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9 Birds Caught Using Some Very Naughty Language

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If you’re going to teach Polly how to talk, you’d better watch what you say! Here are nine of the world’s most “fowl”-mouthed avians.

1. Pet Cockatoo Cusses Out Human Neighbors

When a couple breaks up, things can get ugly—but it’s not every day that a swearing cockatoo gets thrown into the mix. In 2012, Lynne Taylor of Warwick, Rhode Island was accused of teaching her pet bird, Willy, to scream expletives at her former husband, Craig Fontaine, and his new girlfriend, both of whom lived next door. One of these outbursts was filmed and shown to the local police department, where an officer claimed that he was able to hear Willy shouting “‘f*** off’ and ‘f****** whore’” in the footage. Taylor was subsequently ticketed for violating a regional noise ordinance, a charge that was eventually dropped.

2. Potty-Mouthed Parrot Teaches Feathered Friends How To Swear

To date, “Barney the Swearing Parrot” of Nuneaton, England has verbally assaulted a vicar, two law enforcement officials, a pair of old ladies, and even the mayor’s wife. “It was quite horrifying to find out that he was swearing,” says Geoff Grewcox, director of the Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary, where the infamous blue and gold macaw currently resides. Barney’s also had a bad influence on some of Grewcox’s other birds, some of whom have actually begun imitating his vulgar vocabulary.

3. Mr. T Told to Watch His Mouth

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This is one bird that had to kick a very bad habit. Tropical Inc. of Birmingham, Alabama specializes in producing educational programs about exotic critters for nearby schools and universities. When a green-winged macaw named Mr. T was given to the organization, animal trainer Steve Rowlands quickly realized that the bird’s dialect needed a bit of cleansing before the staff could safely display him in public. “[He’s] picked up some interesting phrases and words which are not appropriate for some venues we go to,” Rowland explained. “Parrots like Mr. T can live to 90-years-old so he’s still only a youngster at [age seven]… I’m sure he’ll outgrow this rebellious stage soon.”

4. Adopted Cockatoo Swears at New Owner in Viral YouTube Video

In 2011, a YouTuber by the name of Furman Campbell posted this hilarious clip in which he gets into a highly NSFW argument with Baby, his newly-acquired fowl. Since then, their entertaining exchange has drawn over one million views.

5. Bird Uses Taiwanese Profanity

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Pika the African Grey parrot is knows quite a lot of words. Unfortunately, many shouldn’t be repeated. According to the Taipei Times, he lives at a food stand in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung province and has begun “hurling insults and discouragement” at its customers, along with a slew of regional obscenities. Despite this, the winged detractor has become a beloved figure within his community.

6. Gutter-Mouthed Lory Seeks New Home

Finding a family can be difficult for any abandoned animal, especially one that curses like a sailor. Such is the burden of Beaky, a lory whose lingo has raised a few eyebrows over the years. “He knows some words that possibly are for adults only,” says Sally Jones of the Leybourne Animal Centre. Taking this information into account, in 2012, the British Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals began advertising that Beaky was in need of a good home but warned that “new owners shouldn’t mind bad language as he comes out with some rude words.” 

7. Mynah Bird Gets Kicked Out of Aviary for Insulting Tourists

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When an impressionable avian at China’s Jiufeng Forest Zoo picked up a few expletives and started re-using them in front of startled visitors, officials decided it was time to put the critter in rehab. The offending Mynah bird has since been forced to listen to tapes containing “polite words” in a separate enclosure until its demeanor improves.

8. Parrot Discovers The Wonderful World of Interjections

It turns out that kids aren’t the only ones R-rated films can negatively affect. The owner of this bawdry macaw claims that he learned to shout “What the f***?!” from an unidentified “Hollywood movie.”

9. Bird Cusses Through a Thick Welsh Accent

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Sarah Fisk, a 34-year-old wife and mother, felt that a homeless grey parrot would make a perfect addition to her Bristol household. Named Basil, the bird had previously lived in Wales, a fact that’s been reflected in his vernacular. “His accent is so strong sometimes that we don’t understand what he’s saying,” says Fisk, “but it definitely sounds Welsh.” Regrettably, the twang in his voice isn’t the only thing Basil picked up from his former owners. “He was very quiet and shy for the first day,” she reflects, “but then all of a sudden he started talking and rather surprised us with his adult vocabulary.” While visiting nearby veterinarian Mandy Stone, Basil chirped so many nasty names at the nurses that Fisk felt compelled to formally “apologize for his bad manners.”

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Animals
Watch a School of Humpback Whales 'Fish' Using Nets Made of Bubbles 

Just like humans, humpback whales catch many fish at once by using nets—but instead of being woven from fibers, their nets are made of bubbles.

Unique to humpbacks, the behavior known as bubble-net feeding was recently captured in a dramatic drone video that was created by GoPro and spotted by Smithsonian. The footage features a school of whales swimming off Maskelyne Island in British Columbia, Canada, in pursuit of food. The whales dive down, and a large circle of bubbles forms on the water's surface. Then, the marine mammals burst into the air, like circus animals jumping through a ring, and appear to swallow their meal.

The video offers a phenomenal aerial view of the feeding whales, but it only captures part of the underwater ritual. It begins with the group's leader, who locates schools of fish and krill and homes in on them. Then, it spirals to the water's surface while expelling air from its blowhole. This action creates the bubble ring, which works like a net to contain the prey.

Another whale emits a loud "trumpeting feeding call," which may stun and frighten the fish into forming tighter schools. Then, the rest of the whales herd the fish upwards and burst forth from the water, their mouths open wide to receive the fruits of their labor.

Watch the intricate—and beautiful—feeding process below:

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Big Questions
Why Do Dogs Love to Dig?
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Dog owners with green thumbs beware: It's likely just a matter of time before Fido turns your azalea bed into a graveyard of forgotten chew toys. When dogs aren't digging up your prized garden, they can be found digging elsewhere in your yard, at the beach, and even between your couch cushions at home. But what exactly is behind your dog's drive to turn every soft surface he or she sees into an excavation site?

According to Dr. Emma Grigg, an animal behaviorist and co-author of The Science Behind a Happy Dog, this behavior is completely normal. "When people say 'why do dogs dig,' the first thing that always comes to mind is 'well, because they're dogs,'" she tells Mental Floss. The instinct first appeared in dogs' wolf ancestors, then it was amplified in certain breeds through artificial selection. That's why dogs that were bred to hunt rodents, like beagles and terriers, are especially compelled to dig in places where such animals might make their homes.

But this tendency isn't limited to just a few specific breeds. No matter their original roles, dogs of all breeds have been known to kick up some dirt on occasion. Beyond predatory urges, Dr. Grigg says there are two main reasons a dog may want to dig. The first is to cool off on a hot day. When stuck on an open lawn with little to no shade, unearthing a fresh layer of dirt untouched by the sun is a quick way to beat the heat.

The second reason is to stash away goodies. Imagine your dog gets bored with chewing his favorite bone but knows he wants to come back for it later. Instead of leaving it out in the open where anyone can snatch it up, he decides to bury it in a secret place where only he'll be able to find it. Whether or not he'll actually go back for it is a different story. "There's a disconnect with modern dogs: They know the burying part but they don't always know to dig it up," Dr. Grigg says.

Because digging is part of a dog's DNA, punishing your pet for doing so isn't super effective. But that doesn't mean you should stand idly by as your yard gets turned inside-out. When faced with this behavior in your own dog, one option is to redirect it. This can mean allowing him to dig in a designated corner of the yard while keeping other parts off-limits, or setting up a raised flowerbed or sandbox especially to satisfy that urge. "You can get him interested in the area by burying a couple bones or some interesting things in there for him to dig," Dr. Grigg says. "I like the idea of buried treasure."

If your dog's motive for digging is more destructive than practical, he may have an energy problem. Dogs require a certain amount of stimulation each day, and when their humans don't provide it for them they find their own ways to occupy themselves. Sometimes it's by chewing up shoes, toppling trash cans, or digging ditches the perfect size for twisting ankles. Fortunately, this is nothing more walks and playtime can't improve.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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