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A very intelligent speaking grey parrot



The species is common in captivity and regularly kept by humans as a companion parrot, prized for its ability to mimic human speech, which makes it one of the most popular avian pets. An escaped pet in Japan was returned to his owner after repeating the owner's name and address.

Grey parrots are notorious for mimicking noises heard in their environment and using them tirelessly. They are highly intelligent birds, needing extensive behavioral and social enrichment as well as extensive attention in captivity or else they may become distressed.

Grey parrots are highly intelligent and are considered by many to be one of the most intelligent species of psittacines. Many individuals have been shown to perform at the cognitive level of a four- to six-year-old human child in some tasks. Several studies have been conducted, indicating a suite of higher-level cognitive abilities. Experiments have shown that grey parrots can learn number sequences and can learn to associate human voices with the faces of the humans who create them. It has been reported that grey parrots are capable of using existing known English words to create new labels for objects which the bird does not know the name. For example "banerry" ("banana" + "cherry") for "apple", "banana crackers" for "dried banana chips" or "yummy bread" for "cake".

The American scientist Irene Pepperberg's research with Alex the parrot showed his ability to learn more than 100 words, differentiating between objects, colours, materials and shapes. Pepperberg spent several decades working with Alex, and wrote numerous scientific papers on experiments performed, indicating his advanced cognitive abilities. One such study found that Alex had the ability to add numbers as well as having a zero-like concept, similar to that of young children and apes.

In addition to their striking cognitive abilities, grey parrots have displayed altruistic behavior and concern for others. Researchers found that while blue-headed macaws were unlikely to share a nut with other members of their own species, grey parrots would actively give their conspecific partner a nut, even if it meant that they would not be able to get one themselves.[36] When the roles were reversed, their partners were overwhelmingly likely to return the favor, foregoing their own nut to their partner's benefits. This indicates not only a display of selflessness but also an act of reciprocity.

A 2012 study demonstrated that captive grey parrots have individual musical preferences. When presented with the opportunity to choose between two different pieces of music via a touch screen monitor located in their cage, the two birds in the test consistently chose different songs, to which they then danced and sang along. Some pet grey parrots have also been observed using the music feature of smart speakers (such as Alexa or Amazon Echo) to verbally request playback of specific favored songs.

Some research has shown that foot preference can be linked to the number of words a particular parrot may know and use. Researchers found that grey parrots who prefer to use their right foot showed a marked increase in the number of words within their lexicon as compared to parrots who were left-footed. Scientists postulate that parrots may have lateralization of brain function, much like mammals do. 




John Long's pet parrot, is named Captain Flint, after Long John Silver's parrot in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.


'Longstride' has been thinking of Blackbeard's buried treasure for so long that Captain Flint has learned a few of the phrases often overheard during conversations with his co-conspirators, that the medium size bird knows will reward him with seeds and nuts. As his human companions seem to laugh out loud when he repeats them.


These include: "Pieces of eight," "Blackbeard's golden treasure," and "We'll shortly be millionaires shipmates."


Hence, when the parrot is peckish, it repeats: "We'll shortly be millionaires shipmates, pieces of eight." Or: "Blackbeard's golden treasure, we'll soon be millionaires shipmates."


This may be amusing to the silver tongued, John Longstride, and his cutthroat friends, but sometime it leads to embarrassing moments on board Lord Huntington's boat, the Hispaniola, during the cruise across the Atlantic ocean, through the Bermuda Triangle, into the Caribbean sea, thence to Haiti. Especially where, the parrot is an unwelcome guest to one or two of the crew. And some of the comments virtually give away the reason why John Long signed on.


John Long, simply shrugs off the revelations with a laugh. "Listen to that silly old bird. He's been watching too many movies."









Admiral Sir (Captain) Henry Morgan

Privateer & Governor of Jamaica

Ark, The

The world's largest, most comprehensive interactive DNA database


A digital communication interface for the human brain


Edward Teach, privateer turned pirate, tortured & murdered

Captain Nemo

AI onboard computer system

Charley Temple

Researcher & camerwoman, good friend of John Storm

CyberCore Genetica

The world's smallest, fastest and most powerful nano supercomputer

Dan Hawk

Computer wizard, gaming champion, crew member Elizabeth Swann

Dr Roberta Treadstone

Blue Shield, Newcastle University, England

Elizabeth Swann

Fastest solar/hydrogen ship & floating laboratory

Excalibur, Pendragon & Merlin

Anti piracy weapon & ship security system

George Franks

Legal and intelligence trust manager, Swindles & Gentry


The onboard AI supercomputer ship manager

Jill Bird

Senior BBC news presenter world service anchor

John Storm

Ocean adventurer, amateur anthropologist, & marine archaeologist

Katy, Kitty

The ships cat and lucky mascot

Professor Douglas Storm

John Storm's uncle, designer of Elizabeth Swann

Professor Jacques Pierre Daccord

UNESCO sunken realms division, conservationist

Sam Hollis

BBC & Sky freelance investigative reporter Caribbean regions

Scott Tremaine

Treasure hunting professional & ships captain

Shui Razor

Japanese privateer, ocean conservationist and historian

Sir Rodney Baskerville

Professor of Maritime History & oceanographer

Steve Green

Freelance reporter, friend of Charley Temple

Suki Hall

A marine biologist, admirer of John's work

Tom Hudson

Sky News Editor, always looking for an exclusive

Trisha Lippard

Cleopatra's call sign to protect her royal identity





Alexander Spotswood

Ambitious, (disgruntled) Governor of Virginia

Billy (Bones) One Eye

Pirate sailor, deadly marksman ex marines SBS

Captain Flint

John Long's pet parrot, pieces of eight

Commander James William Maynard

British Royal Navy, MOD, Antiquities & Acquisitions, Special Ops

Hispaniola, The

Lord Huntington's converted Arctic survey vessel

Jack Boon (Black Jack)

Pirate computer expert hacker

King Charles II

British Empire colonial slave trader, commissioner of privateers

King James II

British Royal African Company, slave trader, colonial bloody triangle

Lieutenant Robert Maynard

British naval officer, HMS Pearl, who tortured Blackbeard

Lord James Huntington

Opportunist, British Geographical Society member

Robin (John) Longstride

Pirate leader, bare knuckle fighter with silvery tongue

William Gray

Cashiered US Navy Captain, snitch & mastermind







Characteristic features of parrots include a strong, curved bill, an upright stance, strong legs, and clawed zygodactyl feet. Many parrots are vividly coloured, and some are multi-coloured. Most parrots exhibit little or no sexual dimorphism in the visual spectrum. They form the most variably sized bird order in terms of length.

The most important components of most parrots' diets are seeds, nuts, fruit, buds, and other plant material. A few species sometimes eat animals and carrion, while the lories and lorikeets are specialised for feeding on floral nectar and soft fruits. Almost all parrots nest in tree hollows (or nest boxes in captivity), and lay white eggs from which hatch altricial (helpless) young.

Parrots, along with ravens, crows, jays, and magpies, are among the most intelligent birds, and the ability of some species to imitate human speech enhances their popularity as pets. Trapping wild parrots for the pet trade, as well as hunting, habitat loss, and competition from invasive species, has diminished wild populations, with parrots being subjected to more exploitation than any other group of birds. As of 2021, about 50 million parrots (half of all parrots) live in captivity, with the vast majority of these living as pets in people's homes. Measures taken to conserve the habitats of some high-profile charismatic species have also protected many of the less charismatic species living in the same ecosystems.

Parrots are the only creatures that display true tripedalism, using their necks and beaks as limbs with propulsive forces equal to or greater than those forces generated by the forelimbs of primates when climbing vertical surfaces. They can travel with cyclical tripedal gaits when climbing.


Some grey parrots have shown an ability to associate words with their meanings and form simple sentences. Along with crows, ravens, and jays (family Corvidae), parrots are considered the most intelligent of birds. The brain-to-body size ratio of psittacines and corvines is comparable to that of higher primates. Instead of using the cerebral cortex like mammals, birds use the mediorostral HVC for cognition. Not only have parrots demonstrated intelligence through scientific testing of their language-using ability, but also some species of parrots, such as the kea, are also highly skilled at using tools and solving puzzles.

Learning in early life is apparently important to all parrots, and much of that learning is social learning. Social interactions are often practised with siblings, and in several species, crèches are formed with several broods. Foraging behaviour is generally learnt from parents, and can be a very protracted affair. Generalists and specialists generally become independent of their parents much quicker than partly specialised species who may have to learn skills over long periods as various resources become seasonally available. Play forms a large part of learning in parrots; play can be solitary or social. Species may engage in play fights or wild flights to practice predator evasion. An absence of stimuli can delay the development of young birds, as demonstrated by a group of vasa parrots kept in tiny cages with domesticated chickens from the age of 3 months; at 9 months, these birds still behaved in the same way as 3-month-olds, but had adopted some chicken behaviour. In a similar fashion, captive birds in zoo collections or pets can, if deprived of stimuli, develop stereotyped and harmful behaviours like self-plucking. Aviculturists working with parrots have identified the need for environmental enrichment to keep parrots stimulated.




A Macaw riding a tricycle


A pet parrot riding a small tricycle.





Many parrots can imitate human speech or other sounds. A study by scientist Irene Pepperberg suggested a high learning ability in a grey parrot named Alex. Alex was trained to use words to identify objects, describe them, count them, and even answer complex questions such as "How many red squares?" with over 80% accuracy. N'kisi, another grey parrot, has been shown to have a vocabulary around a thousand words, and has displayed an ability to invent and use words in context in correct tenses.

Parrots do not have vocal cords, so sound is accomplished by expelling air across the mouth of the trachea in the organ called the syrinx. Different sounds are produced by changing the depth and shape of the trachea. Grey parrots are known for their superior ability to imitate sounds and human speech, which has made them popular pets since ancient times.

Although most parrot species are able to imitate, some of the Amazon parrots are generally regarded as the next-best imitators and speakers of the parrot world. The question of why birds imitate remains open, but those that do often score very high on tests designed to measure problem-solving ability. Wild grey parrots have been observed imitating other birds.


Parrots are unusual among birds due to their learned vocalizations, a trait they share with only hummingbirds and songbirds. The syrinx (vocal organ) of parrots, which aids in their ability to produce song, is located at the base of the trachea and consists of two complex syringeal muscles that allow for the production of sound vibrations, and a pair of lateral tympaniform membranes that control sound frequency. The position of the syrinx in birds allows for directed air flow into the interclavicular air sacs according to air sac pressure, which in turn creates a higher and louder tone in birds’ singing.






A glossy black-grey cockatoo

Compared to most animals, parrots are an extremely emotional group. Parrots communicate their emotions mostly through body language instead of verbal language. Human vocabulary can exceed one million words, so body language is less important. But for animals, whose vocabularies are smaller, body language or physical communication accounts for up to ninety percent of all communication. Parrots and other animals can combine verbal language and body language to create a multitude of communication signals. So, if a parrot has a vocabulary potential of one-hundred words and one-hundred body language signals, he can combine these to create several hundred communication signals. Parrot owners often remark how much fun their parrots have when the owner attempts to imitate or 'mimic' the body language of the bird.







Parrots may not make good pets for most people because of their natural wild instincts such as screaming and chewing. Although parrots can be very affectionate and cute when immature, they often become aggressive when mature (partly due to mishandling and poor training) and may bite, causing serious injury. For this reason, parrot rescue groups estimate that most parrots are surrendered and rehomed through at least five homes before reaching their permanent destinations or before dying prematurely from unintentional or intentional neglect and abuse. The parrots' ability to mimic human words and their bright colours and beauty prompt impulse buying from unsuspecting consumers.


The domesticated budgerigar, a small parrot, is the most popular of all pet bird species. In 1992, the newspaper USA Today published that 11 million pet birds were in the United States alone, many of them parrots. Europeans kept birds matching the description of the rose-ringed parakeet (or called the ring-necked parrot), documented particularly in a first-century account by Pliny the Elder. As they have been prized for thousands of years for their beauty and ability to talk, they have also often been misunderstood. For example, author Wolfgang de Grahl says in his 1987 book The Grey Parrot that some importers had parrots drink only coffee while they were shipped by boat, believing that pure water was detrimental and that their actions would increase survival rates during shipping. Nowadays, it is commonly accepted that the caffeine in coffee is toxic to birds.

Pet parrots may be kept in a cage or aviary; though generally, tame parrots should be allowed out regularly on a stand or gym. Depending on locality, parrots may be either wild-caught or be captive-bred, though in most areas without native parrots, pet parrots are captive-bred. Parrot species that are commonly kept as pets include conures, macaws, amazon parrots, cockatoos, greys, lovebirds, cockatiels, budgerigars, caiques, parakeets, and Eclectus, Pionus, and Poicephalus species. Temperaments and personalities vary even within a species, just as with dog breeds. Grey parrots are thought to be excellent talkers, but not all grey parrots want to talk, though they have the capability to do so. Noise level, talking ability, cuddliness with people, and care needs can sometimes depend on how the bird is cared for and the attention he/she regularly receives.

Parrots invariably require an enormous amount of attention, care, and intellectual stimulation to thrive, akin to that required by a three-year-old child, which many people find themselves unable to provide in the long term. Parrots that are bred for pets may be hand fed or otherwise accustomed to interacting with people from a young age to help ensure they become tame and trusting. However, even when hand fed, parrots revert to biting and aggression during hormonal surges and if mishandled or neglected. Parrots are not low-maintenance pets; they require feeding, grooming, veterinary care, training, environmental enrichment through the provision of toys, exercise, and social interaction (with other parrots or humans) for good health.

Some large parrot species, including large cockatoos, amazons, and macaws, have very long lifespans, with 80 years being reported, and record ages of over 100. Small parrots, such as lovebirds, hanging parrots, and budgies, have shorter lifespans up to 15–20 years. Some parrot species can be quite loud, and many of the larger parrots can be destructive and require a very large cage, and a regular supply of new toys, branches, or other items to chew up. The intelligence of parrots means they are quick to learn tricks and other behaviours - both good and bad - that get them what they want, such as attention or treats.

The popularity, longevity, and intelligence of many of the larger kinds of pet parrots and their wild traits such as screaming, has led to many birds needing to be rehomed during the course of their long lifespans. A common problem is that large parrots that are cuddly and gentle as juveniles mature into intelligent, complex, often demanding adults who can outlive their owners, and can also become aggressive or even dangerous. Due to an increasing number of homeless parrots, they are being euthanised like dogs and cats, and parrot adoption centres and sanctuaries are becoming more common. Parrots do not often do well in captivity, causing some parrots to go insane and develop repetitive behaviours, such as swaying and screaming, or they become riddled with intense fear. Feather destruction and self-mutilation, although not commonly seen in the wild, occur frequently in captivity.







A scene from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, Jim Hawkins in Bristol, seeing the Hispaniola for the first time.





The popularity of parrots as pets has led to a thriving - and often illegal - trade in the birds, and some species are now threatened with extinction. A combination of trapping of wild birds and damage to parrot habitats makes survival difficult or even impossible for some species of parrot. Importation of wild-caught parrots into the US and Europe is illegal after the Wild Bird Population Act was passed in 1992.

The scale of the problem can be seen in the Tony Silva case of 1996, in which a parrot expert and former director at Tenerife's Loro Parque (Europe's largest parrot park) was jailed in the United States for 82 months and fined $100,000 for smuggling hyacinth macaws (such birds command a very high price.)

Different nations have different methods of handling internal and international trade. Australia has banned the export of its native birds since 1960. In July 2007, following years of campaigning by NGOs and outbreaks of avian flu, the European Union (EU) halted the importation of all wild birds with a permanent ban on their import. Prior to an earlier temporary ban started in late October 2005, the EU was importing about two million live birds a year, about 90% of the international market: hundreds of thousands of these were parrots.


No national laws protect feral parrot populations in the U.S.

Mexico has a licensing system for capturing and selling native birds. According to a 2007 report, 65,000 to 78,500 parrots are captured annually, but the mortality rate before reaching a buyer is over 75%, meaning around 50,000 to 60,000 will die.

Please try to resist buying any bird that is protected, and for which there is no history of being bred in captivity. Also, think about quality of life for birds if caged and not loved and cared for.


























Draft scripts for Kulo-Luna and Cleopatra The Mummy are published with 'Treasure Island' under development for 2024 release. The three films could be shot back to back - as a franchise - to make the most of the Elizabeth Swann. Screenplays available in Final Draft format for Studio executives, producers & directors.









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The rights of Jameson Hunter and Cleaner Ocean Foundation to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with section 77 and 78 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. This website and the associated Treasure Island artwork is Copyright © 2023 Cleaner Ocean Foundation and Jameson Hunter. This is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the authors' imaginations, and any resemblance to any person, living or departed, is entirely coincidental.