Some mornings Hani Hallal lets a monkey clean his teeth.
Not an actual monkey, a Senegal parrot whose nimble beak deftly cleans his owner’s gums between snapping sticks and gobbling up sunflower seeds. Those are just a few of the tricks Hallal, who uses the handle Parrot Whisperer online, has taught the little grey-headed bird with green wings and a splash of orange along its legs.
Then there are the tricks he hasn’t been taught, including Monkey’s tendency to start the day by breaking out of his cage and releasing the up to seven other birds that live in the sprawling play gym complete with colourful ropes and roosts that occupies a corner of their owner’s basement.
“Parrots have the mind of a five-year-old child … in the sense they are needy, they need attention and they mimic,” Hallal explained. “They want to be part of your flock basically.”
The 20-year-old created his company, Bird Tameness Inc. five years ago. In that time his enthusiastic and earnest videos starring his feathered friends have helped gather a community of more than 75,000 subscribers.
Hallal now takes questions from bird lovers around the world through Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
“We saw a lot of birds that were being mistreated, neglected, abandoned and abused,” he explained. “We decided to start Bird Tameness to raise awareness for animals and educate bird owners.”
His interests weren’t always aimed at the skies. As a child, Hallal wanted a pet dog or cat, but his parents didn’t share his desire. So he turned to birds and discovered an even more interesting relationship.
“Birds are not like dogs,” he deadpanned. “They do have issues with biting, feather picking, where they pull all of their feathers out if they’re stressed.”
But it’s not all…