Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Thursday 05 August |
The Commemoration of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

English-speaking parrot lost for 4 years shows up speaking Spanish

Keith Allison CC

Zoe Romanowsky - published on 03/03/17

Some African grey parrots can learn logical reasoning and speak in sentences

When Darren Chick, who lives in Torrance, England, lost his African grey parrot, he never imagined the bird would turn up four years later in Southern California.

Julissa Sperling found Chick’s bird, Nigel, outside her home and brought him to a veterinarian named Teresa Micco, who had placed ads looking for her own lost bird. Micco, who has facilitated five reunions between parrots and their owners, mistook Nigel for her own lost bird. She tracked his microchip to Chick, who was astounded.

“I introduced myself and said, ‘Have you lost a bird?’” Micco told the Telegraph. “He initially said, ‘No.’ But he thought I meant recently.”

Not much is known about where Nigel was for 4 years, except for one significant thing — the parrot who used to speak English with a British accent now speaks in Spanish.

Sperling said that when she took Nigel to her dog grooming business, “He was singing and talking without control,” Sperling said. “He was barking like the dogs. I’m from Panama and he was saying, ‘What happened?’ in Spanish.”

While it may seem strange that a parrot can learn a new language, studies have shown these birds have a high level of intelligence. Some can even learn logical reasoning. Most parrots can mimic human speech, and research done on the African grey parrot shows that some of them can associate words with meaning and form simple sentences.

One famous grey parrot named Alex even understood the concept of “zero,” which is something children don’t usually comprehend until the age of 3 or 4. Alex had a vocabulary of 150 words and conversed and cooperated with the researchers who worked with him.

As for Nigel, he was happy to be back with Chick, who says that he recognized his beloved parrot from the minute he saw him.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Saint Mary of the Angels
Bret Thoman, OFS
All your sins will be forgiven if you go to a Franciscan church o...
Philip Kosloski
Most priests can’t absolve these sins
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
Cerith Gardiner
Nightbirde’s beautiful message as she drops out of TV show
Gianmarco Tamberi AND Mutaz Essa Barshim
Cerith Gardiner
This Olympic event captures the true meaning of the Games
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.