Monday, September 22, 2008

Arlo has been going on a learning kick this past week. It seems like overnight he added several new items to his already large repertoire. The problem is I don't work on specific items for him to imitate so he picks what he pleases from what we say around the house. It's like having an overactive conscience. In honor of us training our new puppy his favorite phrase is currently "No! No!". And for some inexplicable reason he likes to pair it with my name (both of these things are said in Clay's deep voice). So I get admonished frequently throughout the day with an authoritative: "Elissa! No! No!" He also added "here's your fresh water" and "need a clean cage?" to the list along with his surprisingly accurate imitation of the computer when it has cell phone interference. There are also a few bird calls but I'm not sure I know where he's getting them. One is obviously the house finches that visit our shrubbery.

Most of the time Arlo takes pleasure in running through his entire repertoire in random order (particularly while we're eating dinner or trying to watch a movie). But he also performs certain phrases in the consistently correct situations. Starlings might not be quite so dumb as most people think. =) For instance, when I come into the living room and turn the light on I'm always greeted with "Hi! How you doing?" Or sometimes just a jubilant "Hi Birdy!". When I'm working on the kitchen it's often: "What are you doing?". As soon as the microwave door is opened he's set off on a series of beeps in microwave tones. When he's offered treats from the table it's: "here you go birdy!". If I forget his feeding in the morning I'm gently reminded with a "want some breakfast?" And so it goes. It's great entertainment.

He still diligently practices his slightly off pitch "I'm a little teapot" whistle and his imitation of our imitation of a Bob White Quail (to celebrate his Missouri heritage). And my old favorite is still: "Hey! Ar-LO. Be NICE" (said in a very imposing voice). It's a little superfluous for me to address him when he gets a little too noisy because after every loud screeching fit he corrects himself with a "Arlo! Quit. Shhhhh." And then comforts himself "it's okay birdy birdy". His imitation of water trickling down the drain is very musical. He sounds very vain with his repeated "he's a good birdy birdy, yes he is!" or "such a pretty birdy birdy" (he likes saying 'birdy' so it often gets repeated numerous times). Then there's the standard "come here! jump up" and another favorite of mine "be right back, okay?". The list goes on and on.

Suffer from awkward silences in your house? I recommend a starling.


  1. That is so funny! I had no idea starlings were so talkative. I read that whole post out loud to Joel and we both laughed a lot. Very entertaining. :)

  2. I love Arlo! I am thinking we should get a starling ourselves...and drive Miranda crazy.

  3. Ha Ha. Peshewa went through a phase where she tried to pounce on Arlo but he would just peck her in return. Now she pretty much ignores him. You should definitely get one!