A Phone Interview Is Out of the Question for Dory
Never having known a parrot personally, I was intrigued by Dorian Gray, the Timneh African Grey parrot belonging to fellow AC/Yahoo! Writer Michael Segers. This is a parrot who doesn’t just parrot but who actually communicates, charms, converses, discusses, encourages, and bosses people and other pets around. I decided to ask Michael if I could interview Dory on the phone. Silly me, little did I know that Dory hates the telephone and attacks it, or Michael’s ear, when a call is attempted. (I found out it is not uncommon for parrots to have an intense reaction to a certain sound, such as a telephone, a cell phone ring tone, a vacuum or even recurrent sneezing!) .
Undeterred, I still wanted to know more about Dory’s astonishing skill as a communicator. I began to wonder how he might answer my questions.
Dory, the African Grey Parrot, Comments On His Home Life
LLJ: Dory, let’s talk about what it’s like for an African Grey parrot to live among humans and felines. How would you describe your living arrangement? .
Dory: “Mighty cookie, darling!”
Huh? Mighty what? Dory calls a cookie snack a “cookie,” but also uses the word as an adjective to describe cookie-ness (sweetness, goodness, glad-about-it-stuff). Dory’s best way to express pleasure and satisfaction is “mighty cookie, darling!” So he might well use that term to describe his living arrangements, in that they include the five things that are of paramount importance to the very sociable, highly intelligent African Grey parrot:
Five Most Important Things for African Grey Parrots:
1. Spacious living quarters: A cage that is at least 4 foot by 3 foot.
2. Out-of-cage time, meaning house, porch and even outdoor privileges for at least an hour a day. Although in Dory’s case it’s more like 12 hours a day. From 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m, or bird time. (Bedtime.) Especially when “it’s nice out there” as he often remarks.
3. A varied and interesting diet consisting of a high quality pellet base, fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, a little meat and a continuous supply of fresh water. (Dory’s favorite foods are watermelon and chicken.) Diet must never include chocolate, avocado, garlic and onions, rhubarb, caffeine, or alcohol, as they are toxic to birds.
4. Interaction with his “flock.” One on one time with his humans spent talking, playing, dining together, and shoulder-riding. Dory’s interaction time not only includes sharing meals but sharing showers with Michael, from his favorite shoulder perch. Great way to do bird hygiene at the same time! At Dory’s house this is called “scrub time.”
5. Stimulation. This is one smart birdy. He needs lots of toys and diversions, plus recreational time outdoors, plus the opportunity to be a geeky bird, learning the latest technology over Michael’s shoulder at the computer. Dory’s intelligence level (and that of other African greys) is thought to be that of a dolphin or a 3-year-old child.
The Way an African Grey Parrot Movitates Feline Members of His Flock.
LLJ: Dory, give us some examples of ways you encourage and motivate the cats in your flock.
Dory: That’s a good kitty-kitty!
It seems that when Max the Maine Coon cat was sick, Dory had to spend a lot of time watching over him, constantly reassuring Max that he’s a good kitty.
Dory: Want out, Big Girl?
Also, Dory believes the cats feel more secure when given parrot permission to go in or out through the cat door, especially when he uses his favorite nicknames for them: Big Girl (Lady, the Manx cat) and Big Boy (Max the Maine Coon.) During Tropical Storm Fay, instead of his usual “Time to come in, Big Girl” he invented the word, “Hurricat.”
Dory Never Forgets that Mealtime is Flocktime
Dory is quite interested in the care of feeding not only of himself, but of the cats, and the other “birds” in the house. (Dory thinks if he’s a bird and not a cat, then whoever else is not a cat must be a bird too, and that includes Michael.)
Dory: Are you a hungry bird? Come here Michael!
Dory expects and gets a plate at the table, with a bit of whatever the human birds are having.
Dory: Are you a hungry cat?
Dory makes sure no one forgets to feed “his” cats.
Dorian, the African Grey Parrot expresses affection.
LLJ: How do you greet the humans in your flock?
Dory: “Hello Sweetheart!”
LLJ: Do you have a special way to express affection for them?
Dory:“Give me a kiss, Shoog!” (short for Sugar.) “Come here, Michael. Kiss me, sweetie-pie.”
LLJ: Wow, Dory, are you that affectionate to thecats? How so?
Dory: That’s a pretty kitty! Give me a kiss, kittie-pie.
Does Dory really plant smackers on the cats? Well, more like pecks, Shoog.
Dorian Gray, Parrot Poet, at His Most Literary
In this article we read that when first introduced to apple juice, Dory was ecstatic, chirping, flapping and slurping. After all, it was sweet like his beloved cookies, and wet like his much-loved bath. It was a “cookie bath!” “It’s cookie, baby. It’s cookie bath!” Dory language for wild wet and wonderful.
Bird is love. Even more amazing than “cookie bath” is Dory’s poetic pronouncement that “Bird is Love,” one sunny Florida day when all was “cookie” on the porch. Not a phrase he had ever heard, but one he created to express a concept by connecting words. “Hey baby, bird is love.” In Dory’s case, it’s absolutely true.
http://www.peanut.org/mike/text/dory.htm “E.T. in My Home” –
http://www.peanut.org/mike/text/dory.mp3 (Hello, sweetie!) sound clip
“Does a Parrot Just Parrot – or Create Poetry?”
http://www.associatedcontent.com/slideshow/21147/a_day_in_the_life_of_an_african_gray.html?cat=53″A Day in the Life of an African Gray Parrot” (slideshow)
“Putting Up with Tropical Storm Fay”
“How I Grow Orchids in Florida”