Showing posts from March, 1999

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!

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!

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

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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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!


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

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.


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

Two whole months I have lived with the family now, which means two thirds of my entire life. Since the first day I came to live with the family I have kept a diary, and when I looked back on the previous two months I can't believe how quickly I have developed. Not a day passed without any progress. The family loves me so much that they can't even imagine they have ever had to live without me, and I feel the same about them. They all think I am the sweetest parrot in the whole world. Can't say that I disagree.