For Parakeets – How to Train Your Human

jsw_patplaysmotherbirdHuge flocks of tiny parrots live in the trees here.  The locals call them pericos – which I think might be where the English word parakeet originated.  They are a tiny bit larger than the parakeets you find in US pet stores, but all of them are green with orange beaks and clever, beady black eyes.

In the mornings the flocks rise chattering from the trees and fly off on parrot-y business. During the day I occasionally hear a group noisily discussing something in the trees outside.  Then, in the evening, the flock settles once again.

Some of the locals have made pets of them.  Nestlings attempting to fly too early, or babies found in downed trees are obvious candidates.  Apparently the little ones are not difficult to tame, as the birds are often kept in cages with open doors and allowed to roam freely.  My landlady has a little green menace that comes out and struts around on the furniture and the floor of her open covered terrace, bossing the people and the other pets with great confidence.  This confidence could be the result of the fact we have all learned its little beak gives firm pinches when it is displeased.  But when it’s not, it’s little green self will sit on a finger and preen charmingly.

Sometimes it “sings.”  It seems to know a few bars of Panamanian canciones, and it can imitate familiar sounds.  Just yesterday afternoon I realized that my neighbor did not randomly lock and unlock his car alarm as often as I had previously thought.  My clue was that the car was not present (duh), and the whistle kept repeating.  Yup. The bird has mastered it.

Another neighbor used to keep a perico, but let it return to the flock.  It still frequently comes home for fruit treats, and it often hangs out in the yard, calling one of dogs.  The dog ignores it, but I am charmed.