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Escaped Pet Birds Are Teaching Wild Birds to Speak English

Escaped Pet Birds Are Teaching Wild Birds to Speak English


Written by Stephen Messenger, a Treehugger blogger

Across parts of Australia, reports have been pouring in of strange voices chattering high in the treetops — mysterious, nonsensical conversations in English. But while this phenomenon is certainly quite odd, its explanation isn’t paranormal. It turns out that escaped pet birds, namely parrots and cockatoos, have begun teaching their wild bird counterparts a bit of the language they picked up from their time in captivity — and, according to witnesses, that includes more than a few expletives.

Jaynia Sladek, an ornithologist from the Australian Museum, says that some birds are just natural mimickers, able to acquire new sounds based on things they hear around them. For birds kept as pets, these sounds tend to mirror human language — but that influence doesn’t cease even after said birds escape or are released back into the wild.

Once back in their natural environments, these chatty ex-pets eventually join with wild birds who, in turn, start picking up the new words and sounds. The remnants of that language also eventually gets passed along to the escaped birds’ offspring, much like it does for humans.

“There’s no reason why, if one comes into the flock with words, [then] another member of the flock wouldn’t pick it up as well,” Sladek said in an interview with Australian Geographic.

According to the report, ‘Hello cockie’ is one of the most commonly heard phrases feral birds are teaching in the wild, along with a host of expletives — perhaps the last words those escapees heard after their frantic owners realized they were making a break for freedom.

This post was originally published by Treehugger.


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Photo from Crenshaw1979 via flickr creative commons

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5:26PM PST on Feb 26, 2014

Thanks. Cute!

1:00PM PDT on Nov 1, 2013

People best watch what they say because you never know who might be listening. That includes little ears of all species!

7:53PM PDT on Jun 6, 2013

hilarious! we should be teaching them to say 'take me to your leader' in case we get too nervous when the aliens land.

3:24PM PDT on Sep 14, 2012

I can IMAGINE some of the 4 letter words they learned too.

8:19PM PST on Jan 16, 2012


9:17PM PDT on Nov 4, 2011


3:56PM PDT on Nov 2, 2011

hello wind turbines, hello wind turbines, hello wind turb....
Change is good but mind our ecosystems. Easy on eolian power until bird loss is reduced!
Less birds = more insects = less crops = more pesticides

3:21AM PDT on Oct 31, 2011


8:59AM PDT on Oct 26, 2011


6:22AM PDT on Oct 26, 2011

So English is going to become the world language of the birds too.

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