Goose - Sanne Specht

Punked by a parrot

Lazy Saturday afternoon. Sitting in an overstuffed, pink chair out on the back deck, overlooking the Rogue River.

Squiggy is lounging alongside, blinking contentedly in the sunshine.

It'd be bliss if both parrots weren't squawking up a storm.

I tell them to pipe down, but they'd only crank up the volume. And besides, I think they're offering their avian solidarity with a comment I just posted on a friend's Facebook page.

My English parrot pal has put up a news article that states a man is in hot water with his neighbors — and the noise police. Allegedly it's all because his 12-year-old African grey whistles his happy tunes a little too often.

The news bit features the parrot in question, Buddy, sitting cheekily on his human's shoulder, nuzzling the man's nasal cavities, as the fellow explains how his bird's joy at whistling "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," and the theme from the Addams Family has driven one of his neighbors bonkers.

The town council has gone to great lengths to document Buddy's behavior. Monitoring equipment was affixed to the neighbor's house, and residents kept detailed logs of the bird's every squawk for two months.

The council hastened to inform the reporter that the investigation is ongoing, no notices have been issued, and no formal action has been taken. However, at the end of the surveillance, Mr. White was notified and advised he should train his bird "to keep quiet."

This is when I almost fell out of my chair laughing. This is also why I live in the country.

In a macadamia nutshell, parrots are wretched brats with feathers. They are nothing if not noisy, messy and, frequently, irritating.

I find myself regularly apologizing to visiting friends for my birds' behavior — even before they start up.

However, that being said, I much prefer hearing my feathered children raise the rafters with their belching, farting and my cockatiel's incessant renditions of a song my sainted mother taught him, "Gooser! Gooser! Doodle-Dee-Do!," over the screaming, shouting, crying and general caterwauling of anybody's kids.

In fact, that might have been pretty close to the remark I made on Liz's page. Which was immediately "liked" by a couple fellow birdnerd buddies.

On my second reading of the article, I noted Buddy is also quite fond of screaming "Police!" whenever the spirit moves him — a little vocalization he picked up from Mr. White's penchant for watching crime shows on the telly.

This caused me to fall into paroxysms of mirth, and I nearly fell off my chair a second time.

My giggles got Gaia, my African grey, joining in on the laughter.

That reminded me of the time she totally freaked out Goose by imitating the call of a red-tailed hawk, over and over again. Gaia watched intently as her older, smaller birdy brother beat himself nearly senseless in a frenzied attempt to escape his cage. Because, thanks to her bird-mimicry mastery, clearly there were cockatiel-eating raptors in the house.

I, being a mere human, was too slow on the uptake to understand the game at hand. I, too, thought the danged hawk was way too close. Albeit out on our deck. I peered out the window, wondering how one successfully shoos away a hawk.

Goose eventually exhausted himself and collapsed in a quivering heap at the bottom of his cage. That's when Gaia laughed evilly, just like me.

That's when Goose and I realized we'd been punked by a parrot.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or

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