I haven’t talked about Zoey very much, lately. There isn’t any particular reason for that other than I’ve been quite busy lately.
For anyone who’s tuning in late, Zoey is an African Grey parrot that we have. She’s about three years old now.
She’s a fascinating animal. Being a parrot she does talk quite a bit. And that’s one of the things that I find amazing. Not just that she talks, I expected that. But rather that she puts together her own sentences. That she recognizes items.
For instance, Zoey was taught to say, “Doggie is a rat.” Why she was taught this is immaterial but she picked up on it pretty quickly. It’s not uncommon to hear, “Odie! [whistling] Doggie is a rat!”
So one weekend when I was busy around the house, more or less ignoring poor Zoey, I was surprised to hear, “Mr. Austin is a rat.” Mr. Austin is me. And, unless someone is fibbing, she put that sentence together by herself.
And that’s also why I’m surprised that she does not come up with random word sentences. I’ll never hear something like: “Apple cat water apple.” She never comes up with a nonsense statement.
But I will hear, “Can I have some water?” Something else nobody taught her.
And she knows what water is. If I’m by the sink and her bowl is full of a soupy bird food mixture she’ll start asking for water. The funny part is, she doesn’t get her water from the sink. She gets it from a jug or other purified source. But she sure knows water comes from a faucet. Any faucet.
Her grasp of an apple can be a bit shaky. As far as she’s concerned, apples are round and red. She can identify one on television. She did get into an argument with me one day about a tomato, though. She kept calling it an apple and I corrected her. We went back and forth over that for a while.
And Zoey is quite familiar with the word “no.” She’ll use it against you. “Zoey, get down from there!” You might say. And she’ll say, “No!”
One day she was playing around on me and started to bite my hand. I told her, “Zoey, you’re hurting me now. Do you want me to put you up?”
And she said, “No,” quietly. And she settled down and went back to just grabbing, not biting.
It’s her comprehension that gets me. And I wonder if she understands more than she shows.