Runaway Parrot

Posted in Pets on June 29th, 2010 and tagged , , , ,

As you might have read in my blog previously, we have a pet Scarlet Macaw parrot.  His name is Squawky, although he is more ‘screamy’ than he is ‘squawky’.  Occasionally when the weather is warm enough, we take Squawky outside – he either goes for walks with our family or he gets tied to a tree (so he doesn’t fly away) to enjoy nature.  A few weeks ago, we were sitting in our dining room having lunch when we saw the man from our local pet store approaching Squawky in the tree out front with a towel on his hand.  “He’s going to take your bird!”  I said to my husband, “You have to go outside!”  I guess this is where I should get it in that I didn’t think it was a good idea for Squawky to be outside alone in the first place, but we had to give the kids lunch and Squawky was enjoying himself so we didn’t make him come in with us.  So anyway, we ran outside, and told the pet store guy that he was our bird – apparently our neighbors were unaware that we had a parrot (guess they hadn’t seen him outside before; sometimes  we put him in the backyard).  So the neighbors called the police, who called the pet store, who sent the bird-catcher.  He thought it was someone’s lost bird, and he was going to “rescue” Squawky – and lose some fingers in the process.  It’s not an exaggeration when they say that adult Macaw parrots can snap a broomstick handle with their super-strong beaks.  Check out a few of my husband’s parrot battle scars or use your imagination to see what one of those beaks can do to a fleshy finger.  Luckily we got out there just in time to save the pet store guy’s fingers, and he apologized profusely, as did our neighbors who had called the police.  The pet store guy found it unbelievable that we could have a macaw parrot (a notoriously loud bird) and not have the whole neighborhood know about it.  I told him that the neighbors on the side of the house where Squawky’s room is probably know about him, but the neighbors who called the police live across the street –  plus Squawky doesn’t scream when he’s outside.

But all’s well that ends well – as much as that bird irritates me sometimes, he has been a part of our family for 8 years now, and I don’t want to lose him.  Well, not to have him stolen or lost anyway – getting paid the going price of an obnoxious Scarlet Macaw might be kind of nice…  A joke, sort of.  🙂

I looked around for a picture of Squawky in the tree, but I guess I don’t have one.  So here he is having a tremendous amount of fun taking a bath.  He is a bit larger now because this was taken 7 years ago.

**UPDATE** – Squawky was back in the tree tonight, so this time I made sure to get a picture of him enjoying his tree:

If only his personality was as beautiful as his plumage

Introducing… JJ!

Posted in Pets on January 9th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As you might have read in an earlier blog post, I received a pet store gift certificate for Christmas from my husband.  Today I spent it – I picked out the newest member of our family – JJ the parakeet!

JJ comes home 1-9-10 002

When you adopt a pet parakeet from a pet store, the workers have to barge into the cage full of parakeets with a towel on their hand to grab your bird, and then they put it in a cardboard box for the ride home.  This might sound like a mean thing to do, but in my experience (this is my fifth pet parakeet), the bird recovers very quickly; I wouldn’t even use the word recover really; they always seem just fine.  And JJ handled his transition like a pro!  He actually seemed immediately happy in his cage!  I put my finger in there, and he let me almost touch him, just a few hours after he got home!  He didn’t back away or anything!  I am so excited to become friends with this little guy; he is so cute!  It’s been about 15 years since I’ve had a pet parakeet, and I’ve forgotten about how they just exude happiness!  Already JJ moves his beak like he’s trying to talk and responds to my voice.  Hopefully I will make the time to train this little guy to be the little buddy I’ve always wanted in a bird – I get jealous of my husband’s relationship with his parrot.  Wait, that doesn’t sound quite how I meant to say it…

There’s a fine line between training a bird, earning trust, and scaring him off for good.  JJ seems very patient and ready to learn, and so am I – but getting to spend time with him while there is a trouble-prone toddler toddling around will be my greatest challenge, I think.

Many people have fun parakeet stories; they really are pleasant little birds.  My dad and my uncle had a parakeet when  they were kids named Tippy who would walk on their kitchen table.  They would hold a hand of playing cards, and Tippy would walk up, choose a card, and then carry it in his beak to the edge of the table, let it go and watch  it float down  to the floor.  I’ve heard that many (male) parakeets can talk, and of course they will sit on your shoulder and be your best friend.  So yeah, I’m excited about this bird, and it’s a nice feeling – can’t say there’s been a lot of that lately.  Even if he isn’t easily trained (defying all early indications), I’ve already tremendously enjoyed just looking at him and absorbing his pleasantness, something I look forward to doing in days to come…  feeling a contentment that I haven’t felt for awhile…

Just for the heck of it, here is a timeline of my other pet parakeets.  I was a kid when I had them, so I don’t remember dates or ages – each one lived for around 5-8 years, the usual parakeet lifespan.  But it bugs the heck out of me that I can’t remember which of my birds liked to ring his toy bell –   Tippy, I think?  I named him for my dad and uncle’s childhood pet…  The memories of the bell ringing bird have been replaced in my brain by the obscenely loud parrot we currently own who jangles his bell-shaped toy whenever he starts to get rowdy.  Parakeets are actually in the same biological family as parrots and are in fact classified as parrots.  So technically, we’ve gotten ourselves another parrot for our house, just what we needed, right?  But Squawky, the scarlet macaw (loud a**hole) parrot belongs to my husband (or my husband belongs to Squawky, depends upon who you ask), and JJ is mine – this is important since birds “mate” for life – I’m so happy to have MY bird!

So here’s that rundown of parakeets past:

Spunky – he was blue and fiesty, but we were really surprised when he she began to lay eggs!

Tweety – the only parakeet I had who was of the green /  gold variety.

Tippy – named after my dad’s childhood bird; he was light blue.

Goat –  my sister found him flying loose outside around her work.  They took him in, and when no one claimed him, I named him “Goat” in honor of my dream pet at that time.  He was pretty tame for a “wild bird”!

J.J. – dark blue, almost a gray to violet hue.  And why is he named J.J.?  It’s short for Jungle Jack Hanna, of course 😉

Supressing My Whim For Another Parrot…

Posted in animals, Pets on September 6th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Believe me, I am definitely not expressing that parrots are pets to get on a whim, not that any pets should be obtained on a whim.  But I wouldn’t really even recommend parrots, the loud and moody (however beautiful and insanely smart) creatures as pets, except to the perfect parrot owner – which might just be as rare as the gorgeous birds themselves.  Due to a set of circumstances that transcribed long ago, we’ve found ourselves adapting to a be a parrot family.  Years ago we adopted Squawky, as a needy unwanted baby, a Scarlet Macaw, who is now somewhere just older than 8 years old.  He is finally starting to calm down just a tad, but he still makes me think of putting him in a more unused room of the house on an almost daily basis.  That being said, it’s time to share with you the video of a bird who re-kindled my childhood desire (not that I ever really lost it, but 4 kids and little sleep will certainly give one pause about adding any new pet to the  family) to raise an African Grey Parrot – the type of parrot known more for their uncanny impressions and ability to reason than for their beautiful feathers.  As a kid, I read a book that made me want the parrot in the first place.  It is called Harry’s Mad by Dick King-Smith (this author also wrote the story that the movie The Water Horse‘s screenplay (good movie!!) is based upon), and it’s a great read for young adults (and maybe regular adults too?  Might be basic, but fun – haven’t tried it as an adult).  And as for the video that made me again want an African Grey, despite the daily blows to my eardrums from the Scarlet Macaw?  See for yourself; her name is Sylvia, and I especially love her Rhett Butler and Desi Arnaz impressions!

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Trading Parrots

Posted in Pets on May 22nd, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , ,

I’ve always wanted an African Grey parrot; it all started when I was a kid and I read the wonderful book “Harry’s Mad” by Dick King-Smith, the guy who wrote the book-turned-movie, The Water Horse.  African Greys are not nearly as “beautiful” (colorful) as other parrots, but they sure can talk and even use logic to demonstrate an intelligence level equivalent to that of a 4-year-old human child.  We did end up with a parrot, but we got the eye-candy version instead, a Scarlet Macaw.  Here is a picture of Squawky – he was molting at the time, which is why his chest is gray:

Molting Squawky

At the time we got him, it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up: he was a previously owned bird who was still very young and inexpensive, and gorgeous, of course.  We’ve had him for 6 years now, and he is part of the family.  He has quite a personality, and I get a kick out of most of the things he does.  He’s in my laundry room, so it’s an especially nice break in my daily routine when I open the door and he bursts forth with a very enthusiastic “HI!”.  But there are days when I still long for my African Grey, mostly because Squawky is my husband’s bird, which means that no one else is allowed to touch him since birds tend to bond to one person.  I think Squawky loves me and the kids, but we are not allowed to touch him under any circumstances.  We can talk to him, and he’ll even talk back.  He can be quite entertaining with his vocabulary of about 20 words, more if you count the human and animal sounds he likes to imitate.  He especially likes to laugh.  He likes to pick up toys and drop them, then he’ll laugh.  But sometimes, and it’s especially horrible when he’s molting, sometimes he screams so horribly loud, you cannot hear yourself talk or even think.  I’ve had to threaten numerous times that my laundry duties will be forfeited to the owner of the parrot if I keep getting screamed at in the laundry room, but somehow, he always stops before it comes to that.  So anyway, there was a recent article in the news about an amazing African Grey parrot named Yosuke Nakamura – he lives in Japan – who got lost and then found.  He aided in his own rescue, even though he wouldn’t talk to the police!  Read the article here:

TOKYO, Japan (AP) — When Yosuke the parrot flew out of his cage and got lost, he did exactly what he had been taught — recite his name and address to a stranger willing to help.

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Lost in Tokyo, Yosuke the parrot was able to give his name and address to get taken home.

Police rescued the African grey parrot two weeks ago from a neighbor’s roof in the city of Nagareyama, near Tokyo. After spending a night at the station, he was transferred to a nearby veterinary hospital while police searched for clues, local policeman Shinjiro Uemura said.

He kept mum with the cops, but began chatting after a few days with the vet.

“I’m Mr. Yosuke Nakamura,” the bird told the veterinarian, according to Uemura. The parrot also provided his full home address, down to the street number, and even entertained the hospital staff by singing songs.

“We checked the address, and what do you know, a Nakamura family really lived there. So we told them we’ve found Yosuke,” Uemura said.

The Nakamura family told police they had been teaching the bird its name and address for about two years.

But Yosuke apparently wasn’t keen on opening up to police officials.

“I tried to be friendly and talked to him, but he completely ignored me,” Uemura said.

If it weren’t for the expense and especially the screaming, I would definitely have my African Grey by now!