I spent a week discussing bringing home a possible candidate for a pet bird from the sanctuary I volunteer every week with my son. He’s 9. He can get the big picture. My 5 year old is given information on a need-to-know basis.
We talked about keeping an open mind because we weren’t sure how the cat was going to receive a small loud feathered toy inside a cage. We weren’t sure if the feathered being was going to bite, scream, pluck, bite, scream, bite or scream.
We have a very unique opportunity to try out a pet. If it doesn’t work out, the pet goes back to the sanctuary where someone better suited for it can adopt it, or it will simply move onto the sanctuary where it will live.
This particular bird was young, less than a year. I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity for my son to literally grow up with a childhood pet. And one that might talk even! How amazing would it be to be in your 30’s and still have the pet you loved and took care of when you were 9?!
As I’ve stated many times, no I don’t think large parrots are a good pet. This particular medium sized bird was bought by a woman for her children. She didn’t realize the time demand a bird can be, and so decided to give it up. I’m sure this was not an easy decision, I am not at all judging what she had to do. However, this simply provided an opportunity for my family to possibly take in a relatively small pet that has the potential to be a great asset for us.
So we get to the sanctuary and the bird is in the home office. My husband and two kids were both with me. Originally I had just planned on my son and I going, but it became a family event.
This Quaker parakeet had been in it’s cage in a car all morning. As I later found out, it was driven to the daughter’s lesson, waited, then was driven to the sanctuary, cuddled and loved by a familiar face, then left in a strange room, with strange smells and noises with strange people making human noises, but not at all familiar to this little guy.
Then in walks a family. He lets out a Quaker squawk. My kids immediately cover their ears. Either i’ve worked too long in the macaw room and am now deaf, or just don’t have a realistic understanding of ‘loud’ because that noise was a lower decibel than my dogs’ bark.
I approach the cage and the bird says, “What are you doing?”. It was the cutest little voice ever. Unfortunately because my kids had their hands over their ears, they missed it. my husband and they are watching me stick my hand into the cage of this newly surrendered parakeet.
He bites me as he’s getting onto my finger…. but he is stepping up. Maybe that was just a nip. I bring him out and switch him to a more comfortable hand. He bites.
I try not to react. Everything i’ve read and seen and heard says not to give the negative behavior attention. … at the same time, this little f-er is biting the crap out of my finger. I waited it out. He sawed his beak deeper. I pulled it away. He leaned down and bit again.
It became a ridiculous dance of hopping, offering fingers, trying not to react, staying calm, and figuring out what to do.
At this point i’m bleeding. My daughter is crying because i’m bleeding. My son looks like he’s being forced to watch an execution and my husband is holding back an elated smile. (he does not at all want a bird)
The bird goes back onto his cage, flies onto my head, climbs up my arm, tries to get near my face, and he is just all over the place with that damned beak.
I could very easily see how with time and patience and band aids he has the potential to be a good pet…. for someone without kids. My fingers have been bitten and worn down enough to withstand an enthusiastic round of biting ‘get to know ya’, but my kids do not.
Once they saw the blood, they were out.
In the end, i’m bummed. I had thought this would work out but had kept an open mind in case it didn’t. If this bird has a chance to settle in some more and adjust before I try to interact with it again, I don’t know that i’d trust a first interaction between him and my kids…. i KNOW they wouldn’t. They’d go into it with a very nervous fidgety energy the bird would undoubtedly pick up on.
For now we are not bird owners. My husband nearly did a happy little jig on the way back to the car. The kids were just stunned and a bit freaked out by the whole thing. I was just nursing my wounds trying not to make a big deal of them in front of the kids. Bites are inevitable with birds. We all know this. I just don’t like the “bite first, and then see” mentality this little guy had right off the bat on top of his need and drive to be above my head – which is a pretty obvious domineering behavior.
Ce la vie.
As is the case with most sanctuaries, there will undoubtedly be another possibility sooner than later. … I guess we’ll all stay tuned
(image from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d5/Quaker_Parrot.jpg) – this is not my pic or the bird we looked at, simply an image of that breed. If this was my pic, that finger would be bruised and bloodied, and that beak would be inserted into my skin.