The flock, Past and Present:
Today, we have three parrots (Ptak and Tayir, the parrotlets, and Maverick the Senegal Parrot), a fat tuxedo cat named Bailey, three fancy rats, and the world’s sweetest and most gentle dwarf hamster. I also have a super-cute service dog prospect (ahem, cloud) named Atlas.
Species: Cobalt Celestial (Pacific) Parrotlet.
Favourite food: Millet, of course… Sunflower seeds… And strawberries.
Favourite activities: Shredding paper, walking around on the floor, hanging upside down, saying his name.
Hates: PAPER. Crinkly things. Loud noises. Jingly things. They all must die.
Quirk: You can’t use a tissue around him, or he’ll have your fingers.
Vocabulary: Pretty bird, baby bird, you silly bird, good, how are you, what are you doing, Ptak, please, O-LI, excuse me, ‘scuse me, sorry, three, peekaboo, hmm, tickle-tickle, scritch scritch, kiss kiss kiss, mwwwaaa-ahh, yummy, hi, beep-beep, let’s open the door, koolaid.
Mimics also: running water, coughs and sneezes, camera shutter noises, our cockatiel/canary/senegal, my laugh, various kiss noises, clicking, and an un-weaned baby bird’s call.
Did you know? Parrotlets are the smallest parrots bred in aviculture.
Favorite food: Most fruits: Pomegranate, blueberries, raspberries, banana. He also really likes raw sugar snap peas and steamed broccoli.
Favourite activities: Shrieking. Locating potential nests. Divebombing humans. Saying, ‘Awwwwww, MAVI,’ and then soaking up the adoration that obviously follows because it’s so cute. Strutting up and down the couch.
Hates: Toys? And men. (We’re working on both those things.)
Quirk: He often rolls onto his back randomly.
Vocabulary: Hi, Mavi, Hello, Maverick, how are you, pretty bird, awwwwww, step up, love you, whatcha doing, where’s the you.
Mimics also: muttering, beeping, coughing, sneezing, light switches clicking, car alarms, whistling, our parrotlet.
Did you know? Poicephalus means ‘made of head,’ because their heads and beaks are so large in proportion to their small, stocky bodies.
Birds of the Past:
Charlie and Pip:
These two were our first birds. We bought two tiny canaries from a somewhat dubious pet shop in Glasgow. Charlie sadly passed away in October of 2012. We miss him every day. Pip was re-homed when I was forced to leave Scotland, but I know she’s very loved.
Sex: Charlie was male; Pip’s female.
Species: Gloucestershire Consort Canary (Pip), and a Fife canary (Charlie).
Favourite edible substances: EVERYTHING EVER.
Favourite activities: Eating. Avoiding moving.
Nicknames: Pip-let, Pippo (or Hippo), Pipsqueak. Charlie was always just Charlie!
Did you know? There is a variation of Gloster canaries called corona – these have a round crest, which personally reminds me a little of a monk.
Mishka is a nutty, neurotic bundle of energy. She’s also our third bird, first parrot. We love her to bits, but she is a challenge. [Update: I am absolutely devastated to write that Mishka passed away just before the first day of 2014. There simply aren’t words.]
Sex: Again… Debatable – technically male, but we call her a female, since that’s what she was sold to us as. She doesn’t mind.
Colour mutation: Normal grey.
Loves: Pip, shredding things, singing into my ear, flying around like a maniac, standing on the rims of cups.
Hates: EVERYTHING EVER. Except Pip, pizza, and millet. But no, really, try and touch her. It won’t happen again.
Vocabulary: Mishka doesn’t talk; however, she does mimic a few things. In addition to her vast repertoire of
charming beautiful shrieks, chirps, and squawks, she can do astounding imitations of a camera shutter and a laugh. She’s also learnt a bit of Jingle Bells and the theme to the game Caesar 3.
Nicknames: We mostly call her Maloo – more than we actually call her Mishka.
Did you know? There are many different colour mutations of cockatiels bred in captivity, but the grey and yellow – like Mishka – are the ones found in the wild.
We said to ourselves, ‘No more birds, and especially no white cockatoos,’ and then we met Bobo. He charmed us immediately, and I fell witness to the incredible manipulative talents of an umbrella cockatoo. They are masters of turning from sweet to violent in a moment’s time.
Bobo recently went to live at a sanctuary because of how dangerous he is and was. I would have brought him with me when I moved; however, I was then living with my parents, and it would not have been safe for them. Bobo had good moments and bad. Overall, he is hormonal, unpredictable – but also not atypical. He is just an adult male cockatoo. That’s what they’re like. And I miss him every day.
Cockatoos in particular are not meant to be pets. I would never recommend buying a ‘too – wouldn’t even recommend adopting one to your average bird lover. They’re incredibly complex and have amazing personalities, but they also have meltdowns and severe behavioural issues that are spurred by instinct. If you can adopt or re-home one and offer it a safe, loving place with your family, I encourage it, but please, think carefully before bringing one home.
Species: Umbrella cockatoo
Favourite activities: Reducing wooden objects to splinters in mere seconds, unscrewing things, weaving cloth through the bars of his cage, parading around on the floor whilst singing.
Quirk: He grunts and grumbles like a small, grumpy child when he’s not happy with something. He also uncovers himself in the morning and plays quietly until we come in to ‘wake’ him.
Vocabulary: Hi, Bobo, hello, bye-bye, good bird, what, lalala, darling.
Did you know? Umbrellas have the intelligence of a 5-year-old, and the emotional capacity of a 3-year-old. Buying or adopting one is literally like taking on a toddler.