Parrots, mynahs, crows, and some other birds have a well-known ability to mimic many of the sounds they hear. Thus, it shouldn't be surprising that some of them learn to cuss like a sailor.
This is primarily a comedy trope, used for a laugh as the parrot's embarrassed owner tries frantically to shut the bird up. The trope is occasionally paired with an Incredibly Lame Pun
about "fowl language". Hence the trope name.
It's also Truth in Television
. Because parrots live for a very long time, most parrot owners are advised not to swear around them so that when the owner dies, the parrot doesn't have trouble finding a new home. For some reason, most prospective pet owners don't want their bird swearing at them.
This is a sister trope to Not in Front of the Parrot
, where the bird repeats something important it overheard such as the combination to a safe or a villain's Evil Plan
. Do not confuse this trope with actual talking animals
; this trope is about mimicry of profanity. Compare to Innocent Swearing
, where the one doing the parroting is a sapient being (usually a kid) that doesn't understand that it shouldn't say such things.
- One of Ralf König's comics featured a parrot whose prior owner spent all his free time watching porn. The parrot had an understandably difficult time finding a new owner.
- A G-rated version happens in The Adventures of Tintin: The Broken Ear. Tintin ends up with a parrot that quickly begins to imitate Captain Haddock's unusual euphemisms, particularly "Blistering Barnacles!"
- Bertie Blunt (His Parrot's A Cunt) in Viz.
- While maroooned in the South China Sea in one of the Destroyermen books, Silva discovers a flying lizard that takes a liking to him, much to his chagrin. Being an enlisted man, Silva swears a lot, in particular calling the parrot equivalent a "stupid shit". You can probably see where this is going.
- In the Garrett, P.I. series, Garrett receives "the Goddamn Parrot" from his friend Morley. TGP's vocabulary primarily consists of appreciative but extremely vulgar descriptions of female anatomy, which he loves to indulge in whenever a woman comes to visit.
- A G-rated version appears in the Fudge books. Fudge is very proud of his mynah bird, Uncle Feather, who can speak French. Any time someone addresses the bird he responds by saying, "Bonjour, Stupid."
- The ship's parrot in Nation, who spends most of the book shouting "Show us yer drawers!" at no-one in particular.
- One episode of Happy Endings has Alex buy a parrot that keeps making racist remarks.
- NYPD Blue had the Pointy-Haired Boss bring in an obnoxious parrot that repeated everybody. Sipowicz forces the boss to get rid of it by a simple trick: he plants a tape recording of somebody shouting "Douchebag! Douchebag!" in the parrot's room overnight. You can watch it here.
- One cutaway of Family Guy has Joe buy a talking parrot. Peter immediately teaches it the word "cripple", much to Joe's dismay.
- Finagle's Law means that the one time you slip up in front of the parrot (e.g. you stub your toe on the coffee table and drop a Cluster F-Bomb), the parrot will inevitably remember it.
- There's a story about a couple who kept an African grey parrot in their bedroom. One night the couple "got busy". Later on they had some guests over and the parrot repeated the events of the night.
- President Andrew Jackson's parrot had to be removed from his funeral because it wouldn't stop swearing. In two different languages, no less.