icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

BIRDS ON THE COUCH The Bird Shrink's Guide to Keeping Polly From Going Crackers and You Out of the Cuckoo's Nest

  Bird shrink Ruth Hanessian has heard it all, and in this account she sheds light on the fascinating--and often mysterious--behavior of these winged creatures.

  Co-written with Wendy Bounds and featured on GOOD MORNING AMERICA and 20/20, this quick read is filled with fast-pace tales that are as much a study of human behavior as they are of birds.


(From Chapter 3: The Bird Who Cried Wolf)

Says Ruth Hanessian:

  "One difficulty with birds who talk is that you cannot teach them to distinguish between what's appropriate speech and what isn't. They just don't care, and for all their intelligence, they have no gift for tact or etiquette--they go for the response instead.

  I once boarded a yellow-naped Amazon parrot named Bollo, who had been purchased by a couple of sailors in South America when their cargo ship entered port. On the trip home, Bollo lived on board with the crew and learned language he wouldn't have heard in most reputable pet stores. When the ship returned to the United States, the bird was sold to us at Animal Exchange.

  Bollo fit into the Animal Exchange environment very well at first. He was your classic big green parrot with a short tail, and he attracted customers' attention without fail. I figured that finding Bollo a new owner would be a cinch.

  One afternoon a tall, elegant elderly woman dressed in a sharp suit and a pillbox hat came into the store and took a look around. Mike, the store manager, was working next to Bollo's cage.

  The lady walked past them but didn't see the parrot. Bollo, however, did see her. He stared delightedly at the woman and wobbled happily back and forth on his feet. As she walked by his cage, still not seeing him, he hollered, "That's a nice piece of ass, Mama!"

  When she turned to see who was speaking, the only person in sight was Mike, who reddened and quickly hurried to the back of the store to find me. After he told me what has occurred, I immediately went looking for the woman and found her making a beeline for the exit. I explained that the bird had made the offensive remark, but I don't think she believed me.

  As I watched her scurry out the door, Chanel purse bumping behind her, I prayed the insolent parrot would hold his tongue. Gratefully, he did. Finding Bollo a new home proved to be more challenging that I had thought.

  The message here is to be very, very careful what you say around your birds. They are always listening."


Birds Who Love Too Much: And other aviary emotions

The Woody and Tweetie Complex: A Kama Sutra for Birds

Bye-Bye, Birdie: Giving Polly up

Polly on Prozac? Handling random peculiarities and passions