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Old 09-13-2007, 12:04 AM   #3
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Default Re: Alex (the research parrot) found dead

I think a suspect has been found in Alex's untimely death:

Foul-Mouthed Parrot Not a Pretty Polly

His boot-button eyes and spotless blue-and-gold plumage finger him as a dandy at least, if not a gentleman.

But when he opens his beak, Barney the macaw reveals himself to be a bottom-drawer bird — the most potty-mouthed parrot in Britain, in fact.

The six-year-old bird has a vocabulary that would strip paint — together with a piercing delivery.

In recent months, he has brought disgrace upon his home, the Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary in Nuneaton, by telling the town's mayoress to "f--- off" and calling a pair of transport policemen "wankers".

The sanctuary's owner, Geoff Grewc0ck, became increasingly alarmed when Barney fixed his beady eye on a visiting vicar, announcing "And you can f--- off too".

But when the bird cussed out a visiting troupe of Beavers (entry-level Cubs and Brownies) he had clearly gone too far.

"He'd done the Brownies already," sighs Mr Grewc0ck. "'But when he said 'f--- off' to the Beavers, that's when I knew it was time to bring him in."

Nowadays, Barney spends his days in the cooler, a solitary cage inside Mr Grewc0ck's house.

Barney keeps in trim by swinging briskly back and forth on his perch, singing "bollocks, bollocks, bollocks", to himself.

Occasionally, he will break for a Rich Tea biscuit.

Mr Grewc0ck is attempting to correct Barney's language by stealth, forcing him to listen to Radio Four (the British equivalent of Radio National).

But it doesn't appear to be doing much good.

"Last week I dropped something on the floor next to the cage and when I bent down to pick it up, he leaned down off his perch and whispered really quietly, 'You twat'," Mr Grewc0ck recalls remorsefully.

"Unfortunately, I think he picked up that one from me; it's something I say when I'm annoyed, and anyway I can tell because he says it in my voice."

One theory is that Barney — who came to the sanctuary two years ago when his previous owner and language coach, a truckie, moved to Spain — has a natural suspicion of authority figures.

To test this theory, The Sunday Age visited Barney in the company of a local uniformed bobby, Gareth Evans.

PC Evans kept his bulletproof vest and bobby's hat firmly about his person as he advanced gingerly into Barney's parlour.

"F--- off," muttered Barney warily, as the fuzz approached.

The pair did not hit it off.

The bird, as jumpy as a pickpocket at a store detective's convention, nervously consumed The Sunday Age's ball-point pen and a button off Mr Grewc0ck's shirt before consenting to sidle over to PC Evans.

After biting the constable's proffered index finger, Barney finally unwound sufficiently to accept a biscuit and call the policeman a "twat", but otherwise remained mute.

Only canaries sing to the cops.

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