Parrot Tales: Our Life With a Magical Bird
So well written, really funny—and about much more than just that kooky bird! — Sarah Plant, composer
This book astounds me. The sum of this small African gray is way off the scale. — Dee Dee Halleck, Chair, WBAI
Charlie Parker is an African Gray Parrot. He entered the life of Debby and Michael Smith three decades ago when, at the insistence of their young son, Eli, they brought him home from a downtown Manhattan bird shop. He has been an integral, and voluble, member of the family ever since.
Charlie’s vocabulary is astonishingly diverse and colorful. He can be demanding, squawking imperiously “Clean my cage” or “Want some water.” He can be brutally direct, warning an aggressive business associate who had been yelling at Debby, “I’m going to kick your ass, you sonofabitch.” He can be mischievous, making meowing noises to a neighbor’s confused dog in the elevator.
Charlie is a survivor. He ended up recovering on an IV after the collapse of the World Trade Center filled the Smiths’ apartment with toxic dust. He is often an entertainer, with a songbook that extends across “Home on the Range” to “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” And most of the time he is affectionate, often hanging upside down against the side of his cage and demanding to be tickled.
In encountering Charlie’s tales in this concise and charming book, we come to realize that parrots are intelligent and loving creatures, to an extent that, as the renowned avian scientist Professor Irene Pepperberg points out in her introduction, they cannot meaningfully be owned by humans but only enjoyed as companions.