African Gray by author and public speaker Tony Candela #Author’sCorner #Animals #WordsOfWisdom

African Gray by author and public speaker Tony Candela #Author’sCorner #Animals #WordsOfWisdom

Good afternoon, Everyone.

Today’s post from Tony is one of my top pics for 2023.

Check it out below…

African Gray

By Tony Candela

Three and a half years ago, when I entered a relationship with one of the sweetest ladies ever, I inherited a child. His name is Billy and he is around 25 years old. Yes, there are occasions when a child comes with a new relationship, but do we fall head-over-heels in love with them as I did?

As it turns out, Billy is not exactly human, but does a great job of making you think he is. My second newest love is an African Gray parrot. At my lady’s urging, I even managed to write a song about him which I will annotate and present below. First, I’d like to tell you how I realized I felt as much for this bird as I do.

One day about a year ago, I succumbed to a Hilton Honors member sales pitch and agreed to book a long weekend stay at one of its facilities in exchange for attending a 2-hour presentation on time-shares. I’d done this before and was sure I could politely engage the sales pitch and just as politely say “No” to the purchase offer. The trip would have required us to either put Billy into a pet-care situation or leave him in his familiar environs, night-light on and NPR softly playing in the background, providing company to make him feel secure and, of course, well-educated.

As the time approached, I found myself drifting into buyer’s remorse. I didn’t mind the thought of the AMTRAK ride to Virginia Beach or the transit to the hotel. I certainly didn’t mind the thought of spending three days “honeymooning” with my girl nor the business side of things. No. what had me almost apoplectic was the thought of leaving Billy alone for so long. I cancelled the trip, absorbed a couple hundred dollars loss and breathed easier.

When I met him, Billy and my lady had been together for most of his 25 years. When she went through a serious sad-spell, he helped bring her out of it. She came to affectionately call him Billy-love.

Billy has a remarkable vocabulary. Among the things he loves to say is his name. His current favorite is, “Be Careful”, which he says with an endearing lilt. His words, calls and whistles come from an elaborate array of syrinx, larynx, and a tongue-beak arrangement unique to parrots and their kind.

Billy lives in a large cage that sits atop a tall dresser. There are two major perches and water and food dishes. Billy can climb up and down the sides of the cage and hang upside down from its top. He can reach with his highly functional beak and ring a set of bells hanging on the outside of the cage. Billy loves to shred the paper towels layering the cage’s bottom. This is a form of nesting behavior, but as far as we know, Billy is a virgin.

When his mother uses the dust-buster to gather seed-husks and rejected pieces of food from the floor, Billy takes the opportunity to splash water all over the surrounding area. He knows this drives his mother crazy. When she gets too close to the cage, Billy loves to grab her hair. As she shrieks and scolds him, he just laughs at her. We have noticed that he is careful not to do these things with me.

Billy has a view of two outside windows on one side and a computer work station on another from which I play him African Gray parrot sounds at which he tweets and coos. In the opposite direction is a large wall mirror which gets more use by our Pygmalion parrot than the woman of the house. He can be seen sitting on his perch mesmerized by, well, himself. Vets say that the image gives them a sense that they are not alone.

Finally, Billy’s main view is of the adjacent bedroom where he is comforted by the sight of his mother and well, the bedroom.

At night, Billy’s mother drapes a cover over his cage. This is standard fare for parrots who require a quiet and dark enclosure to sleep. An opening in the covering enables him to continually see the bedroom. When he is ready for the day, he lets us know.

Verse 1.

Out of the forests of Africa and from the aviary, comes the gray-tailed bird we love to hear when he talks and sings.

In the middle of the night, when he wakes up with birdie fright, he calls to us with his own name. He says Billy-love.

At the dawn of a new day, he lets us know that he’s awake. He climbs upon his lofty perch and he says oo la la.

He says oo la la

Verse 2.

He peeks out from his favorite perch. He greets the new day with a chirp. He rings his bell to tell the world, his name is Billy-love.

Right-side up or upside-down, his cage his castle, his perch his throne. He’ll bite your finger if you get too close. His name is Billy-love.

He’ll look in a mirror and preen and primp; get on your case if his food you skimp. He knows what he wants; he rules the roost. His name is Billy-love.

Billy has lived his entire life in his cage. In his very young days when my lady was a Veterinary Technician, Billy was able to escape the cage and follow her around by walking on the floor. He was born in captivity and never developed the wing-strength to fly. Despite our best efforts, we have a difficult time getting him out of the cage and have not done so in my tenure.

About once every 4-6 months, we engage in the stressful (for me, not for Billy) task of carrying his (large and heavy) cage to the bathtub. There, his mother uses the shower spray to gently rain on Billy and clean the cage. I’ve tried it, managing to hit Billy too hard with the spray and earning his wrath in the form of loud and disturbing caws. Billy has been magnanimous in forgiving me for struggling with his cage, bumping it as I maneuver into the tightly designed bathroom and into the tub. He seems to remain upright on his perch no matter how badly I tilt it in my struggles. In between, we use a spray bottle and dowse him with lots of water. He loves it, spreading his wings and turning his back so we can hit his tail.

Verse 3.

Don’t stick your hand into his cage. He guards his castle, his nest, his stage. You don’t want to see him in a rage. His name is Billy-love.

He flaps his wings and tries to fly. He’s never learned to reach the sky. He hits the floor and wonders why. You’re silly, Billy-love.

When he gets a bath, he loves the spray. Squirt him too hard and you will rue the day. When he’s hungry, he stuffs his face. That’s our Billy-love…


When you sing a song, he’ll sing along. When you’re on the phone, he’ll rudely intone. This gray-tailed bird has made you his own. His name is Billy-love.

His name is Billy-love.

I remain continually amazed at how attached I have become to this noisy bird. He certainly has personality and is never boring. It is a tribute to his mother the Billy’s capacity for love is as great as it is. Apparently just as amazing, his mother reports, is that Billy has taken to me. “He generally doesn’t like men,” she has told me.

Although I’ve lived with other people’s pets in the past, I’ve never had a pet of my own, preferring the quiet. This is, among a few reasons, why I’ve never wanted to get a guide dog. It is just a bit too much work for someone who does well as a blind person using a cane. If the time comes when I either develop the capacity to let a dog into my life or truly need the help, I know I’ll be capable of giving it the love and care it needs and deserves. For this, we have Billy-love to thank.

Anthony R. Candela, Author

Saying aloud what should not remain silent.

Books by Tony…

Stand Up Or Sit Out: Memories and Musings Of a Blind Wrestler, Runner, and All-around Regular Guy

A memoir about life lessons learned, especially through sports

Vision Dreams: A Parable

A sci-fi novella about how a dysfunctional society forces people to go to extremes, including four blind people who seek out artificial vision.

buy his books here.

More About Tony…

Tony Candela has worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor, supervisor, manager consultant and administrator for more than 40 years in the field of blindness and visual impairment. His work has included promoting literacy and employment of blind persons and a special interest in enhancing the career preparation of blind persons who wish to work in the computer science field. He is a “retired” athlete, loves movies, sports, reading, writing, and music, including dabbling in guitar.

Follow him on Facebook for more here.

#Author, #Animal, #Adventure, #Birds, #Partners, #Pets, #Life, #Love, #Writing


  1. Trish Hubschman Reply
    July 27, 2023

    This brings back memories. My brother had a huge bird like Billy, Oscar. He was perfectly obnoxious. He drove my momnuts. Bob’s room was an oscarsty.

    1. There’s a similar bird who boards at my vet from time to time. They have his cage in the lobby. He whistles, chatters, and imitates noises such as ring tones, door bells, Etc.
      My dogs are always interested.

  2. anthonycandela66gmailcom Reply
    July 27, 2023

    Glad to bring back memories. They certainly have personality and become a part of you.

    1. Hi, Tony.
      Indeed. Great post and double great to see you here.

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