Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/556

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

the parrot entertained himself by talking; but when he heard a sound he hoped at first to see some one come; and when no one answered him, he raised his voice, as a person would do who calls, and, getting no reply, cried out louder and louder till he was heard and answered. The meaning of the differences of intonation is as evident in this case as in that of the drunken man. A parrot raised in the south had learned to swear in the local patois. Being fond of coffee, he was sometimes given a spoonful, which he would come awkwardly up to the table to drink with his master. One day the master, not thinking of his bird, had already added cognac to his coffee, and gave the parrot the accustomed spoonful. The parrot took a swallow of it, and, in his surprise at the novel taste, raised his head and repeated the oath in a tone that excited laughter in all who were present. The cause of his surprise being discovered, he was soothed, and then took his usual ration with evident signs of contentment. The mimicry of language in this case clearly represented the shade of the new impression he felt.

Jaco is very timid. In the evening, when he is put to roost in a close and dark room, he is afraid of the shadow of his perch that is cast by the light we carry in our hand; he eyes it, and utters a low cry, which stops when the candle is blown out and he can not see the shadow any longer. He stands in dread of blows in the bottom of his cage, because, having a wing broken, he can not fly, and is afraid of falling. Feeling his weakness, his language has a different tone from the usual one. Large birds flying in the sky above him annoy him greatly, and we can all tell by his voice when such a bird is near or flying over. He inclines his head and chatters in a low tone as long as the bird is in sight, paying no attention to anything else. Turkeys and hens announce the approach of a bird of prey in a similar manner.

We find in the facts which we have related, as well as in many others which are cited respecting the ways and habits of parrots, proofs of a remarkable intelligence. These creatures are distinguished by the unlimited affection which they bestow upon certain persons, as well as by their excessive dislikes, which nothing can explain. Jaco conceived an extraordinary dislike for a maid who, although she took good care of him, was in the habit of washing the bottom of his cage under a faucet. He afterward discarded another person, whom he had liked so much that she could do what she pleased with him, even to passing her hand over his back and taking him by the tail, holding him in her hands, or putting him in her apron—caresses of a kind that parrots do not usually permit. Nothing astonished him or offended him. He proved very inconstant toward her, and now, while better disposed toward the other girl, he is furious against this one.