Epitaph to a Parrot - by Theodore Stephanides (1896 - 1983)
For thirty years he talked in feathered pride
The Parrot - by Edward Lucie-Smith
The parrot is a thief.
He picks it up.
And then he says it,
The Parrot - by James Elroy Flecker
Now if you'd train a parrot, catch him young
Thrice blest whose parrot of his own accord
Mother Parrot's Advice to her Children - Ganda, Africa Translated by A.K. Nyabongo
Never get up till the sun gets up,
Birds or bird related characteristics have been used in many idioms. If taken literally, they just wouldn't make any sense. Here is a fun collection along with their interpretations....
"A little bird told me." - Something that you say in order to let someone know that you are not going to tell them who gave you the information being discussed.
"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." - Having something that is certain is much better than taking a risk for more, because chances are you might lose everything.
"As free as a bird." Completely free to do what you want and without any worries.
"As light as a feather." - weighs very little.
"As the crow flies." - travel distance by the shortest and most direct route
"As wise as an owl" - someone who is very wise
"Birdbrain" - a person with confused ideas; incapable of serious thought
"Bird's eye view" - panoramic view; a situation or topic as if viewed from an altitude or distance
"Birds of a Feather flock together" - something that you say which means people who have similar characters or similar interests will often choose to spend time together
"Eagle eye" - acute eyesight; an intently watchful eye
"Eat like a bird" - to eat very little
"For the birds" - objectionable or worthless
"Give someone the bird" - refers to giving the finger to someone
"In fine feather" - in excellent form, health, or humor
"Kill two birds with one stone" - to manage to do two things at the same time instead of just one
"Rare bird" - a rare or unique personannoyed or irritated
"Rule the roost" - to be the person who makes the decisions
"Spread Your Wings" - to start to do new and exciting things for the first time in your life
"Take Someone under your wing" - to help, protect or mentor someone
"The early bird gets the worm" - something that you say in order to tell someone that if they want to be successful they should do something immediately
"Try out one's wings" - to try to do something that you have recently learned to do
"Winging it" - to say or do something without preparation, forethought, or sufficient information or experience; improvise
Check out some famous people who have shared their lives with parrots......
Stephen Spielberg (director) - Panama amazon parrot (Blanche)
Elizabeth Taylor (actress) - Yellow-nape amazon (Max)
Hilary Swank (actress) - African grey parrot (Suess) and Senegal parrot (Angel)
Celo Green (singer) - Mollucan Cockatoo (Lady)
Diane Warren (songwriter) - Senegal, Mini Macaw, Cockatoo (one is named Buttwings)
Matthew McConaughey - Sun Conure
Paris Hilton - African Grey
Stephanie Powers (actress) - Yellow-nape amazon (Papagua)
Steven Tyler (muscian) - Senegal Parrot
What about birds in the White House? In the early days of the republic, birds were popular First Pets.
Martha Washington, wife of our 1st President, George Washington (1789-1791), had a parrot "Polly" who George supposedly didn't like. It is said that both George and the parrot kept a close eye on each other when they were in the same room.
Thomas Jefferson (1801 – 1809) had a mockingbird that was trained to ride on his shoulder and take food from his lips.
Dolly Madison, wife of James Madison (1809-1817), had a green parrot that was rescued from the White House when it was burned during the War of 1812.
Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) owned a parrot "Pol" that was taught to curse in both Spanish and English. A story has been told that the parrot attended Jackson's funeral, where it disrupted the service with a loud string of profanity.
Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) had a Blue & Gold Macaw " as well as a Hyacinth Macaw "Eli Yale".
Ulysses S. Grant's (1869-1877) son had a pet parrot.
Rutherford Hayes (1877-1881) kept canaries.
Grover Cleveland's (1885-1889 and 1893-1897) wife Frances had both canaries and mockingbirds.
William McKinley (1897-1901) had a Double Yellow Amazon named "Washington Post"
Warren Harding (1921-1923) kept canaries.
Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) had canaries and a mockingbird.
John F. Kennedy (1961-1963) had parakeets "Bluebell" and Marybelle".
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) had lovebirds.
The ability of many parrots to talk is one of the things so intriguing about these wondrous creatures. Not only can they imitate our voices and our whistles, they can also convincingly duplicate a wide variety of household sounds like the microwave beeping , the phone ringing and even the dog barking.
Finely tuned senses, memory and intelligence all come into play. Parrots also have the ability to associate meaning to the words and phrases used as well as the sounds they hear. For example, many a parrot will answer “hello” when they hear the phone ring.
Some people think this is just mimicry and perhaps for some birds it is. But, I think that if we use our language appropriately and put it in context for our birds then they can make meaningful associations. This responsibility lies with the teacher!
But how do they talk and recreate sounds so accurately without the teeth, lips, palate and vocal cords that make speech possible for humans? The vocal organ that enables a parrot to make sounds is called the syrinx which is located within the bird’s breast. This vocal organ is a muscular, wishbone structure located at the base of the trachea adjacent to two bronchi (sort of like an upside down Y) where the trachea meets the lungs. Each branch of the syrinx has a moveable valve, and the valves can work independently enabling birds to produce two separate tones simultaneously. Parrots can produce different sounds by changing the depth and shape of the syrinx.
Like humans, parrots do have tongues and a throat that help to shape the sounds they produce. But can you imagine being able to produce the sound of a “b”, “m”, p” or “w” without using your lips? Or for that matter, try saying a word starting with "d", "h", "j", "k" ot "t" without your teest or palette!
Another question that many people ask is “Why Do Parrots Talk?” That is simple. They are social creatures that want to be an interactive member of their human flock. Their attempts to learn our mode of communication is an attempt to get attention as well as interact with us. In fact, they seem to have a higher capacity to learn our language than we do to learn theirs.