Pet of the Day

May 25, 2001

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Ybarra, the Pet of the Day
Name: Ybarra
Age: Two and a half years old
Gender: Male
Kind: Congo African Grey Parrot
Home: Houston, Texas, USA
   Ybarra is a Congo African Grey parrot. He was born in November, 1999. Ybarra was about a year old when he started talking and he constantly amazes me with his vocabulary. African Greys are known for their talking ability among parrots, but it's more than just asking for a cracker. Ybarra has learned to associate words and phrases with appropriate (or inappropriate) situations. When it's time to go to the bathroom, he will tell me "Go bathroom" and I will put him on his bird stand. If he wants out of his cage, he will look at me with his sad face and say "I love you" or "Hey Devin!" He's completely fascinated by our dog, Decker. If he catches even a glimpse of Decker, he'll call out "Come here, Decker!" If Decker comes in to investigate, Ybarra will say "Good boy." I like his one-sided telephone conversations the best, starting with the phone ringing and going all the way to "...alright, I love you. Bye."

    I wouldn't trade Ybarra for anything, but he's not always an angel. He loves to mangle and shred things like cardboard, wood, plastic, shoelaces, carpet, shirts, bed sheets, and even a college degree. African greys can be moody sometimes, and they tend to pick out a single person to bond with. Fortunately, Ybarra picked me. Ybarra is nice, but likes to put up a tough image, so we try to humor him and act scared when he stands tall and runs across the floor attacking our toes. I also have Thibodeaux, the Catalina Macaw, and even though Ybarra is less than half the size, he'll never back down when the two of them play. Ybarra is fairly quiet most of the time, but he loves to whistle and sing and talk as soon as the sun comes up. If you have the interest, the time and the patience to put up with a bird who acts like a small child, you can be rewarded with a companion who may stay with you for the rest of your life.

    Ybarra is special, because not only does he talk, he will say things at appropriate (or inappropriate) times. Whenever the phone rings, he answers 'Hello?' and then responds in a different voice 'Hello, Ybarra.' He will call our pet dog over by whistling and then calling him by name. I have watched his personality grow over the year and a half he has lived with me. I like Ybarra because he's smart and very affectionate to me. It's a nice bonus that he may actually outlive me and I'm only 26!

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