Talk -- or squawk -- about a smart bird! A pet parakeet in Japan was returned to its owner on Wednesday (May 2nd) after the bird TOLD police where it lived.
Although the bird -- named Piko-chan -- was coaxed onto the shoulder of a city dweller near his hometown of Sagamihara fairly soon after escaping, he kept quiet for several days before opening up to police.
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A police spokesman said that after two days, the parakeet just "blurted out" the names of the city and district where his owner's home is located. That's not enough for you? Piko-chan then proceeded to announce his home's block and street number.
Credit his owner, a 64-year-old woman, with the amazing feat. She once lost another parakeet who flew away, so decided to take precautions this time around.
"The owner decided to teach the address to this parakeet after she bought it at a pet store two years ago," a police spokesman said. "The bird's name was found to be Piko-chan as it said, 'You're pretty, Piko-chan.'"
Are you interested in a talking pet? Here's some speech communications 101:
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- When you're ready to talk with your bird, Dr. Kristen L. Nelson and Dr. Greg Harrison suggest these tips for best results:
- Choose a bird whose ancestors were known talkers -- apparently speech aptitude may have a genetic component.
- The younger the bird, the better your chance of teaching it to talk.
- Start with short words or sounds.
- Repeat the word for a few minutes several times a day.
- Pay attention to how your bird best makes sounds and "shape'' the word more to the way the bird is best able to mimic it; for instance, instead of saying "Hi,'' say "aiee,'' which is easier to pronounce.
- Stress "P'' and "B'' words that are easier for the birds to say, such as "Pretty bird.''
- Learn to read the bird's body language; if it starts making mouth movements after you've repeated a word, that's a good sign that it's trying. When the bird masters a word, reinforce it for several days before adding another.
- Avoid whistling to the bird or trying to get it to imitate other non-speech sounds.
- Use praise and positive reinforcement, such as lightly scratching its head, instead of excessive treats as rewards.
Also, "it's important to build up a trust and rapport with your bird before trying to get it to do things you want it to do,'' Harrison said. "Give the bird plenty of emotional feedback and work on establishing a deep interpersonal relationship. Birds don't have to get a sunflower seed from you to realize that you love them.''