Oct 26 2008

Owned by a Parrot

Published by at 4:40 pm under Books & Events

Book Cover of The Parrot Who Owns Me, by Joanna BurgerIf you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend The Parrot Who Owns Me: The Story of a Relationship by Joanna Burger, published by Villard in 2001.  I just finished reading it and I loved it.

Joanna Burger is an ornithologist and animal behavior scientist at Rutgers University.  The book is about Tiko, a Red-lored Amazon who has lived with her and her husband Mike since 1986. 

Tiko is a commanding presence in their household.  He’s the alpha parrot in a flock of three:  himself, Joanna and Mike.  His view is that he owns them, not the other way around.  Now that I’ve read the book and understand parrots better, I can see that he’s right.

Like all parrots, Tiko is highly intelligent and social.  Living with him means knowing him as an individual and learning to understand what he’s communicating.  He is very good at making his meaning clear.

For those of us who don’t live with parrots, these concepts are fascinating.  For Joanna Burger, a bird behavior specialist, it changed her life.  Tiko’s flock dynamics, his vigilance, loyalty and devotion, and his use of tools spurred her to study the same behaviors among wild birds and mammals.

The book gave me insights into the beauty of a long term relationship across species and the behavior of birds that I hope to see in the wild myself. 

(Click on the photo of the book cover to read excerpts or buy at Amazon.com)

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