(I wrote this piece quite a few years ago when I was still new to having Parker in my life. But I still believe what I stated at the time still holds true.)

Parker at about 5 weeks of age.

Isn’t It Ironic?

By Patricia Sund

I am a very new bird companion, as I acquired Parker, my Congo African Grey in April of 2003. I had always wanted a parrot, and on top of that, I had always wanted an African Grey. I’d toyed with the idea of a Cockatoo for a while until I found that they wouldn’t really match up with my personality. Although I find them incredibly charming, they are a bit too flashy for me, and not as independent as I thought I would want in a companion bird. But when I first learned about African Greys, I was intrigued. Greys were smart. Greys were elegant and understated. They reminded me of that well-dressed but not overbearing smartest guy at the party who took in everything and only said something when he had something extremely witty to say.  A Grey was that guy who had a half smile on his face and found being a part of things was far more fun than being the center of attention, but then became the center of attention because of his personality. He got the attention from his brains and his manners, not his looks.

I visualized Greys as a combination of Nathan Lane and Gene Kelly in a gray tuxedo. Not flashy like a Cockatoo, (Mae West) brilliantly colored like a Macaw, (Carmen Miranda or Rue Paul) or as carefree as a budgie or cockatiel, (The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and The Rockettes).

I saw a Grey as fitting in with what I am like: sort of understated and efficient. I’m not real quiet, but I’m to the point. I’m bookish, but I have a sense of humor.

It was as if I thought a Grey would get my jokes.

Parker is incredibly important to me and I have spent literally hundreds of hours since he came to me reading everything I can on correct nutrition, proper training and a relaxed, fun environment so that he can thrive and develop self-confidence, flexibility and a trust in our relationship. He is a wonderful companion and we have so much fun! I have no intention of adding any more birds to my household. Parker is more than enough and has taught me more about myself in the short time I’ve had him than I ever knew before. I don’t want Parker to change. I simply want him to be as much as he can be. The ironic part of this is that I have become a better person just from having him in my life. As much as I challenge Parker to learn more, I’m the one who really learns. Parker taught me how capable I am of giving unconditional love, and that is a lesson no human being was ever able to teach me. It took an African Grey Parrot to teach me one of the most valuable lessons in life anyone can ever learn.