Two rows from me in the Copper Mountain RV Park in tiny, dusty Tacna, Arizona, a bird named Picaro is singing the theme to Mission Impossible. In between, he wolf whistles. The weather has been gorgeous lately, in the mid 70s, and Picaro has been outside for two days now in a small, shaded cage.
He’s an African Grey parrot, owned for 28 years by Patrick and Terri Donahue of Denver. But they’re on the road now and when they’re on the road, Picaro is on the road — except when they go to Mexico, where it’s a big hassle to bring in a bird. “He used to have his own passport,” said Patrick.
I think Patrick was referring to documents that allowed the bird into the country.
African Greys are smart. My sister has one. She named her Penny because she cost a “pretty penny.” Penny will most likely outlive my sister. So far, I don’t think anybody in our family wants her.
Picaro knows I’m a stranger when I peer into his cage. He stares at me. I think he’s thinking “who is this guy?”
“Come by a few times and he’ll recognize you,” Patrick said.
Patrick and Terri never taught Picaro to talk, but he picks things up. “You’re looking fine, today,” he likes to say.
Once, someone gave Picaro a bite of chocolate. That’s a “no no” for birds, bad for them — can even kill them. But Picaro was fine. Somehow he figured out M&Ms were chocolate. Now, he’s known to ask “Would you like an M&M?” which is his way, Patrick thinks, of hinting that he would like one for himself. — Chuck Woodbury