This is a photo of me, Charlie Wilson, playing a game Sue made up called “Put Your Toys Away.” I knock little plastic disks into a box and she gives me a treat. It’s a dumb game, but she seems to think it’s cute and I like the treats so, whatever.
I’m a three-year old American parakeet. Parakeets are the third most popular companion animal in the world (right after dogs and cats), and have been popular for centuries. They were first brought from Australia to Europe by English zoologist John Gould and his wife in 1838, and soon became wildly popular (the birds, not John and his wife) with the European upper class for their charming personalities and beautiful feathers. The birds became so popular that the Australian government instituted a strict ban on the export of parakeets in 1894. Now, all the parakeets in the United States are from captive breed stock.
In the Australian wild, parakeets are a stunning green with yellow heads. Captive breeding programs, however, have produced parakeets in almost every color of the rainbow. I was bred to be a magnificent chartreuse color. Unfortunately, my veterinarian’s assistant could not spell chartreuse, so my medical records list me as green. Whatever.
I have some 3,000 dazzling chartreuse feathers and spend about a third of my day examining, cleaning, and arranging them. The rest of my day is spent admiring myself in the many mirrors in my cage, playing with my bells and toys, eating, and napping. With such a glorious lifestyle, I am expected to live 10 to 15 years.
As other parakeets do (mostly the males) I talk and sing using words that I’ve heard. Some parakeets—like that show-off YouTube star, Disco—have learned hundreds of words. I figure the 20 or so words I have learned make it appear I try. Sue especially likes it when I say “hello beautiful,” or “I love you, sunshine.” Works for me, too.