I’d been looking to get another bird for some time now, really, over a year. But I didn’t want just ‘any’ bird. So I started by researching breeds. I was almost 100% certain I wanted a caique. I love their cheeky personalities, and though they are a little bigger than Conner, they aren’t so much bigger I was worried Conner would be afraid of them. So next I set out for the second criteria for my next bird: I wanted to rescue one, not buy one.
It’s a bit of a pickle of mine, but as long lived as birds are, it’s likely they will go through multiple homes throughout their lives, and as highly intelligent as they are, but not being able to communicate with us like we can with each other, the changing of homes for birds is traumatic. For those who don’t know, my conure is set to live AT LEAST 45 years from hatch date, possibly more if he’s in good health and a Goffin’s Cockatoo can easily live that long or longer. In fact, some of been known to live well into their 60s and 70s, and the oldest documented Cockatoo alive just hit 82 years old.
Because of this, I personally would be happy if they outlawed buying birds and made them only available through rescue by places who do what the rescue we got Memphis from does. There would be enough black market breeders and birds in need of homes–when birds can live upwards of 70 to 90 years depending on breed–that there will ALWAYS be birds in need of rescue/adoption for people who are the RIGHT caregivers for birds, and there is no need to sell or breed birds again.
On the plus side, though, it’s interesting to note that the only reason the Goffin’s cockatoo even exists any more and hasn’t become extinct has been because of captive breeding programs–as deforestation and the pet trade itself has contributed to their near extinction.That’s sad. So the pet trade has saved the Goffin’s, but I still don’t think birds should be used as pets.
So for me, that makes having an endangered bird as my new feathered child a true honor for me, because he is a rare and endangered species of bird. It’s an honor I don’t take lightly either.
Anyway, back to where I was: I sat out to find a caique I could rescue. That’s when I found Wings of Love Bird Haven. They had a caique up on their page that, wouldn’t you know it, had JUST been adopted when I found them. Darn it.
But there, on their page, were three or four Goffin’s Cockatoos. I had an umbrella cockatoo when I was a child, named George, and I just adored him. Unfortunately, he had a genetic illness that resulted in his death when I was a teenager, but I remember how loving and wonderful he was. We had other birds when I was a child too, including a quaker, a double yellow Amazon, a Mexican red-headed Amazon and a lilac-crowned Amazon, along with a couple of really cute budgies who jabbered away all day! We had some lovebirds at one point who were gorgeous, but they never would hand tame and were terrified of us, so we found a safe place for them to go where they could live in an aviary with other lovebirds. It wasn’t a breeder, but they were so happy there, where no ‘hands’ would try to hold them. They were a pair-bonded/mate-bonded set, and they loved each other, but hated us. I’d never even heard of a Goffin’s Cockatoo back then (there’s a reason for that–they aren’t really known back then and weren’t part of the pet trade).
Anyway, point is, I grew up around birds, have always loved them, but until recently, I knew I didn’t live a life conducive to having birds. But now, I’m home all the time. I work from home, and am mostly disabled, so I’m always here, and working with birds is something I can do. I have the time to give them the attention and love they deserve, to work with them, to train them, and make them feel secure and happy and loved. And I have family members who are supporting me and want to help. My son, in particular, absolutely loves the birds, and they both have sort of taken to him too. It’s neat to watch.
I saw Memphis on the page with the other Goffin’s for adoption. These birds were taken from a breeding/hoarding situation, so I had no idea what kind of emotional trauma he’d been through, but I didn’t care. I knew I could be patient and train and teach him to trust me. There was something in his eyes in every picture I saw of him. It was the exact same something that made me want Conner when I saw him too. In fact, I hadn’t been looking to get a bird when we got Conner. But he hung upside down and looked at me with those eyes of his, and I knew not that he was my bird, but rather that I was his person.
Well, I knew when I saw Memphis that I was his person.
Sigh. I tried to talk myself out of it. He was bigger than we had planned on getting. He wasn’t the breed I had said I wanted after all that research I’d done.
Then there was the fact that he was in a foster home, while the other Goffin’s at the rescue weren’t. He wasn’t a plucker and so he was beautiful, and some of the other Goffin’s weren’t as ‘pretty’ on the outside. I knew I could help nurse and recover a traumatized bird, so a bird with some ‘issues’ and that wasn’t as ‘pretty’ would be fine with me, because I love birds’ and their beauty, but it’s really their personality that gets me. I don’t mind taking one who needs special care. The ones that have feather issues or trauma issues are harder to adopt out than the ones without those issues. So I figured someone would surely want this beautiful bird!
But in the end, much like with humans who don’t always choose to feel what they feel, we can choose what we do with our feelings, but we don’t really choose the feelings. I’d already fallen in love with Memphis on picture sight. The couple of videos of him cinched it.
And still I fought it. I let about a month pass, trying to talk myself out of it. I went back to the Haven’s website thinking maybe I’d find a caique to fall in love with. But no, the very first picture I saw on the website was Memphis again. And when I went to the Facebook page, there was a new picture of him that had just been posted. I mean, he was so beautiful. Why hadn’t someone adopted this gorgeous bird?
“All right, already, universe! I get it! I’m his person–I get it!”
So I contacted the Haven on FB, took the night to fill out the survey, talked to my family about it (Lynn said to me, basically, “I expected you to want to get him a long time ago… I was kind of surprised you waited so long.” Well, guess everyone already knew Memphis was mine before I would admit it.
But here’s the thing, and I really mean this too: If you are thinking about getting a bird, and you can think of one reason, any reason, at all, NOT to get a bird, then don’t get one.
They are not easy. It’s not a matter of IF they will bite you; it’s a matter of WHEN they will bite you and how hard. They will draw blood. They will chew and scratch and bite you and your furniture. They will be demanding and loud. If they get sick, they are very expensive to take care of, especially if you don’t have a certified avian vet in the area. They take so much patience and so much time. And if you can’t give them all of that, then you need to leave that bird to someone else who can. They deserve as much attention and love as a small child, and you have to be prepared for that.
But oh, once you do get them to trust you, the reward of loving a bird is like no other pet in the world. They are like children. Their love is NOT unconditional–you have to earn it, but when they give it to you, it is so amazing. They are so smart, so funny, so fun. There’s nothing like it!
So once I realized I couldn’t talk myself out of loving Memphis and I couldn’t find a reason NOT to bring him home, I had no choice but to start the process to adopt him. Well, wouldn’t you know, the universe approved! Turns out, the lovely woman who runs the Haven–whom I have so much respect for because of how damned much she loves these birds and how amazing she is to and with them!–was actually coming my direction that very weekend! She’s almost four hours away from us, and we had planned to make multiple trips to meet him and come visit and get him used to us, but serendipity set it up so it was meant to be. We talked at length about Memphis and birds and training and food and how he was fed and I filled out the adoption survey, which asks excellent questions. She’s got a good system to ensure these birds are loved and cared for, and they follow up with them and keep an eye on them over the years. I know I can call on her with questions any time if I need help with an issue. I’m so glad we found them!
And then my baby come home. It took a little while to start to see his personality coming out, but we’re starting to see the fun and funny bird that he is.
And everything inside of me knows I made the right choice.
He’s not what I thought I wanted. He’s not what I had planned for. He’s not anything like I had seen this going.
No, he’s not. He’s infinitely better than all of that.
Already, I love him so much. I can’t stop watching him. I can’t stop shopping for things to make toys for him. It’s so tough right now, because I know the right thing to do, the best thing for Memphis, is to leave him be and let him slowly adjust to us and come to me more on his own time. Unlike a cat or a dog, when they are scared, you want to cuddle them, hold them, snuggle them, squeeze them, and that makes the dog or cat feel better about you and bond with you-doing that to a bird will only make them scared and more fearful. You have to earn a bird’s affection and trust before you can do that. It’s so hard to know he’s scared right now. It’s all unfamiliar and new to him. He doesn’t know who we are. He’s not sure yet that we’re going to give him food, and water, and toys and love. He doesn’t know that we are safe yet. I want so badly to just pick him up and cuddle him and love on him and let him know it’s all going to be okay–but that would only make things worse right now.
But he will. Already, he’s starting to be curious about me. He’s coming over to the side of the cage. He’s checking out his rope that sits right next to me. He’s been throwing his cups on my head to get my attention. He likes to take small pieces of nuts from me, and I give him a couple of sunflower seeds per day, and he loves those. He will let me give him scritches on his head and he seems to like be petted on his back with a flat hand too. Better yet, he’s coming to the side of the cage and putting his head down for head scritches, WITHOUT my asking him if he wants them. He’s also coming out of the cage on his own now–we leave the door open for him all day and he’s welcome out any time he wants, and he’s starting to come out some. He won’t go up to the top perch yet, but he will hang out on the door for a time. He also caws and calls for my son whenever my son goes into the kitchen where he can’t see him.
It’s a good start! My Conner also seems to be doing well with him. There’s more on that to come!
But for now, we’re just learning to love each other, and it’s going really well. I’ll have plenty of videos and pictures coming in the future! It’s going to be a grand birdie adventure!
Love and stuff,