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Readers' Stories

Bird owners share thier African Grey Story

Bungee and PeanutBungee and Peanut
Courtesy Pamela Waldron, Massachusetts

Bungee and Peanut are our “Grey Family.” Bungee is a wild-caught Congo, and was adopted two years ago at a shelter. When I brought Bungee home he was plucked almost bare on his back and had a very sparse tail. Bungee was a sad fellow. When things were really bad he would bungee-dive off the cage and split his keel. After trying many things, nothing made Bungee happy, until I brought Peanut home. It took a month before Bungee decided that Peanut’s cage was a cool place to hang out. I’m happy to say there hasn’t been a split keel since. Bungee and Peanut now grey-talk. Bungee chews cardboard boxes and actually gets into mischief by climbing down the cage to chew the woodwork. Very often you find them huddling together as if they are telling their own secrets, but what a happy day that was when Peanut arrived for Bungee.

Courtesy Jan Bruckner, Oklahoma

Two years ago my 85-year-old mother decided to get herself a pair of budgies. She got a pair and had them for about a month when she decided that she wanted a parrot. I talked her into getting an African grey because they are the best talkers. I searched the internet for local breeders and found a bird in Tulsa, OK, which is about 100 miles from our home. The bird's name is King. He was hand-raised and 1 year old at the time. It was the best purchase my mother ever made! King and my mother bonded right away, and he has been such good company for her. And when he talks he can sound just like her! I live here too so King and I have also bonded. He is amazing. He'll say something and we'll laugh and he'll laugh. The neighbors had a couple roosters that would crow at the break of dawn. Now King will say "cock-a-doodle-doo!"

Courtesy Lisa Fiducia, California

Riley is my 11-month-old African grey. We met when she was only 4 weeks old and just a ball of fuzzy down feathers. I went and visited with her frequently and, once she was finally weaned at 5 months old. I brought her to her forever home. When I walked into the room she immediately recognized me and ran to the door of the cage waiting for me to take her out. Her favorite game to play is Monkey in the Middle. Riley is always the "monkey." My 8-year-old daughter and I roll a little ball back and forth to each other and Riley tries to catch it. She just loves this game and gets very excited and squawks at the ball as it rolls by. When either of my two other birds start making a racket, we always tell them "Shh, Be Quite!" Riley learned this phrase fast, so now she takes it upon herself to tell the others to "Be Quite!" She has even started to blame her racket on our other bird Tiki. The other day I heard her squawking and then she said "Tiki - Be Quite!"

Courtesy Dale and Brenda Hegwood, Michigan

Alex is a great addition to our family.  He knows when we are feeling down and asks us questions like, "Are you OK?"  He also says the appropriate words at the appropriate time in context to what is going on at the time. He calls my husband Daddy, What?, calls our dachshund, Come here Lock, and our Chihuahua, come here App. He says Mother Dear, I want to go to McDonalds, I have to pee - hurry - did you hear me?  He also says "Hi God."  He makes a belching sound and laughs afterwards. To our Hahn’s macaw Pico he says, Shut up.  He calls to Phoebe our Goffin’s cockatoo, Beauty to our African Dove and calls our other birds. Sometime it sounds like he is taking attendance.

Courtesy Jill Lang

Oliver is a 4-year-old Congo African grey that started talking when he was 6 months old and has a vocabulary of about 300 words now. He has provided us with many favorite stories but here are a few. He recognizes a few programs like the Weather Channel, football games, and horse races on TV and will name what is showing.  This summer he told my husband, who had his face buried in the paper, “football game on TV,” my husband replied, no football until fall.  When he looked up, the TV was tuned to ESPN Classic and it was showing a replay of an old football game. One of the longer sentences he says is "Oliver broke the remote control, Oliver's in big trouble." I guess the best thing about owning an African grey is that they surprise you with something and make you laugh every day of the year.

Courtesy Marlene Levine, Pennsylvania

Ruby is a 10-year-old Timneh African grey. I adopted her 3 years ago from a woman who had rescued her from a family that had her living in a laundry room because she "could not talk." Ruby also nearly died because she was attacked by a Jack Russell terrier that severely damaged her right wing. She cannot fly. It took six months just to get her to trust us but she definitely showed her favoritism toward my husband. Today she rules our house and offers us much amusement with her many tricks and sounds. To think that she couldn't be taught to speak was ridiculous. She says many words and her favorite is calling her own name in the many versions that I use. She also barks. We have three dogs, although she chose to learn the bark of my Schnauzer, Heidi, who passed away last year. So every once and awhile I hear Heidi's bark imitated by Ruby. She can whistle at least 50 different versions of whistles, but my favorite is when she copied my daughter when she was learning how to play the clarinet. To this day, she uses those sounds to get my attention.

Courtesy Nance Ross, California

Skye is now 12-years-old and has been with me since her fledging feathers were still in "shrink-wrap." She and her brother had their feet chewed by their mother the night they hatched, and the breeder wanted them out of sight of potential buyers. The breeder found me through a chain of bird people. I gave her brother to my daughter, and both have grown into happy, healthy goofy kids, as any CAG should! She started talking very early, and has never stopped. Skye entertains me with commentary on the other pets (one cat, two dogs and three other parrots) and life in general. For ten-years, Skye would call out to my husband as he passed the office door in the mornings and say "Philip, TAKE YOUR PILLS!"  He suffered from Alzheimer's, and two years ago, broke his leg and went into the hospital, never to return home again. Skye has never uttered that phrase again, nor does she call for him, as she often used to do.  But when she calls our dog, Rosebud, using my voice, if Rosie doesn't trot right into our office, Skye changes to Philip’s voice and commands "ROSEBUD, COME!" and gets immediate results.

Courtesy Laurie Willis, Massachusetts

Happiness comes packaged in a 1 pound, grey-feathered cuddle muffin with a quick wit, a sharp intelligence, a kind heart and a sensitive soul. Her name is Kira, and she's a Congo African grey. Her small size belies her great capacity to love. When I take the world too seriously, she makes me laugh. When I am sad, she makes me smile.  When I am bored, she challenges me. When I am tired, she lifts my spirits. We play together, eat together, talk together, and sing together. We are friends and flock mates. Her zest for life is infectious, and her antics are zany. She's as funny as a clown, as cuddly as a kitten, and as sharp as a tack. She's an imp, a confidante, a comedienne, and an intellectual all rolled in one. She is there when I get up in the morning and go to bed at night. Rain or shine, I will always be there for her, for she is everything to me. Others may prefer dogs and cats, but for me there's nothing better than a life shared with a grey.

Courtesy Jeff Zema, North Carolina

I got Phred just after he was weaned. I spent the time from when I first met him and learned all I could about grey's. Ha! He was never like what I read. All the pieces said they where shy, moody and conservative. Phred is animated, vocal, fearless, bossy, lovable, comical and, at times, cuddly. He will eat almost anything except carrots, loves any toy he can destroy and as for baths, getting him out is the hard part. He picks on all seven of my other birds by name and loves to pick on my wife. She told me just the other day when she asked him "Phred where is papa?" he answered "Papa is stalking squirrels." I was in the backyard picking up deadfall from wind the night before. All in all he has been the best thing to enter our lives since our children were with us. He is like a grey-feathered person. One that's a bit on the ornery side.

Courtesy Conny von Treyden, Kentucky

My name is SIMU and I am close to 14 years old. My first owner sold me after 11 years to a second one who had me only for a few months and then sold me to my mommy and daddy where I live now and will forever as long as they are around. I am really happy here. I spoke a few words when I arrived, but since I have been here I've picked up around 160 words and sentences with a German accent. My mommy is from Germany. I finally have some great toys to shred up, a nice new big cage and they also feed me veggies and fruit. They even built a super-nice bird room for me and the Maximilian’s Pionus. There are two cats and a little dog in the house and I can imitate all of them. I call their names and tell them they are bad, and then laugh about that. I think that is so funny. When my mommy feels "a little down" I will cheer her up with all kinds of goofy stuff like calling Spiky the Maximilian’s "What's the matter SPIKY DOG" or ask her, "What are you doing turkey?" Most of the time I am a pretty good bird, but I know on some days I also can be a pain. But mommy and daddy love me anyway.

Courtesy Shawna Keever, Kansas

My African grey parrot is named Troy. My husband bought him for me to keep me company while he is on the road working as an OTR truck driver. Troy is a little comedian. One evening when I was showering, I heard the phone, and it rang continuously for about five minutes. I stepped out of the shower and listened and did not hear the phone anymore. I asked Troy, "Is that Mommy's phone or is that Troy?" Troy's answer made my heart melt. He lowered his head and mischievously giggled as I stood there soaking wet. Life with a grey is never a dull moment.  He loves to shop for toys on the Internet and watch game shows on TV. Troy's favorite game is throwing his ball off the play stand so I can retrieve it. I can't imagine my life without him.

Courtesy Jennifer Harrod, Nebraska

Owning an African grey means never having a dull moment. Like many grey lovers, I dreamed of having one of my own. My dream came true four years ago when a 12-year old Skeeter came into my life. Since I didn't know much about the species I had to learn quickly. Still nothing prepared me for my life to change as much as it did. Skeeter had been kept in a room with other birds. I made sure he got his own room. That gave me more one-on-one time with him. His mumbling turned to words and words into sentences.  He waves "Hello" and says Hello. Learning my name was the best he could have ever done. Skeeter also says, "Harrod, what are you doing, doing doing?" and "Come here.” When you’re getting ready for bed he says, "Have a good night.” Plus he has a couple of phrases that I have no idea where he heard them. "What was your name last Thursday?" Now what is he watching on TV while I'm at work? "Ya smuck" comes out a little more than I care to admit. Unique is just another word to describe these loveable little birds. However you say it, he's mine and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Courtesy Bobbie Giles, Alabama

We go camping often. We have a large motor home that has a cage for Bella for after we reach our destination. We also have a travel cage that she rides in when we are moving. We were on the interstate once and she sounded off her siren sound. We thought we were being stopped by police. However, this is the most amazing thing that Bella has done. I had two cockatiels, Holly and Diamond. My great-grandson wanted them so I gave them to him. About an hour later I asked Bella to Step up, I was going to let her play on her gym. She bit me on the arm, but not too hard, so I decided to not bother her then. But the next time I ask her to Step up she did so very sweetly, but when she got on my arm she bit me hard enough to leave a bruise and brought blood. I asked a friend what to do and he said, “I know this sounds funny but try it.” He told me to go to Bella and tell her that I love her and that I am not going to give her away, and that Holly and Diamond are with children and are very happy. I did that and she looked me right in the eye  when I told her. That was about six months ago, and she hasn't even attempted to bite me since.

Courtesy Betty Cramer, Missouri

We are owned by a lovely 16-year-old African grey named Tuki. Tuki has a bit of a problem with feather picking and has been known to take all the feathers off of her chest and tail on occasion.  Despite her quirks, she is a joy to be around.  She is quiet and loves attention.  She talks and we have counted more than 200 words in her vocabulary.  I do believe she knows what she is saying. When the phone rings she always says, “Hello.” When I open the refrigerator door she asks, “Are you hungry?” Quite the dieting aide!  When sitting at the dinner table, she asks the family if that tastes good and makes other culinary comments to us.  She knows the names of our two daughters and asks the dog if he wants to go outside.  She seems aware of time, and when it is time for family members to return from school or work she begins talking in anticipation. When we vacuum around her cage, she jumps in her water dish for a bath. She even enjoys being in the kitchen sink and having a warm shower several times a week. She is a great addition to our other pets and brings a smile to my face more than once every day. We are fortunate to have her in our lives.

Courtesy Juan Celis, Texas

I wasn’t a parrot person, but when I married my wife she had had an Amazon for 13 years so the parrot came with her. Soon after we bought a BIRD TALK subscription, and she began reading all the articles to me, and I still didn’t care for them. One day we were in a pet store and she saw an African grey parrot inside a fish tank because he was a baby. I asked her if she wanted that vulture, and she told me that it was a parrot. I felt like the dumbest person in the store so I asked the attendant to show me the African grey, like I knew everything about it. Because she was reading BIRD TALK to me, we could identify some stress bars in some of Coco’s feathers, and we knew that could be because of a health problem. At that point a responsibility started to grow inside me toward this “annoying ugly black beak bunch of gray feathers” – that’s what I use to call him, so we looked in the avian vet section, and the closest vet was one hour away from us. The store let us to take him to the clinic. They took some blood tests and found that he was sick.  We returned him to the pet store because they were still hand-feeding him, and they gave him all the medication he needed. We named our African grey Coco and we went to visit him at the store every other day. I remember him running across the fish tank every time I went to see him.  A month later we took him to the clinic to run new blood tests, and this time Coco was fine. After he was weaned we finally took him home. He began following me everywhere and called me every minute, until I came. He stopped calling me the second he heard me coming. I told my wife that Coco was supposed to be her pet, but he seems just to follow me. I didn’t know why he chose me. Now I have to say I really liked to spend time watching him because he really makes me laugh. I can’t stop thinking that if we didn’t know something was wrong with him and if we had taken him home as sick as he was, he could have died. He was so small, but now he is very healthy. He molted his feathers and grew new ones without stress bars, and bites my wife. He is very happy.

Courtesy Marla Strother, Alberta, Canada

Coco came to live with us in June 2005. We were not planning on purchasing a larger bird, but we fell in love with her during frequent visits to the store. She would make the saddest noises when we would leave and try to follow us. Coco has been a total delight! I can’t wait to get home from work to see her. Coco is not much of a talker and prefers to whistle and make sounds, which keeps us laughing. She has even copied my laugh. Coco loves kisses and scratches. She will come and lie on the couch for an afternoon snooze. An African grey has been the perfect parrot for us.


Read our other Featured Bird Stories


March 2007

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Reader Comments
I love hearing these stories
Tricia, Altoona, PA
Posted: 3/20/2008 11:10:01 AM
Posted: 3/20/2008 8:24:51 AM
i loved reading the grey stories. i have an 11 month old grey named rocky and im looking forward to an enjoyable lifelong relationship with this lovable being.
juel, manila, philippines, AP
Posted: 2/22/2007 5:22:18 AM
Isn't life wonderful when you share your life with a grey? These stories are remarkable and such a delight to read. Check out Sterling Gray, the love of my life!
Nicole, Grosse Ile, MI
Posted: 2/20/2007 6:12:30 PM
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