African Greys have a very lofty reputation. They are considered to be not only one of the best communicators in the animal kingdom, but one of the most intelligent.

The majority of them either talk their little feathered noggins off or they are busy attempting to get you to pick up the telephone when no one has called. However, other birds are capable of this as well.

I believe the distinction between Greys and other types of verbally gifted birds is the fact that African Greys are like the old E.F. Hutton TV. Commercial:

“When Greys speak, we listen.”

Parker & Lisa

I’m convinced that the attention grabber with Greys is not how much they talk, but the content of their speech. They have an astounding ability to utter that plate-dropping comment at the right instant or make a flawless sound effect at an appropriate (or hilariously inappropriate) moment. At times, they can come up with a novel word or phrase combination that makes you wonder precisely who your little guy has been spending time with when you aren’t around. (Little parties he throws for the neighbors while you’re at the supermarket perhaps?) It’s that edgy, “smarty-pants” air they possess that simply slays me. It appears as though they know just what to say at just the right moment.

I believe the African Grey’s actual ability lies in observing the world around him.  Our birds are constantly watching what we do even when we aren’t paying attention to our own behavior. They know us better than we know them, and possibly better than we know ourselves. They can sense our emotions and reactions to a myriad of situations. By observing what moves us, they can encourage us respond to them. In other words: they know how to push our buttons.

Are they better talkers? I would have to say, “maybe”.

However, I can’t imagine that there is a parrot with better ability to listen, learn and observe precisely who we are and what makes us tick. Their verbal excellence might not be how much they talk, but what they say, and when they say it.