The African Grey parrot is well-known as a great family pet, its long lifespan which can be anything from 30 to 90 years and its ability to mimic sounds (including speech). Native to specific parts of the African continent, they have been bred elsewhere since the 1800s.
These birds grow to around 33cm in length with an average wingspan between 46 and 52cm. While they are considered very good at mimicry, what often is not appreciated is that the African Grey is considered to have a cognitive ability equal to that of a five year-old child.
Unfortunately the Grey finds itself in a decreasing population trend and is on The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. This list is a comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species.
If you own, or know anyone who owns, an African Grey you know just how much personality they have. There is rather more attitude there than you would expect to find in a feather head. They are highly entertaining and often inappropriate if they are given the slightest chance of learning something they shouldn’t.
This brings me to the point of my post this evening, and something that has had me chuckling all day. Lincolnshire Wildlife Park recently took in five African Greys, adding to their existing flock in excess of 1,500 parrots – nothing unusual there in any respect other than usually they would take in one at a time rather than such a large group.
The fact that there was a group adoption is crucial here. All of these birds arrived at the park on August 15 and were quarantined together. During the quarantine it was found these birds knew how to swear, all of them – and subsequently sat around swearing at each other and the staff.
These antics had the staff laughing, the more they laughed, the more the birds would swear. Swearing parrots is not unusual, and at the park it is definitely something they’ve seen before. Fast forward to the end of quarantine, and the birds are released to public view. Twenty minutes later one of the birds swears at a park visitor.
It is at this point that things escalated. The birds aren’t just swearing any more. No, now the birds are swearing and they’ve learned to laugh at each other which triggers more swearing. During quarantine their swearing caused the staff to laugh and the parrots started mimicking the laughter, this in turn triggered another round of swearing. The situation is described by the park chief as akin to “an old working men’s club scenario”.
Now, I don’t know about you but the thought of a bunch of parrots swearing at people and then sitting around laughing at each other before starting the whole thing again just amuses me far more than it should.
You can read the story yourself and decide if you would have found it quite as amusing as I did.
On a final note, the Close Up Photographer of the Year Awards were announced recently. You can view them here, and I highly recommend that you do. Enjoying these images is a recommended use of your time.