Woof, our white-bellied caique, was 4 months old when we got him. He was a happy bird and loved to play, but he was lonely during the day while we were at work. A month later, we got Meow, a black-headed caique. When we met Meow in the bird store, his best friend was a Moluccan cockatoo. The cockatoo would lower his head and open his crest so Meow could walk in and preen the inside of his feathers. It was funny to see a little bird with a huge cockatoo, but I’ve come to realize caiques don’t see themselves as small.
When Woof and Meow first met, they became instant buddies. Their favorite thing was curling up together in an empty food bowl in their cage, body-to-body, beak-to-beak, playing, wrestling and making sounds at each other. They used to do that for hours. My husband and I were not supposed to look at them while they did this. If we did, they’d jump out of the bowl and look sort of embarrassed.
They slept at night with their heads sort of wrapped around each other ?Meow’s would be curled in to his shoulder and Woof’s would be curled protectively around Meow’s head.
After eight years, they’ve grown used to each other, but they’re still best buddies. They also argue over anything at all: toys, perches, a piece of food, whose turn it is at the water bottle or on my shoulder. The arguments usually turn into wrestling matches accompanied by much screaming. But when the screams reach a certain pitch and the wrestling gets too rough, they stop dead, frozen in the middle of the action. That lasts a few seconds. Then they get off each other, go to separate corners of the cage and avoid each other until they both calm down. I wish I could say I taught them how to do this, but I didn’t. They learned it all on their own.
I just got lucky in finding such smart caiques. Watching them together, I sometimes think they’ve taught me more about how to love than I’ve taught them how to live in a human home.
This baby bird story started about 18 years ago. I came across a quaker parrot that was 5 weeks old named Gizmo. I fell in love. By the time he was 9 weeks old, he started saying his name, first to my husband, who was so surprised. It was just a matter of time before he started saying everything.
My daughters always yelled “I’ll get it!” when the phone rang. One day the phone rang and we heard, “I’ll get it!” just as loud as the girls said it. When Norma and Amy argued, Gizmo would yell “Quit it, quit it,” then, “Amy come here.” I didn’t need to scold them.
I started raising Papillons (a dog breed) when Gizzy came to our home, One little girl was named Strawberry. Gizmo started saying “Strawberry” right away. He knew she was small. When I’d hand-feed cockatiel babies I’d say, “Gizzy babies.” Gizmo would call them “Strawberry” ?never “baby.”
When my third granddaughter, a newborn, came to our house Gizmo kept saying “Strawberry.” Finally I picked our granddaughter up and went to his cage. I said, “Gizzy, this is our new granddaughter, Sami.” He said “Strawberry, Strawberry.”
By Robin Smith, Missouri
I use to work in a bird shop and worked around all kinds of birds. One day I was asked to go to the nursery to give a little Umbrella cockatoo a bath, as he was filthy, covered in baby food. I took my time getting all of the baby food off of him. He was a cute little guy. But I told myself I can’t fall in love with him because I can’t afford him.
As the days went on, he moved into the shop. He was a little ‘too in a big world. I had a large barrel that I used to clean feces and food every morning out of the bird cages. One morning, being preoccupied with what I was doing, I had lost the little ‘too. I could hear him, I just couldn’t find him. I finally found him in the barrel with all the stuff I had taken out of the other birds’ cages. He let out the sweetest little squeal when I found him. From that day on, it became a daily thing ?he would hide and I would find him.
He had gotten so attached to me that he wouldn’t eat his baby formula unless I was there. That really worried me, because I got off at 5pm and didn’t come in again until 9am. The owner of the bird shop was willing to take payments and reduce the price. I really couldn’t believe it. Such a beautiful, wonderful baby bird accepted me as his mom and didn’t want anyone else around him.
I have had Powder for 12 years now, and we have been through the ups and downs. We have been through sickness, irritability and just recently, this past November, found out that he was actually a she and she laid her first egg.
As far as special birds go, Powder is my special ‘too, and I tell her that every day. Even though I think I am the lucky one because she chose me to be part of her life.
My Congo African grey, Eeyore ?now almost 5 years old ?was purchased from a pet store. I first met her when she was 4 months old. I was making payments for her purchase and visiting her on a weekly basis before bringing her home.
She was part of a huge clutch of greys, and they were all together in a lower cage. I’d say on the third time I went to visit her, she recognized me and would say, “Hello”, and seemed to recognize me.
On one of my next visits, I was squatting in front of this lower cage full of baby greys, and Eeyore was more toward the back of the cage. When I went to open the cage to get her out, she knew I was coming for her and she literally pushed about four of her siblings out in front of her to get to me. Picture this: A grown woman squatting in front of a cage full of greys, a bunch of these greys fluttering out, knocking over this woman and scattering all over the floor. When all was said and done, Eeyore was on my chest holding on for dear life.
She hasn’t changed much, she is still the love of my life and can talk up a storm, saying just about everything she hears, and some she comes up with on her own.