Small or large, costly and even rare birds can be found at a pet store in the American community of Falls Church, Virginia.

And it is clear from the name of the store what kind of birds are available for sale: “Parrots, Parrots, Parrots, just Parrots”.

The small business is filled with many bright-colored parrots, from cockatoos to giant macaws and small parakeets.


Ed Willis is the owner of the pet store. Willis says he received his first parrot when he was 18 years old. Since then, he has not spent another day without a parrot.

Willis says the birds make wonderful pets and can develop strong feelings toward people.

"It's a unique partnership between a parrot and a person. They are independent, but they are still needy. They are happy to see you when you come home. It's a really special pet relationship."

Willis opened his store in 1988. Today, it is one of just two businesses in the Washington, D.C. area that only sell parrots.

The Hyacinth macaw, a rare parrot, costs almost $17,000. There are only about 6,500 of these birds left in the world. The parrot in Ed Willis’ store is young, and has a long life ahead of it. Macaws can live up to 100 years.

"From the neck up, they like to have their feathers ruffled… and then from the neck down, she likes when you smooth them…"

Willis' arms are covered with claw marks and bites from holding and caring for the big birds.

"They're not really trying to hurt me, sometimes it's just playfulness and sometimes they fear they might fall…"

The store is a busy place. Children and adults alike come to the store to see the different kinds of parrots.

But not all the birds at the store are for sale. Some have become like family to Willis and his daughter Kelsey. One such bird is a cockatoo named Snowball. Willis says he got Snowball when the bird was small.

“Snowball is not really a typical cockatoo. He is actually very quiet and very friendly. A lot of the cockatoos are known for being extremely loud and he has not been, so a lot of people are interested in this bird."

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.

pet (n.) /ˈpɛt/ - an animal (such as a dog, cat, bird, or fish) that people keep mainly for pleasure

  • An orange cat named Alex was our first family pet.

ruffle (v.) /ˈrʌfəl/ - to move or lift (something) so that it is no longer smooth

  • Her hair was ruffled by the wind.

claw (n.) /ˈklɑː/ - a sharp curved part on the toe of an animal (such as a cat or bird)

  • The eagle was carrying a mouse in its sharp claws.


Exercise 2


Answer these questions about the article.

  1. What kind of birds are for sale at the store?
  2. When did Ed Willis recieve his first parrot?
  3. Are birds good pets?
  4. Are rare parrots expensive?



Exercise 3

Make a sentence.

Make sentences using these words.

claw, ruffle, pet



Exercise 4


Have a discussion on following questions.

  1. Do you have any pets?
  2. Would you have a bird as a pet?
  3. Have you seen parrot talk?
  4. What is better, a cat or a dog?
  5. What are the most popular pets in your country?



This lesson is based on a news article originally published by learningenglish.voanews.