Rally was no ordinary baby. He was a special chick, hatched with a fifth digit on his right foot. It was more then chance that we met in the summer of 2008. I had decided that I would add another Blue Crowned Conure to the flock of two young adults. Being less common then many of the Conure Species I found myself fortunate when a close friend mentioned a unique baby he had found in a nest recently, and so Rally came to live with me at the age of three weeks.
It was love at first sight, as I placed the fuzzy pin-feathered ball of energy into his incubator. Right from the start we knew he was special, and there was something different about this bold, out going Conure baby. Rally was very observant of his surroundings even from this tender age and missed nothing with his wide-eyed gaze. As he began to mature, and spent more time on his play stand, we quickly realized he was no common Blue Crown. Extremely quick to learn, he began to speak at the young age of seven weeks, and has never stopped. It was not until he was close to his first hatchday that we began to note his tendency to mimic human hand gestures.
Parrots are very observant, and Rally quickly learned to gesture using both foot, and beak actions to express his wants. The first sign symbol he learned was to ask for food using his left foot, by taking it slowly to his beak, then opening his beak to mimic the biting action. Every time we ate a meal, he would use the same action, in complete, correct order until we handed him a treat. We would tell him thank-you each time and using our right hand to the mouth action as if blowing a kiss to him we reinforced his communication. Within a week he also followed each treat taken from us with the gesture in perfect order.
Rally quickly added his own actions to his sign language, and would repeat each one for a specific situation. He developed a complex set of actions to indicate he was tired and wanted to go to his cage to sleep, using both feet. He bent and kissed his left foot first, then lifted his right up to his beak and kissed it. These actions were done in a quick, set pattern each time. He had taught us to understand Parrot-signing, and opened a whole new world of education and understanding for us.
With Rally as an example it is easy to see the potential to teach Parrots to respond and communicate using set patterns of actions. Rally has taught his constant companion, a Green Cheeked Conure to respond to his sign-language. The possibilities are endless and the future usage of this Parrot taught means of communication is endless and full of hope. This language goes beyond the basis offered finger gesture to step-up and opens a whole world of limitless opportunities.