Monday, October 1, 2012

Employee Update~Sylvie the African Grey

I have 3 employees in my crew (well only one of us marbles feathers). This is Sylvie the African Grey in her goody box.  Right now she is working on a roll of toilet paper that I have rejected for myself. It is so thin that when you wipe your tush you end up with only your hand. When I complained to my husband, he suggested that we add this bargain failure to Sylvie's goody box.

I make up a goody box for Sylvie and she chews everything down to a pile of paper every couple days or so.  This is to sharpen her foraging skills which are very important for many of the parrot species. It keeps them from becoming bored~which is even more important than sharpening her foraging skills!

I place all sorts of chewable popsickle sticks, loofah, pinecones, chew toys, in brown paper bags, egg cartons, little boxes and Sylvie loves her goody box! She even demolishes the box itself. The toy in the corner is how she commands my husband's attention. It is a BRAINY BABY toy and she punches the buttons and uses the gear shift to make the noises instead of using speech (thank god she doesn't speak) She reminds me of Harpo Marx except she doesn't play the harp!


  1. How old is Sylvie? Do you know why she doesn't speak? C

  2. Sylvie is over 40 years old. I adopted her from a rescue. African Greys are so intelligent that I think they can decide for themselves that they will not speak. I believe anyone who would buy a young grey, buys them for the quality of speech they produce. Someone owned this bird for 40 years, I can't imagine in that 40 years that she never spoke a word. But I CAN imagine that, when given away from her home after spending 40 years with someone she loved,that she would consciously decide not to speak.

    She is my silent observer. I have never focused on her speech, well because, yes there are some curse words that I use that I would not want her to repeat~tho, I definitely try to to NOT repeat these words.

    With my rescue birds, I just go with the flow~with Sylvie I never want to stretch who she is. Truely what I feel is that we have these mental games and I am the one who backs down because I can't imagine how the previous owner, after 40 years, could give her away.

  3. xoE, Yesterday I read this posting to my husband and showed him the photos of Sylvie in her goody box. He loved it, he loved her and he laughed out loud at the last sentence, "She reminds me of Harpo Marx except she doesn't play the harp!" You are hilarious and your relationship with your "employees" is so entertaining to read about. I've never had a parrot and my only experience with pet birds were the canaries my mother had when I was little. Canaries are more like singing plants, in that all you have to do practically is find the right place, sunlight and temperature, for their cage and they'll sing and lay eggs. They are beautiful little birds but there isn’t the interaction you describe.

    I appreciate the love, respect and regard you show for your birds. I am currently reading a new book titled, “The Soul of All Living Creatures, What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human,” by Vint Virga, D.V.M. This is a wonderful book.

    I once worked for a man who gave his wife an African Grey for her birthday. They would regale me with stories of Beau's perfect mimicry of all of the family members, his uncanny grasp of context, and his sense of humor and mischief. He was a brilliant bird.

    Here’s one quick story: They were church-goers, proper and very social people and while they were remodeling their kitchen/family room area, a very large job that took months, Beau picked up some undesirable language from the workmen. They thought that if they just ignored his new vocabulary that he would eventually forget these !#@ words. At a party a year later, I asked his wife how Beau was doing and she told me that while getting ready that night, Beau was keeping her company on his perch in her dressing room. He said to her, “Leigh,” and she replied, “Yes, Beau?” “Shit!” Beau said. She said that she had tried not to laugh, because it would just have encouraged him. After all those months of hoping that he’d forget, he knew exactly what to say and when to say it. Beau was so funny and so smart.

    Back to Sylvie: Perhaps her previous guardian had health issues, had to move to a nursing home or died. Obviously some drastic change in living circumstances occurred, otherwise, how could it have been anything but extremely painful to let go of a delightful family member like her. Obviously it was traumatic. But now she’s got you and your husband to boss around with her Brainy Baby!