Adventures in parroting

Carrie J. Sidener and her Quaker parrot, Simon.

Sometimes I think I should invest in one of those pet webcams.

You know, the ones where you can peek in on your beloved critter and chat with them. My niece has one that will launch treats at her dogs but I think flying treats and disembodied voices might terrify my little green Quaker parrot.

I don’t know how Simon would feel about being spied on in the middle of the day when he’s plotting to take over the world, surfing the internet to figure out how to get a lifetime supply of his beloved Nutriberries or vegging out to endless hours of daytime television.

What Simon does when no one is watching is anyone’s guess. Since no packages of Nutriberries have mysteriously arrived on my doorstep, I think I can rule out online ordering.

Since I’m not home all day, a chunk of Simon’s life is a complete mystery to me. When I come home, there may be a few toys rearranged and big chunks of pepper missing from his food dish but, more often than not, I find Simon sitting on the same gnarled wood perch where I put him when I locked up his cage before leaving.

I turn the radio on so Simon can stay up to date on the latest hits, and leave the blinds open on a window near his condo of a cage so he can watch the world go by. When I get back home, there’s an excited little bird dancing on that gnarled perch waiting for me to open the door.

On a recent day off, I decided it was time to clean and organize around the house. Simon flew to my shoulder and rode there as I swept and mopped. The vacuum sent him back to his cage but once it was off, Simon returned to his favorite spot on my shoulder and watched the action. When it came time to work on the second floor, I put Simon back in his condo and went to work upstairs.

Simon called out to me for a little while, his voice echoing up the stairs. Then he settled in to entertaining himself with some vocalizations. First it was the wolf whistle, over and over again.

He learned to whistle from his previous family, I assume. He certainly didn’t learn it from me. It’s not a skill I ever mastered and, try as I might, I can’t even come close to producing the sound.

Simon whistled and chattered for a while. Then he began to whistle a tune.

I crept halfway down the stairs, trying not to alert him to my presence. Then I started recording. It’s hard to hear since the phone was so far away, but it is clearly a song. And it is a familiar one, though I can’t yet place it.

It’s not the Andy Griffith theme song, which my neighbor dutifully has been whistling to Simon every time he pet sits.

After recording about 30 seconds of his chatter and song, I crept farther down the stairs in hopes of getting better sound quality but the old wooden steps creaked, revealing my spy roost. Simon interrupted his song to call out to me, inviting me to stop all that silly cleaning and come downstairs to play.

I’ve played it for several people now, who all feel it’s something they’ve heard before. The best guess at the moment is it’s a portion of “The Addams Family” theme song. I’m not entirely convinced it is, but I can’t think of a better theme song for this household.

Carrie Sidener is the special publications editor for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5539.

Carrie Sidener is the special publications editor for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5539.

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