Delivering a Baby, Part One

I expect that title is a bit misleading. You see, I had the amazing pleasure of hand feeding and weaning an African Grey chick. I called him Digger due to the habit he had of scratching at the bottom of the cage. He did this mostly when he wanted to get out and see me.

It is true that Congo African Greys are among the most intelligent of parrots in the world. If you read Dr. Irene Pepperberg’s work with her companion bird Alex, you know how special, intriguing, funny, and smart these birds are.

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I have two CAGs, both with special needs. Greys are notoriously anxious and high strung, but I believe, as do many who work with these parrots, that it is all about how they are socialized when young. My two were pretty much given food and water, a much too small cage, and very little love and attention. Not one toy hung in their cages when we picked them up. Blind Io still hates to have changes made in his cage, but it’s bigger than what he was in, has lots of toys, and he gets cardboard boxes to chew on. I work with him on being touched, and while I may never be able to actually pet him, I will never give up hope. He’s a very special part of our flock.

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Bobo, the toeless grey, is a queen in her own right. She allows her head to be scratched sometimes, but some days when I haven’t been giving her the attention she needed, she will snap at me. She loves to play with all the toys in her cage, but again, if I put my fingers too close to where she is, I will get a nip. She often says “Sorry!” after biting someone. How could we not love her?

She does step onto a platform and let me put her on the floor. She scoots around and watches me. We have to wear shoes when she is out, because she will bite toes and attack feet. After her out time is over, she usually climbs willingly onto the platform again so she can get to her food and water. I clean her cage and give her fresh towels while she is out.

When I brought Digger home to care for, the arrangement was for a week, only. Plus I had other baby birds to care for. Because I wanted to give lots of attention to the grey, I set him up next to my computer chair. Which is right across from Bobo’s cage. I told her that the baby would only be with us for a few days. I made sure to pay lots of attention to her and reassure her that she was still my favorite female CAG.

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Greys have an amazing ability to know what the people around them are feeling. Especially the people they are most often in contact with. So it was important to me to reassure Bobo. I think I got the message across because the few times Digger launched himself off the cage or the play stand when she was out, she charged him, but didn’t do any damage.

Then, as things turned out, Digger was doing much better with me than he had with the woman who had contracted to feed him for one of her clients. We agreed to let him stay until he was weaned. Now I had to reassure Bobo that this would only be for a few more days. A couple weeks, tops.

I’ll be back on Thursday with the rest of this story. Thanks for reading!


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