To generalize, dogs are obedient, cats are independent and parrots … well, they can be downright manipulative. With a parrot you have a pet companion with the intelligence — and the mischievousness — of a young child, as well as one given the gift of gab, which, when put all together, can make for an interesting family dynamic. Here’s a lighthearted look at the ways our feathered friends can rule our own roosts.
1. Parrots control the conversation
Face it — your parrot decides how long you can talk on the phone and let’s you know when it’s time to hang up. It’s near impossible to compete with a parrot when talking on the phone, and the louder you talk to the person on the other line, the louder your parrot might become to one-up you. Some parrots will even copy their peoples’ words/phrases with spot-on intonations, or laugh/chuckle along with the phone conversation … it’s like playing the “copy cat” game you did to annoy your sibling growing up. Of course, as soon as you hang up your bird is back to quietly preening his/her feathers.
2. Parrots play mind tricks
Ever walk over to the microwave to take the food out because you heard the beep, but then remembered that you put nothing in it to begin with? Or just after putting new batteries in your fire alarm, it beeps a low-battery warning again? Check your parrot. Some parrots not only have a great gift of gab but a gift of imitating sounds that are sure to get their peoples’ attention. (And, while we’re at it, remind Fido that parrots can imitate a dog’s favorite squeaky toy … there’s no actual toy being tossed to fetch.) Many parrots are also quite adept at playing the Jedi Mind Trick. For non Star Wars fans, that means influencing the thoughts of sentient creatures to coerce them into agreement … for example, you feel that one-eyed stare as you twirl up a fork full of pasta, look over at your bird and obediently walk over to his treat bowl to share a noodle.
3. Parrots see a clean cage as a clean slate … to mess it up again
If you want your parrot to take a bath in the water dish, play with the destroy toy he/she has ignored for days, or drop the biggest dropping of the day clean the cage. Many people like to cage clean in the morning … and many birds seem to take this as a challenge to see how much they can transform the cage by the end of the day. My birds, for one, seem to enjoy splashing water on freshly laid cage liner paper. On the flip side, the moment just before you open the cage to clean it is the moment your bird will suddenly exercise his/her wings with some vigorous “hold onto the perch” wing flapping to kick up a birdie-debris tornado.
4. Parrots are the “master pet”
Parrots not only control us, they control our other pets too. Video evidence abounds on YouTube of parrots — African greys, Amazons, cockatoos, Indian ringnecks … even budgies — tormenting other household pets, namely dogs but some cats. Some parrots perfect their owner’s voice so they can blurt out, “Who wants to go for a walk!?” to get Fido all riled up. The dog runs for the leash by the door and obediently sits, patiently waiting for his/her person to take them outside, but … “Drat! Fooled again!” This same trickster parrot might also be inclined to chuck food at the dog … or wave food around in his/her foot as a way to toy with Fido’s appetite. Or, in the case of the budgie, drop his penguin toy directly on the unsuspecting pooch resting near his cage.
5. Parrots sometimes speak on their people’s behalf
Placing a parrot’s cage near an open window can cause passerby to pause and ask themselves, “Do I know that person who just yelled ‘Hello’?” or they might think of your house as the one with crazy person who likes to wolf whistle at people. Likewise, if you have a chatty, friendly parrot, you might want to keep your front door locked — I heard a story about a parrot that welcomed a lost pizza delivery guy into the home by saying, “Come in!” when the doorbell rang … I’m guessing it was an Amazon parrot.