Possibly the Ring-necked Parakeet Psittacula krameri, Perruche à collier.

11 occurrences (6 Parrot, 1 parrot-teacher, 2 parrots, 1 popinjay, 1 paraquito)

The Ring-necked Parakeet has been the most popular bird of the parrot family and thus has been the most widely introduced, so much so that it is now breeding in the wild in some parts of southern England after having escaped.

It is obviously the ability of the parrot to imitate the human voice that interests Shakespeare. Making birds speak was so popular that an Elizabethan preacher had to make things clear regarding the uniqueness of man's speech: "We think it no great matter for a man to cause a pie or a popinjay to utter certain distinct words and speeches" (THOMAS, p. 111).

Shakespeare's parrot is loud, often accompanied by words such as: pester'd, laugh, clamorous, squabble. M.R. RIDLEY, editor of the Arden Othello, provides us with an interesting parallel for: "Drunk? and speak parrot? and squabble? swagger? (2 3 271 p) found in SKELTON's Speke Parrot : "Peace, Parrot, ye prate as ye were ebrius" (2 10). The morbid habit of teaching the parrot to cry "rope" was widespread: "to prophesy like the parrot, beware the rope's end" (ERR 4 4 40 p).

If the parrot's ability to utter words can be presented as a feat of nature, the parrot is nonetheless the symbol of the lack of wits. Lorenzo exclaimed in the Merchant of Venice:

How every fool can play upon the word! I think

the best grace of wit will shortly turn into silence, and

discourse grow commendable in none only but parrots:

(3 5 40-4)

And in a battle of wits between Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing:


I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man

swear he loves me.

(1 1 121-2) [...]


Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.


A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.


I would my horse had the speed of your tongue, and so good a continuer.

(1 1 128-131)

It is not only Beatrice and Benedick who display wit, it is also Shakespeare when "A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours" echoes parrot-like "I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me".

The question of human nature is once again raised in: "That ever this fellow should have fewer words than a parrot, and yet the son of a woman!" (1H4 2 4 96-7 p). Then why not imagine a human imitating a bird as Shakespeare is so familiar with reversal of qualities. In Troilus and Cressida we find Thersites saying:

Would I could meet that rogue Diomed! - I would

croak like a raven: I would bode, I would bode.

Patroclus will give me anything for the intelligence of

this whore; the parrot will not do more for an almond

than he for a commodious drab. Lechery, lechery, still

wars and lechery! Nothing else holds fashion. A burning

devil take them!

(5 3 188-94, emphasis added)

"An almond for a parrot" is registered by TILLEY (A220), the almond being the reward for the parrot if it speaks.