Chipper, being the oldest member of his now-extended flock, has always been very clear about one thing: He’s in charge and he sets the day’s avian agenda.
He has trained me very well. Since he can’t say everything in English, he uses the phrases he likes in order to tell me what he wants with varying intensity, emphasis, and volume. And he has trained every other parrot in the house, except for Sam, to speak the same phrases in English. (Funny enough, he has refused to learn the word “NO.”)
Pippin the peach-faced lovebird fell under his spell soon after she came to live with me. She was hardly weaned and such a tiny being. At the time, we thought Pippin was a male (more later about the shocking discovery to the contrary). Most lovebirds don’t speak, and certainly females rarely speak. But not Pippin! Chipper had her saying the most important words of life: “Chipper!” and “Whatcha doin, Chipper?” and “You be!” (shorthand for “You be good!”) For Pippin, Chipper could DO NO WRONG. (She has since come to see that Chipper in fact does have some shortcomings.)
Charlie No-Toe, under Chipper’s tutelage, speaks Chipperese. And sings, sings, sings. Rarely does Charlie imitate me anymore. No, if Chipper doesn’t say it, it isn’t worth repeating. Chipper doesn’t let on that he likes Charlie and has never called him by his name, but he’d be very sad indeed without Charlie’s company.
And so, I have three birds telling me at different times to “be good,” “see you later,” and they often ask me “whatcha doin?”. When I’m home, Chipper is always up for games and play, and will ask me “Do you wanna go?” – meaning, do you want to go chase me with my book? Or, if he feels especially daring, he may ask me, “Do you wanna go for a ride?” – meaning, do you want to let me sit on my book while you whisk me through the room? And if Pippin is distressed about something, he will ask inquiringly, “What, Pippin?”
Bedtime is also another opportunity to be reminded that Chipper is in charge: he knows when he wants to go to bed and everyone feathered goes to bed at that time. He gets the nightly head-rub and then it’s “Time to go to bed! Good night, little Roo.” And so the day ends.