!"
I first let Austin play with a life-like macaw puppet but after a while I carefully introduced him to Muggsy, letting him get a closer look — but not too close. He got a real kick out of Muggsy talking to him and pretty soon wanted to come visit “Gr’ma Birdies,” as he had started referring to me (big surprise, huh?), to see the birdies.
Muggsy is a very gentle African grey parrot that goes willingly to most people if I introduce her first, to show her that I trust them. She's not like the nervous, one-person-bird stereotype of African greys. Pretty soon, Austin was holding her (under my close supervision, of course).
A picture I took and submitted was even printed in an article called, “Bird Owners Best Advice” in the 2010 Birds USA Magazine on page 109.
When he comes to visit us now, he runs to greet all the parrots by name and can easily spend his whole time here listening to them laugh and talk. I told him he could teach them more things to say by talking to them. So he sings the ABC song or counts for them. Sometimes he'll count and they will join in. Or he'll count to three and they chime in with four!
Just recently Austin told me that my blue-crowned conure, CooCoo, is one of his favorite parrots, so I played the “Paulie” video for them to watch together. They looked so cute sitting close together getting ready to watch the movie that I had to take a picture for posterity!
To quote myself from the BIRDS USA Magazine, maybe all this exposure to my birds from an early age will "instill in him a love for birds that will grow and last a lifetime."
If they live the life spans they are capable of, he may inherit my special birds!
Do you have stories about the kids or grandkids interacting with your parrots? If so, please share them below with others who may be interested to learn the best new ways to introduce the two.

Looking forward to reading your comments in the section below!

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Reader Comments
Great Story !
Marilyn, Westchester County, NY
Posted: 4/12/2010 11:23:50 AM
What a wonderful story and what a special little guy he is! It's so wonderful to teach them love and compassion for animals at a young age and more so when they do it on their own. My nephew is the same way. He is 17 months old and beyond fascinated with my sisters (his moms) parrots and the pigeons we jointly care for. He so gently pets them, and spends lots of time staring at and talking to them in their cages. He loves watching and following the quakers, and when he is a little older will be able to hold them. He does the same with my birds when he comes to visit. He really just loves birds!
Posted: 4/9/2010 8:09:35 PM
beautiful story
stephanie, no smithfield, RI
Posted: 4/9/2010 2:07:15 PM
Wait until they tell you that you're the luckiest person in the whole world. To have all those birds is fantastic in the eyes of a child. Having animals that love you speaks volumes in the eyes of a child. You are effectively Mrs. Doolittle. Congrats!
Charles, Orlando, FL
Posted: 4/9/2010 1:42:31 PM
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