Most of the birds in my flock are smaller, like sun conures, and Indian Ringnecks. The biggest birds Mike and I share our home with are Congo African Grays. Well, on the first Saturday in October, that began to change.
I went to the monthly North County Aviculturists meeting, and picked up a couple of friends on the way. Fred, the friend who had given us Jordan a couple years ago, and then successfully reunited with her, brought his double yellow headed Amazon parrot, Maynard, to the meeting, He came down with Maynard on his arm, and we got in the car to wait for Andy. Maynard moved right over to my arm, and then climbed up on the steering wheel. He chattered away and laughed, and Fred mentioned that Maynard wasn’t usually so vocal.
Maynard is a very polite bird, and when it was time to get off the steering wheel and into a carrier, he complied with just a little grumbling. He looked out of the carrier the whole way to the meeting, a ten minute ride or so, and inside the meeting hall he seemed happy to be let out again. Fred and Andy and I sat around a table to listen to the very interesting speaker from SoCal Parrots. More about them another time.
I sat at the far end from where Maynard’s carried had been placed, but the first thing he did was walk over to my end of the table. He sat there happily chatting at me, until the speaker started up, and he politely grew quiet. Just the occasional Amazon-like outburst escaped him. Not knowing how he would react, I reached out a finger to give his head a scratch. He bowed his head and let me groom and pet and stroke his head and feathers.
When Fred saw this, he had to pick his jaw up off the floor. As sweet and well behaved as Maynard is, no one has ever been allowed to touch him like that. Fred decided Maynard was my bird, he had chosen me, and that was the end of the story.
I learned through the course of the night that the manager at Fred and Andy’s apartments enjoyed getting on people for noise issues, and so Fred had already had to find another home for Jordan. That broke my heart. But it seemed Maynard, too, had to go to another place to live.
Maynard had been the pet of a very nice woman who lacked enough time to really work with him. She encountered Fred some years ago at a bird store in Escondido, and they talked about Maynard. The parrot was there for nails and wings to be clipped, and he stepped up for Fred. The woman didn’t like feeling she was ignoring Maynard, so she willingly gave the parrot to Fred.
Fred had Maynard for some months, and a neighbor got attached to the bird. Even telling the neighbor that Amazons are not starter birds didn’t dampen the enthusiasm. So once more Maynard moved to a new home. But in a year’s time, the neighbor and his wife had a new baby in the home, and the baby couldn’t sleep when Maynard decided to entertain everyone. Fred took Maynard back, but because of the noise issues at the apartments, he knew this would be temporary. He had brought Maynard to the club meeting in the hopes of finding someone willing to take the bird.
I knew taking Maynard would have good points and bad points. I didn’t want to put more strain on our household economy, which was struggling along at the moment. We made ends meet but soon the rope would need to have the knot tied in it so we could hold on. But because Mike would be home, Maynard could be watched and made to feel safe and welcome. And Maynard is such an entertainer!
At the meeting I took photos of him with my phone, and when I got home I told Mike the whole story. I showed him the pictures. He shrugged and said, “It’s up to you. We already have the food, he’s not going to be eating that much.” And what’s one more cage to keep clean?
We posted his photos on Facebook and asked friends if we should adopt this little guy. Overwhelmingly, the folks who read the post voted for Maynard to come live with us. So I called Fred to say we would take Maynard, and arranged to pick up the bird the next Sunday.
Maynard has been here about a week now, and he certainly is delightful. He isn’t all that loud, but in a house full of other noisy birds we might be biased. Every day while I was at work, Mike would send me texts about the new family member’s antics.
Mike’s Texts: Maynard does, indeed, like cheese. He started getting excited as soon as he could see it.
Maynard is about two minutes into what sounds like a conversation between Fred and Andy. Now he’s singing what I think is Amazing Grace. Oh, dear. . . howling like a dog. Went out to check on quail, and Maynard started calling me like a dog. He also says, “Hi, Maynard!” Maynard says it’s okay. He started calling right after you left, and kept it up until I told him he was being excessivly noisy. He said, “Okay” and has been quiet since. He started calling a little while ago, and after he calmed down I gave him a tour of the house. The conures and Wraith were louder than he was, and he’s been quiet since. Chicken noises and “IIIIIIII LOVE you!” Maynard is barking now. Io is exercising the pugs this morning. Maynard just yawns. Maynard was doing one of his frantic acts, so I sand “The Minstrel Boy” at him. He just stared at me until I finished, then said “Uhhhh. . . “Maynard seems to like the bottle cap.
Maynard gets a little panicky when left alone during the day, but those instances are lessening already. He goes back in his cage politely when we ask him to, and he loves almonds. When we leave the room, he says, “Goodbye, Maynard!”
I have tried to give him new toys, but so far he is not comfortable enough to have his environment changed any more. He does like little plastic cups to play with and small white twist caps from sparkling water bottles. He eats the fruit and veggies I hand out, and overall has made the transition easily.
I’ve heard that parrots will give you a two to four month “honeymoon” when they are behaving with excellent manners and holding back from being themselves. So in a few months, I’ll let you know if the “honeymoon” is over.