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Showing posts from 1999

Five to Twelve

D-day is here! A few more hours before the artillery will blaze away. The family feels a lot of sympathy for all the animals and pets all over the world. Fortunately, we all have had the opportunity to get used to it gradually, at least here in the Netherlands. People can't wait to fire away!

Millennium Musings

People speculate a lot about the future. Will there be a millennium bug that changes everything? Will there be a disaster? Every place you go, Jan, Hilke and Sophia hear the same questions over and over again. As for me and all other animals, we couldn't care less. We are way above that sort of thing.

Fire Proof

It is getting close to the end of the year and it seems that the children in our neighborhood can't wait to try out all their firework already. Jan and Sophia worry a lot about the coming days, but so far I have been very quiet during the loudest bangs. We'll wait and see.

Shower Phobias

I still don't like taking a shower. Jan and Sophia make me go through it every three or four days, but I don't think I will ever like it. Why, o why do they have to make me suffer so often? Could it be for my benefit? I hardly think so...

Family Car

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It is a fact: I recognize the family car. Hilke has checked and rechecked how I reacted when the car approached and her research has ended today. So: Officially I announce that every time one of the family comes home, I whistle the wolf whistle in recognition.


Silence is Golden

One year old and still not a word from me (except the "Hoi" that I learned to say in October). Since the day I came to live with the family, they call me by name several times a day: "Dandy! DANDY! Hello, Dandy!!!" Do you think I have even TRIED to say my name? No sirree, not me!

Intruder Alert!

My family have seen a dark side of me that was hitherto unknown. I was in my aviary and Jan and Sophia wanted to show me off to a visitor. The man walked quickly to me and stretched out his hand. That made me furious! I put up all my feathers and growled at him. The visitor, who didn't know a thing about parrots, didn't realize how angry I was and started to pat the wire-netting. I SCREAMED and SCREAMED! Jan and Sophia jumped up a foot and Hilke who was downstairs thought I was being slaughtered. Once again it was made clear how close my roots still are with my cousins in Africa.

One Year Old!

Today I have become ONE YEAR OLD! Think of it! When I came to live with the family I was five weeks old: a bald and helpless little baby. Now I am a strikingly handsome (if I may say so myself), fully feathered, strong youngster... still a bit dependent on my human parents but getting to be a real person. Needless to say my family is proud of me.

Nothing Like a Nice Mess

I love sitting on Sophia's knee for hours while she is reading or watching a film. Naturally I hold a piece of willow wood in my claw and rip it to pieces. When I get back in my cage, the whole floor is covered with tiny pieces of wood. I don't understand why Sophia bothers to pick them all up, because I know that tomorrow there will be the same mess again.

Busy Times

Don't disturb me, I am busy, busy, BUSY. I have to remove the rind of my perches and destroy the endless supply of wooden blocks. No time to write, no time to talk, so little time... Overheard Jan say that he should have given me fresh willow wood much earlier, but from now on he will give me fresh branches every week. Looking forward to that.

Perch

Jan went to the country side and saw a huge willow. He cut off one of the branches and took it home with him. Now, I have a complete new set of perches and an endless supply of little willow blocks. Nice!

Sharp Nails

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My toe nails are getting much too long and sharp. When I perch on a hand, sometimes my nails penetrate the skin. Sophia tried to file my nails. She can only do one at the time, because for me it is a nice sporty game to grab the file with my beak and hurl it away as far as I can. Sophia moans and groans every time she has to go after it. Sometimes I think that she has no sense of humor.


Wheeoooo!

The family noticed that I am getting a funny set of sounds of my own. Every morning, Jan switches on the TV in my room on a children's channel for about half an hour. I love the cartoons. I copy all the whieooo's, aaahhhh's, ieeeeaaaiiii's and other sounds. I whistle and yell and scream, but in talking I have not taken a fancy. Still one word: "hoi" ("hi").

My Own Language

Jan noticed that although I don't use human speech, I do have a language of my own. For example, if a family member comes in my room and greets me, I stretch my wings one at the time. If they leave, I ask "Weeee-weet?" and they tell my that they will be back soon. Before Sophia switches off the light at night, she always says "G'night honey!" and I respond by shaking all my feathers at once. If I am not yet on my night perch, I quickly climb on it. Strangers wouldn't notice this "parrot language", but I have lived with the family Van der Nent since I was five weeks old so they know me through and through. Would you care to listen to a sample of a typical conversation with Sophia (she speaks Dutch, I speak Parrotian)? Enjoy!

Weekend

Weekend again: the days I wake up Sophia. I still love cuddling under her blankets and peek out to check if everything is still the way I left it. I love to lie still and have my head and neck scratched. I wouldn't have a clue why people say that I am spoiled.

Naughty Me

I am getting naughtier all the time. Gone is the quiet sweet-cheeked baby, welcome to Mr. Know-it-all-but-accept-nothing! Fortunately, my family members like a lot of spirit. Secretly, I think that they all are very self-willed themselves. I just inherited it from them.

Musical Day

Today was kinda fun... the family had visitors and they all played different instruments: the ukulele, banjo, harmonica and they sang oldies together. Later, when one of the visitors got his accordion, I panicked for a second. It was so huge, shiny and especially loud that I didn't like it at first. However, when I saw (from under Sophia's sweater) that nobody seemed to get hurt by it, I started to like it. Although I have to admit that this particular evening I was one shy, quiet and silent bird, despite all the music that I normally sing along with so loudly.

Beyond the First Word

You'd think my family would be grateful that finally, at last, I know one word. But no, they want me to learn another word now! How stupid can you get! Jan and Sophia tell me "Dandy is lief" (Dandy is sweet) several times a day, but I am not crazy. I will talk when I want it, say what I want and do it the way I want it. Catch me doing it! Hoi, ha, ha, ha!

Harnass

A few weeks ago, Sophia ordered a bird's harness by mail and it arrived today! I liked it: it was fun to try to demolish all the buckles and gnaw the strings into pieces (not that I succeeded!). However, when Sophia tried to adjust it around my body, I protested with all my might. Sophia didn't press on: it is far too cold to go outside and I wouldn't realize that it is meant to be fun. Ah, well, I am still young. My family members know that I will get used to it when the time is right.

Baby Danger

Sophia bought me a present today: a baby's puzzle. Suddenly I thought this had to be the greatest danger on earth, so I flew on the highest place in the room (my cage) and remained there for hours. Sometimes my family think I am crazy.

Hoi Again

I love my new word. Especially when everybody is downstairs: I only have to shout hoi! and I get a hoi back. Nice! I try to play with the word, like using Sophia's way of saying it: hoi-oiii! Or Hilke's short hoi. I haven even tried Jan's. Would you like to hear it?

Hi Jan & Hilke!

Jan and Hilke came back in the middle of the night. Although I was fast asleep, when Jan greeted me softly, I was very happy. I even came across the perch to give him a big kiss.

Contact Calls

Hoi, hoi, hoi. I noticed that I can use it as a contact call: every time when Sophia leaves the room, I say it. It is guaranteed to get a hoi back. Every time again!

Bye Jan & Hilke

Jan and Hilke left yesterday to go on a short holiday. Normally I would have missed them tremendously, but Sophia stayed home from work because she's got the flue. At the moment I am the most spoiled bird in the whole world. All day long Sophia was lying on the couch in my room, watching the television and reading.

Visitors Are Fun

Visitors are fun. They talk and whistle to me, scratch me on the head and sit very still when I fly on their heads or shoulders (unlike the family: they either remove me at once or move about as if I wasn't even there). Some visitors even try to sneak me a piece of biscuit or cake; something I never, ever get from Jan, Hilke or Sophia! When there are visitors, I am usually on my best behavior. I love to pretend that I am shy, well-trained and quiet. Naturally all my family members support me and pretend that I am always this polite. By the way: the visitors distinctly heard (and understood) my hoi! It is not wishful thinking on account of my family!

Hoi! Hoi! Hoihoihoi!

Hoi! My family is in seventh heaven! They are floating on the air! They are delighted - exhilarated - radiant! Of course I noticed their attention, so I think this is one word I will use more often in the future. Hoi!

My First Word!!!

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Yes, yes, yes, yes!!!!!!!!! Yippee!!!!! I said my first word!!!!!! It is very, very clear. The word is hoi (this is Dutch; meaning "hi"). Small wonder it is my first word: all my family members always use it to greet me and each other.


Autumn

Autumn has started! The wind is howling around the house, the leaves fall off the trees (as well as the branches, due to the storm). I couldn't care less: I am sitting here in Sophia's room warm and snugly and I don't even think about all the poor birds outside, getting all cold and wet.

Talking - I Think

Finally, finally my family think I have started to talk. Although it isn't anything understandable whatsoever, they think I use a human voice sometimes. Hilke thinks I copy her laughter, which may well be possible. She has a very contagious way of laughing, especially to the ears of parrots.

Going on a Ride

As usual, I was allowed to go to Sophia in the morning. When I sat on her pillow playing with her hair, Hilke came from the bedroom. She wore her slippers as usual, and as usual I was fascinated with them. After she had washed, Hilke descended the stairs as usual. But what I did then was not very usual! I flew on the trap landing and started going down to follow her! When Hilke was downstairs, she passed me and walked up the stairs again. Again I followed her and up I went! Hilke and Sophia were completely in stitches.

Panic Attack

I had a major panic attack! Jan and Sophia continued where they left off yesterday: they took me in the car again, closed the door (gently) and Jan started the car. Boy, was I scared. I tried to fly through the car window, to the back seat and on the front mirror. Finally, I crept under Sophia's arm and stayed there, panting. I hate the car. It messes up all my feathers.

In the Car

The weather is still unbelievably good. Jan and Sophia walked outside with me. I love that now, but when they came back they tried to take me in the car. I was scared, but as long as they leave the door of the car open I manage not to panic.

I Will When I Will

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Ever since the family started to encourage my talking, they hope I will start to talk one day. Coming Saturday I will be ten months old: a good time to start..... Unfortunately for them however, I have my own time table. I will decide whether I will ever speak or not.


Welcome Back!

And I didn't forget my family... I am happy they are back again.

Budapest

Hilke and Sophia left today for a short holiday in Budapest. They will go for five days and Jan will take care of me. This time Sophia is not worried that I will forget her; now she knows I won't.

Hilke

I have a funny relationship with Hilke. Although she is the least affectionate family member, some way or another she fascinates me. Sometimes, I follow her like a little dog, playing with her toes. Although normally I don't approach her, when she is eating or when she is wearing her blouse with the nice expensive buttons, I fly on her arm or shoulder. She likes me, too. Two or three times a day she steals a kiss from me and I let her. Also, she plays with me and I love that, naturally.

Less Whistling

The family decided to whistle less (that will be difficult: they are all born whistlers) and try to stimulate more talking. They will do that by encouraging all "humanoid" sounds I make, no matter how incomprehensible. They remembered that when I was a babe of just six weeks, I made sounds that made them believe I talked. Surely I must be able to say at least a few words!

Will I Talk?

Sophia has read numerous articles on the Internet about (non) talking parrots. She learned many things. First of all, some Greys won't start talking till they have reached two years of age. There is hope still for me. Second, the family shouldn't have started whistling to me before I was able to talk. Third, no matter the stimulus or efforts you put into it, not every Grey learns to talk.

Mum's the Word

Today I have become nine months old and I have to admit something: I still don't talk. Although I can whistle nice tunes now, I haven't said a word yet. Sophia said she will look on the Internet to read articles about the talking ability of parrots and how to teach them. The most frequent question my family hears when people meet me is: "Does he talk?" However, I know that even if I will never say a word they will still love me.

Back to Normal

This morning Jan brought me to Sophia to wake her up. Everything is back to normal again, thank goodness.

She's Home!

I have had a great week alone with Jan and Hilke. However, I am very happy that Sophia came back this afternoon. Poor Sophia: she has had a great time, but the whole week she had worried that I would forget her after a full week. How could you think such a thing, have you forgotten what a tremendous memory we parrots have??? Anyway, she was completely reassured in the end, because when I saw her I screamed and jumped up and down.

Horses? Bah!

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Sophia phoned this evening. She spoke to Jan, Hilke and to me and told us all how tired she is already and how much she misses me. From what I hear there is very convivial atmosphere on the other side of the phone line; I wish I were there. Sophia told me that everybody would like to see me too.


Bye Sophia, Have Fun!

Sophia went on holiday today. She will spend a week on a horse riding camp to help a group of disabled persons to have a nice holiday. I will miss you, Sophia. I know you'll miss me, too.

Silly Me

Now I am used to my new home, even when it is time to sleep. I don't understand why I made so much fuss at first: my new home is so much fun! I never, ever, ever even ask to be taken out, but the family loves having me around so I spend a lot of time on their hands and knees anyway.

Skeletons in the Closet

Same thing happened again: during the day through I loved my new home, but at night time I got very nervous and restless. Again Sophia cooed to me and sang lullabies, so finally I gave up trying to find my old home and went to sleep.

Aviary For Me!

I am the most spoiled bird in the entire world. Do you know what I got today? A huge aviary in Sophia's living room! It is one by one meter and 1.80 high! Jan put ropes, willow branches and toys inside, so I had the time of my life in there. But... when it got time to sleep, I got more and more nervous. I wanted my old cage back. Sophia scratched and soothed me, and finally I went to sleep.

Say What?

Again I stayed in my cage for most of the day. Before the humans went, the let me out and the very second that they came home, they took me out again. I heard something very strange too: they spoke about "the need of getting a bigger home for me". How so? What do they mean? Only time can tell...

Alone All Day

The coming days, the family will have their annual three day's convention of Jehovah's Witnesses. They will be gone from early in the morning till about six o'clock in the evening. Useless to say I was very happy when they finally came home this evening.

Kid In Disguise

In the beginning I counted my age in weeks. Now, I can start to count in months. Today, I have reached the eight months' mark. I feel big already, but I can't fool my family. They know that I am still a kiddy, even in parrot terms.

Sophia's Day Off

Sophia has a couple of days off from work. We both like that, because we can spend quality time together. Normally, in the morning Jan keeps me company, so he will be glad to be relieved of duty for a few days.

Visitors

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When the family has visitors, they like to show me off. However, they are very selective with which persons I can fly about. Today Sophia had visitors and she knew them to be quiet and relaxed with pets. I loved to make their acquaintance.


Postscript by Sophia: some people have expressed concerns over Dandy playing with a knife. We would NEVER put Dandy into any dangerous situation: this knife was quite blunt and safe. Don't ever allow your bird to play with a sharp object, it might cut their tongue!

To Clip Or Not To Clip

I am seven months old now. Sophia read on the Internet that it is best to clip the wings around that age. However, the family decided not to clip my wings at all. They like me the way I am and it doesn't bother them that I am able to fly. Besides, I am a very quiet bird: the only time I like to stretch my wings is early in the morning. The rest of the day I prefer to climb and tumble on the willow tree Jan has craftily created for me.

Cuddle Time

Tonight I was in a cuddly mood. I had been busy playing all day, so in the end I was over-exhausted. I was sitting on Sophia's knee and she started to read aloud to me, as she sometimes does. At first I chattered along, but soon she noticed I wanted to be cuddled. We hugged and kissed until I was completely satisfied. That is what I like about my family. They simply know what I need, each time again. During the day, I don't want to be hugged and kissed: then I want to play rough and tough. But just before bedtime, I always want my head scratched.

Shower? Not Me!

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Today, another nice spring day, sunny and warm. Jan remembered how I enjoyed my shower last Friday and was convinced the same would happen today. Not so, however. He got the spray bottle and I jumped on his shoulder and stayed there. When Sophia tried to get me off, I attached my claws firmly to his shirt and roared with laughter. After ten minutes, Jan and Sophia were wet to the bones while I hadn't even felt a drop of water yet. I heard them moan and groan, but don't think I gave in! In the end they gave up, but somehow I don't think I have heard the last of it.


Wild Thing

Today I was even more wild and wanton than usual. I pretended to be a torpedo, ready to attack. I flew around the living room and dived on Jan's shoulder, screaming with joy and pecking in his ear. If you wouldn't have known better you'd think I was a nasty, naughty bird. Fortunately Jan realized it is just my way to get rid of my surplus of energy and show my love at the same time. It didn't hurt anyway, because I know I have to be gentle with ears.

Lightning Damage

Guess what! The lightning has struck our telephone system. The family didn't notice it yesterday, but today they found out they couldn't use the phone. The telephone company can't come before coming Thursday, so the family will have a quiet week. They see only one little advantage of the whole thunderstorm affair: they are not so worried anymore that I will turn out a nervous wreck any time there is a sudden noise. They say I have had the worst experience possible; from now on everything will be a piece of cake compared to the Big Bang we had yesterday.

Thunder & Lightning

This afternoon there was a terrible thunderstorm right above Winterswijk, the town which we live in. The family kept on talking to each other and made sure not to react too jumpy at every crash as not to scare me. At one moment there was a flash of lightning accompanied by a particularly loud BANG. It was so nearby, that the telephone started to ring and the lights flashed on and off for a moment. Everybody was stunned, including me. I was sitting on Sophia's lap and tried to hide under her T-shirt. She patted me and soothed me, so soon I was okay again. I don't think I like thunderstorms, but I wasn't exactly devastated either.

Water Is So Wet!

Up to now I never really enjoyed having a shower. I've had my showers about twice a week because Jan insisted on it, but it never was my favorite activity. Until today! Perhaps the reason was that it was a beautiful warm spring day, but this morning I could hardly wait when Jan filled the spray bottle. It was such a nice game, jumping in and out the spray, squeaking with joy. I couldn't get enough of it. In the end I got so wet that I was twice as heavy. I wasn't even able to fly anymore!

New Toy

Today Sophia bought a new toy for my cage. She heard that African Greys are very conservative birds who shun anything new and unusual, so she tricked me into liking it. It is a chain with a string of wooden blocks. She hung it in my cage when I was sitting on her shoulder, watching closely what she was doing. Since I was not in the cage myself, I didn't feel attacked, just curious. After ten minutes, when this strange object still didn't appear to be dangerous, I collected my nerves and went on my way. I liked the toy so much that I didn't even want to come out of my cage after a couple of hours.

Chain Gang

By now I like being taken outside, but that horrid chain shouldn't be there. Normally I don't question my family's actions, but now I am in doubt whether they are doing the right thing. Instead of enjoying the sunshine, the green garden and the many birds I see, I keep showing them the chain around my leg by lifting my claw and biting the links. The family is absolutely relentless. As long as I am outside, the chain stays on.

Half a Year Old

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I was born on 25 November of last year. Today it is the 25th of May, so today I am HALF A YEAR OLD! Wow, I feel so BIG! The family talked about my childhood, long ago in dark, cold ages. According to them I am still a child, but say! I am able to do lots of things now that I couldn't do back then!


Chained Jailbird

The Van der Nents have a nice garden that contains everything a bird needs: trees, fruit plants and a pond to bathe in. The birds in Holland are very tame, especially in our neighborhood. When the family is in the garden, they come as close as half a meter to seek worms for their young. They don't pay any attention to me, but all the more I keep a cautious eye on them. Look Sophia, they don't have chains around their legs, why be so cruel to me then?

Not Liking Outside

Jan, Hilke and Sophia went to sit in the garden and took me with them. I never thought I would think that way again, but it was as cozy as it was in the beginning (March). They were chatting to each other, again I saw many birds and the wind played in my feathers. After ten minutes I gave my first sound while being outside: the wolf whistle. I noticed the world did not change after that, so I carefully uttered a few more sounds. All the same, I was happy when we went inside again after half an hour.

Outside In

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Sophia decided to take me outside again, because she knows that I have to get used to it one day and will start to like it then. This time, I didn't panic. I was sitting quietly on her shoulder and knee and tried to make myself invisible. The only things that moved were my neck and my eyes, because the many birds in the garden and in the sky fascinated me. Perhaps Outside isn't such a hell after all.


Weeks Went By

For some weeks nothing worthwhile has happened, but today finally the weather has changed for the better. I had almost forgotten there was something like an Outside, but today Sophia took me there again. I was very scared and things got worse when I was startled by a sudden sound. I tried to fly away, but was stopped by the chain. It didn't hurt a bit, but I started panicking and bit the first thing within reach, which happened to Sophia's finger. After that, she took me and her bleeding finger inside again. After all, being outside should be a nice event and not a nightmare.

Socializing

The weather was very nice today, so Sophia took me outside again. Some of the neighbors were there as well, so they all came to me and made my acquaintance. I was a bit shy, but I really liked the attention. After a while I tried to fly away, but the chain stopped me and I ended where I started: on Sophia's shoulder. I realize now that Outside you can look, listen and talk, but you can't fly. I like the place anyway.

Five Months Old

Today I am five months old. I can't imagine I came to live with the family when I was only five weeks old and now... boy, am I growing or what!

Wolf Whistle

I know it! I know the Wolf Whistle! I have been practicing it for weeks now, but finally I can whistle it perfectly. My family thinks it sounds extremely funny coming from my mouth, especially when I blend it in with the rest of my songs.

Bye Bye Blackbird

It was sunny and warm today, so the family took me Outside again. I still don't like the chain around my leg, but outside there is so much to see and hear, that I soon forget it is there. I saw a blackbird searching for worms at merely two meters away and for minutes we gazed at each other. For the first time in my life, I liked it here. I didn't even try to fly away this time.

Body Parts

It is funny, but I know exactly how much pressure the various body parts of the various family member can take. For example, their lips are the most sensitive, so when I give them a kiss I have to be really, really gentle. Then, there are the toes. You have to be careful with them! All my family members are ticklish, so although their toes fascinate me, I restrict my activities solely to wiping my beak on them. Noses are an absolute, unconditional no-no. Pity, because they look like things you could easily get a grip on to climb on their heads. Ears are nice when they eat something; just sit on a shoulder and pull: automatically their mouth will turn in your direction. Last, but not least there are the fingers. With Hilke's and Sophia's fingers you have to be rather gentle, but with Jan I can almost be as rough as I want. I think I like the fingers the most, especially Jan's.

Birdsitting

I have become a handsome, strong bird now. I have the energy and the rashness of youth, so even if I come out of my cage only three or four times a day, at nighttime the whole family is tired. When I am out of the cage, they have to watch me literally every second. I try out everything new, I fly to every object in the house, dangerous or not, and last but not least I want to chew on everything within reach to see how many bits are detachable.

About Music

All family members have a very specific taste in music. Jan likes classical music, jazz and his own harmonica music, Hilke enjoys classical music and opera's and Sophia has a broad interest, varying from music of the 50's to some soft pop of the 90's. I like any kind of music, as long as I can sing along and dance to it on somebody's shoulder. At the moment Sophia has got a severe attack of Beatlemania, aw yeah, yeah, yeah, whooooooo!

Goodnight Honey!

When Sophia gets ready for bed, she wishes me goodnight, cuddles me for a few seconds and switches off the light in my room. She always says the same: "Goodnight honey, g'night!" She has done it since my first day in this house. At first I didn't react, but lately when she uses this phrase I know exactly what is going to happen. In fact, I wouldn't be able to have a good night's rest without it.

Maria Callas Understudy

My singing vocabulary is growing all the time. It is so nice to sit on Jan's shoulder and listen to his music and loudly sing and whistle along. It is a very serious matter to me, so I honestly don't know why the family roars with laughter every time I open my mouth. What is so funny about my singing? They'll have to explain that one day...

A Bird's Life

I like being a parrot. I go where and when I desire to go. All the food, the house and the family, it all belongs to ME. If Jan is dancing, I fly on his shoulder. If Hilke is eating, I go to steal some from her. If Sophia puts on her jacket, I abandon everything to nibble on the buttons of her coat. The rest of the time, I play with everything in sight. Wow, what a life!

Random Day II

Last time on the family reality show... we discussed our morning ritual. And now the conclusion: lunchtime and the rest. Hilke always cooks a delicious healthy meal with lots of vegetables. In the beginning I was allowed to partake the whole time, but I was getting too annoying during the meal. Now, when they have nearly finished, Sophia takes me downstairs to share the last bites with the family. Then, depending on what day it is, she either gets ready to go to work again and leaves me with Jan and Hilke once again, or we enjoy her free afternoon together as she takes me upstairs to play with me. When I get tired, I climb in my cage to sleep for a while. In the evening they take me out one more time for my own personal singing and cuddling hour and then I go to sleep, happy and content with everything.

Random Day

For the interested ones: today I will describe an average week day. Early in the morning Jan wakes up Sophia to make sure she won't be late for work (she is spoiled rotten like me). She gets dressed, after which she collects me and we come down to have breakfast together. In the meantime, Jan takes coffee to Hilke who is still in bed (did I hear the word "spoiled" mentioned?). After Sophia has left the house, Jan puts on some of his own harmonica music and dances and sings with me for a while and takes me back to my cage. There, a delicious breakfast awaits me so I always enjoy going back. To be continued...

Lesson Learned

Since I keep flying at the window over and over again, my family asked an expert on raising baby Greys what to do about it. They thought that after I bumped my head a couple of times, I would stop hurting myself. Do you know what he said? He explained I won't learn it at all! He said they have to put something in front of the window or I could get myself killed one day. Now, they lower the lamellas every time I come down. You have to make some sacrifices if you live with a parrot.

Missing Outside

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The weather is very strange this time of the year: one minute winter coats and umbrellas are to been seen on the streets and the next moment the sun is shining brightly. I can't go Outside in this kind of weather, but never mind, I have enough to do indoors.


A Big Fright

When I descended the stairs on Sophia's shoulder this morning, on the moment she passed the front door the news paper came through the letter box. Normally I am not easily startled, but this took me by surprise. I flew away as fast as I could and hit the window so hard the glass rattled. The family screamed in terror, but also this time I didn't break anything but my family's nerves.

Deceptions

Ever since I discovered the Fun Coat, Sophia has had difficulties getting to the town hall (where she works). She has been late for the whole past week, so the family had to think of a solution. When Sophia puts on her coat, Jan puts on an old coat too. When I am busy playing with Jan's coat, Sophia quickly sneaks outside. Being retired from work, Jan doesn't have to leave so early. So far it worked fine, but the family is afraid that I will discover the trick soon and make life difficult again for Sophia.

Pok!

Pok, Pok, Pok. Boy, do I like that word. If I want Jan's attention, I say "Pok?". If Hilke doesn't want me to play with her news paper and keeps me away, I say "Pok!!!". If I want Sophia to share the contents of her mouth with me, I say "Poooook??!" Fortunately, they all know me so well by now that they know exactly what I mean. Although they are a bit disappointed that at the tender age of four-and-a-half months I still don't talk. Well, you can't have it all, I guess. I'm not supposed to talk till I'm over a year old anyway.

New Word

I have a new word in my vocabulary: Pok All my family members wonder where I picked it up, because it is not a word they use in their daily language. However, I use it for everything: when I am aggravated, angry, happy, jealous or want anything. I like the word. Pok, Pok, Pok!

Home Alone

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The family members were away for almost a whole day! When they came back at five, they pampered me so much, that I soon forgot I'd been alone for so long. To be completely honest, I napped during most of the day. Don't tell Jan, he kept saying how lonely I must have been...


Spring Cleaning II

Spring cleaning continues: I like it because I have never had so many toys to play with. The floor in Sophia's room is packed with goodies. Late in the evening she has finished and I must say, it looks very empty now. She has collected three full bags of things she wants to give away. She won't look in any of the bags for fear she will experience feelings of regret.

Spring Cleaning

It's springtime... Sophia decided to start a tremendous job: cleaning her entire room. She had a peculiar method doing it: she opened all her drawers, cupboards and tins and threw the contents on the floor. Then, she took a couple of garbage bags and picked up all items one by one. She looked at the item in her hand, counted to ten and then either give it a place in her room or put it in the bag to bring it to the second hand shop later. Her room is a mess.

Spoiled Rotten

Playing in Sophia's bedroom in the morning is one of the happiest occasions I can think of and this was one of those mornings again. After a while I got tired and fell asleep under the eiderdown. Jan and Hilke came in and my three family members gave me so many kisses that my head almost felt wet and sticky. I wonder if there is any parrot in the world that is as spoiled as I am.

I Was a Baby Once

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The ones who have read my diary so far have seen how I have grown from a tiny, bald, ugly, demanding baby to a good-looking, sweet-natured toddler. Sophia likes to tell me stories about when I was little. Funny, I can't remember any of it. I have lived with parents that had wings and a red feathered tail? I was taken to Winterswijk in something called a car? I slept on a hot-water-bottle? I was fed with a spoon? Get out of town, that's never happened for real! Or has it?


Third Month

The third month that I have lived with the Van der Nent family! Boy, time really flies, doesn't it? It is not surprising that I have adapted to my new life, since I have spent three quarters of my entire life with the family, but even Jan and Hilke (being very, very old compared to me) can't imagine a life without me. Thank you for making me feel accepted, people.

Neurotic? Not Me!

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Sophia read a lot of articles on the Internet about African Greys: personal pages, general information and research sites. She noticed that all pages have one theme in common: African Grey Parrots are neurotic by nature. Since I am an African Grey myself, she has kept an eye on me for every sign of feather plucking, screaming or biting. I am proud to say that so far she has not noticed one little bit of neurotic behavior in me. Needless to say then that I feel content with my life as it is.


Mixed Feelings About Showers

In the beginning I really hated it when Jan decided to give me a shower, but now I am beginning to like it. I still make a big fuss about it, but that's only because I like fooling around. I skip-hop around the kitchen, try to attack the rose of the watering-can and scream and sneeze as loud as I can. All the same I spread my wings and enjoy the lukewarm water.

Don't Go!

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I love it when Sophia gets ready to leave for her job. She always puts on something called a "coat". It has shiny buttons to play with, flaps to nibble on and a hood to climb in. When she has finished putting it on, she picks up her tiny backpack. That is even more fun. It has a zip to chew on, ropes to bite in and a platform to sit on. Small wonder she has difficulties being on time every morning. It does have an advantage: she claims that it is the best treatment for any morning crossness she might have.


Not a Word

Although I use many tongue twisters, my family is worried because so far I haven't said anything understandable. They are afraid I will never learn to talk, but come on! I'm only four months old! Have some patience with me. Don't I sing along with the songs Jan whistles and Sophia sings to me? I still sing in my own personal key with my own private words, but I am busy storing all yours in my memory. Have you forgotten how many words I know already? Perhaps I don't say them, but I do recognize them.

Sharing Food

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My most important task in the house is checking whether and where food is consumed. The person consuming food is top priority by all means! Above all I like it when Jan is eating. I jump on his shoulder and stare gravely into his mouth to make sure he doesn't spill anything. If I notice that food is about to drop out of his mouth (which happens quite often, but somehow only when I am near him), I am always the first to catch it. With Hilke and Sophia things aren't that easy. Although they readily share their fruit and sandwiches with me, they are really stingy with things called "sweets", "cake" or "chocolate". In fact they haven't even let me taste it. They tell me it is bad for me! So what about you two ladies? Isn't it bad for you then?


Four Months

Today I am four months old. Although none of family calls my flying "graceful", actually I am quite a good flyer now and never hit the windows or walls anymore. I can even fly into the kitchen through the open door and back again without a crash! I love to fly from one family member to another to steal a kiss or just to say hello.

Lucky Me

Everybody who visits the family says how pretty, lively, clever and intelligent I am (funny, I never hear them use the word "modest"). Naturally my family couldn't agree more, but until now they didn't think it was all that exceptional. Since their visit to the pet shop this afternoon they realized that it isn't so self-evident. They saw a two-year-old Grey who was lifeless, dull and ugly. It was a nervous wreck and half bald because of it plucking its own feathers. They felt so much pity for the poor thing.

Cage Means Home

The family lets me out of my cage about three or four times a day. They share some of their dinner with me and they are always busy with me. Don't feel pity for me when I have to go back: I don't mind it myself! In fact usually I want to go back after a while, because when I get hungry and tired I know I have a meal waiting in my cage and a nice perch to sleep on. And I know that I am allowed to come out again after a couple of hours.

Routines

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By now my life has become part of the family routine. I know all their habits, their way of talking and acting. Although I spend about half of the day in my cage, I don't really mind it because the rest of the day I get lots and lots and lots of attention. They all have their favorite activities: Jan likes to dance with me, Hilke loves to feed me tidbits from her mouth and Sophia sings to me and plays with me all the time. It so happens that those are the activities I like the most. What a coincidence, eh?


So This Is Spring?

It's spring! The outside world is becoming lighter and greener every day. I was born in November, so the only thing I know is bare trees and a gray sky. Now I know the world can be different as well. I hope it will stay this way. It makes me happy. And I noticed my family isn't indifferent to it either. Besides, I hope that I will have the opportunity to go outside very often in the near future.

Singing Songs

I recognize all songs that the family sing regularly. Sometimes the whole family sing a song together. Hilke and Sophia sing the first part, Jan a harmonious second and I take the third part. Somehow, every time when I join in, they all start to laugh. I don't know why they do that, but if they are happy, so am I.

Outside

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I figured out the purpose of the chain around my leg: it is to take me to that huge, mysterious place called Outside . While I was sitting on Sophia's shoulder, she walked to the front door and slowly opened it. A whole new world opened up for me, nice and warm and very bright. I heard birds singing, saw some people walking by (all of them looking and pointing at me) and saw a car. I was very quiet and timid, but already I know I am going to like it there.


Buttons Are Fun

Today Hilke was wearing her new sweater with the beautiful shiny buttons and little silver chains to button it up. She really is in love with this sweater, and so am I. You would've taken me for a woodpecker the way I was clinging to the sweater and pecking at the buttons. Hilke thought it couldn't do much harm, because the buttons were securely attached, but within five minutes one of the silver chains fell on the floor. I was not very popular with her for the rest of the day.

Ouch!

I don't know what came over me, but I flew at the same window three times in a row! The third time I didn't even slow down. For the first time in my life my family yelled at me and called me A Stupid Silly Crazy Bird. They were not really angry, just shaken. They were sure I'd break my neck, or beak, or any other body part. I can't even explain it myself just why I did it.

That Chain Again

Sophia put the shiny chain around my leg again and took hold of the other end. I noticed that flying is impossible with this thing, because it pulls me down immediately. I don't particularly like it, but I don't really hate it either. After a quarter of an hour she took it off again. I just can't see the Purpose of it. Could you please explain it, Sophia?

Vacation!

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Sophia's got a week vacation! I look forward to spend long, long days together, so I figured that the earlier I wake up the longer the day will be. This morning I woke her up at seven with a beautiful serenade. She didn't even mention to me how much she appreciated it. She even appeared to be a bit grumpy... but don't worry Sophia, I'll do it again tomorrow, a bit longer and louder perhaps.


Clean Cage

My family noticed I don't like to use my cage as a toilet. In the morning, I wait till they get me out and put me on the floor. The explanation is simple: I see the cage as my dining room and bedroom and who wants to dirty that? Of course, if I gotta go, I gotta go, but if I can help it I don't.

Accident

I try to investigate everything I see. Sometimes it goes wrong, like today. I was sitting on top of my cage and wanted to have a little bite from the fern on the cupboard. I couldn't reach it, so I decided to leap across. The fern toppled and plant, pot and me fell a long way down to the floor. The pot broke, the plant was destroyed and I was dirty and stunned. The whole floor was wet and covered with soil. I don't think that from today onward there will ever be a plant on top of that cupboard again.

Chained

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This afternoon, Sophia gently fiddled with one of my claws and suddenly a long, shiny chain was attached to my right leg. It was sort of fun to play with and to chew on. When I walked around, it followed me everywhere. After five minutes she fiddled with my leg again and the thing disappeared. Hmm, it was sort of nice, but on the other hand a very strange experience... what could be the purpose of that?



The Head's Head

I think my favorite family member is Jan. Everybody makes jokes about it, because in most books you read that African Greys tend to reject the family head. Not me though. Jan has the highest shoulder to sit on, the nicest sweaters to cling to and the smoothest way of moving around. Besides, he is the one that spoils me most and forbids me nothing. Fortunately, neither Hilke nor Sophia is a jealous person, so we live in complete harmony together.

Spring!

Springtime is near and the days are getting longer and longer. The white stuff has disappeared and everybody is a bit restless. They keep saying how they wish it to become a bit warmer so they can take me outside. Outside? You mean that place on the other side of the invisible barrier? I gotta be there when that happens!

Wakey!

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I had the best morning in a long, long time. Sophia could sleep late this morning, so Jan took me upstairs around half past nine and we woke her up together. I stepped around on her bed for a while, but then I discovered a hole where I could crawl under the quilt! For five minutes or so I explored it. Sophia was in there too and it was very, very cozy. The warmth made me sleepy, and for the first time in weeks I fell asleep while lying flat on my stomach. It was so nice, that when Sophia finally got up I just kept on sleeping. We have to do that again, Sophia.


Another Crash

Yet another crash, at exactly the same spot as the day before yesterday! I tried to fly to the beautiful tree in front of the house, and again something hit me. Jan kept saying he should have "closed the curtains", but Hilke and Sophia said I have to "get used to the windows in the house". It was all very confusing, but I think I have to conclude that the tree over there is out of reach for me.

Boo! Strangers!

The family had visitors again. Up to now I was always equally friendly to everybody, but my family noticed that I am beginning to be partial to strangers. There were two little children and I looked at them suspiciously, with ruffled feathers. When one of them came closer to my cage, I growled to her. No, I was not very nice to them and they didn't dare to come closer.

Another Accident

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Another accident! I still haven't figured out exactly what happened. For the last couple of days I have been looking at something called a "tree". It looked like something which would be fun to play in and finally, today, I found the courage to fly to it. But something happened! All of a sudden, something was in my way. I saw nothing, but there it was: booom! The funny thing was, I never saw anything. Now I feel a bit dizzy, but I hope that one day I will find out what it was that hit me.


Part of the Family

I love to be part of the family. I partake in the family breakfast, lunch and tea. When they have visitors, I join in with the conversation. When Jan is practicing the harmonica, I sit on his shoulder and watch if he hits the right note. When Sophia is busy with the computer, I sit on her knee, and nibble on the keyboard. When Hilke is eating, I jump on the table and keep a fixed eye on her mouth. Unlike the rest of the family she never spills anything, but fortunately she is very willing to share some of it with me right out of her mouth. I am very careful never to hurt her lip.

Shout!

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Lately, the volume of my voice has been surprising my family more and more. During the day I am a rather quiet bird (except for some friendly baby talk and joining in with the family conversation and singing along with the television), but sometimes before bedtime, when I feel like it, I shout, shout, SHOUT! Being a professional musician and very protective of his ears, Jan can't bear it and has to put cotton wool in his ears. Sophia wanted to relate an interesting experience she had, but she just couldn't get her voice through. She was rather cross with me, but that soon went over. She can't stay angry for a long time anyway.


Flying Accident

This morning I had my first flying accident. I tried to land on the TV-set, but I made a small miscalculation. I hit the wall and crashed behind the set on the floor. I was completely stunned for at least an hour, but Jan was stunned for the rest of the day! He kept saying that I am in a dangerous age and need to be supervised every second. Hilke and Sophia are a bit cooler and think accidents go hand in hand with growing up. As for myself: when my head cleared up I didn't give it any second thoughts anymore and I know that I will continue practicing my flying.

Clever Bird

I am becoming smarter and smarter in avoiding my cage. I still don't mind being in it, but if I can avoid getting in, I do. Like now, Jan is trying to get me in my cage and takes me on his hand. He carries me to the cage and tries to have me step on the perch. As soon as I notice that, I climb on his shoulder as quickly as possible. Somehow however, in the end I always end up in my cage after all. Perhaps I should just surrender immediately, but the game is so nice.

Two Months