- Can I take pictures?
- What’s his age?
- What’s his life story? All of it, from the beginning until now.
- Is he difficult to place?
- Does he bite?
- How would he be with roommates?
- What’s his life span? A web site says up to 30 – shorter than a lot of parrots.
- Can he fly? (Are his wings clipped.) I have 9 ft. ceilings – kind of high.
- Does he talk?
- What’s his diet?
- How social is he?
- When is the toy-making day?
- What about pooping?
- pooping while flying
- pooping on people
- how do you clean up poop?
- price to get in?
- used cages?
- If I foster, do they loan me a cage? toys?
- Are there handouts about food?
- Can I get first refusal?
- If somebody else expresses an interest in him, can I have first chance to foster him?
Bob Sinclair is married to Heather Sinclair, my vet from my two recent dogs. She’s an amazing vet and I adore her. She’s a goddess and Bob is a very good guy. I’m sure he deserves her.
Bob and I frequently meet at the grocery store – Earth Fare, where I recently worked for four years. (See my blog “Real Life in the Checkout Line.“) I bumped into Bob a couple of days after Visit 1 with Oliver. From him I ascertained several things:
- Heather sees birds – it is one of her specialties. She is not an “avian vet” and if Oliver got very sick there is someone for referrals, but Heather could handle the routine stuff. Very good news, for lots of reasons. (I get to see her! Yay!)
25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds
- Heather has her own parrot – maybe an eclectus, I can’t remember – who Bob says is “an amazing bird”. I’m loaded with questions, mostly variations of “what makes him amazing?”
- In reference to my question about whether Oliver was “interested in me”, Bob described two relevant behaviors:
- “Pinning”, where the pupils get really tiny. I understand that this can also be a sign of aggression. Maybe at root it’s a sign of really focusing on you.
- The other sign is lifting of the wings. I think too much of this can also signal aggression, but maybe it’s always a sign of getting energized. I couldn’t remember Oliver manifesting either of these behaviors at our minimal little Visit 1 – and I didn’t see him showing either of them at Visit 2, but Nicole said she definitely saw him pinning when he was riding around on my shoulder and it definitely seemed to her like a good sign.
Visit one lasted about three minutes after the workshop. I had gotten so pitifully lost in the country on the way out to Alexander that, as the workshop was breaking up, I asked if I could follow somebody back into town. Ann was going to be patiently (?) waiting in her car for me to finish up.
Camille the intern got Oliver out of his cage. I tried to breathe. He was beautiful. He seemed calm. He was quiet – especially compared with the cacophony of bird screams and calls that had erupted since we entered the aviary.
(Does he mind me being here?) No sign of that.
(Is he interested in me?) Why do I think yes, maybe? I can’t really tell.
“How old is he?” (Questions I had not thought about asking before being in front of him.) “I don’t know.”
“Do you know any of the story about why he’s here? What’s his life been like?” “No.”
“Does he talk?” “Yes, but I don’t think he’s a big talker.” (Although I still didn’t hear him talk at Visit 2, she apparently is wrong about this.)
And then I was out, with lots more questions than answers.
Ann had indicated that after the parrot workshop at Phoenix Landing (out in the country, in Alexander) I could get a chance to meet Oliver. She had given me no indication why she thought Oliver might be a good match for me. I was one mass of big questions:
- Why Oliver?
- Why me?
- What makes you think I’m going to be a good parrot parent?
- Will he like me?
- Will I like him?
- Who is this lovely young intern taking me to meet him?
- Does she know anything?
- What next?
Because he is imperfect
Because he needs healing also
Because so far he doesn’t like to be touched – I don’t get an easy fix for my touch needs. No photos yet of Oliver – here’s an eclectus pair (the male is green).
What’s it like to have a pet that doesn’t want to have me touch him? We have to make contact in different ways: verbally? Nonverbally?
I need to not let him do mating behaviors as one way to contact me:
Eclectus parrots are “hypersexual” – they mate 365 days a year.
If I let him regard me as his mate, he will “protect” me from other people and birds.
That was a problem with the last companion owners: he “mated” with the wife and was aggressive to the husband.
Because i want to see what it’s like to have a pet who can verbally communicate
He’s “really smart” – even more than other parrots?
He has a “huge” vocabulary.
He can maybe learn to read (Jennifer Cunha, My Reading Pets ).
Because he likes me.
“Interested” at first meeting
Way interested at second meeting
- My savvy friend Linda McLean said, “Take your time deciding when and if to foster. Oliver has probably already decided.”
Because I am meant to open up my kinship with this other part of life.I’ve never had a bird – I don’t know birds. I want to.
Because once in my young life (grad school?) I was obsessed with birds – bird watching, thinking I had been a bird in a previous life time, flying dreams.
I’ve had flying dreams through my lifetime.
One of these dreams – the last one I remember having, and many years ago – was so vivid that i went out in the backyard believing that if I just could remember how I focused my mind in the dream, I would in fact be able to fly.
There is so much I need to learn about parrots – it will really preoccupy me, take my mind off my depression. (It already is doing this, even without a physical parrot in my house.)
Because i read the New York Times article about PTSD parrots and PTSD vets healing each other.
I understand they are good companions – Nicole tells me that Oliver is a good companion.
A companion pet that can actually communicate in spoken language – what a gas that would be!
Because at two months since Toni died, I’m not through grieving her. I go to a “Pet Bereavement” support group twice a month and I want to let that process take its course.
Because I don’t want to try to have a new dog “replace” Toni. I want to savor – sit with – just what a special dog she was and what a special connection we had.
Because my ornery self wants to violate the expectations of all those people who ask me “Are you going to get another dog?” Not totally violate their expectations. I will often also offer the other half of that truth, after “No” or the softer “not yet” – “I can’t picture going through life without another dog – but just not yet.”
This picture of a dog and a parrot says it all for me. I use it under my email signature. I believe in the Kinship with All Life. Nicole, Oliver’s caretaker, has two dogs. A parrot is likely to live a long time. I like the idea of a parrot and a dog.