I’ve kept Pets all my life. Birds – I’ve kept and bred Canaries, kept Green and Grey finches, Hill Minah, Budgies, Cockatiels, Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, Blue Fronted Amazon and of course Congo and Timneh African Greys.
My most memorable parrot is my first African Grey PEPPY which I owned round 17years ago. Bought him (not sure male of female, but I refer to all my parrots as boys. Not sexist or anything) wild. Those days you hardly can obtain African Grey chicks. Even if there is any available it would cost a bomb unlike today’s affordable price. You pick one out of a cage full of them as they growl, ear piercing but not too expensive. I remember I got Peppy for S$400.
I got bitten a number of times pretty bad, one or two little pieces of my thumb. I learn to tolerate and not to retaliate. Subsequently I used welding glove to interact and feed and eventually won him over with trust.
A friend of mine bought me a thin little copy of Parrot Training booklet from Universal Studio and I worked that bird which eventually became like a Bird Park show bird. He of course step up, no problem. He will nod for “YES” and shake his head for “NO” on cue, Kiss, shake hands, Wave Bye Bye, Spread Eagle, Play Dead. He says the usual hello and stuffs, whistles the “bridge over river kwai”.
Our most enjoyable moments were after my dinner, I’d retire in the living room, he’d have been let out of his cage and playing on top when I call out to him ‘Peppy come” and he would fly and land on my wrist if my arm is extended or land on my shoulder if my arm’s not extended.
It’s a painful lesson owners of parrots who do not clip their bird’s wing will never forget. On one of my training sessions I became lazy and complacent and did not close the windows completely; he landed on the ledge on a recall. My heart was boomboomboom…. he took off into the dark of night. It was so painful and sad because at that stage I was teaching him the “U” turn in mid flight; after calling the bird and he is flying towards me I signal and he’ll return to where he came from; he just begun to get it just the day before.
Right now I have two Congo Greys Wei Wei and Wang Wang. Both adopted from people. As you can see from their names they come from chinese speaking families. The funny thing is my Cat is called Wilby. All their names starts with “W”.
Wei Wei already say a couple of chinese words when I got him and he often scold himself in a stern voice; “WEI WEI WEI WEI, qua qua chiow ha! (NOISY!)” Funny isn;t it? He does most of what I taught “Peppy”. I teach my Parrots a two way conversation rather than “parroting” where you say Hello and they repeat. If I say “Hello” he’d say “Hi”, when I say “Hi” he’d say “Hello”. He’s bilingual hehehe.. I say “Good Morning” he’d say “Chow Ann”, “Good afternoon” he’d say “Wu Ann” and Goodnight, “Wan Ann”. I say “Pussy Cat” and he’d “meow”, I say “Big Pussy Cat” he’d “MEOW” loudly, Doggy and he’d “woof woof”, Donald Duck and he’d “Quack, Quack, Quack”, KongXi KongXi and he’d “Kong Xi Fa Cai”, ask him “You think you are a smart boy don’t you?” and he’d knod vigorously. Weiwei have made an appearment in Kiz Central TV program.