They are called “brush-tongued” Parrots. The color of the first plumage of the young is still unsettled. This bird is a favorite among bird fanciers, is readily tamed, and is of an affectionate nature. It can be taught to speak very creditably, and is very fond of attracting the attention of strangers and receiving the caresses of those whom it likes. There are few things a parrot prefers to nuts and the stones of various fruits. Wood says he once succeeded in obtaining the affections of a Parisian Parrot, solely through the medium of peach stones which he always saved for the bird and for which it regularly began to gabble as soon as it saw him coming. “When taken freshly from the peach,” he says, “the stones are very acceptable to the parrot, who turns them over, chuckling all the while to show his satisfaction, and picking all the soft parts from the deep indentations in the stone.” He used to crack the stone before giving it to the bird, when his delight knew no bounds. They are fond of hot condiments, cayenne pepper or the capsicum pod. If a bird be ailing, a capsicum will often set it right again.
The parrot is one of the hardiest of birds when well cared for and will live to a great age. Some of these birds have been known to attain an age of seventy years, and one seen by Vaillant had reached the patriarchal age of ninety three. At sixty its memory began to fail, at sixty-five the moult became very irregular and the tail changed to yellow. At ninety it was a very decrepit creature, almost blind and quite silent, having forgotten its former abundant stock of words.
A gentleman once had for many years a parrot of seemingly rare intelligence. It was his custom during the summer to hang the parrot’s cage in front of his shop in a country village, where the bird would talk and laugh and cry, and condole with itself. Dogs were his special aversion and on occasions when he had food to spare, he would drop it out of the cage and whistle long and loud for them. When the dogs had assembled to his satisfaction he would suddenly scream in the fiercest accents, “Get out, dogs!” and when they had scattered in alarm his enjoyment of it was demonstrative. This parrot’s vocabulary, however, was not the most refined, his master having equipped him with certain piratical idioms.
According to authority, the parrot owner will find the health of his pet improved and its happiness promoted by giving it, every now and then, a small log or branch on which the mosses and lichens are still growing. Meat, fish, and other similar articles of diet are given with evil effects. It is impossible for anyone who has only seen these birds in a cage or small inclosure to conceive what must be the gorgeous appearance of a flock, either in full flight, and performing their various evolutions, under a vertical sun, or sporting among the superb foliage of a tropical forest which, without these, and other brilliant tenants, would present only a solitude of luxuriant vegetation.