Herbie a smooth talker with an eye for the ladies


A popular member of staff at the Herbert Garage is a smooth talker _ just don’t expect him to fill your tank or wash your windscreen.
Herbie, a sulphur-crested cockatoo, greets people as they walk through the doors of the petrol station in the North Otago township.
The 23-year-old bird is the pet of Herbert Garage owners Debbie and Mel Lesquillier, and has been a fixture on the forecourt for several months.
“We’ve had him for a couple of years,” Mrs Lesquillier said.
“We got him from some people who were affected by the earthquakes in Christchurch and couldn’t keep him any longer. “We really only brought him out in the last six months. “We’re working every day and felt he would get lonely when we’re not at home.”Loneliness is one thing Herbie never has to worry about. He always says “hello” to customers and will even bust out a few dance moves if he’s in the mood.
“A lot of people make him dance and video him doing that, and of course he talks to them.
“Some people hear this `Hello’ and they don’t see him … they ask where it’s come from.”While Mrs Lesquillier said Herbie only had “about three dance moves”, his vocabulary was a lot wider.
In addition to “Hello” and “Herbie”, he also comes out with lines such as “See ya later”, “Pretty boy”, and when it’s time for sleep, “Herbie go to bed now”.
Like most of us, Herbie also has a couple of vices _ he often asks for a cigarette or a bourbon.
However, he is not a potty-mouthed bird.
“He’s only ever sworn once. Someone angered him and told him what to do.”Herbie is content to sit on his perch at the garage during the day, but has a large cage at home.
Mrs Lesquillier said the bird was very protective of his cage. When out of it, he “destroys everything in his path”, which had resulted in some timber decking having to be replaced.
A big softie at heart, Herbie loves a snuggle.
“He’s really cuddly; he’ll cuddle into your lap. But, he doesn’t really like guys much _ he prefers the ladies.”Herbie’s diet includes bird seed, sunflower seeds, corn on the cob, the occasional potato chip and, every morning, toast with jam or peanut butter.
He is now considered to be part of the family and has been accepted by the Lesquillier’s other pets.
“I’m very attached. I didn’t think I would be to a bird,” Mrs Lesquillier said.
The sulphur-crested cockatoo, which can be found in the wild in parts of Australia and New Guinea, can live for up to 70 years in captivity and between 20 and 40 years in the wild.

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