Pet parrot ruffles feathers by singing Rangers anthems

AT first sight, Scotland's most prominent QC and an African Grey parrot named Rio appear to have little in common.

But Rio has just followed in the footsteps of high-profile lawyer Donald Findlay by landing himself in hot water by performing sectarian football anthems.

While Mr Findlay's renditions of The Sash and Follow, Follow led to him standing down as vice-chairman of Rangers, the parrot's versions have sparked official investigations by West Lothian Council.

Rio's owner and Rangers fan Linda Gillies taught the bird to whistle The Sash and Follow, Follow – both favourites among the Ibrox faithful.

The parrot's whistling in the back garden of her home prompted a neighbour to complain it was sectarian and should be stopped.

That led to visits by officials from the council and her landlords, the Horizon Housing Association, to monitor her pet's conduct.

Both agencies have decided to take no further action, although Ms Gillies has decided to stop taking the bird into her back garden where other residents could hear it.

The 45-year-old mother and full-time carer said: "It's not a sectarian parrot. When my friends visited, they taught Rio how to sing Glory to the Hibees so he does that now. I've got Protestants and Catholics in my family and don't consider myself sectarian.

"Rio listens to songs I whistle round the house and copies the ones he likes. He does songs from The King and I, The Addams Family tune, Magic Moments, Hey Baby and loads more.

"When I heard there had been a complaint about sectarian singing, I thought it was a joke. A man from the council came to the door and told me about it.

"He said he thought it was funny and couldn't believe there had been a complaint.

"A few weeks later, someone from Horizon contacted me too. They didn't say anything would happen but I decided to keep Rio inside to stop any complaints.

"We used to put him out in the back garden in his cage to get some fresh air but not any more."

Ms Gillies, who lives in Loch Linnhe Court in Whitburn, with her daughter Lauren, 17, and cousin Mary Smillie, 57, bought Rio ten years ago.

Ms Smillie, who is disabled and cared for by Ms Gillies, said: "We support Rangers and he sings those songs, but he does other football songs like The Great Escape, which the England supporters use.

"He just picks up things from us. He says 'Hiya son', 'I love you' and 'Cheerio' when any of us leaves the house."

Next-door neighbour Bill Torrance, 82, a retired bus driver, said: "You can hear the parrot whistling the songs when he's outside in the garden. He's amazingly good.

"I can't understand the complaint because it's just a bit of fun really."

Neighbour Stewart Heggie, 34, a part-time DJ and Rangers fan, added: "It's a highlight of the summer when the sun is out and Rio's in the back garden singing.

"The kids round here love him so I can't see why anyone is complaining."

A West Lothian Council spokeswoman confirmed a complaint had been received about the parrot's whistling but declined to comment further.

Jim Watt, from Horizon Housing Association, said: "We received a complaint from one of our tenants.

"We spoke to the tenant with the pet, as well as other neighbouring tenants, and we took the view that there had not been antisocial behaviour, which would include sectarian behaviour."