TALKATIVE AND mischievous: Lucy mimics a range of sounds like a doorbell, a lift’s bell and even a dog’s yap! She greets her family members by whistling out to them and saying, “Good morning”.
I bought an African Grey Parrot (AGP) from a private bird dealer in Pune way back in the year 2002, during one of my excursions at the Forts around the city. The well-known dealer had varieties of exotic birds and animals- including green and yellow Parakeets, swallows, guinea pigs, African pigeons and a cute little Congo AGP. The cost of AGPs varies from Rs.90,000 and goes up to 2 lakh, depending on the size, age and weight of the bird. I got my 8-year-old, female AGP- 6 inch and weighing 450 grams for Rs.94,000 from the dealer and named it Lucy, who has ever since become a part of our Lokhandwala family!
Lucy mainly feeds on seeds, nuts and fresh fruits; her favorite being a pink guava. Lucy, unlike other pets, is intelligent and has a gentle nature and has a remarkable inclination and ability to mimic speech- speaking in sentences and different sounds. Though the bird has been kept outside our flat in a large cage; Lucy, the great impersonator can mimic any sound- be it a doorbell, lift-bell, or a yap of our young pet dog- Don. One remarkable feature she’s adopted is greeting a family member in the morning- she whistles and says ‘come here, come here’ twice or at times simply wishes ‘good morning sir’. If exasperated or teased frequently, Lucy even shrieks or squeaks like a mouse and can even hurl insults. Most importantly AGPs should be kept entertained all the time as told by my dealer who’s advised us to keep a destructible toy in its cage. Otherwise the birds, if stressed out, can indulge in unpleasant and self-destructive behaviour and can even develop health problems, which are difficult to treat. Lucy for instance, if she’s stressed out she aggressively thumps her head on the cage bars several times or even plucks her feathers until someone notices it. About three years ago, when we forgot to give her, her favourite fruit, the bird furiously displayed its arrogance by shrieking and started to pluck its feathers until she was on a verge of bleeding. Lucy also hates the sight of other birds or other pets. If we place our pet tortoise atop its cage just to goad her, she tries to attack it by trying to hit the pet with its wings. Now 17-year-old, Lucy is a healthy, talkative and the most mischievous bird I’ve ever had. But at the same time she’s also very dedicated and loyal. African Grey Parrots can live up to 50-70 years and I sincerely hope she’ll remain with us for a long, long time.
As told to Adnan Attarwala