And then I almost bought a parrot

Does anyone remember this movie from last December?

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I freaking loved it, although I’m pretty sure a little more goes into buying a home & estate stuffed with exotic (and dangerous) animals than just saying  “we’ll take it!” After suspending reality it was awesome! After all, the movie WAS loosely based on my life, minus lions & tigers. And elephants. Okay, you’ll just have to take my word for it. Besides, who better to play the role of moi in a movie than Scarlett Johansson? Seriously people. Don’t even get me started on Matt Damon as The Hubs! (yummy…) But I digress. This was my Facebook status yesterday evening:

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Any guesses as to what animal pushed me over the edge from “avid pet lover” to “reluctant zookeeper”? I’ll give you a hint- it wasn’t the puppies. Despite the fact that I have regretted getting them more times than I can remember, last night wasn’t one of those times. Luke & Leia were adorable fluff-bucket babies. Munchkin sweetie piefaces. Muffin-cake lemondrops. Yes, I also sometimes call The Hubs these names. (flies on the walls of our house get an earful, to be sure). What finally made me dub our house “The Zoo” was these pretty birdies:

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I have self-diagnosed myself with “Animalis Fluffitis” – meaning that if an animal is fluffy and/or cute, I will most likely attempt to own it at some point in my life. For example: hedgehogs. Who DOESN’T think hedgehogs are cute? They’re an exotic animal and most likely not easily found locally, but we thought we’d give it the old college try. We didn’t want to particularly buy one, but just wanted to look (I know you’re thinking, “just to look? Suuuure…”). So The Hubs and I went to PetSmart to poke around. Already you can tell that this was a bad idea. We didn’t find any hedgehogs, but we did happen upon a bird display. Having just recently watched Rio (a kids movie, but who cares?), we were enchanted. The Hubs has a friend at his work with a supremely intelligent African Grey, who constantly regales him with hilarious bird stories… the friend, that is. Not the parrot.

Anyways, we decided to get birds. (that makes it sound like a disease, haha)

The thing is, you can’t “just get birds”.

I have a HUGE guilt complex that manifests itself by going into pet stores and coming out with waaaay more than I intended to buy.

For example, getting a new puppy, and then ending up with three puppies instead of just the one we had planned on.

After spending a day (the requisite 24-hour waiting period before spending copious quantities of cash that I’m forcing us to live by) researching birds in general, we decided to hit up a different, smaller, local pet store, to see what they had. The Hubs’ friend recommended against getting birds from “box stores” for health reasons (although the birds at PetSmart looked perfectly hearty to me). We walked into the bird section, and then I saw him. The most beautiful orange parrot, sitting in a cage all by his lonesome. I moved closer and read his tag- he was a “Sun Conure,” a small parrot, 2 years old, named Kiwi. According to the tag, he liked peanuts and dancing.

Dancing?

So I started singing the age-old classic that goes, “I like to move it move it! You like to move it move it! We like to – move it!” while bobbing my head up and down (there are no videos of this encounter for a reason). AND HE STARTED DANCING. Well, parrot-dancing, which is bobbing up and down and spinning in circles on the walls of his cage. AND HE WAS ON SALE. Cage, toys & everything, a full $200 off the normal price. Apparently he was an owner surrender. Ladies and gentlemen, you could very nearly close the book on this story at that point. You know how much momma loves a sale! And who doesn’t want every day to be a parrot-initiated dance party? For reals.

So I got closer, whistling and saying “pretty bird!” to test his vocab. And  jumped back in shock as he let out a shrill SQWUACK literally right in my face. Okay, so he’s a loud pretty bird. A very loud pretty bird. Geez, momma already needs Advil to get through a day with her barking puppies, she probably shouldn’t add another noisy animal. He’s freaking adorable, and we *may* end up going back for him (did I mention that he was on sale… and DANCES?), but in the meantime, we took home a couple male zebra finches, and named them Bubble and Squeak. We can name our pets after food if we want to! Male zebra finches coo and twitter while their female counterparts remain silent. I could say something sexist here, but I won’t.

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This looks ridiculously big, but really the cage is only 26″ long and 14″ wide. The minimum cage size for finches is 24″ long, because the loooove to fly back and forth.

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Bubble & Squeak get a sweet view of the Christmas festivities.

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That’s Squeak in front (he’s the loudest) and Bubble in the back (he’s the fattest).

You know what? I’m okay with their sexuality. I’m fine with it. So we have gay birds, so what! How do I know they’re gay, you’re probably wondering… Well, what would YOU call two snappy-dressing guys living together in a fancy penthouse apartment who both perform opera for a living? That’s right, gay.

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Bubble was a little afraid to fly around much at first, but he seemed very comfortable on this perch.

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Cruiser gave me this disheartened sadface when I scolded him for trying to execute a 4-foot vertical leap. He wanted a good look at the bastards who are stealing his momma’s love his new little brothers.

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The petstore aviary had a little swing in it, so we were inspired to buy one for our cage. So far Squeak is the only one that has ventured on it- trust me, there is NOTHING cuter than a teensy little bird wobbling around on a swing, while chirping happily.

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Squeak is sitting on top of their “nest” in this picture. They’re supposed to curl up and sleep in it at night, but I’m pretty sure last night they slept on a roosting bar. Maybe they’re protesting the fact that I forgot to get them proper bedding, and had to substitute toilet paper? Hmmm.

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ACTION SHOT – Squeak had just landed on the swing when I took this, he’s swinging back and forth like crazy, hence the blurry picture.

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Not to worry, the holy family et all (displaced from on top of the media cabinet) were happily ensconced on top of the refrigerator. There *is* room in this inn, I promise! There’s even room for that psycho owl peering over the camel’s back. What a perv.

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xo,

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10 thoughts on “And then I almost bought a parrot

  1. Go back an get him – you will love him!!!!!! There are ways to deal with the screaming 🙂 Let him fly free and give him plenty of attention. Suns can be potty trained, mine is 🙂 They are the best birds in the world and an absolute joy to live with, mine cracks me up every day 🙂

    • We got him:P His wings are clipped though, so “fly free” for him = sitting on his perch…. You mentioned that your sun is potty trained- how did you do that? Whenever we get him out of the cage he does really well on our shoulders, but on our hands he ruffles up and then poops wherever. It’s not hard to clean up after, but playtime is hard when navigating a “mine field” LOL.

      • I’m not a fan of clipping, I hope you let his feathers grow out! Conures are Velcro birds, he won’t stray, he will always want to be with you. OK, that said, this is what I have learned from my Sun Conure:

        Potty training: Conures do not like to poop in their cages! First thing in the morning he will need to poop so this is a good time to train. I took my bird to the potty area and said “poop”. Wait until he poops and then praise and reward him. Do this every morning and every time he looks like he needs to go potty. He will pick it up amazingly fast. He might have a few accidents but keep at it and he’ll catch on.

        Screaming: Conures are screamers! After you get to know him you will know what is a “I feel like screaming” scream, “Where are you?” scream, “I’m mad” and an “I’m scared” scream. Do not acknowledge the screaming unless he is in trouble. My bird has a higher pitched scream when there is a problem, you will get to know the difference. Don’t even look at him when he screams just to scream – I can not stress this enough, DO NOT LOOK AT HIM WHEN HE SCREAMS. Leave the room if he doesn’t stop. Ignoring the screaming works but you have to be consistent He’ll test you to see what he can get away with so be ready. Reward and praise him when he is quiet. A sun will never be a quiet bird but a few yaps in the morning or afternoon is better than four hours straight 😉

        Snuggling: Conures like to snuggle and a lot of them will try to get into the bed and sleep with you. A lot of Conures die this way, the owners roll over on them and squish them. As much as you want to , it is not a good idea to let your Conure sleep in the bed. I let mine snuggle on the sofa with me before bed time and then she has to go to the cage to go to bed.

        Sleep: Conures need a lot of sleep or they get very grumpy. This means a completely quiet are for at least 11 hours, I give mine 14 hours of sleep, I know that seems excessive but her cage door is never closed and she gets up when she wants. She does best with that much sleep time. If you’re up and your bird can hear you, he will get up too – even if he is exhausted. Make sure he has a nice quiet place to get the rest he needs.

        Behavior modification: Conures are very good at recognizing facial expressions. A look of “How could you!?” is usually enough to get my Conure to drop a bad behavior. For really bad behavior a time out works wonders. That means 2 minutes in a covered cage. I have only had to do that three times because mine decided biting me really hard might be fun. It worked wonders.

        Feel free to email me if you need help. Also my friend Lara has a great site on bird training: http://larajoseph.com

        Good luck and congrats on your new buddy – you will adore him:) They are fabulous birds!

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