Belfast Telegraph

Meet parrot Kelo, one of Northern Ireland team's most vocal fans

By Brett Campbell

Kelo the "Green and White Army" chanting parrot is gearing up for Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifiers against Germany and Norway next week.

Belfast bird-lover and lifelong Northern Ireland fan Linda Corry (42) said her affable African grey became an enthusiastic supporter during the Euros last year.

"He chants 'Green and White Army, Green and White Army' and he's always shouting 'Northern Ireland' - he even sings the Bouncy Bouncy," Linda told the Belfast Telegraph.

"The Euros was a big thing in our house, there was a lot of football on TV and we had loads of friends over. There was a lot of singing and chanting and he just picked it up, but he can say anything, I'm very proud of him."

The mum-of-three has always kept budgies but it was at Christmas 2014 when she decided to buy a parrot.

"I always loved the idea of having one and was advised to get an African grey, as they are the best speakers," she explained.

"He certainly hasn't disappointed."

She said she got him from the egg, and not pre-owned.

"I didn't want one from a previous owner because these birds will only pick one person to bond with and I feel really lucky that he picked me. Everywhere I go he goes with me."

Every morning Linda's children let Kelo out of the cage and he makes his way upstairs to see her - and they are usually inseparable for the remainder of the day.

Linda Corry and Kelo the singing parrot
Linda Corry and Kelo the singing parrot
Linda Corry and Kelo the singing parrot
Kelo the singing parrot
Kelo the singing parrot

"He comes with me on the walk to school and even to the shops, he just sits on my shoulder," she said.

Despite repeating every sound - including the beeping alarm of a reversing bin lorry - it wasn't until Kelo was 18 months old that he really started talking.

Now his favourite phrases include: "Does your ma know my da"; "Have you any dinner mummy"; "Do you want a wee cup of tea", and "Here's Johnny!", Jack Nicholson's famous line from the 1980 horror classic The Shining.

Kelo, who accompanied Linda to watch the Twelfth of July parade in Belfast, can even sing The Sash.

It hasn't been all plain sailing, however, as Linda admitted the pair have fallen out more than once.

"One day I went to a caravan we have and it didn't make sense to take Kelo. I left him in the house with my mum and the kids, but he was raging when I returned, and huffed for about an hour," she said.

Kelo now has his own Facebook page - Kelo the African Grey.

"I uploaded a video on my own account and it went viral. I got fed-up with my phone pinging so I asked my daughter to set up an account just for him. The response has been amazing," she added.

Numerous bird owners have contacted Linda to say how impressed they are, but it was one particular response that Linda found the most touching.

After watching his rendition of You Are My Sunshine, a grieving grandmother contacted Linda to tell her how much it comforted her.

"A lady who recently lost her grandson got in touch and thanked me for sharing the video," she explained.

"He was only five months old when he died and she said she sang this song to him every night - she believed Kelo's video was a sign."

She has received other enquiries from people with elderly relatives wondering if a parrot would make good company, however Linda advises against it.

"People shouldn't go out and buy a parrot just because they can talk," she cautioned.

"These birds are incredible creatures with real feelings, but they are hard work. They demand a lot of attention and can get depressed if they don't get it."

She also warned that the birds can live for up to 100 years.

Linda, who has had contact from avian experts who claim they have never heard a bird speak as clearly as Kelo, is excited about the years ahead.

"They said he is incredible and they have been really impressed with his Northern Ireland accent - he's only three, so hopefully he has many years of learning to come."

• Watch Kelo sing at www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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