My friend and I were discussing how intelligent our parrots are, when we remembered the murder trial that happened back in 2015.
When the pet parrot named Bud was used as evidence in court.
That’s a big event for any parrot, and we wondered if the parrot was really aware of what was going on or if it was just able to repeat events it had been witness to.
I decided to look into it and answer the question, can parrots testify in court?
The answer is no. Parrots cannot testify in court as they cannot swear on oath and show the level of understanding required in court. However, the evidence of animal reactions can be used in court and gives law enforcement cause to investigate a suspect.
Although a parrot cannot testify in court, there’s a famous account of a parrot assisting a murder investigation that happened just a few years ago.
The parrot was able to help the investigation by repeating the conversation between murderer and victim.
This article will discuss if a parrot can be a witness in court, if a parrot has ever testified in court and which countries will allow a parrot to testify, and much more.
Let’s find out if a parrot can indeed be used in court proceedings.
Can parrots be a witness in court?
The formal answer is no, due to a parrot not having the ability to swear on oath in a courtroom.
There was a murder trial of Martin Duram in 2015, who was shot by his wife, Glenna, that cause an interesting turn of events when It came to parrots being used in court.
The pet parrot named Bud was used as an eyewitness in the trial.
Bud, the parrot, gave relevant evidence, but the concern is how reliable the evidence could be from a pet parrot.
Most pets cannot speak English, but Bud can talk as many parrots can.
This was a first in a murder trial.
It was argued in court that Bud could have been repeating a murder program from the television.
However, due to Bud often repeating his owners and a history of doing so, he was classed as an eyewitness.
Has a parrot ever testified in court?
The only example of a parrot testifying in court is that of Bud the parrot and the murder of his owner Martin Duram and the murderer Glenda Duram, the victim’s wife.
Glenna Duram shot Martin Duram five times before turning the gun on herself in a failed suicide attempt.
Mrs. Duram was found guilty of first-degree murder after eight hours of deliberation by the Newaygo County jury in Michigan.
Bud, her husband’s African Grey parrot, repeated the couple’s final conversation to Mr. Duram’s ex-wife, Christina Keller, convincing her that Martin had indeed been murdered.
Can a parrot give evidence in court?
Before the year 2015 and the Duram murder trial, the answer would have been no.
However, Bud, the parrot, was able to give relevant evidence and was deemed to be reliable.
There has never been a case like it before.
The only other case similar to it was in the UK in 2008, involving a dog named Scoobie.
This was the first occasion ever of its kind when a dog frantically barked at a suspect who murdered his beloved owner; the dog witnessed the murder.
The barking was noticed by law enforcement, and they investigated the suspect, which led to them being found guilty of murder.
Is a parrot a reliable witness in court?
Yet again, the formal answer is no.
Although, Bud the African grey and many other parrot species can be talented mimics.
They can be the best of copycats.
Parrots are not a living audio recorder that accurately repeats whatever has been said in their presence.
Particularly if it was told on only one occasion.
This is because, like our own children, parrots require a fair amount of repetition before they can properly utter a phrase.
In the Duram trial Bud the parrot was thoroughly investigated and was deemed to be a relatable and reliable source due to his history of repeating everything his owners said.
Can parrots go into witness protection?
Currently, parrots can not go into a witness protection program as they are deemed unreliable sources for court.
The reason for this is that parrots are classed as conscious but not self-aware.
Parrots can use language to communicate, making them mindful of their surroundings, but they are not necessarily aware of what they say.
This may change if another case like Bud the parrot arises, but the current conditions are no witness protection for parrots.
Do different countries allow a parrot to testify in court?
The American law system commonly will not allow animals to testify as the source can be too unreliable.
The story of Bud the parrot is a one-off exception.
Bud was considered to be an eyewitness.
However, he couldn’t swear as to the authenticity of his testimony.
There was also no ability to cross-examine a parrot or ask them any questions about what he actually saw.
Any testimony by an animal in the US would question the accuracy of their statements.
When Bud’s words were weighed against Glenna Duram, who swears she didn’t kill her husband, a court of law did not allow Bud’s testimony, but it allowed law enforcement to investigate Glenna, and was later confirmed the murderer.
The UK law system is much more open to the idea of using animals in court.
The example of Scoobie the dog was allowed to testify.
During a preliminary hearing, the loyal dog was led into the witness box by a veterinarian to see how it reacted to a specific suspect.
When the dog saw the particular suspect, the dog barked furiously.
The preliminary hearing’s purpose was to determine whether the dog’s “testimony” was sufficient evidence to launch a full murder investigation.
This was successful in executing the murder investigation.
Although the dog’s bark would be ruled as inconclusive by the judge, his action of barking led law enforcement to arrest the murderer and prosecute them accordingly.
Although a parrot cannot be formally classed as a witness being able to give testament in a courthouse.
They can provide evidence that can lead to a conviction.
Maybe the rules will change to give parrots and other animals the credit they deserve, but for the time being, they formally cannot testify in court.
These animals have shown true loyalty to their departed owners and got them the justice they deserved.