The Bird Needed Gift Boxes


“Ma’am, you ordered thirteen dollars’ worth of gift boxes,” said the representative.

“No, I didn’t,” said the woman.

“Yes, you did,” said the representative.

“No, I didn’t,” said the woman.

“No, I didn’t,” said her parrot in her voice.

As recently reported in the New York Post, in London a clever African Grey parrot spent $13 on gift boxes from That’s right; the parrot mimicked its owner’s voice, activated Alexa and placed the order. (Why? I have no idea! Maybe to send seed to its friends?)

Those in the know in the parrot world are fully aware of the intelligence of parrots and particularly of the African Grey whose greatest individual was the late Alex, the bird who could reason and accurately use basic vocabulary under the tutelage of animal psychologist, Irene Pepperberg.

My parrots—Augustus, a Quaker parrot of about 21 years, and Mr. Squeaky, a green-cheek conure, about five years old— are not as smart as the parrot mentioned above. They can’t order from like the parrot in London or have a vocabulary of over a hundred words, like the legendary Alex.

However, Augustus and Mr. Squeaky can pitch food and cutlery with the aim of Sandy Koufax to get our attention. They can strategically poop on us to convey disdain or give a mild bite to express annoyance.  Actually, only Augustus can regulate his bite. Mr. Squeaky will draw blood every time; but he’s a teenager.

There is a great documentary about the intelligence of parrots and crows titled Beak & Brain: Genius Parrots from Down Under. It can blow you away if you think a bird’s brain is merely a birdbrain.

And if a bunch of gift boxes arrive at your house? Who knows who ordered them?

Frank Scoblete’s latest books are I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, Confessions of a Wayward Catholic and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.


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