George Eger‚Äôs parrot Pinot is one really smart bird, and, yes, she blushes when she gets a compliment
Wherever George Eger goes in his house and often in his car, Pinot is likely to be sitting on his shoulder.
Pinot is an African Gray parrot who spends much of her time in Eger‚Äôs home office for Ozaukee Insurance in Saukville. She‚Äôs the company‚Äôs official mascot, appearing on its Web site and on grocery carts at Pick ‚Äôn‚Äô Save in Saukville.
‚ÄúWhen people come here, the first thing they say is ‚ÄėWhere‚Äôs Pinot?‚Äô‚ÄĚ Eger said. ‚ÄúThen they talk to me.‚ÄĚ
The bird does not like to be alone or have Eger out of her sight for long.
‚ÄúIf I leave the room for two minutes, she‚Äôll say, ‚ÄėGeorge,‚Äô ‚ÄėGeorge,‚Äô ‚ÄėHey, George,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Eger said, mimicking the bird‚Äôs voice as Pinot turned her head and blushed.
‚ÄúShe blushes when people talk about her.‚ÄĚ
Eger said he used to discount the assertion that a parrot must be treated as a companion rather than a pet, but he‚Äôs changed his mind after living with Pinot.
‚ÄúParrots live in flocks, and we‚Äôre her flock. She‚Äôs very attached to her family,‚ÄĚ he said.
Pinot‚Äôs flock includes Eger‚Äôs daughter Katie Hansen, her husband Bill and their two sons, Matthew, 4, who Pinot calls BooBoo, and Mikey, 2.
Eger‚Äôs wife Ann and Pinot tolerate each other.
‚ÄúAnn says, ‚ÄėHello, Pinot,‚Äô but she won‚Äôt touch or hold her. Pinot refuses to say her name,‚ÄĚ Eger said. ‚ÄúBirds have a pecking order, and they can sense when someone is afraid of them.‚ÄĚ
African grays are considered the most intelligent parrot and will live 60 to 70 years, Eger said.
‚ÄúThey say they‚Äôre more intelligent than a dolphin and have about the same intelligence as a 3-year-old,‚ÄĚ he said.
‚ÄúPeople think they mimic you, but they certainly do have a thought process.‚ÄĚ
Pinot has been taught to nibble Eger‚Äôs ear when she needs to go potty. When she had an accident, he scolded, ‚ÄúB-a-d Pinot.‚ÄĚ
Pinot loves to be ruffled on her head. When Eger did that, then stopped and walked away, Pinot said, ‚ÄúB-a-d George.‚ÄĚ
In the eight years since they got Pinot ‚ÄĒ when she was 4 months old ‚ÄĒ the Egers‚Äô children John and Katie have married and started their own families.
A month ago, the Egers moved to a condominium and Katie and her family moved into their home. Pinot stayed at the big house, content to be in a 3-by-4-foot cage that overlooks a woods.
Perches for her are throughout the house.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs worked out wonderful. I was worried how she would react to moving to the condo,‚ÄĚ Eger said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm her No. 1 man, but Bill is second. She‚Äôll sit on his shoulder and watch TV. With two boys, 4 and 2, there is always activity.‚ÄĚ
Pinot eats what the family eats. She can eat anything except chocolate and avocados, which will make her sick.
About 50% of her diet is parrot food with the remainder people food.
‚ÄúIf we don‚Äôt bring her for breakfast, lunch and dinner, she‚Äôll call to us,‚ÄĚ Eger said. ‚ÄúShe sits on a perch by the table and whoever is closest gives her food from their plate. I snack a lot, and she has to have a snack also.‚ÄĚ
Katie, who works for the family business, often brings Pinot to the office, saying the bird needs her ‚ÄúGeorge fix.‚ÄĚ
However, Pinot cannot be left alone in the office for long.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve probably bought 10 keyboards,‚ÄĚ Eger said. ‚ÄúShe‚Äôll peck at the keys, and that beak can do a lot of damage.‚ÄĚ
So far, she hasn‚Äôt typed a message.
Although he loves parrots, Eger noted the birds are a longtime commitment and not for everyone.
‚ÄúPeople often buy them because they‚Äôre expensive and exotic, but not many people have home offices, so they‚Äôre left alone all day and get into trouble, become nasty or the owners lose interest,‚ÄĚ Eger said.
‚ÄúThere are parrot mills like puppy mills. That‚Äôs why there are so many parrot rescue organizations.‚ÄĚ
Because parrots often outlive their owners, arrangements must be made for someone to take the bird.
Katie was going to take Pinot anyway, so the transition is being made now.
‚ÄúWho knows, maybe she will live with Matthew or Mikey someday,‚ÄĚ Eger said.