If you were a parrot, who would you listen to on the radio?
A. Paul McCartney and Wings.
B. The Byrds.
C. Dolly Parton.
If you guessed A or B, you're using human logic. But if you actually lived inside a bird's brain, you might say C.
At least that's the case for one particular parrot, a yellow-naped Amazon named Lucy, who lives with the Steve and Amy Meller family on Signal Mountain.
Lucy gets all aflutter when she hears Dolly Parton sing. Maybe it's Dolly's lilting voice. Perhaps it reminds her of parrot talk.
"Oh, my gawd!" Lucy exclaims when she's excited.
When she hears a Dolly song, Lucy sings with extra vibrato. She also squats, which is either a form of bird dancing or perhaps some kind of Appalachian curtsy.
"It's pretty hilarious," said Amy Meller, Lucy's owner. "When you put Dolly on, she starts singing louder. She will also talk much more frequently when Dolly plays."
Amazon parrots can live to be about 50 years old. They are indigenous to South America and parts of Mexico and the Caribbean islands, and they're said to be loving and entertaining pets who usually bond with only a couple of people over their lifetimes.
Lucy is about 8 to 10 inches tall with bright green and yellow feathers. Her vet believes that she is indeed a "she" — although sometimes it's hard to know with parrots.
Lucy is almost 20 years old now, so she may yet live to see another human generation pass. That's why adopting a parrot is a big responsibility.
Lucy came to live on Signal Mountain after her previous owner, Amy Meller's mother, Beth Nelson, died tragically in an auto accident in 2018. Lucy and Beth had been companions for about 18 years.
Beth lived alone on an 11-acre spread in the middle of the woods in South Carolina for more than 27 years. Lucy was her second parrot. When you live alone, it's a plus to have a pet who talks back.
Sometimes when Amy chatted with her mother on the phone, she could hear Lucy chattering in the background.
"My mother would laugh," Amy remembered, "and that crazy bird would laugh in the background just like her."
Meller's daughter, Maggie, a senior at Signal Mountain High School, was the family member who pushed to bring Lucy to Signal Mountain after her grandmother's death.
The family set up Lucy in a cage in their kitchen. To accommodate the parrot they stopped using non-stick cookware. The fumes can make birds sick.
Lucy's go-to words are "bye" and "hello." Occasionally she'll throw in a "pretty girl" or a "good girl" to show off.
Lucy has favorites in the family. She especially likes to get attention from Amy, perhaps because she reminds Lucy of Amy's mother.
"I can pick her up and scratch her head, and she's happy," Amy said. "They are so social. They want to be around people. They get depressed if they don't have that interaction."
In return, Lucy gives Amy something precious, echoes of her mother. Sometimes when Lucy laughs, Amy feels it in her heart.
"Mom had an all-out, boisterous personality," she said. "It's nice to have that connection."
Contact Mark Kennedy at email@example.com.