If you have children, or have been around them, you know they pick things up quickly — particularly language you don’t want them to. You’ve heard the saying “Monkey see, Monkey do,” but that phrase applies to more than primates and unruly children.
So how does that factor in when you have a feathered child who has the mental and emotional development of a 5-year-old?
African Grey Parrots are notorious for their uncanny mimicking abilities and their cunning. They can boast up to 1,000 words in their vocabulary.
But it doesn’t stop there — these birds, unlike many smaller parrots and other birds that learn to “talk,” can use language in context.
Stop and think about that for a moment. That means they don’t randomly spew diction that has nothing to do with the current circumstance. That means they know things.
One of the most famous studies of this phenomenon involved an African Grey named Alex. Alex could count, knew colors and shapes, and could tell you what material an item was made out of. He did the typical parrot thing, too, and learned to pick up and use phrases correctly.
The night before the bird passed away at age 31, after being put back in his cage, he said “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you” to Dr. Irene Pepperberg, his owner.
All that makes this next video perfectly believable.
Bibi is an 11-year-old African Grey, and she’s used those 11 years to pick up some useful terms. It’s an amusing trick most of the time, but her owners Greg and Kelly recently learned that she’s been using it in a way they never expected.
Apparently, this savvy birb knew how to say “Alexa” as well, and ended up creating quite the shopping list through the family Amazon Echo.
When her owners noticed that there was a 19-item shopping list saved for them on the device, and they had no recollection of creating it, they decided to ask Alexa what was on that list. Hilarity ensued, and it soon became clear who had made this list.
While items like “big tofu” and “easy water” seemed like one-offs, Bibi clearly has an obsession with fruit — especially berries. And strawberries. And strawberry-related products.
Kelly filmed Alexa reciting the items. “We laughed until tears were streaming down our faces,” she wrote. “It appears that most — if not all — of the items were added to the list by Bibi the bird.”
The camera pans to the culprit several times throughout the video, and Bibi looks like she has no shame.
Some have suggested that a parrot wouldn’t be able to outfox a device that has been set up to recognize an individual voice — but the intelligent birds are quite convincing in their mimicry. Bibi could probably get past that, too.
Lest this bird/technology combo get completely out of hand, Kelly and Greg have taken measures to make sure that these escapades don’t lead to actual deliveries.
“Fortunately, we disabled the automatic-purchase feature of the Echo,” wrote Kelly, “otherwise we’d be up to our necks in the bird’s favorite food.”
Special thanks to Bibi’s owners for sharing this fantastic clip with the rest of the world. And Bibi, we hope you got at least a few strawberries out of this.
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