The Silent Parrot

Silent Parrot — Importance of Listening
This silly story does have a point that is relevant to process safety professionals. It is important not to jump to conclusions — not to be prejudiced — where the word prejudice means literally “pre + judge”, as discussed in Safety Moment #22: Clear Your Mind of Cant and the ebook Incident Investigation and Root Cause Analysis.


A man decided to buy a parrot that could talk. So he went to the pet store and selected a parrot.  

He says to the clerk, “Can you tell me how to make the parrot talk”.

“Yes” says the clerk. He then spent hours teaching him how to train the parrot. The man then went home. 

After a week, the man came back into the store very irritated. “That bird you sold me doesn’t talk.”

“He doesn’t? Did you follow my instructions?” asked the clerk.

“To the letter,” replied the man.

“Well, maybe the bird is lonely. I’ll give you this little mirror to put in the cage. The bird will see his reflection and he will start talking right away,” replied the clerk.

The man did as he was told but three days later he was back in the shop. “I’m thinking of asking for my money back, that bird still won’t talk.”

The clerk pondered a bit and said “I bet the bird is bored. He needs some toys. Here take this bell—no charge. Put it in the bird’s cage. I’ll bet he will start talking as soon as he has something to do.”

A week later the man was back, angrier than ever. He was carrying a shoebox. “That bird you sold me died.” He opened the shoebox and there was his poor little dead parrot. “I want my money back.”

The clerk was horrified. “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what happened. But… tell me… did the bird even try to talk?”

“Well,” said the man, “he did way one word, right before he fell off his perch and died.” “What did he say?” the clerk inquired.

The man replied “F-o-o-d.”