Can I take a bunch of photos? (I’m writing a blog here, people!)
Can I get a phone number, so I can reach y’all more directly than the current email?
Are the roads out there in the country too icy? (“Yes, don’t come today – visit Oliver after the workshop on Saturday.” That’s four more days – OK, I can do it.)
When is the toy making day? (cheap parrot toys!)
How will I know if Oliver has chosen me?
How will I know when I am ready to foster Oliver (always, at this adoption center, the first step before adoption)?
What’s holding me back?
Now that I am writing all this, am I going to slow the whole process down to make it a good story :)?
What’s involved in them approving my request to foster Oliver, when I make that request?
Will I need to get a “play stand”? (Nicole has indicated that the center would “probably” provide a cage.) Just how expensive is this going to be?
Is adopting a parrot even financially feasible for someone on a limited budget?
Oliver looks really solid, really hardy compared to some of the fluffier parrots. Are eclectus parrots especially healthy? (less likely to get sick or need a lot of expensive vet attention) For what can I use my regular vet – who I love and who “sees birds”, but is not an “avian vet”?
Thanks for joining me.
Come along on the journey of one old man adopting a parrot. It’s a story of aging and retirement, parenthood, adoption, birds, parrots, animals, the kinship of all life and following our inner light no matter what crazy direction that leads us.
At roughly two hours, this was my first significant visit with Oliver – escorted by Nicole, the vet-tech caretaker. Oliver is very bonded to her. He started by letting out several “screams”: happy to see her and the onset of feeding time? disturbed by the presence of a new person? This behavior repeated only 3-4 times in the last 90 minutes of the visit.
Nicole warned me that he is kind of a bully with other birds – and I did see that behavior when he and another parrot were released from their cages and Oliver flew over to him. Not attacking but nudging – pushing the other bird around.
I non-intrusively offered my hand for Oliver to step up on. Nicole said that’s not desirable because he might try to masturbate on my hand – a no-no. Sure enough, later – when Oliver was up on my shoulder, I stretched out my arm for him to climb down and he went right to my hand and started to rub himself on it. We needed to “re-direct” – to offer him the half-hula hoop to climb up on (no negative reinforcement here – not even the word “No”).
Early in the session, when Oliver was on Nicole’s shoulder (not yet coming to me), she pointed out to me his chewing behavior. “He’s regurging – regurgitating his food to feed it to his mate – that’s what they do.” Ooh, makes me feel all romantic just thinking about it. “We’ve got to redirect him.” Late on, when he had decided he liked me, he did this several times with me.
Oliver spent a lot of time on my shoulder, which both of us liked a lot. He gave the tenderest nibbles, with his big beak, on the back of my ear – very sweet. When it was time for me to leave, he didn’t want to come down off my shoulder. Nicole said this was a common challenge. She got him down for me, but I obviously am going to have to get good at doing it for myself.
- We’re sure over the hump – oops, Freudian slip. The mating behavior is problematic, but Oliver has definitely decided that I’m a good guy.
- Although I relaxed more as the visit went on, needing to be so vigilant about mating behaviors kept me off balance.
- When Oliver would flap his wide wings to fly onto my shoulder, brushing them against my face, this was very impressive and would also set me on edge. Was he “flying at me”, which Nicole said he had aggressively done with the husband at the last home? Answer: no, not aggressive – just making his way to my shoulder.
- I have been pre-occupied with him ever since. I did get one photo of him sitting on his cage, which I have not managed to download on to this blog site. I did download it to Facebook and now have a lot of my friends cheering me on.
- 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?