The Intersection

A Parrot’s Eulogy

i-c80b007d3defdcaad1a65c6b2d04bbeb-Sheril's Pictures 246.jpgBefore Sheril dissected a sea cucumber, briefed a senator, or picked up a mic, she found me – Sparticus Maximus The Great. She’s my human. As the superior of species (hey, did you descend from dinosaurs? I thought not!), I keep her in line when necessary. You can imagine with her unusual preoccupation with books — which ought to be eaten not read! — this particular homo sapien can be a handful…err beakful. Of course, I try to be patient, recognizing she’s less evolved since humans didn’t spring into existence until sometime in the Cenozoic Era.

Anyway, when we all learned of Friday’s devastating news in the world of birds in science, I suggested guest blogging. Sheril and Chris agreed it was most appropriate since they are, you know, as featherless as hatchlings. (It’s not their fault — they were born that way).

As Shelley posted, my hero, Alex the African Grey, has died. He was the the companion and colleague of Dr. Irene Pepperberg for over 30 years and shared my love of chewing cardboard boxes. He could label colors, count objects, and was learning the alphabet. Pretty impressive given even I’ve never been able to master such feats (though I suspect I may be the first bird posting on ScienceBlogs).

I’ve been an avid reader of Retrospectacle’s Friday Grey Matters and Alex’s appearance on PBS ranks among my favorite moments on film along with Paulie and The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. Most importantly, Irene and Alex brought the amazing cognitive and communicative abilities of birds like us to the attention of folks all around the world. Thank Horus someone among you great apes finally got around to publicly recognizing our genius. Of course, given we’ve been here since the Mesozoic, it’s not fair to compare ourselves to you poor flightless hominids. So don’t be discouraged, you just have a lot of evolving to do. Give yourselves some time.

i-ddc2ca3cab33f2c75ade40abd0e00e75-alex 2.bmpHere at The Intersection, we’re extremely saddened to learn of the passing of Alex The Grey and send our deepest condolences to Irene, Griffen, Wart, and the rest of the family. Donations can be made to The Alex Foundation to help assure this important research continues.

Alex The Grey (1976-2007)


  1. #1 Linda
    September 10, 2007

    So sorry to learn of the passing of Alex the Grey. Sparticus the Great is beautiful, and certainly expresses himself very well.

  2. #2 VJB
    September 10, 2007

    You remind me of my old friend, now long gone, a peach-faced lovebird we called ‘Murdoch’. Murdoch was an obvious alpha male, and the occasional egg was certainly an aberration (and we glossed over it, being too polite). A better bird one could not envision, loyal, feisty, and clever. Coulda been an Eagle Scout.

  3. #3 Dane
    September 10, 2007

    Hope Sparticus the Great will provide regular commentary. He’s talented as he obviously knows it!

  4. #4 Steve Bloom
    September 10, 2007

    Thise of us with delicate sensibilities appreciate that Sparticus referred to only one of the two possible reasonable uses of books, or more properly their dismembered pages in the case of the use not mentioned. Decent newsprint is getting *so* hard to find these days.

  5. #5 Cara
    September 10, 2007

    I have a jenday conure. We’re both so sad to learn about Alex. He was the reason I got interested in birds. 🙁

  6. #6 Pepper
    September 10, 2007

    Hi Spartacus. Shelley over at Retrospectacle is my human. Hope to see more of you around, thanks for blogging about Alex. Very sad indeed.

  7. #7 Sparticus Maximus The Great
    September 10, 2007


    Thanks for reading. Good thing we’re both here on ScienceBlogs as someone needs to enlighten these poor flightless humans.

    We’ll never forget Alex…

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