A parrot whose cries of alarm helped save the life of a choking girl has been hailed a hero.

Willie, a Quaker parrot, has been awarded the local Red Cross chapter's Animal Lifesaver Award in Denver, Colorado.

His histrionics alerted his owner, Megan Howard, who was baby-sitting the toddler last November.

The feathered protector squawked "Mama, baby" and flapped his wings to get her attention.

Ms Howard returned to find the little girl, Hannah, already turning blue after choking on her breakfast.

The carer saved Hannah by performing the Heimlich manoeuvre.

And she joined in the praise for her avian friend - labelling Willie "the real hero".

Hannah's mother, Samantha Kuusk, has admitted recounting the episode is still painful.

"The part where she turned blue is always when my heart drops no matter how many times I've heard it," she said.

"My heart drops in my stomach and I get all teary eyed."

Willie received his award during a "Breakfast of Champions" event attended by Colorado governor Bill Ritter and Denver mayor John Hickenlooper.

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