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Alex The Adorable Parrot

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More Photos of Alex:

Video of Alex:

The idea of featuring parrots for their ability to talk and mimic sounds has made me enthusiastic.  I found this parrot play group on and I immediately contacted Thomas the organizer of the group. Luckily, he agreed to be interviewed for this site. On the scheduled date, I travelled to the Bronx and met Thomas and his strikingly beautiful grey parrot named Alex. 

Where did you get Alex?

I adopted Alex from a very loving Afghan family that lived in Schenectady, New York. They had a new baby and couldn’t keep him anymore. So he speaks a little bit of Pashto, for example he says “Babu!”, which means mommy.

I was looking on craigslist and other pet adoption site, and found this posting for Alex.  When I came to see him, the bird lower his head and wanted a head scratch. Now I know, that’s pretty extra-ordinary form a stranger. He did that spontaneously, the family felt that he has chosen me.

I adopted him two weeks later; he readily climbed on my shoulder. On the way, I had to stop for half an hour to attend a meeting at my university via telephone conference. I told people I just adopted a parrot. This whole time he was sitting quietly on my shoulder. Halfway through the conversation, he said “hoop!”.  And then, he rattled my teeth with his beak. I was talking on the phone and suddenly I had a bird’s beak in my mouth. That’s his way of giving you a kiss.

Is he your first bird?

He’s my first bird. For some reason, I’ve always wanted a parrot but I never lived in rental housing where I couldn’t have any pets. When I bought this place, I got the parrot.

Have you taught him new words?

Alex is not a talker as much as an imitator of electronic noises. He has a whole repertoire that he cycles through of ringtones. In the morning, he greets me with the low-battery signal from my cell phone or he does the text message inbox sound, sometimes a fax machine.

Are there any funny stories that you want to share?

He didn’t fly when I first got him, but he walked around a lot. I would go upstairs and he’d come running after me. I’d upstairs working in my office and I heard scratchy noises and some ruckus downstairs. And I saw him trying to climb the first step. He saw me walking up and he wanted to walk up to. So he held onto the ledge with his beak and tried to get a foot over his head but he fell down and tried it again. Eventually, he manage with a lot of strength and grit onto the first step. I just shook my head and told him, “You’re a bird. Just fly!”.

I went back to my office and I heard this rummaging again. After a long time, I came back and he made it halfway up the stairs. He actually climbed the stairs instead of flying.

What’s his diet?

There is a bird food that looks like Fruit Loops and that’s a healthy combination of things that has everything they need. But Alex doesn’t really take to that a lot. He likes to eat everything that I eat. For breakfast, he loves my cereal. Put some strawberries and bananas in it. At the beginning, he carefully selected out the fruit and threw it on the ground and ate only the granola part of it.

Then one day, a roommate of mine came home with an order of fried chicken. Alex got a hold of one of the bones and went crazy like a dog. It was strange that he would go crazy over chicken so much, that’s his cousin! They are omnivores and can eat anything.

So why a parrot?

I guess it’s the fascination of a bird that talks. And it’s funny how the talking part recedes in the background. You just saw the interaction. It’s pretty amazing to have a smart little being around. Like many pets they just exude optimism.

At first Alex, was quiet and was a bit guarded. He warmed up after a few minutes and approached me while I was video taping him. He then lowered his head letting me know that it's okay for me to pet him.  And so I did, he seemed to enjoy it a lot. This happened a few times and he even did a "Hoot" sound at some point. 

I also discovered that Alex likes human feet. While I was unaware, he latched on the to my foot. I was startled, and then realize it was him, so I moved my foot onto a nearby chair so that he could jumped there. 

When I left, I realized that the original idea of a talking bird that got me excited for this interview receded in the background. There is a lot more to parrots than mimicking sounds, especially with Alex who is adorable and full of personality. Maybe my next pet will be from the parrot family.

Name: Alex
Breed: Congo African Grey Parrot
Age: 9 Years Old  (@time of posting)
Gender: Male
Location:   Melrose
The Bronx

Date Posted:  

February 2, 2015

NYC Loves Pets



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