The world’s oldest domestic parrot has died aged 55 – after squawking his last word: “CHEERIO”.
African Grey parrot Tarbu croaked his final farewell to Nina Morgan, 89, as she made her way to bed.
He was so weak the next morning that he couldn’t manage his usual greeting of “Hello, my darling” – and dropped dead from his perch.
Mrs Morgan believes his longevity was down to a life of “being spoilt” – from munching his favourite Kit Kats to watching Emmerdale and Coronation Street every night.
He has lived an eventful life since being rescued from the clutches of a cruel animal trader in Tanzania in 1957 – and was once taken into police custody after going missing.
The charismatic parrot was known for being vocal and would shout “Cheerio, bye, see you soon” to Mrs Morgan every time she left the house.
He squawked “woof, woof” at dogs and would divebomb on any that entered his home – as well as calling “miaow, miaow” at cats that passed his window.
Tarbu even alerted partially-deaf Mrs Morgan to the doorbell by shouting “cooeee” and her name “Nina”, as she could not hear it ring.
Widow Mrs Morgan, who lives alone, said she was “devastated” by the death of her beloved pet, who was her constant companion for 55 years.
She said: “He was a very intelligent bird and very clever. We never taught him to talk, he picked everything up.
“The night before he died I went up to bed and he said ‘cheerio’ to me from his cage. It was the last thing that he said.
“He sounded very weak and I did think ‘oh dear, he is not well’ and had this feeling about it.
“The next morning he was on the top perch of his cage with both of his wings hanging down. I talked to him as usual and he gave me one or two little squeaks.
“I went to make a cup of tea and when I came back he was dead at the bottom of the cage. I cried for two days and I just miss him so much.”
Tarbu was snatched from his nest as a chick by an African trader in Da es Salam in Tanganyika, now Tanzania.
Mrs Morgan, a former flight engineer, was living in the country with her husband Peter, who was a pilot for the country’s president Julius Nyerere.
The couple decided to give Tarbu a better life and bought him for their son Christopher, then aged eight, in 1963.
Mrs Morgan added: “He was a very young chick, he had not yet fully feathered. He adored my son and would shout ‘Christopher’ at him.”
Christopher sadly died in a car crash in the 1970s and Mr and Mrs Morgan returned to England with Tarbu in 1985.
Tarbu became Mrs Morgan’s sole companion when her husband, a former RAF pilot, died of emphysema.
She said: “We did so much together. He would say ‘Hello, my darling’ to me every morning when I gave him a digestive biscuit for breakfast.
“I would let him out every afternoon for what I called his ‘fly past’ and he’d fly around the living room and come and sit by me on the sofa.
“We used to watch the news, Emmerdale and Coronation Street together. If an animal programme came on he used to squawk at the other creatures.
“Every night before I went to bed I used to say ‘cheerio Tarbu’ and he would reply ‘cheerio’.
“Everyone who met him thought he was the most wonderful bird. He was so intelligent and always doing something.
“If he saw a dog in the house he would dive bomb on it and should “woof, woof” because he was guarding our home. I used to stroke him like he was a dog.
“He also used to shout “miaow, miaow” and “puss, puss” at cats when they went past the window. He has given me and my friends years of laughter.”
Tarbu’s brush with the law came several years ago when he escaped and was found by the police at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
They took him into custody and delivered him to a pet shop before finally being reunited with his owner.
Mrs Morgan buried Tarbu in her garden, underneath an RAF flag, after his death three weeks ago.
She added: “He was my little flyer and I miss him dearly.”