by Shelly Lane
Alex’s story continues. The following are stories from age 8-12 months. They show how Alex’s understanding of language continues to develop as she gets older. At this point, having a Quaker is still pretty new to me, and you’ll see how easily impressed I am with her intelligence.
I just had to share this with all of my Quaker friends. We have a foreign exchange student from the Czech Republic staying with us for the rest of the school year. Lucie is really amazed that not only can Alex talk, but that she actually seems to know what she is saying most of the time.
The other day Lucie was watching tv. She tends to turn the volume on the tv rather loud, and this, of course, gets the birds excited. Well, they were getting pretty noisy, so Lucie tells them “Quiet!”. Alex replies, “All right.” Surprised, Lucie again tells the birds “Be Quiet!” to which Alex answers “Quiet! ALL RIGHT!”
I just don’t know what I would do without Alex – she is such a joy! Wednesday night when we got back from our trip, I was dead-tired and depressed because our flight was late so I wouldn’t be able to pick my yorkie up from the dog kennel until the next morning. I walked in the door and Alex immediately starts saying “Good! Good!” over and over. It was such a nice welcome! So, do you think she missed me? 😉
Running tap water – that’s really funny! Alex has picked up some new sounds, too. In addition to her Yorkie bark and growl, she now imitates the cat purring (purr purr purr) – it’s really hilarious. The other sound she has picked up is the sound of the pump from the water bottle I use to give my birds a bath (click click).
The other day I was giving my dog, Amber, a bath. I walked out to the living room where Alex’s cage is so I could blow dry Amber and said “Amber’s wet!” Alex said something that sounded like wet. I didn’t think she knew that word, but I know she does say “What?” a lot. So I said “Not what. Wet!” Without any hesitation Alex says “Wet! Grrrrrrr” in a perfect imitation of Amber’s growl (Yes, Mom. I know the dog is wet!). These birds sure know how to communicate. She doesn’t say Amber’s name yet, so she picks out the most appropriate sound from her vocabulary to get her point across.
You would think that after living with Alex for 8 months now, I would begin to realize that I should never underestimate a Quaker’s intelligence and ability to communicate with me. But I bet she thinks I’m pretty stupid sometimes!
I agree – Quakers definately have a sense of humor. Sometimes when Lucky (sun conure) is playing in her cage she will fall – big crash! Alex will laugh and laugh at this. And usually Lucky will chuckle as she picks herself up from the bottom of the cage. =)
My Alex constantly amazes me with her antics and the phrases and sounds that she picks up. Her favorite sound right now is my Yorkie’s growl, but she also barks, purrs and coughs. And she continues to pick up new phrases all the time which she usually says in context. For example, she says “time to go night-night” when I cover her cage at night and “bye-bye” when I wave to her and walk out the door.
One of the newest things she has picked up is several seconds of screeching followed by a stern-sounding “Alex!”. Every once in awhile she’ll also add “Be Quiet!”. She picked this up from a foreign exchange student who is staying with us right now. It’s pretty hilarious. Life is never dull with a Quaker around!
Earlier tonight we were watching the fireworks on tv (ours is a day early). I admit we had the volume turned up pretty high to get the full effect of the music and the booms. The music was building toward the finale when Alex, who had been unusually quiet, started screaming “Be Quiet! Be Quiet! Be Quiet!!” over and over at the top of her little lungs. We all laughed so hard we had tears running down our faces. Of course, Alex thought it was pretty funny too so she laughed right along with us!
Wishing all of our Quaker friends a safe and happy 4th!
Shelly and Alex (But Mom, that’s what you tell me when *I’m* noisy!)
Yesterday I decided to indulge myself by taking the time to sit down at the piano and play for awhile – something I haven’t had much time to do lately. I was about 5 or 6 measures into the first piece when Alex said “Good!”. I thought – no, it’s just a coincidence. But then Alex surprised me by saying “Good!” at each and every pause between the sections in this piece and then at the end she complimented my playing by saying “Good Girl!”.
These were the only words she spoke while I played (although she did chirp and whistle along with me). It was so sweet, it brought tears to my eyes. This bird never ceases to amaze me!
P.S. I sure am glad I have you guys to share these stories with. I also share my Alex stories with the people I work with, but they find it hard to believe that a bird can communiciate so clearly and intelligently. I’m sure they think I make most of it up!!
Alex does a great imitation of a cough, too. She has also recently picked up the squeeky sound that our door makes when someone opens it. Anytime I pick up my purse and head for the door, she says “Bye-bye. Squeeeeek”. She imitates the sound perfectly. What’s really creepy is when my husband is out of town and I’m home alone. When I hear that sound, I have no idea if it’s Alex or if someone is actually coming in that door!
I am working in the home office, and Alex and Lucky are up here with me in their aviary. I always put them on different perches to start out, so today Alex is on a perch that is higher than Lucky. Anyway, Lucky keeps looking up at Alex and pacing back and forth like she’s trying to figure out how to get up there with her (they haven’t mastered climbing on the mesh yet). But Alex has it figured out! She keeps telling Lucky “UP! UP! UP!” and then she lifts her little foot in the air! What a smart birdie!!!
I have a cute story about Alex that I wanted to share with you all. Some of you have already heard part of this, but I’ll start from the beginning for all of the new folks. Alex is a great talker, but for some reason she has trouble saying the phrase “time to go night-night” which is what I tell her when I cover her cage for the night. She will say the first 1, 2 or 3 words, but it’s hard for her to get the whole thing out.Whenever she does say it perfectly, I make a great big deal about it. I tell her “good!” and also how wonderful she is, how smart, etc. Well, it wasn’t too long before she was telling me “good!” whenever *I* said “time to go night-night” to her. (Sassy little thing, isn’t she?) Whenever she would tell me “good!”, I would tell her “thank-you” (my mom raised me to be polite <g>).
Well, now you know what’s coming next. Last night when I covered Alex’s cage, she said “time to go night-night”. I told her “good!” to which she replied “Thank-You!” in her sweet little voice. It was sooooo adorable.
PS – She has also started saying my name. I’m not really sure where she learned this from – I have not tried to teach her this. It sounds a little gruff so maybe she picked it up from my husband. She actually uses it to call for me – she says “Shelly!” and then if I don’t respond she will follow it with “What. What!?”. Quakers are just too smart!
Yesterday, Lucky (sun conure) was being pretty screechy, and even though it was getting on my nerves I made myself not react to it. Well, I sat down to watch tv and she was being really noisy again. I was just about to get up to cover her cage, when I heard Alex say “Lucky! Be Quiet!”. I didn’t even know she could say Lucky’s name. And guess what? Lucky was quiet after that!
However earlier in the week, she said something that caused my jaw to drop to the floor. (Please excuse me if I already told this story.) As I said earlier, she has been calling me by name. Well, the other day, she called “Shelly!”. I said “What?” and she made this cute little sound I had never heard before. I just laughed, told her how cute she was and so on. A few minutes later she called me again – “Shelly!”. I said “Alex, what do you want?” and she made the same cute little sound, but this time I understood it clearly. She said “Out!”. (Yes, after asking me so nicely I did let her out <G>)
I had know idea she knew this word, either. I tried to figure out where she had heard it. The only thing I can think of is that sometimes when I take her out of her cage, before I tell her “up” I ask “Do you want to come out?”. I was amazed!
Back to Alex’s Diary – The First Year