Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Gift Parrot Update

Zazu, the gift parrot, has lived with me for slightly longer than two weeks now. For those of you who are not familiar with this story, Zazu is a five-month old African grey parrot who was given to me recently because he had developed a terrible feather picking habit, in the hopes that I could solve his problems. Zazu appears to be quite happy and seems to have stopped picking at his feathers. Currently, most of Zazu's body is covered with fluffy downy feathers, which makes him look like a chick, although his head, breast and legs are still (mostly) feathered. I do catch him chewing on his primary feathers once or twice per day, so I use a spray bottle to blast him with a stream of water when he does this, which makes him yelp like a horrified chihuahua. But he also stops chewing his feathers.

Zazu's cage arrived this past Tuesday. I bought the largest cage I could afford, which means that my plan to purchase a laptop computer has been postponed once again. Unfortunately, the man who delivered the cage refused to bring it to my fifth floor apartment when he learned that the building does not have an elevator. When I tried to convince him that "delivery" means that the object is actually delivered to the owner's premises, he informed me that he would have to get permission from his employer to bring the cage to my apartment and further, this service would cost me an additional $150. Cash.

Realizing that he was probably scamming me, but unable to really do anything about it, I told him that I would bring the cage to my apartment myself, hoping he would feel some sympathy for my situation and change his mind. Instead, he pulled a large shrink-wrapped box off the truck and, balancing it easily on his right shoulder, carried it to the sidewalk in front of my building, set it down and disappeared almost immediately.

Because it was early afternoon and most of my neighbors work for a living, the sidewalk was empty. Undaunted, I managed to haul the box containing the 70 pound cage through the double security doors and into my building, where I slid it down the hall to the stairway. After much huffing and puffing, I managed to slowly and laboriously work the cage up to the landing between the second and third floors, where I was finally too exhausted to continue. Approximately five minutes later, a neighbor man discovered the box, nearly blocking the landing, with me leaning against the wall next to it, panting and sweating in the extreme humidity and heat.

My neighbor, Hernan, is a small, retired hispanic man with a wiry build, who says he once had a few companion parrots of his own. He offered to help me move the box up to my apartment. By this time, my wrists and back were protesting mightily so I accepted his offer, even though I warned him that I didn't have any cash to pay him for this (I quickly learned that most people in NYC will help only if you have the cash to reward them for their efforts). But because Hernan is my neighbor, it appears that we operate under a different set of rules.

After another ten minutes or so of pushing and pulling, Hernan and I managed to get the box into my apartment. Hernan stopped to admired my birds for a few minues before he left. It seemed that he missed his birds, although he mostly talked about the amount of work they require.

Surprisingly, I was able to assemble the cage in less than one hour, even with Zazu's help. I found that Zazu became calmer when he was placed in this cage, even though a friend of mine, who is a veterinary pathologist at a large university, told me that a cage doesn't make any difference in the emotional health of plucking parrots. I suspect that Zazu realized this was his home and that he felt more secure about his life now that he had a distinct place of his own, perhaps especially since he had spent his early months as a vagabond parrot.

Zazu eats a lot: I am amazed at the amount of food that this parrot consumes every day. It is true that Zazu is somewhat underweight, but this is not unusual for young, newly weaned parrots. But Zazu does not weigh much more than my Eclectus parrot, yet he consumes approximately twice as much as she does. Every day, he eats a good seed mix and approximately one measuring cup (8 ounces) of a large variety of frozen and fresh vegetables and diced fresh fruits. This morning, for example, I gave him peas, diced carrots, corn, lima beans, green beans, cooked and cubed yams, and diced fresh apple, cactus pear, and mango.

Zazu is not talking yet, although he does produce a wolf whistle (I detest wolf whistles, so I ignore him when he makes that sound). I was hoping he would begin to talk as my Eclectus parrot does, but it is possible that, as his human companion, I am not chatty enough to encourage him to learn to speak. I have been working on that, and have been reading the latest Harry Potter book to him every night, but still have not noticed any motivation on his part to speak yet.

One of these days, I will remember to buy a disposable camera so I can show you the current condition of his feathers. I hope to document his recovery from plucking/chewing his feathers (his recovery was the reason he was given to me afterall), so others might learn how I managed to help him overcome this persistent behavioral problem.

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© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

1 Peer Reviews:

Anonymous Firebyrd said...

He's rather young to be talking at five months. While there are some that start speaking that early, my reading and anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that greys are more likely to talk after they're a year or two old.

10:48 PM  

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