12 July 2014
I love dogs so why wouldn’t a parrot love a dog, too? I’m looking at dog photos online from the local shelters and rescue groups. There are some wonderful dogs out there. Hey, they would get along fine with a parrot. Such sweet dogs would not put her on the dinner menu. “Sure they won’t,” says Michael. Michael likes dogs, as long as they are somebody else’s dogs.
I’m on craigslist looking at dogs, so I take a peek at birds, too. Having a bird myself, I can read between the lines. “Must find home for yellow-headed amazon. I’m at work all day and wife does not like to clean up.” This means the bird has been trying to get their attention by being loud, annoying, and destructive, besides the usual pooping, food scattering, and turning the furniture into mulch, putting a severe strain on their marriage and household harmony. This is what happens when a parrot is not getting needed attention. It will give cause for giving it attention, creating chaos if need be. A parrot is not a decoration that can be ignored once it is dusted. A parrot is not a cat that can be relied on not to make a mess wherever it goes. A parrot is not a dog that can be told to stop that bad behavior and comply obediently. So many times, a parrot is often just temporary in a home, the conversation piece that goes, “We used to have a parrot…”
People willing to bring the social network of the jungle treetops into their house are well-suited for being with a parrot. It is not about control or dominion. Parrot people make the bird comfortable, safe, and satisfied. The other way around is usually the “we used to have a parrot” sad story. Living with a parrot is a collaborative relationship. A lot of compromise, a lot of cooperation, and a whole lot of communication between you and the one wearing the feathers. Coexistence with a parrot requires give and take.
When a parrot problem, or problems is more like it, comes up, many people do the bandaid approach. One little quick fix, and if that doesn’t solve the problem, toss it out. Parrot problems are not resolved with bandaids. Parrots are excellent pets for problem solvers and critical thinkers. Parrots keep you on your toes and on traveling the path of persistence. The parrot problem persists until you get to the root of the cause. If you find the cause, you find the solution. If you give up, you eventually lose the bird.
I’m on craigslist looking at birds, and pretty soon I’m on other sites looking at birds for adoption. Every bird I read about has a problem that the owner couldn’t solve. Many more are not being revealed in the ad. My parrot has two major problems. One is age related, raging bird hormones and therefore aggressive behavior. This will pass with time. In the meantime, I’m going to try changing her diet to cut out seeds and human foods. She loves multigrain chips and peach pie, but if it causes her to charge out with her beak ready to attack, fresh veggies and fruit it will be from now on. The other is a problem picked up from a previous owner and is a misery, screaming as only parrots can scream. Leili only had one owner before me. A parrot with many owners will have compounded problems, all of them requiring attention and copious effort to deal with. A previously owned parrot in our household, with perhaps a multitude of problems to fix? I do not have the time or ability to handle that.
So I end up looking at eclectus breeders. Other parrots have traits I don’t like, such as screeching, making senseless cacophony all day, and biting off fingers. I like eclectus parrots. Like myself, eclectus are calm, intuitive, intelligent, and into food. Leili would probably prefer being with a guy eclectus over other birds. Two female eclectus parrots in the same household is asking for reality show drama. So I’m not into having baby birds, but a guy would be best for Leili.
There are not that many eclectus parrots available. They are not well known birds, and they only have a clutch of one or two eggs, so breeders are not pumping out eclectus babies in quantities. Also, I suspect, since eclectus parrots are generally well-behaved, quiet, and of excellent dispositions, they are kept rather than being placed up for adoption.
So Leili and I look at photos and video clips of prospective male partners for her. It is like Match.com for birds. Although she really isn’t much interested in any bird she sees online, I am very interested in one young male. He is a Solomon Island eclectus, the subspecies that is the smallest eclectus. Leili is even smaller than the average Solomon Island, measuring only 11 inches head to tail instead of 12 to 14 inches, so she really is a Shorty, as Michael calls her.
Surfing the net for eclectus for sale, we also come across great information about the species and especially, what to do about problems particular to this type of parrot. We have done everything we possibly could about the hormonal aggression except modify her diet, which I will get on right away. No more field goals punting parrots. No more sunflower seeds.
I am really intrigued by this handsome little Solomon Island on a breeder’s website. There are many subspecies of eclectus parrot, all slightly different because of island habitation in the South Pacific. This baby’s beak is still yellow tinged with black, a sign he is not an adult. Eclectus parrots are so named because the species is dimorphic. In most parrots, males and females have the same coloration and characteristics. The eclectus was once thought to be two different species, because the male is bright green overall with blue secondaries and red tertiary feathers under its outstretched wings. The male has a yellow beak with a dark black marking that changes as it matures to a big candy corn pattern of bright yellow and orange. You would think the male of the species is the brightly colored one, just looking at the eclectus male with his almost florescent colors. But no. In this species, the bright plumage goes to the female, who is strikingly different in brilliant red feathers, with blue violet on her chest and abdomen and a solid black beak. She is a Hollywood starlet parrot, the covergirl of Cosmopolitan.
This species is not only different in coloration from other parrots, but also in temperament. They are thinkers. You can tell when they are processing information. My bird is 3 years old and has the concrete thinking of a 3-year old human. She thinks that sight unseen means you are not there if you step behind a door, until you open the door so she can see through the space between the door and the door jamb. Then she understands that you can disappear but still be nearby. You are just behind something. Her eyes widen with understanding. Ahh! I get it now.
She never had a concrete operational understanding of mirrors, however. When she looks in a mirror, she knows she is looking at her own gorgeous self, not some other bird in the glass. Maybe because she has seen people in mirrors, and knows there can’t be two of the same kind of people doing exactly the same actions. She sees herself in a mirror, and lets you know she regards herself very highly.
Female eclectus are divine beings among mortals. That is their personality, and some of them are benevolent and some of them are deities to be feared. The males are mild mannered Mr. Nice Guys. In eclectus households, the women wear the pants.
Leili doesn’t show much interest in the eclectus guys on the computer. This doesn’t mean she doesn’t get what is going on. She learned how to fly from YouTube. After watching videos of parrots flying on the laptop, she would practice everyday until she got it down. The vet is amazed that even with clipped wings, she can bank, soar, and travel a very long distance outdoors. This is because, when motivated, much learning takes place in her little red head. So she knows what she’s looking at, she’s just not turned on by any parrot photos we’ve seen so far.
But I like the looks of this little Solomon Island eclectus. He looks like a male version of Leili, bright eyed and alert and a little feisty. I call the breeders, and all the Solomon island males are taken. Only a male grand eclectus is available. I only looked at Solomon Island males, but the breeder reassures me, or gives the sales pitch, that a bigger male is better with a smaller female eclectus. It is a better situation for the male, to be exact. She won’t be as able to brow beat him into submission.
I click on the video clip of the male grand, and Leili turns around, and looks at him. I play the video 3 times. Each time she turns her head to follow him. She tracks him stepping up, flapping his wings, and stepping down on his perch. She leans in closer to the screen. Ohmigod! That’s the guy! I have the deposit for him in the mail today.