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Sunday, October 02, 2005

African Grey Parrot's Phone Immitation Saves Him


Joe and Bettye Crow have plenty of parrot tales about their African grey variety Mickey and their friends' parrots.

Crows and parrots usually aren't the best of friends.

But when Bettye Crow gets in the shower, Mickey goes with her. When Joe Crow naps in his recliner, Mickey sits on his stomach or at his shoulder.

When it's time for dinner, the table is set for three. The African grey parrot gets his own plate of whatever they are eating, and he especially likes creamed potatoes and shrimp.

And when Mickey, frightened by dogs, flew out the door and was missing for two days, he made the prayer list at Friendship Baptist Church near Danville.

Mickey, African Grey

"It rained and rained and we hunted him, and I had the ladies at our church praying that we'd find him," said Bettye. "I cried all the time he was out. I was afraid we'd never get him back."

But his adeptness at mimicking a ringing telephone saved him. Mickey had learned to copy the sound of a phone ringing and then the answer, such as "Hello? He's not here. Goodbye." Mickey once lived in an office for a time, until the clerks said he had to go, because they couldn't tell whether the telephone was ringing or Mickey was ringing.

"I was sitting on the porch and heard a phone ringing, so I came inside and asked Bettye if that was our telephone," recalled Joe, but it wasn't. So he knew Mickey was "out there somewhere," and they found him in a tree and enticed him home with carrots, which the parrot loves.

Mickey, African Grey

Like a treasured grandchild, Mickey has the run of the house, and the Danville couple keep a sponge and cleaner handy to lovingly clean up his spills and messes.

Mickey gets a shot glass of decaf tea with his dinner plate. One day when she prepared boiled shrimp for dinner, she gave him a bite, "but he decided to reach over on my plate and get him a whole shrimp. The only thing he doesn't like is oysters."

They know one couple who take their parrot camping. They took him to the vet to get his wings clipped for safety, and he said, "Oh, hell."

Other friends took their parrot to the vet to see why it kept coughing and sneezing. "The vet said he's not sick. He's just mimicking you," Bettye said.

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