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. 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.
A common variation seen in works aimed at kids (or otherwise vulnerable to censorship) is for the parrot to learn non-profane words that are, nevertheless, still insults or otherwise not meant for polite conversation.
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 (including the parrot-specific subtrope Polly Wants a Microphone); 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.
- Black Lagoon:
- There's a parrot outside the Ripoff Church, which repeats Revy's insults as she hammers on the door.
Parrot: Hello! Open the door, you old skank!
- As a sign of the Wretched Hive Rock's found himself in, a mynah bird is shown squawking various death threats.
Mynah bird: I'll Kill You!! You're not getting away! Die, you bastard!
- There's a parrot outside the Ripoff Church, which repeats Revy's insults as she hammers on the door.
- In Tokyo Ghoul, Hinami adopts an injured Cockatiel prone to shouting insults at people. They end up naming it "Loser", after its favorite word.
- Ralf König's:
- One of his comics features a parrot whose prior owner spent all his free time watching porn. The parrot has an understandably difficult time finding a new owner.
- In another, a gay youth counselor inherits a parrot from an old uncle. Unfortunately, the uncle was a Nazi ...
- A G-rated version happens in The Broken Ear. Tintin ends up with a parrot that spams his favorite insult "Great Greedy Guts!!!"
- In Red Rackham's Treasure, on the island near the Unicorn's shipwreck the heroes find the descendants of parrots who spent the last centuries transmitting to each other Sir Francis Haddock's vocabulary. Despite him leaving the island far long before the natives went extinct, and of course there was no copy degeneration over time.
- In The Castafiore Emerald, Captain Haddock receives a parrot as an unwanted gift from Castafiore. By the time she finally leaves, it has begin to imitate his unusual euphemisms, particularly "Blistering Barnacles!"
- Bertie Blunt (His Parrot's a Cunt) in Viz.
- In Scary Movie 2, the parrot does this, except it turns out it can really talk and not just mimic.
- In HOUBA! On the Trail of the Marsupilami, Kiki the ara commonly insults his owner Pablito, including while they both are in the process of swindling some tourists of their money. ("Crook." "Imposter." "Mythomaniac.")
- Preacher Dudley's parrot in Deep Blue Sea, among its favorite phrases include "Eat me asshole!" and "Hey, hey you dickhead!".
- The opening scene of The Birds revolves around Melanie at the pet store ordering a mynah bird. Later in the film, she reveals she wanted the bird to play a prank on her uptight Aunt Tessa by teaching the bird some "semantics" she picked up in a college class at Berkley.
- In The ABCs of Death, the N segment has a man buying his fiancee a parrot, which he had trained to give her a wedding ring to propose to her. But after the proposal was made...the bird starts repeating the words of the man and his mistress during sex.
- The "frozen parrot" joke:
- A man owned a parrot that would swear up a storm at the drop of a hat. Around Thanksgiving, the owner had guests coming and hatched a plan. The next time the parrot started cursing, he grabbed it by the neck and tossed it into the freezer. Muffled cussing came out of the freezer for a couple minutes, then suddenly absolute silence. The owner was worried and opened the door. The parrot very meekly walked out and quietly asked, "What did the turkey do?"
- A variation on this one is the parrot is owned by a beautiful woman. The parrot says "nice tits, baby" while she's undressing, so she shoves him in the freezer to punish him. When she lets him out, the parrot says "What did the turkey do, ask for a blowjob?"
- In a similar Russian joke, the owner puts the parrot in the freezer, and the parrot stops swearing. The owner says: "I knew that only Siberia can set you straight!".
- A third variation has the parrot forgotten in the icebox for an extended period of time while the owner is distracted doing something else. Panicked, they open the fridge and find the bird frozen solid—flipping them off with both barrels.
- A thief gets a tip from a fellow criminal to hit an old lady's house. He was told one thing. Nothing would happen to him if he didn't say a word to the parrot.
Sure enough, he breaks into the house, and he sees the parrot on its perch. The parrot looks at him and shouts "Brutus is gonna fuck you up, you bastard. Brutus is gonna fuck you up!" the thief ignores him and starts going through the dressers.
"Brutus is gonna fuck you up, you motherfucker! Brutus is gonna fuck you up!" the thief grits his teeth and starts taking expensive items he can easily carry, jewellery and whatnot.
"Brutus is gonna fuck you up, you cunt! Brutus is gonna fuck you up!" the thief loses it and snaps at the parrot "Shut up, you dumb bird!"
Suddenly there's a big Rottweiler in front of the thief.
The parrot looks at him and pauses. "Brutus. ... Sic 'em."
- A variant has the parrot say, "Jesus is watching you." Guess what the dog's name is?
- Another variant in Croatia is that a thief breaks into the house, and suddenly hears "God is watching you, God is watching you!". He looks around and sees a parrot. He asks parrot for a name. "Anđelko, Anđelko.". "What a silly name for a parrot!". A parrot responds: "God is a silly name for a Rottweiler.".
- A woman went to a pet shop and immediately spotted a large, beautiful parrot. There was a sign on the cage that said $50.00, which seemed awfully cheap. Why so little?" she asked the pet storeowner. The owner looked at her seriously and said, "Look, I should tell you first that this bird used to live in a house of Prostitution and sometimes it says some pretty vulgar stuff." The woman thought about this, but decided she had to have the bird anyway. She took it home and hung the bird's cage up in her living room and waited for it to say something. The bird looked around the room, then at her, and said, "New house, new madam." The woman was a bit shocked at the implication, but then found it kind of amusing. When her two teenage daughters returned from school, the bird saw them enter and said, "New house, new madam, new girls." The girls and the woman were a bit offended but then began to laugh about the situation considering how and where the parrot had been raised. Moments later, the woman's husband came home from work. The bird looked at him and said, "New house, new madam, new girls; same old customers! Hi, Nick!"
- A priest starts looking for a parrot that isn't fowl-mouthed. In the pet shop, the owner presents with him a parrot that when you pull the left leg, he says the Lord's Prayer, and when the right is pulled, he says the Hail Mary. The priest asks "what if you pull both?" and the parrot: "Fuck, then I'll fucking fall!"
- Another variant on the "frozen" parrot story has the preacher coming to dinner and the bird letting out a whole bunch of dirty words right in front of him, so the man of the house decides to teach the bird a lesson. He puts it in a sack and shakes it up a little. When the parrot comes out it says "Wasn't that a hell of a storm!"
- While marooned 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.
- Morley won't ever admit it, but it's an invoked example: he and his buddies must've spent weeks pre-loading the parrot with rude phrases before giving it to Garrett as a prank.
- A G-rated version appears in the Fudge books. Fudge is very proud of his myna 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. The narrator notes that many of the things the parrot says are phrases Daphne knows she shouldn't recognize as a "proper" young lady, but she's more concerned about the phrases she doesn't understand.
- In Moving Pictures, the movie pioneers attempt to add sound to their films by using parrots. The result tends to be along the lines of brief snatches of romantic dialogue interrupted by cries of "Warrrk! Showusyerknickers!"
- Kiki the cockatiel in Enid Blyton's "Adventure" series, although being a children's series this takes the form of shouting obnoxious quotes rather than swearing per se.
- Mr. Harrison's parrot Ginger in Anne Of Avonlea. He got Ginger from his brother, a sailor who used a lot of coarse language. Mr. Harrison is used to Ginger's bad language, but it really embarrasses him when the parrot swears in front of company.
- In one of Betty MacDonald's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories, little girls who sass their parents and teachers have to deal with a parrot who says all those rude, ugly things. Not quite swearing, but still unacceptable; the girls learn how nasty they sound.
- In the Spellsinger novel Time of the Transference, a couple of drug runners mistake the talking, intelligent Pirate Parrot Kamaulk (that is to say, he's a parrot who's a pirate) for this trope. They attempt to sell him to a Los Vegas casino but fail to realize that he's smart enough to open a car door, at which point he escapes. And is promptly eaten by some street bums who mistake him for an oddly green chicken.
- In the Nordic Noir Backstrom police novels by Leif G.W. Persson, there is the abominable Bäckström's ill-fated attempt to keep a pet. He amuses himself by teaching the parrot some choice items of demotic Swedish. Unfortunately Isaak the large-beaked parrot conflates the phrases "Bäckström is a sex god" and "[insert name of senior policeman of choice here] is a pouf" and learns to incessantly recite "Bäckström is a great big pouf!". And, as Isaak is a fast learner, many others. When fobbed off on a neighbour's son, the child takes the parrot to school for Show And Tell, where its impressive vocabulary causes a scene.
- The Thinking Machine: In "The Lost Million", a parrot holds a vital clue to the mystery. However, the parrot had belonged to a misanthrope and constantly swears and is insulting. After a few days with the bird, the normally even-tempered Van Dusen hands it back to its new owner with the warning that if he ever sees it again, he is going to kill it.
- Slight variation in the talking (and featherless) parrot from Eric. He's both Talking Animal and this due to a tendency to use "wossname" a lot, usually in crude reference to some part or other of the male genital.
- Adam-12: "Training Wheels" has Reed and Malloy stop a hippy microbus that ran a stop sign. In the conversation, a high-pitched "Down with the pigs!" can be heard. Eventually, the driver opens the back of the car to reveal the speaker: a mynah bird belonging to his cop-hating girlfriend. They let it pass and just give him a warning.
- One episode of Happy Endings has Alex buy a parrot that keeps making racist and homophobic remarks.
Parrot: White power!
Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
I hate the Indians.
Alex: He's a White Sox fan.
Parrot: I hate Native Americans too.
- 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.
- On My Name Is Earl, Darnell revealed that back in the day before he got put into Witness Protection, he shared an apartment with a man who was a porn star. He is now married to the governor of whatever state Camden is located in, and she got him a job as the warden of the state prison. A porn movie was being filmed in the apartment just as Darnell returned. He was OK with that, but asked if he could put a cloth over Mr. Parrot's cage.
Darnell: I don't want to hear him talking about this all night.
- A Missing Episode of Dad's Army had a scene involving two old ladies with a parrot that used to belong to a Dirty Old Man. The women were rather deaf so didn't realise their parrot was saying things like, "Get off your knickers and get up those stairs."
- One sketch on The Benny Hill Show features a woman pulling the cover off of a birdcage with a parrot inside. The parrot begins mildly cursing when the woman notices her priest coming over to her flat. She quickly pulls the cover back over the birdcage and invites the priest in... just in time for the parrot to exclaim, "Bloody hell! What a short day that was!"
- 1000 Ways to Die has a woman watching someone else's house while the owner was gone, and she has it to herself. But while kissing her boyfriend, the owner's cockatoo starts screeching, and she accidentally lets it outside. As she tries to get it back (and fails while dying), the bird while being grabbed squawks curses at her.
- Talk-O the parrot from Trailer Park Boys say nothing but vulgar insults.
- The Fast Show: Unlucky Alf buys himself a parrot to keep him company. Except said parrot remains silent, prompting Alf to utter a resigned "bugger". This opens the floodgates...
Parrot: Wanker... wanker... wanker... twat! Twat! Twat!
- The Murdoch Mysteries episode "Convalesce", wherein Constable Crabtree takes over Murdoch's job as detective while he heals from injuries, involved a parrot being the only witness to a murder. Its master was a French Jerk chef, and repeated back lovely phrases such as, "You call this vomit quiche?!" "I spit at you!" and "Tu es un cochon!note ".
- The Army Game: In "Snudge's Budgie", the boys from Hut 29 have to acquire a budgie to replace Snudge's after Bootsie lets it escape. They invoke this trope by using ventriloquism to make a tea shop owner believe her budgie has suddenly acquired a very foul mouth and offering to dispose of it for her. At the end of the episode, Snudge's real budgie is returned to him by a sailor who captured it, and has been trying to teach it to speak, with the result that it now swears like, well, a sailor.
- In A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche tries to cheer up Stanley and Stella by telling them a story about "a parrot that cursed a blue streak and knew more vulgar expressions than Mr. Kowalski." They are not amused.
- The Trope Namer is Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir, where an early Fetch Quest has the player characters finding a parrot for Volothamp Geddarm. Turns out the parrot's previous owner taught it a wide variety of useful Dwarven expletives. Cue Volo remarking on the bird's "fowl language", and the player characters calling him on the pun.
- The Interactive Fiction game Glass, where you are a parrot belonging to a rich old woman. Among other things you can do, you can try swearing; do it once, and the lady threatens to "sell you to the first man with an earring we can find". Do it a second time, and "you are sold to pirates and have a glorious career on the open sea".
- Tony the Parrot from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Tony: Brawk, I never fucked over anyone in my life who didn't have it coming!
- The Pokémon Chatot has an exclusive move called Chatter, which can be used in conjunction with the microphone of the Nintendo DS and later models to have it say something that the player records. When combined with Video Game Perversity Potential, well...
- A Cut Song from Walt Disney's adaptation of 101 Dalmatians was a number that Horace and Jasper would sing while drunk called "Don't Buy a Parrot from a Sailor" (because "all them birds say embarrassin' words").
- One cutaway of Family Guy has Joe buy a talking parrot. Peter immediately teaches it the word "cripple", much to Joe's dismay.
- The Kids From Room 402: Subverted. When Jesse and Vinny taught insults to a parrot, Jesse suggested teaching curse words but that was as close as the trope came to being played in the cartoon.
- 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 an urban legend 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 Pol had to be removed from his funeral because it wouldn't stop swearing. In two different languages, no less. Knowing Jackson (after all, where do you think the parrot picked up his colorful vocabulary), he would have found it hilarious.
- Winston Churchill allegedly owned a parrot that constantly repeated the phrases "Fuck Hitler" and "Fuck the Nazis".
- This video shows a man verbally teasing a crow until it replies with "Fuck you."
- Crows have been observed saying things like "Fuck off" to people occupying a preferred spot. This demonstrates their intelligence because not only are they repeating the words, they're using them in context.
- Older Than Feudalism. Immediately after finding a species of parrot that could imitate human speech, the Romans found that parrots can easily pick up curse words. Very easily.
Teach a parrot to curse and it will curse continually, making night and day hideous with its imprecations. . . . Should you desire to rid yourself of its bad language, you must either cut out its tongue or send it back as soon as possible to its native woods.
- It's actually not a good idea to get your talking bird in the habit of cursing, as birds who curse are far more difficult to rehome, and given the lifespan of some talking birds, it's likely your bird will outlive you.