After more than 40 years, Pretty Boy the parrot and Trent Smith are still buddies

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 18, 2012

By Joanie Morris
For the Salisbury Post
CLEVELAND — When Pretty Boy was hatched in 1960, his little bird brain never comprehended that he’d be with his daddy this long.
It was a rough start. Soon after he hatched, he was bought by Trent Smith’s Aunt Maude for her mother-in-law. The mother-in-law gave Pretty Boy back to Aunt Maude — who never anticipated she’d have the bird.
“She kept him, and (soon) her husband threatened to cut his head off,” says Trent from his home in Cleveland. Trent had visited Pretty Boy at his aunt’s house and had taken a liking to the colorful, yellow-headed Amazon parrot that could talk. During his elementary school years, his Aunt Maude gave Pretty Boy to Trent.
Soon, the duo were best friends and Trent had Pretty Boy into his junior high years. After seven years, his cousin — Aunt Maude’s daughter — came and got Pretty Boy for a move to Richmond, Va.
“I was broken-hearted,” says Trent. “I didn’t even want to see him go. I was mad.”
Several years later, Trent got his bird back. His cousin’s husband didn’t like Pretty Boy either.
“They lived in Richmond, and they said to come and get him,” Trent says. At the time, Trent’s own son, Eddie, was 2. The only condition to Trent getting him was he had to promise to never give Pretty Boy to anyone outside the family.
It wasn’t a hard decision, and Trent drove with his son up to Richmond to get Pretty Boy. The bird doesn’t like car rides very much.
“He hangs on for dear life with both feet and his beak on the cage,” says Trent.
Now, 30 years later, Trent and Eddie are the only two that can handle Pretty Boy — and Trent’s the only one that Pretty Boy absolutely will not bite.
Pretty Boy has an extensive vocabulary, but in his old age — Pretty Boy will celebrate 52 years this month — he’s not talking as much. Some birds like Pretty Boy have lived to be 85 if they are taken care of.
His first word was “grandmaw,” and he can say complete sentences such as, “I love Pretty Boy very much.”
“He used to say, ‘I love Pretty Boy’ and expect me to say, ‘Very much,’ ” says Trent, laughing.
He counts, says vowels, repeats people’s names and even sings the theme song to the old “Batman” TV show. He can’t say words with the letter j in them, but does announce when meals are ready and questions people all the time with, “What? What?” and “Huh?”
Pretty Boy has some vices. Every morning that he can get them, he’ll beg grits from Trent.
“He loves grits,” Trent says.
Pretty Boy is also partial to potatoes in every stage of cooking — from raw cubes to baked, fried or creamed.
And while he seems to be a pretty happy bird walking around on Trent’s shoulders, Trent admits Pretty Boy does get in moods. He likes attention, but only to a point, Trent says.
He’s moving a little slower these days, but Trent feels confident that he should get 20 or more years longer with his bird.
Pretty Boy is the only indoor pet the family’s ever had. The only other pets have been outside dogs. When company comes over, he shows off Pretty Boy’s exercises — holding him upside down and lifting him up and down to exercise his wings — and brings out the bouquet of molted feathers he’s collected over the last 30 years.
“He’s my rotten Pretty Boy,” says Trent, loving on his bird. “I’ve got him rotten, that’s for sure.”
Contact Joanie Morris at 704-797-4248 or