November 23, 2005


No one is going to let me have a baby, so now I want a parrot. A GREY Parrot who looks like THIS:


The best parrots are babies that you get and hand wean yourself and raise up, but I think you have to really know your parrot-y stuff or you do it wrong and maladjust them. WHO KNOWS ABOUT PARROTS? I think if I tried to hand wean I would make the parrot wrong-headed and crazy. Can you get a hand fed nicely pre-weaned parrot and make friends with him? Or will he never love you anymore if you do not personally raise him? How can you be sure the people selling you the parrot are good parrot loving darlings that have kissed all over the parrot from egg on up and made him not depressed but rather nice and well adjusted and people friendly? Are there the parrot version of a PUPPY MILL where you get crapulent ruined sad mentally ill parrots? HOW DO YOU KNOW if the parrot is a good parrot?

My lord, google is trying to distract me with Glamorous Macaw Parrots. And the HYACINTH ones ARE breathtaking, LOOK AT HIM! LOOK AT HIS FRIEND!


But Congo Greys seem more personality-ish and shirty and funny. "It's about beauty on the inside," she said maturely, and then ruined it by adding, "And Greys have NICE butts in a color I woukld absolutely wear if it was a lipstick." So.

RIGHT NOW my babies are too little and parrots are bitey. It will be a few years, plus the cat needs to be older; A 6.5 year old cat is still in his parrot slaughtering prime. A nine or ten year old cat, however, especially one as fat as mine, is a different animal. Assuming my poor overfed one-eyed butt-plucker lives nine or ten years, which he BETTER.


Scott seems amenable to the whole parrot thing because EITHER he suspects that in three years I will be haring off about soemthign completely different and will have FORGOTTEN that I need a parrot to be happy, OR it is just that I am shutting up about how I want a BABY, and he knows you do not have to pay to send a parrot to COLLEGE. PLUS SIDE: A Parrot seems nearly as troublesome and loud and messy as a toddler, and NEVER GROWS UP! This is what I need -- a PERMA toddler bothering me all the time. ALSO they are LOUD! I am a NOISE person. I like a loud house, btu don;t care much for music. I keep the TV on in another room all the time just to have SOUND going, and I TALK to the TV and I talk to the cat, and these things, they don't ANSWER. Parrots WILL.

I NEED A PARROT. A NAUGHTY loud parrot named Forsythe. Or Jeeves. Not sure, but definately soemthing BUTLER-Y.

Countdown to Parrot, T minus 3 years.

If you are wondering where this came from, I went over to my new friend Karen's house for the first time last night. SHE HAS PARROTS. You should see how much these parrots LIKE her. You should see how ALIVE these parrots are behind their eyes. They THINK things, you can see them thinking, and they are curious and dear---I didn't realize a bird could be so....himself. So person-y and exact. And their feathers are practically individually prehensile and they puff and fluff themselves into shapes based on what they are feeling. When she buries her nose in Dexter's back and shrieks, WHO IS A CHICKEN? WHO IS A BIG CHICKEN? he cranes his head up and press-press-presses his face adoringly into her neck. I admit, I found it rather touching.

HEY. Did I mention I am getting a PARROT? I will wait though, until the cat is old and slow and my children are old enough to know not to torment the parrot until he takes a chunk out of them. Three or four years -- OH! I just decided! I am getting a parrot when I turn 40. AS A PRESENT TO MYSELF for not dying of turning 40. I must begin saving up to buy a parrot and parrot accoutrements NOW because my LORD a good bird is a zillion quadrillion dollars plus he will need a big HOME cage in my bedroom and a play area in my office so he can hang out with me while I work and maybe another play area in the living room and toys and all manner fo nuts and mushfeeds and bells and chew sticks.

I am all about parrots now. All parrots, all the time.


Posted by joshilyn at November 23, 2005 10:22 AM

I like the name Billingsley for your future parrot.

Posted by: DebR at November 23, 2005 11:06 AM

Dexter, the flirty bastid, misses you! So come back and see him sometime....

Posted by: Karen Abbott at November 23, 2005 11:23 AM

Um, you do realize parrots live for 75 years? You better talk to your kids and see which one really wants Lurch when you and Mr. Husband go to the great parrot house in the sky. My SIL keeps trying to get us to agree to take hers if something happens. No thanks. They are beautiful creatures, though.

Posted by: chris at November 23, 2005 11:32 AM

Parrots tend to make you want to repeat things a lot, don't they?

Posted by: Bookseller to the Stars at November 23, 2005 11:34 AM

Parrots are amazing, until someone lets them fly out the door - my brother in law use to have a smokey grey named, Smokey. I didn't that was too original, I like Forsythe, kewl name. Animals need names of substance when they become members of our families. I mean would you name your child Fou Fou? I know I just made enemies. I had a monkey when I was a teen, Mark Shilo (I didn't name him) I think my dad would have preferred a parrot.

The Hyacinth what an amazing colour.

Posted by: Cele at November 23, 2005 11:46 AM

Conrad. I vote for the name Conrad. And I think you should teach it to curse like Arlene.

And you should get Conrad a girlfriend....and NAME it Arlene.

Or maybe Mark Twain. (The original parrot. Not the girlfriend.) (Although, then you could say, here are Conrad and his girlfriend Mark Twain.) (And THAT'S a sentence you would never get to say otherwise.)

Posted by: Angela at November 23, 2005 12:11 PM

Oh! We had parrots when I was growing up and they were so cool.

Yes - they do live a long long time so you have to realized you'll need to will them to someone just like you would an orphaned child (though perish the thought, moving on!).

Ok, so for the babies... It's MUCH better to get one before they get their feathers, feed them their mush and all that. For one reason, depending on where they are raised, it doesn't take long for them to learn their "jungle calls" and OH MY! Just wait until you run the vacuum or the dishwasher and you will know what I mean. Getting them younger and hand feeding them tends to make them more tame and less likely to take off a finger (yes they can, too!).

The African Greys can be more "person-y" but they can also be mean and bite-y. We had several yellow-naped amazons. One in particular named "Joey" and he was really cool. He picked up on several conversational skills - would laugh at a punchline in a joke and mimic entire phone conversations. Laughed just like me, and called the cats (Here, kitty kitty, come here pretty kitty.) heheh.

If you hand feed them they tend to be very attached to the hand that feeds them, so to speak. So be cautious in that regard, as they may get rather jealous when you are giving attention to the children/spouse and not them. But also they love you so much they will puke for you! So, you know. There's that.

Posted by: Lil at November 23, 2005 12:22 PM

I am hoping that you will name your parrot "Hilton."



And that you guys have a really really really bestest-ever Thanksgiving, one and all.

Posted by: Cornelia Read at November 23, 2005 1:38 PM

Better go for the hand rearing -- and at that, only if you saw the egg emerge from the hen parrot. You will never love me again and I will perish in the cold, but (ah, the Comments protocol is trying to save me -- no cutting and pasting of links.) Still -- just google "parrots smuggled" and skim the first page without even clicking. Bad enough a maladjusted baby -- but a kidnapped one? Aieeeee. (Of COURSE she will respect me for standing up for the right. People RESPECT and ADMIRE spoilsports and killjoys, they do!)

Posted by: scott'sflunky at November 23, 2005 2:16 PM

OK, Joshilyn... are you in the middle of putting out another chapter? I'm sensing a pretty durn high mental illness number here!

One of our friends in Texas has a little grey parrot (may have been an African Grey, but I think he was a bit smaller) named Harvey who was a total brat. If he liked you, you were in like Flynn. If not, he'd land on your head and bite at you, poop on your shoulder, the works.

If you decide to do it, more power to you! But I think waiting until Maisy is old enough to understand how important it is to put away her multi-million dollar dance costumes so the parrot doesn't eat them would be a good idea ;-)

Posted by: Beth at November 23, 2005 2:55 PM

OMG! Some years back I had a relationship with a man who had an African Gray named Socrates who was the smartest bird I've ever heard of. Socrates had an impressive vocabulary and could actually carry on conversations. Arthur (my friend) had a PhD in Education and he said that he believed that Socrates had the approximate reasoning ability of a three year old child. Socrates called Arthur "Papa" and, because Arthur was born and raised in Boston and he is the one who taught Socrates to talk, Socrates had a Boston accent. It was very funny.

Arthur and Socrates lived on the 20th floor of a hi-rise in Boston. One time I was alone in the apartment with Socrates. Arthur had gone out to get us lunch and all the fire alarms in the building went off. The security doors locked automatically and a voice on the PA said "stay in your apartments, do not come out in the hall". I was a nervous wreck and went into the same room with Socrates to wait. The sirens kept blaring and I didn't know what to do. Socrates was very calm and suddenly said, "Don't worry. Papa be right back." He repeated that several times and, in about 15 minutes, the sirens were turned off and Arthur returned.

Socrates was much more mature than I was!!!!!!

Posted by: Kathleen at November 23, 2005 3:09 PM

How about you get a grey bird and name it Hyacinth? In three years, of course.

Posted by: Deborah at November 23, 2005 3:25 PM

This made ME want a parrot.

Posted by: Heather Cook at November 23, 2005 4:21 PM

You rang?

Posted by: aimee PARROTT at November 23, 2005 4:24 PM

I heard this story not long ago...(On NPR's "This American Life," maybe?) about this woman who wanted a parrot. So she got one, and she and her family were amused and entertained, until it became clear that the parrot had a rather high mental illness number itself, and became hugely bonded to the woman so that it would shriek and pull its feathers out when the woman was out of the house. And it would get really jealous when the woman paid attention to her kids, so that she wouldn't be able to hug her kids or play with them in front of the parrot, but if she played with them in another room, then the parrot would freak out with jealousy and do make sad loud noises and peck at itself with despair. This radio story had the kids saying sadly that the parrot got more of their mom's attention than they did, and they hated having it in the house, and then the mom talked about how guilty she felt and how she'd come to hate the parrot but because she'd hand-raised it, she couldn't give it away and it depended totally on her for its happiness, and she was horribly depressed because the parrot was gonna live for another 70 years or so, but she was bracing herself to find a new home for it because it had ruined her family life. Really, it was a very long-involved story.

Not that it'll happen to you. Probably not. Hardly likely. But you might wanna appreciate these next 3 years with your family, just in case.

Posted by: Diane at November 23, 2005 4:32 PM

"so that it would shriek and pull its feathers out"

They do that. Every once in awhile Socrates would go through these neurotic episodes where he became very withdrawn and frantic and would pull all his feathers out. There was a program about it on Discovery - African Grays are prone to mental illness and go through periodic psychotic episodes. It is very frightening to see.

Posted by: Kathleen at November 23, 2005 5:08 PM

Here's the "This American Life" story about the woman with the parrot (actually, a Mccaw so maybe it couldn't possibly happen to you)...
Episode 228, dated 1/3/03, titled "You Are So Beautiful...To Me." You can live-stream it on your computer.

I've been worried since I posted my earlier message... but this WAS a hauntingly memorable story. And maybe it'll at least calm down the parrot-lust for a few years.

Posted by: Diane at November 23, 2005 8:32 PM

I want you to name it Google. Then when we have a conversation where we declare the need to consult Google, we can just ask your bird.

(And I will secretly teach him to say "Bacon! Chocolate! Wine!" And then he'll know the answer to EVERYTHING!)

Posted by: Mir at November 23, 2005 8:54 PM

I also like the name Joe E. Featherton.

Posted by: DebR at November 24, 2005 8:26 AM

My 15-year-old cat killed my lovebird, so don't be kiddin' yerselfs, mateys.

The thing is, parrots are like cats. They have a personality and that's it. It helps to hand-rear, a lot, but sometimes you get a parrot who just lies in wait to poop in your eye, smash your Royal Doulton, bite your babies and have random psychotic episodes. You can give a dog Prozac, see; but you can't medicate parrots.

That's why I sort of recommend adopting one with a known personality. They do take awhile to adjust to new owners, and can be temporarily possessed, but if it's handled well they do settle in. They're so smart that it's like moving a kid from foster home to foster home.
Once they figure out it's permanent, they're mostly okay.

You CAN adopted abused birds and parrots. Look online. However, abused ones are the ones most likely to be psychotic axe-murderers.

WHen you get a good bird, birds are SO COOL. I had one that was like a child to me, and I became so silly over it that people told me it was embarrassing.

Posted by: Jilly at November 24, 2005 1:56 PM

We have a lovebird who is very noisy. In fact, she responds to noise with noise. It's funny. When the TV is on, she chirps a lot. If there is music on, she really gets going. Her cage is in our diningroom, so when we're eating meals, she loves it. Yesterday, with 11 people in there for Thanksgiving, she never shut up. LOL She is, however, very neurotic, and seeing as we got her from a crappy pet store where she was cowering in fear in the corner of a cage (which is why I wanted to buy her to begin with, to save her from that fate), she clearly has some mental health issues going on. She won't let us near her no matter what. But she's preeeeetty.

Posted by: Lisa at November 25, 2005 9:19 AM

We have a cockatiel and he's hilarious - like a smaller, slightly less intelligent parrot. He's totally addicted to television. Some cockatiels talk, ours doesn't - he's smarter than that, so he taught us to speak cockatiel.
My best friend has a mealy rosella parrot, and he is the funniest thing ever. He's slightly evil and will do things like fly at her head and then fly away laughing when she freaks out. He also says "Peekaboo Roger" and "Hello Roger" and whistles the hockey playoff noise. They raised him from when he was ugly and had no feathers, he's about a year old now. He's my favorite bird ever.

Posted by: Jennifer at November 25, 2005 4:08 PM

If you're ever around Houston, TX, there's a pet store there called ABC Pets in Atascosita. They have a 'bird room' where the birds are allowed out into an enclosed area and everyone can come in and talk to them and with supervision pet and hold them etc. Most of theirs are hand raised and they have wonderful personalities. It's actually a lot of fun to go there. My kids (ages 3 and 5) love it. We're talking about getting a pet for my birthday in February (either a kitten or a bird) and if we go for the bird, it'll be a blue Indian Ringneck to start with. Good luck :)

Posted by: Calell at November 25, 2005 4:17 PM

Just come visit me and I'll let you borrow MY baby for a few days. Then you'll get over the desire for a baby - OR a parrot. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Amy-GO at November 27, 2005 10:55 AM