Survey Results: What's In a Name?
Our survey on how birds get their names elicted an enthusiastic and generous response, with a particularly interesting sampling of the various African species. About 20 percent of the respondents are members of the African Parrot Society; the other 80 percent are visitors to our website.
What is the point in collecting parrot names if they are not shared? Just look at this list of clever, cute, thoughtful names.
Congo African Grey
Peach Faced Lovebird
Kermit the Frogbird aka Kermie
Ages of parrots in our survey ranged from a few months old to Joanne Gilden's 27-year-old Tarzan. You may remember Tarzan from a previous survey. He's the bird who says, "It's a virus, Dr. Gilden."
About 58 percent of the birds were named by their owners. Another 20 percent were named by a family member. Fifteen percent were named by the bird's previous owner, and seven percent were named by someone else.
Ruth Douglas Miller (KS) has had her Senegal, Mango, for three years, but her bird was named by its previous owner. She writes, "The previous owner thought birds ought to have 'silly' (not normal English) names, and Mango fits a Senegal's colors. I would probably have given her a different name, but I didn't feel right about renaming her."
Jean Feakes (AK) has a Lesser Jardine's that has adapted to a name change. She said, "When I got Kazoo his name was Jasper. I didn't feel that the name expressed his personality, but couldn't think of one that did until I heard him making a noise like a kazoo. That's all it took. He sort of named himself."
His or Hers?
As you look through the list of names, you will see that many of them are genderless. Many respondents said this was important in their choice of a name. About 40 percent of these pet owners knew their bird's sex before it was named, but 60 percent did not.
Pat Dieck (WI) had a good plan when she purchased her peachfaced lovebird. "We purchased Millie in the year 2000 so we thought 'Millie [Millenium]' would be appropriate since we'd always know how old she was. SHE turned out to be a HE, so we sometimes now refer to him as Milford."
Approximately 20 percent of our bird owners looked through books or lists in their search for appropriate or unique names. Several respondents went to African websites to find African words to name their African parrots. The other 80 percent based their names on how the bird looked, on their hobbies, on the names of other birds in the household or on infant behaviors or sounds that just stuck, such as Scooter and Squeaker.
Stuart Delman's (NY) wife named their new Senegal Goldie because, "As a baby, Goldie had the most beautiful forehead of golden feathers. After her first moult they were replaced with silver grey feathers, but the name stays."
Randy Wood (MD) named his Congo grey Hope. "I decided on Hope shortly after 9/11 and thought everyone needs a little 'hope' in their lives."
About 20 percent of our bird owners waited to get to know the bird's personality before they chose a name. The rest just named their birds.
Elaine Hruska Chavez (NY) named her Lesser Jardine's Lola because, "It was obvious observing the young parrot that she preferred men. She was named after the town temptress in the Italian opera Cavallerie Rusticana."
More than 90 percent of these birds recognize and respond to their names. Perhaps even more amazing is that about 60 percent know the names of the other pets in the household, and almost 40 percent know the names of people in their homes and their friends.
Debi Schmitt (CA) has had her Congo grey, Nelson Mandela, for nearly all of his 13 years. She said, "He knows all the names of all 10 birds I have. He uses the correct names always. Even if he can't see them, he knows their voices."
Marilyn T. (HI), owner of Jadee, a Jardine's parrot, writes: "My mother-in-law, who lives next door has a cockatiel whose name is Cupie, and he is very vocal. Because our homes are situated fairly close to each other, our birds have learned how to communicate and have taught each other how to whistle the same tunes. It's so funny to hear Jadee saying "Cupie" and Cupie saying, "Jadee, naughty, naughty!" Jadee also puts on a whistling and dancing act (lifting one leg at a time while bobbing up and down on her perch) whenever two of her favorite male family members come into the room. In fact, she recognizes the sound of their cars and their voices and begins her 'act' even before they come into the house. She's like a little watchdog!"
Karii Smith (NY) has had 14-year-old Congo grey, Willie Wonka, for only two years. Willie was the name given by his first mom, and Karii added the Wonka. She writes, "Willie Wonka is my hero, and Willie is a genious like Wonka. Willie is one of a kind. He has a vocabulary of over 1,000 words and 1,000 sounds as well. Willie calls me by name, my husband, the cats, and he also calls me a bird. He knows all of my friends' names, and even a lot of acquaintances, too."
No identity crises here. These birds and their owners know exactly who they are. Thank you for sharing these rich anecdotes.
I am going to suspend the surveys for awhile, and replace this feature with a Questions & Answers column. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the readers and their birds through the surveys, and if you have, too, let me know. We can resume the surveys at any time. Meanwhile, send me your questions, comments, observations, and I will weave them into a different kind of communication for our readers. Email me at Cbeaneco@aol.com or write or fax me at the address listed in the masthead on Page 2.
© 2003 African Parrot Society
Last updated: December 03, 2003
Return to APS Home Page