EVER wondered how you teach your bird to say ‘‘Polly wants acracker’’?
Lena Sotiris can do better than that.
She’s taught her 10-month-old eclectus parrot to say ‘‘Who’s mummy’s boy?’’, ‘‘I love you’’, ‘‘gimme kissy’’, ‘‘Whose your Noonie? I’m your Noonie.’’
She’s even taught him to say the alphabet.
‘‘It took him two days to learn,’’ Ms Sotiris said proudly.
As she will tell you Gandalf the Green, or Nookie, her other name for him, is a wonderful talker and companion.
Lena, who operates Nest Cafe at Kellyville Pets with her fiancee Evan Kalpaxis, met a then-for-sale Gandalf in the pet store aisles last year.
‘‘He was instantly attracted to me and jumped on me,’’ she said.
So began a game of whistling for each other across the store until Evan surprised her with the bird on their anniversary seven months ago.
Lena and Gandalf still have whistling battles — to see whose is loudest and longest — and he still hangs out in-store, but now in a cage opposite his mistress.
‘‘He goes everywhere with me and has just recently accepted Evan,’’ Lena laughed.
When he can’t spot her, Gandalf calls out ‘‘Mum’’.
‘‘He is just like a child,’’ Lena, who is from Chester Hill, said.
But despite all his learning, Lena’s headed to Pet Parrot Pre-school next week to learn more about communicating with, and caring for, her feathered child.
Vet nurse and bird trainer Rebecca O’Connor runs the popular three-hour pre-school once a month at Kellyville Pets.
‘‘What do most people want to know about their parrots? Usually behavioural tips and training methods, such as teaching them how to talk, dealing with screeching birds, feather plucking and other things to improve their birds health and wellbeing,’’ Kellyville Pets margeting manager Jes Jonkmans said.
The store’s pre-school was started 10 years ago at a time when no other NSW pet store was running one and 10 to 20 people attend on average.
Shop pets Gonzo and Konker are used as demonstrators.
PET PARROT PRE-SCHOOL
Is a three-hour course offered every first Sunday of the month at Kellyville Pets.
It teaches you about:
■ building trust;
■ handling techniques;
■ basic commands and trick training;
■ body language, health and disease;
■ environmental enrichment;
■ exercise and happiness.
The pre-school is free if you buy a hand-raised bird from Kellyville Pets, or $79 per person. Details: 9629 3282.