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Three things with Steph Tisdell: ‘My entire life is my birds. Every day we sing songs together’

Steph Tisdell isn’t a dog person or a cat person – she’s a bird person. The comedian and actor has two Amazon parrots named Michael Parkinson (“Parky”) and Eddie McGuire (“Eddie” or “Edzy”).

“People get birds and keep them in cages – that’s not what they’re there for,” she says. “If you have an exotic parrot, they require a huge amount of work, a lot more work than a dog does. But they’re so worth it. They sing, they dance, they talk … They’re just really good companions.”

When she’s not at home with her birds, the Yidinji woman is busy on stage and screen. Although she’s known for being funny, Tisdell’s breakout screen role was in political drama Total Control. She’s since joined the cast of Bump, and gives a standout performance in comedy series . She is also moderating a “” at the All About Women festival in Sydney.

Here, the funny woman gets serious about her beloved birds, and shares the stories of other important belongings.

What I’d save from my house in a fire

A drawing my niece did. I have it up on the fridge and love looking at it every day. She made it on a really nice day we spent together when she was seven. We did these drawings of Bluey and then I said to her, what if we made an animal that looked like Bluey, but wasn’t a dog? So we made a Bluey unicorn.

My niece reminds me of me as a kid. I was really creative but also quite academic, and I think she’s the same. There’s always a focus on academia, and so I love showing her that you can be creative too.

My most useful object

Two green Amazon parrots.

I have an ice-cream container that is the most perfect size for my bird food. Actually, even better is the measuring cup that I serve out their food with.

My entire life is my birds. You know those people who treat their animals like they’re children? I can’t stand those people. But I’m one of them now!

[Before I had to go to Sydney to film Total Control] I went to a place in Brisbane called Northside Produce, because they have heaps of birds – aviary birds, chickens, all of that, and I saw this little baby Amazon, which they don’t normally have. And he was obsessed with me. As I walked in, he bit a kid, which I thought was funny. But when I went over, he just jumped on me, and it took three staff members to get him off. So I picked him up the next day and we drove to Sydney together. I didn’t feel crazy for talking out loud to him. He got me through the hardest period of my life, and he was there for the biggest thing that had happened in my career to that point.

Amazons aren’t solo birds – they’re the second or third smartest bird species in the world. So I got him a little friend for my birthday, another Amazon. They act like brothers – they fight. They are best friends. They sing opera. For about an hour every day, we sing songs together. They make me happy.

The item I most regret losing

An iPod that I had years and years ago – it must have been 2009. I got mugged on a trip to Jamaica and it was taken.

And I had my first love on this trip – a holiday romance with an English guy. He had downloaded all of his songs on to my iPod, and a lot of songs that were really important to us and explained how he felt about me. We got mugged on our last night and it was because we were canoodling and holding hands – we were easy prey. But those songs were symbolic of our relationship; my first love.