My husband and I adopted Sam, a Quaker parrot, when he was 3 years old. His previous owner, who’d grown too ill to keep Sam, had treated him well and taught him a few phrases. Sam’s limited repertoire then -- and now -- includes laughter, “ma,” “hello” and “yum yum.” While Sam is not terribly fluent, he has inadvertently become an ESL -- English as a Second Language -- instructor.
Sam fit into our household immediately, often flying on top of the parakeets’ cage. One of the parakeets, Gordie, would often fly up to visit with Sam. After Louie, the elderly parakeet, passed away, we moved Sam’s cage next to Gordie’s. Sam can often be found just outside of Gordie’s cage. I had wondered how they communicated. Ornithologists have acknowledged that different species of birds recognize each other’s alarm calls -- but what about the conversation of friendly birds?
One day, I thought I heard “hello” coming from Gordie’s cage. At first, I figured that I must have imagined this. Then it happened again. Another time, when Sam, my husband and I were enjoying a laugh, Gordie joined in. Recently, when I gave a cashew to Sam, Gordie elicited one also, by saying, “yum yum.” Evidently, the parrot and parakeet had found a common language -- English.
This interspecies relationship underscores our tendency to overlook the emotional and intellectual capabilities of even the smallest animals. And it certainly demonstrates that we should never underestimate the power of love.
I’m Lori Drummond-Cherniwchan, and that’s my perspective.