Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

A British woman is facing eviction from her apartment over the “persistent and serious noise nuisance and anti-social behaviour” of her African Grey parrot, Sparky. Apparently the bird is fond of saying “show me your knickers” and other raunchy phrases. (Continued under the fold…)

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Hey baby, I’m a psychic parrot. And in the future I see your clothes on my floor.

She told The Press paper: “I feel like I’m being hounded out and that this is some sort of vendetta.”

“I don’t think Sparky is being a nuisance, but the officer told me they had received complaints about the noise.”

She added: “I don’t think anyone else would get evicted because of a parrot.”

If she doesn’t get Sparky to comply with the official complaint, both bird and owner will be out. They seem to be giving her awhile to do this (12 months), but anyone who has had a talking parrot knows that there isn’t really much you can do to get them to “un-learn” a word or phrase. In fact, your emotional reaction to the word or phrase (like getting upset or mad when they say something inappropriate, or laughing) only further reinforces repetition of the word. The best approach is to just ignore them or turn your back when they say the undesirable phrase, but really, it doesn’t always work.

I think a bird who said “show me your knickers” would be hilarious, not offensive! But either way, its unfair to punish the owner of this bird for something they bird is innocently saying. Sparky just likes to get a rise out of people, and obviously doesn’t really *want* to see the knickers of every little old lady that walks by.

Comments

  1. #1 Kurt
    February 2, 2007

    I think a bird who said “show me your knickers” would be hilarious, not offensive!

    Yes, but clearly you’ve got a soft spot for our avian friends. You might be less favorably disposed toward other beasties using that kind of language…

  2. #2 Kurt
    February 2, 2007

    Show us your knickers?

  3. #3 Shelley Batts
    February 2, 2007

    One would assume that a parrot wouldn’t really know what knickers are and would have no desire to actually see said knickers, so the query can’t be taken seriously.

    Humans, on the other hand, ought to know better. ;)

  4. #4 Shelley Batts
    February 2, 2007

    …..at least I hope Pepper doesn’t want to see my knickers, as he sees a lot more than that in the shower w/ me. Naughty bird!

  5. #5 natural cynic
    February 2, 2007

    So who taught Sparky to say that?

  6. #6 Charlie (Colorado)
    February 2, 2007

    That sounds better than the pictures with the $200 blue jeans.

  7. #7 darius
    February 3, 2007

    Although the article says concerns about the parrot’s language were only prompted when she was being visited by the housing department because of the numerous other complaints (loud music at all times, loud arguments, etc.).

    It sounds like the tenant is trying to claim she’s being evicted because of the parrot in an attempt to gain sympathy, when really it’s her behavior (well, technically behaviour since she’s in England) that’s the issue.

  8. #8 Deirdré Straughan
    February 4, 2007

    My (Italian) in-laws when they first moved to Rome observed an elderly neighbor who had a splendid large parrot that he would put out for airing on the balcony of his apartment. Every now and then the bird would burst into song – lustily singing old Fascist songs, evidently a relic from its owner’s past. Upon which the owner would hustle him inside again: singing Fascist songs is illegal in Italy.

  9. #9 AgnosticOracle
    February 5, 2007

    Great to see the Friday Grey Matters return to its regular time and place! “Show me your knickers” is quite mild for Cleo’s (my African Grey) vocabulary. Fortunately I own my house. But honestly it is the smoke alarm noises, not the profanity that I’d want to fix.

  10. #10 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    February 6, 2007
  11. #11 the Bat
    February 7, 2007

    Somebody commented…
    >I think a bird who said “show me your knickers” would be hilarious, not offensive!
    >Yes, but clearly you’ve got a soft spot for our avian friends. You might be less favorably disposed toward other beasties using that kind of language…

    Frankly, I think I’d be intrigued by any other beastie using that or any other kind of language.

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