Squakward! Parrots That Can’t Stop Swearing Are Being Rehabilitated

By Martin B January 16, 2024

A group of impolite parrots, infamous for their use of colorful language, is undergoing a transformation with the assistance of new feathered companions. The aim is to encourage the cheeky parrots to adopt more refined sounds. In 2020, five outspoken African gray parrots were generously donated to Lincolnshire Wildlife Park in eastern England. To refine their language skills, these parrots were initially kept separate from the main flock, as reported by CNN.


However, as of Tuesday (January 23), the wildlife park’s team has taken a different, albeit riskier, approach. Three freshly donated parrots, known as Eric, Captain, and Sheila, have been introduced alongside the original five vocal rebels into the larger flock.

Steve Nichols, the park’s chief executive, shared with the American broadcaster, “When we moved them, the language that came out of their carrying boxes was phenomenal, really bad. Not your typical swear words—these were proper expletives.”

“We’ve placed eight truly offensive, foul-mouthed parrots with 92 well-mannered ones,” Steve explained.

If the unconventional plan succeeds, the eight expressive parrots might pick up “all the nice noises like microwaves and vehicles reversing” favored by the rest of the parrots in the flock, according to the park’s chief executive. However, Steve admitted that if the other 92 birds catch on to the obscenities, it might turn into an unexpected “adult aviary.”


Following the initial isolation and integration of the original five parrots into the flock, the operation was deemed “mostly” successful, Steve reported.

Nevertheless, these parrots occasionally let slip a few choice words, accompanied by laughter mimicking the typical reaction to their salty language, as reported by CNN.

Parrots are known for mimicking the sounds they hear, and, according to Steve, “six of them have got men’s voices, two of them have got ladies’ voices, and when they’re all swearing, it does sound really bad.”

While the park has erected large signs warning visitors about the parrots’ language, Steve mentioned that they haven’t received a single complaint. Interestingly, historically, “we did hear a lot more customers swearing at parrots than we did parrots swearing at customers,” he humorously admitted.

African grays, being highly social and intelligent birds with a knack for mimicking human speech, are incredibly popular as pets globally. According to National Geographic, these birds thrive in captivity, and over the past four decades, at least 1.3 million gray parrots have been legally exported from Africa, particularly to Middle Eastern countries.

Steve pointed out that African grays find it particularly easy to mimic swear words since they are often spoken in the same tone and context. “When you tell someone to eff off, you usually say it the same every time,” he quipped.

Despite efforts to instill more refined language, Steve remains optimistic but realistic. “I’m hoping that’s part of the settling-in period, but I don’t think they will ever lose the swear because as soon as somebody swears, they’ll be swearing as well.”

Richard Susanto/Shutterstock

Four years ago, the original five parrots—Eric, Jade, Elsie, Tyson, and Billy—were removed from public view at Lincolnshire Wildlife Park after directing their expletives at visitors. The provocative birds were separated after a string of colorful language incidents, as initially reported by CNN in 2020.

Steve recalled the chaos, saying, “It just went ballistic, [and] they were all swearing. We were a little concerned about the children.” One reader had a humorous take on the situation, suggesting the birds might have picked up the language from their previous owners.

In the end, these cheeky parrots, with their unique personalities, continue to entertain and surprise visitors with their unpredictable antics and linguistic prowess.