Fostering an African gray parrot

Best Friends writer and his family make the decision to foster a homeless African gray parrot who has a special skill: She burps!
By David Dickson

There’s really no way to write this story without doing so from a personal point of view. So here goes. Feathered Friends, the bird area at Best Friends, was running a bit low on room and they asked if anybody would be interested in fostering some of the birds. My family and I decided that we’d love to. As an aside, we already have a cute little leprechaun of a bird named Tiki. She’s a green Quaker parrot and quite a riot. We figured one bird was great. Why not two?

Fostering a bird

Anyway, Jasper, a six-year-old African gray, came to the sanctuary right around the time the bird area needed some foster homes. Grays have always intrigued me, so my family opted to foster Jasper. She came to our home and right away started making funny whistles and dangling upside down. In no time, we heard her say "Jasper" and "I love you," among other things. A talented lass is she, not that anybody should look to adopt a parrot solely for their ability to vocalize. Still, it was fun to hear what she could do.

A bird who burps

The ultimate sign that we had a true gem in Jasper came one night early on when I strolled through the door carrying a soda. Jasper took one look at me with my carbonated beverage and let out the most horrific, make-your-mom-scowl belch I’d ever heard!

You see, inside many grown men, myself included, resides a portion of the brain permanently allocated to that 12-year-old adolescent time when belching around the campfire with other guys was the best way to spend an evening. When Jasper threw out that highly polished mimic, a fully accurate root-beer belch, I felt deep down that it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. And guess what? It was.

Find out about parrot adoption considerations in Best Friends resource section.

Photos by Molly Wald

Caring for Pets