Edmonton

Ode to an African grey: Beloved pet store parrot honoured in St. Albert

A beloved pet store parrot, infamous for barking at customers and meowing at cats, is getting a tribute that befits the lofty perch she held within the St. Albert community.   

Feisty bird was a feathered favourite

Spike the African grey parrot was a fixture at Mr. Pets for 30 years. (Submitted by Kelly Weins)

A beloved pet store parrot, famous for barking at customers and meowing at cats, is getting a tribute that befits the lofty perch she held within the St. Albert community.   

Spike's ashes will be kept in a permanent shrine erected in her honour at Mr. Pet's, the store on St. Albert Trail where she lived for decades.

Avian researchers will determine the official cause of her death and there will be an obituary in the local newspaper to announce her passing.

Spike was, after all, no ordinary bird.  

The feisty African grey parrot, a fixture at the pet store for 30 years, was a bit of a ham who would dance, offer high-fives and beg for sunflower seeds.  

"She was very entertaining," said Kelly Weins, the manager at Mr. Pet's. "She liked to meow. She would talk to the cats that we have in store.

"She loved to whistle, and boy that bird picked up the raspberry in no time flat. If she didn't like what you were saying, she would give you a raspberry." 

'A special thing' 

A shrine will be erected inside the store to honour Spike. The beloved bird died of a suspect seizure on Tuesday. (Submitted by Kelly Weins)

Customers and former staff members would come in every day just to see her. Spike would recognize her favourite regulars, flapping her wings and crowing before jumping from perch to hand. 

"People have been coming here for years and generations to see Spike." 

Weins began working at the store 15 years ago; she and Spike quickly fell into a routine starting with a morning belly-rub, then a sunflower seed bribe to get her back into her cage.

"She likes her neck scratched," Weins said.  "She loved to give kisses. She and I had this special thing." 

The close relationship wasn't something Weins took for granted. Spike demanded respect. 

"You needed to gain her trust. I seemed to gain it quite quickly," Weins said. She had never been bitten by Spike, who had gotten peckish with a few other staff members and customers.  

"No one ever tried but we always joked that there would be a trail of blood if anyone tried to steal her." 

'No one can replace her' 

The bird's death on Tuesday from a suspected seizure has prompted an outpouring of condolences.

A Facebook post announcing the news has more than 300 comments from customers and former staff offering their favourite memories of the beloved bird.  

Weins said the store hasn't been the same since. 

"My husband also works here and when he's stocking the shelves, they would whistle at each other early in the morning. We miss that dearly. It is very quiet here. Very quiet."

Weins is asking people to come share their stories about Spike in a book of memories that now sits near her perch. 

"We have no plans to replace Spike. No one can replace her." 

About the Author

Wallis Snowdon

Journalist

Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has nearly a decade of experience reporting behind her. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca

With files from Claudette Germain

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