My sun conure, Sunny, and I just passed our first 10 years together as companions. She is the happy little bundle of orange and green feathers that is so excited to see me, day or night. She is the sharp black beak that tells me she doesn’t want to go back in the cage when I think she should. And she is constantly at work redoing my wardrobe.
It started with just a few little holes on the shoulders of my tee shirts. Since these were mostly bird appropriate clothes, I was not upset or alarmed. Therefore, I gave Sunny the impression that chewing on fabric was just as much fun for me as it was for her.
Sunny started crawling down the front of my shirt. I had read that conures often like to burrow and snuggle. I have yet to find any photos of wild sun conures burrowing or snuggling, but apparently it’s a nearly universal trait. While there is something unsettling about seeing this extra lump in there, my husband Mike says it’s more shocking when he is talking to me, and my chest starts to move.
I was again not unduly upset when my conure began to nibble on my foundation garments of the upper kind. She wasn’t doing any damage, just fraying the edges some. Then I noticed some new ones were fraying a lot, and not just the edges. When I found one almost completely severed, I decided to stop wearing them when she was burrowing. You’ll understand this if you have ever tried to tell a bird “No!”
Sunny took this all in stride, and began to chew on the waistbands of my pants and the middle of my shirts. Not just the shoulders of my shirts. Wherever her inquisitive little beak settled, she chewed. I began to look like I was caught in a swarm of especially hungry moths. Once upon a time, this moth-eaten look would have been right in style. But I was not the age or the shape at that time to wear it, and certainly not now when it has slipped out of fashion. Chain mail clothing started to sound good, if only it wouldn’t get so cold in the winter.
I’ve puzzled and puzzled over how to solve this. While it’s okay for her to chew on my old, bird ready clothes, I still need to remain clothed while I have Sunny with me. What, I asked her, would you do if I were a nudist? She blinked and ate a sunflower seed thoughtfully.
Then, I slipped up and let Sunny burrow under a nightgown. One of my favorites. Sunny gave it the usual treatment, and it now has a charming row of holes around the front at waist level. Determined to find a solution, I took one of the old shirts, tied the bottom closed, and stuck it inside the neckline of my nightgown. Now Sunny could go inside that shirt, I could stay clothed, and she could chew to her heart’s content. Can you guess what happened? That’s right. Even though she had chewed on this shirt in the past, it suddenly looked alien and threatening to her. She rejected it, and gave me such a screech. Back to the drawing board. And the clothing stores.