Potty-Mouthed Parrot Gives Firefighters A Foul Greeting During Rescue Attempt


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507 shares, 426 points

Working as a firefighter can be exciting, rewarding, and heartwarming. It can also be dirty and dangerous. Everyone can agree that the people who put their lives on the line to save others are heroes. And for the most part, the ones they save are grateful. But not always.

A Frantic Call

In August of 2018, the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals in Edmonton, London, received a strange call. A pet Macaw named Jessie had escaped her enclosure, flown out the window, and settled on a neighbor’s roof. She had been there for three days when the owners called, and they were concerned she was injured. The RSPCA attempted to coax Jessie down but to no avail.

The owners then called the Fire Brigade. They told firefighters that to gain Jessie’s trust, they were to tell the bird “I love you.” Firefighters did, and Jessie replied, “I love you, too.” So far so good. But Jessie still wouldn’t budge.

A Polyglot Parrot

Then the owners told firefighters that, in addition to English, Jessie understood Greek and Turkish. The firefighters used these languages, as well, to try to get the bird to come to them. As it turned out, Jessie preferred a different language altogether — a language that consists of four-letter words.

Watch manager Chris Swallow told Metro that the bird “had a bit of a foul mouth and kept swearing, much to our amusement.” When one firefighter told Jessie he loved her, Jessie replied, “I love you, too.”

And then she told him to f**k off.

Do Parrots Really Speak? Or Do They Just Mimic?

Parrots, like humans, are “vocal learners,” which means that they imitate the sounds that they hear. But they’re not just mimicking. In the wild, parrots communicate vocally with other parrots. Parrot speech even has regional dialects. So when you take a parrot and put it into a human family, it will use speech to try to communicate with family members. And, being vocal learners, parrots will imitate human speech and use it to get what they need.

Do they understand what they’re saying, or are they just learning which sounds create the desired response? Scientists believe it’s the second one. But that is still communication. Moreover, there is ample anecdotal evidence, like this parrot who summoned a babysitter to save a choking baby, that they are very good at choosing the necessary words to get the reaction they want.

Did Jessie understand what she was saying when she told the firefighters exactly what she wanted them to do? The jury is still out on that, but our money is on yes.

What Happened Next

After flipping firefighters the literal bird, Jessie flew off to a different roof, apparently uninjured. Then she flew over to a tree, where her owners recaptured her.

As for the firefighters, they retreated to smooth down their ruffled feathers.

On Tuesday, her owners sent the London Fire Brigade a thank you video from Jessie. You can hear the gratitude in her voice.

Featured Image: CC0 by Couleur, via Pixabay

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