The Tell

A Tell is what is demonstrated when a poker player, grifter or salesman—some person who wants to know something about his subject’s future—discovers a clue that enables him to predict whether a person is sincere or not—lying or being truthful.

Sometimes, A Tell may be delivered by a third party. For instance, in an old I Love Lucy episode, Lucy sees Desi’s poker hand and her big facial exclamations telegraph to the other players his great hand. Of course, the other players fold leaving Desi disappointed.

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In January, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is an almost perfect place to be. Christmas is over and the weather is sunny with a fresh light breeze blowing every day from the ocean. Humpback whales cruise around the protected waters of Bahia Banderas, Mexico’s largest bay. They are busy with mating and birthing their calves. And, the city is full of grateful refugees from the frozen north.

One day while walking from our apartment on Calle Ecuador down the steep Calle Panama, I looked up from my feet as the cobbles levelled out and caught a glimpse off to my left of a bright colored bird in an alcove. The bird’s perch was a young man’s shoulder. He was working on cleanup of the demolition of a small building. I turned in and asked the man if I could take a picture of his bird, as I had never before seen a parrot like this one. The red blaze across the bird’s forehead distinguished it from other parrots I’d seen around Puerto Vallarta.

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Si, por supuesto!” he said flashing a huge open-faced smile.

I took several pictures as we spoke.

“You have a beautiful bird. What kind is it?”

Perico.”

“Did you raise it?” I asked as I took another picture.

I understand it is illegal here in Mexico to possess wild birds. Yet, I’ve seen many for sale.

“Ah no, lo encontré en el bosque,” I found it in the forest.  “Se había caído de su nido,”  It had fallen out of its nest.

I do know most parrots live and raise their young from tree hollows, huecos en los árboles, no en nidos.

As the words exited the man’s mouth, the bird made a deft move toward his ear and bit it.

“Pinche perico!”

After a quick examination of the red trickle exiting his wound, he calmed and in English asked me, “You like to have a perico like this? I can get you one.”

I’ve since compared my photo of the bird to various illustrations and texts I found online as well as my own bird identification books, and I believe this bird is a Lilac-Crowned Parrot, Loro Occidental or  Cotorra Frente Roja. In 2006, Birdlife International classified this species as Vulnerable. In 2014, the International Union for Conservation of Nature uplisted this species to Endangered.

These birds are very intelligent. They are often taught to speak and they know how to Tell.

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