An African Grey purchased from a pet store in June of 1977, Alex came from humble beginnings. His accomplishments proved that African Grey parrots have an intelligence far beyond what had been thought prior to his work with scientist Dr.Irene Pepperberg. Alex possessed more than 100 vocal labels for different objects, actions, and colors, and could identify objects by their particular material. He could count object sets up to the total number six and was working on seven and eight. Alex exhibited maths skills that were considered advanced in animal intelligence, developing his own zero-like concept in addition to being able to infer the connection between written numerals, objects sets, and the vocalization of the number. Alex was learning to read the sounds of various letters and had a concept of phonemes, the sounds that make up words. Alex's personality was very evident in his everyday life. He was in charge of his home and relished ordering humans to perform various tasks for him. He also acted as coach and cheerleader to his fellow birds, Wart and Griffin, alternately encouraging or admonishing them during their lessons. On September 6, 2007, aged only 31, Alex died from sudden heart arrhythmia.
With more than 10,000 Facebook fans and an animated cartoon in the works, Snowball the dancing cockatoo has come a long way since being given, in 2007, to Bird Lovers Only, a bird sanctuary in Indiana USA. Among Snowball's belongings was a CD programmed with Backstreet Boys music. His former owners said to play it and watch the bird's reaction. Snowball's reaction, to bob his head and lift his feet to the rhythm of the music, made him an international sensation. Since a video of his dancing went viral, he has starred in two commercials, made numerous television appearances and even has a display dedicated to him in the Science Museum in London. Snowball's fame has drawn positive attention to the bird sanctuary. The 14-year-old bird's image is printed on T-shirts, bumper stickers and badges.
US President Andrew Jackson's African Grey parrot. He purchased the parrot for his wife before he was inaugurated (in 1829), to keep her company. His wife died, but Poll lived on in Tennessee, eventually outliving Jackson himself. According to lore, the parrot, who spoke both English and Spanish, had to be removed from the seventh president's funeral service (in 1845) as it was cursing up a storm in both languages.
A macaw, named Charlie, lives at Heathfield Nurseries, in Surrey in the UK. Peter Oram, owner of Charlie, believes his father-in-law Percy Dabner sold the bird to Sir Winston Churchill in 1937 and then took it back after the politician's death in 1965. But Churchill's daughter Lady Soames believes this bird may have been confused with an African Grey parrot called Polly who lived with her family at Chartwell in Kent. Meanwhile Charlie entertains customers by squawking anti-Nazi abuse which Mr Oram claims it picked up from Churchill.
The Dead Parrot
Arguably the most famous parrot ever is one which never actually existed. The "Dead Parrot Sketch" is a hugely popular sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus. It was written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman and first broadcast on 7 December 1969. The sketch portrays a conflict between disgruntled customer Mr Praline (played by Cleese) and a shopkeeper (Michael Palin), who hold contradictory positions on the vital state of a "Norwegian Blue" parrot. It pokes fun at the many euphemisms for death used in British culture. The Norwegian Blue is also a gag, there is no such species.