Life-saving pets: Parrots that raise the alarm
There are no official studies to cite, but there are stories, lots of stories. Owners of parrots, cockatiels, and other birds have credited their beloved pets with sounding the alarm when their owners had a stroke, choked, or were in danger from fire or thieves. When a Colorado toddler started choking on a Pop-Tart, the family's pet parrot started screaming and repeating the words "mama baby" over and over, bringing the babysitter to the rescue, she reported to the local news channel. In Essex, England, a 17-year-old cockatiel named Budgie saved his owner by alerting the owner's wife when he suffered a stroke, according to the Daily Telegraph. Local news in Fort Smith, Arkansas, had a field day with the story of a pet macaw named Charlie, who screamed bloody murder and bit intruders who'd attacked his owner in an effort to steal the painkiller hydrocodone. A Muncie, Indiana, parrot named Peanut made headlines when he imitated the sound of the fire alarm that went off in the early hours of the morning. It was his squawking, rather than the alarm, that woke the resident up so he could save his son -- and Peanut -- from the burning house.
Takeaway tip: If you own a vocalizing bird yourself, train it to cry for help when startled or upset. (There are many books available on how to train different types of birds, or you can ask at your local pet store.) And if you're out walking and hear a bird screaming in alarm from a neighboring house or apartment, check to see if all is well.