"It's a parrot!"


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Our traveling companion is a Double Yellow Head Amazon Parrot. She has been with us since the age of 6 months. He adopted Ruth at Pets Mart just prior to Christmas 1999 and came home as her present. She lived summers with us on our Hunter Legend 35.5 on Lake Winnebago, cruising and racing when we did. When we bought our current boat she moved to it with us. This page provides a look at this most enjoyable companion. Here's her lineage:
Common Name: Amazon - Double Yellow Head

Category:  Birds  Parrots

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Psittacidae
Genus: Amazona
Species: ochrocephala oratrix

Updated on 03/11/2011
I first knew we were going to own a parrot when Ruth took me to Pets Mart because "I just had to see this cute bird." The clerk asked if Ruth wanted Buddy out of the cage again. Again? I knew I was in trouble. Buddy had adopted Ruth and she had adopted her. We went home with a bird clutching Ruth's finger through the bars of his travel cage. The first night Ruth checked on her several times throughout the night, concerned because she kept hanging upside-down in the cage.

Daughter Amy first heard her speak. She had stopped by our home to pick up something, heard a tentative "Hello" from the dining room. Knowing both our cars were gone she was surprised. Entering the room she saw the parrot. We didn't know she talked.

When we moved aboard our 35.5' sailboat that summer Buddy moved on with us. That meant she was along for races, parties and cruises... getting to know a lot of people. When we'd come into a Lake Winnebago harbor the first question was "Where's Buddy." Initially she had the run of the cockpit. Later when we learned how easily she could drown we kept her in her cage when on deck. When below deck she is still allowed out of his cage if the cabin door is closed.

Buddy became a Leukemia Cup Mascot. Onboard for the races she also was around for the parties and the sunset cruises we had for the L&LS volunteers.

When we moved to our 43' sailboat she came too. She accompanied us on the Great American Loop trip down the mid-American waterways and up the east coast. The lockmasters learned she was onboard. If she wasn't in the cockpit they'd ask "Can we see the parrot?" When we entered each lock on the Erie Canal Buddy would repeatedly call out "It's a parrot. Paarrroottt!"

Canadian Customs acknowledged his presence and asked for her passport. Apparently Canada issues pet passports (CITES?). We responded she had none. She was restricted to the boat. No problem - though she was hoping to pick up chicks in the bar. US customs acknowledged her - period. She was just part of the crew.

Buddy has gotten a lot of exposure in her travels with us as well as in the media.

Latitudes & Attitudes Magazine

  • Photo by Tony Passafume
  • Photos by Barry in "Loop" series

    Cruising Solutions Website

  • Photo with Bradd & Maeve
  • Good Old Boat

  • Photo with Bradd & Maeve
  • We've learned that she loves dogs, cats, birds, airplanes and especially people. She eats when people do, laughs when they do, and ends peoples' sentences with "Eh". She likes noise: engines, vacuum cleaners, power tools - breaking into a streak of talk to join the noise.

    She's great company. When we turn in at night so does she. In the morning we don't hear a sound from her until she knows we are awake. She entertains us and brings us a lot of joy.

    Buddy's vocabulary constantly expands. We've found it very difficult to teach her words or phrases... she just picks up things that apparently have some meaning to her:

    • Hello
    • Hola
    • Come on
    • Parrot, parrot
    • It's a parrot!
    • Peek a boo
    • Pretty, pretty Buddy
    • Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
    • I love you (Buddy)
    • Good morning, good morning, good morning!
    • Good good Buddy
    • Whatcha doin'
    • Where are you?
    • Here kitty, kitty, kitty
    • Wheeeeee! Wheeeee! Wheeee!
    • Good - good - good
    • I love my nudder-budder bar
    • Come here
    • Aflac
    • Wanna go to the boat
    • Ahoy thar matey
    • Buddy (or Polly) want a cracker
    • All aboard
    • Arrgh thar matey
    • Arrgh thar Buddy
    • Step up, step up
    • Barry, where's Barry
    • Barry, where's Barry - whatcha doing?
    • Ruthie, where's Ruthie
    • Ruthie, where's Ruthie - whatcha doing?
    • Gouchie, gouchie, gouchie
    • Peekaboo, gouchie,gouchie, gouchie, goo.
    • Wanna come out
    • Oh, Oh!
    • Oh, Oh! Whatcha doing?'
    • Who is that?
    • Laughter (Ruth's laugh)
    • Specific whistle 1, that's Benji
    • Specific whistle 2 (wolf whistle), that's Ruthie
    • Specific whistle 3, that's Barry
    • a variety of phases, variations and combinations of the phrases above.

    She also has a variety of whistles and calls:

    • Gull
    • Cockatiel
    • Dinghy winch
    • Andy Griffith theme
    • Wolf whistle (it's gotten Barry in trouble several times)
    • Osprey
    • Clucks like a chicken
    • Chirp - chirp - chirp
    • Jet boat engine

    She understands "No", though like a 4 year old she keeps testing the limits. She also understands that "Inside voice" means tone down the volume or experience "towels" (having her cage covered). Buddy senses tension and other emotions and responds appropriately using a phrase from her repertoire. She likes to play, one of her games is "hang 4" where she reaches out in response and grabs your finger. Just remember, she's an animal and doesn't think like we do... watch your fingers.

    Buddy on AA in Marathon - 2007

    Vital Statistics

    Birth - Kaytee Farms, FL spring 1999

    (birth record lost when a hurricane destroyed the farm.)

    Sex - Undetermined

    We and the vet suspect he is a she because s/he most frequently adopts men.

    Leg Band - PSM FL 946

    S/He has an imbedded computer chip for ID

    Weight - 640 grams (01/07)

    Flight feathers regularly clipped


    The Double Yellow Head Amazon parrot is an endangered species as the result of humans encroaching on their natural habitant. They were originally from the the Pacific slope of Colima Mexico. They are also found in Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. San Diego has a wild flock of about 100. I don't know where the name Amazon came from.

    Buddy, as noted earlier, is the product of a bird breeding center.

    Chili time!

    Barry helps Buddy log his adventures

    What's CITES? It is effectively Buddy's passport:

    Certificate number: 07US146756/9

    Valid until 02/20/2010

    Security No. 123149

    U.S. Management Authority

    Division of Management Authority

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

    Dept. of Interior

    Washington, D.C. 20240

    United States of America

    Buddy's diet

    Buddy likes to beg when we are eating.  However, we have a list of things that are no-no's for her.  Alcohol, caffeine, avocados, chocolate, fruit seeds or pits, refined sugar, bananas and fried foods.  We found that a little cheese is okay, yogurt and milk products okay, whole grain bread and a minimum of salt.

    We normally feed her a mixture of seeds, colored fruit and vegetable pellets, nuts, jalapeno peppers and any fresh vegetables we are having.  She also likes chicken, whole wheat bread, bagels, loves potatoes of any type and other treats that she thinks she has to share with us.