My dear friends and readers, many of you know that I have a pet African Gray parrot named Stormy. I love him and he is extremely entertaining. African Gray parrots have perhaps the best mimicry skills in the animal kingdom. Not only do they imitate words, they can capture the nuances of human speech patterns. Stormy says “Hallo” in my husband’s light Irish brogue. He hollers “Liam” or “Meghan” in the voice I use to call to my children. Then he answers himself, “Yeah mom,” in one of their voices.
However, these talented parrots imitate more than just speech. Stormy makes the muted crashing sound of the icemaker emptying. He rings like the telephone, then of course he has to answer it. “Hullo…uh huh…uh huh…well OK bye.” The conversation ends with the electronic beep the phone makes when turned off. Sometimes when I am on the phone, he will repeat “Well OK bye. beep,” until I take the hint and get off the phone. He coughs, sneezes, clears his throat, calls the dogs, tells the dogs to “go potty” or “get down” and he even meows. Don’t ask me why, we don’t have cats.
Once, years ago my lovely, sweet, talkative niece was visiting. She was telling me all about the current goings on at her high school (the same one I attended). I was listening to her patiently, because that’s what aunts do. Stormy must have lost all patience because out of the blue he yelled “shut up” (something he almost never says). I thought her mother was going to burst laughing.
Like I said, he is entertaining. Mostly. Occasionally he learns something annoying. “Dammit Stormy, don’t bite” was one of the first. Thankfully over the years he dropped the “Dammit Stormy.” Today, we have entered a fresh hell. The next-door neighbors at our new home have a pair of Chihuahuas that bark a lot. I love dogs and the reality is they bark. The problem is that most of the day these dogs are left outside on the lanai and they bark at everything, for hours. Guess who has perfected their annoying high pitched yap?