September 20th, 2007
As you know, Curt and I are bird lovers and share our home with three – 2 macaws and a lovebird (Beaker, R.B. and Parsley). We are saddened by the death of Alex the African Grey – one of the most famous parrots in the world.
Dr Irene Pepperberg purchased Alex from a pet store in 1973 and for the past 30 years she or someone on her research team has worked with or interacted with Alex for 8-12 hours each day. Alex blew away all pre-conceived notions about bird-brains and what they are capable of. I have watched some amazing videos of Alex as well as inteviews will Dr. Pepperberg. Alex could count to six, identify 50 objects, 7 colors, 5 shapes and answer questions about a tray of assorted objects such as
How many blue?
How many keys?
When presented with 2 like objects of different color and size, he could answer “which is smaller?” with the color of the smaller object.
He could ask for what he wanted with full sentences such as “Want a shower.” or “want corn, soft corn.” Even after 30 years Alex was continuing to learn. In fact just last month he said the word “seven” for the first time. And he had the sweetest little voice!
The following quote is from an AP article
“The last time Pepperberg saw Alex was Thursday, she said. They went through their back-and-forth goodnight routine, which always varied slightly and in which she told him it was time to go in the cage.
She recalls the bird said: “You be good. I love you.” She responded, “I love you, too.” The bird said, “You’ll be in tomorrow,” and she responded, “Yes, I’ll be in tomorrow.”
Alex was found dead Friday morning. Most of what I read said the cause of death was unknown, but birds do hide illness often until it is too late to help them. Alex was an amazing creature and my heart goes out to Dr. Pepperberg and everyone who worked with Alex on a daily basis – I’m sure that their bond with him was incredibly strong.
Here is a link to a You Tube video from Good Morning America – take a minute to watch and appreciate this amazing little guy.