To read part 1 click here.
The graphic details of Tiko’s wooing of Joanna are not for the squeamish reader.
After five years living in the house, he chose her for his mate and courted her, finding and preparing nest sites in furniture and attacking her husband Michael if he approached her.
That his ardour was never to be consummated had no dampening effect on his behaviour which was repeated for several months during the mating season each year, as Tiko courted Joanna, showing her one nest site under furniture after another.
One of the despicable ways to trap wild Parrots is by tying a wounded bird to the ground. Its flock mates will circle to try and comfort or free it and thus be trapped themselves. For Tiko, his flock is comprised of people and he shows care for them when they are ill or in trouble.
Joanna caught Lyme disease on a field trip. For the six weeks that she was bedridden Tiko spent his days on her pillow separating the strands of her hair. Michael had to feed him in her bedroom.
A couple of years after The Parrot Who Owns Me was published, Anne, Joanna’s 94 year old widowed mother-in-law came to live with them Tiko became firmly attached to Anne. Her condition worsened and she was dying. Joanna described her last days.
As the distinction between past and present blurred for Anne, and her childhood and the present became indistinguishable, Tiko became one of her constants. He seemed able to draw her out of her trance whenever he gently touched her arm or her cheek. Her face lit up, and she smiled.
It was as if, for the moment, only Anne existed for Tiko, and vice versa. He lost interest in our whereabouts.
An hour before Anne died, Tiko became frantic. No one could get close to her. He attacked Mike, our daughter Debbie, and finally me when I tried to hug her. He pecked unmercifully at our hair and ears when we came near. He landed on Anne's arm, kissed her cheeks, preened her hair, and nuzzled his head gently against her face. Finally, we had to put him upstairs in his own room, behind a closed door, so we could attend to her.
Tiko was 60 on his last birthday, which is incredibly old for his species (longest life is usually 50 years.) He’s a small species and age is related to size of the species, generally, in Parrots. Arthritis started a couple of years ago. He has a bit of trouble walking, and can fly only horizontally or downward.
But he continues to do so. He used to fly all around the house, up and down stairs and around corners. He also has a cataract in one eye, so this may be another reason he does not fly much.
Joanna emailed me with the latest news of Tiko. He is in excellent spirits, still follows me around and courts me each spring. This year he was particularly ardent. I do notice, as with all older couples, he wants to be with me as much as possible. He still waits to eat with me, even if it means waiting until I come home from work.
He loves his fruits and vegetables, eats Cheerios with my husband, loves fish and chicken, as well as macaroni and cheese. He dutifully eats his pellets for breakfast, but hopes for popcorn, melon or other goodies when I get home. He is still as adorable, and I love him dearly.
Like us, he is adapting to getting older. I made him a ladder to get to his food perch, and leave a pile of towels so he can climb up to another perch. I have an old chicken crate of my Dad's that he uses to climb up so he can perch to watch TV with us. Although after a nice preen, he climbs to the bed so he can preen me and be preened against my hand (or foot) for an hour or so.
A couple days ago I found that he stands on the lower rung of the ladder up to his food perch and places his head on the next one so it doesn't hang down when he sleeps (otherwise his falling head wakes him up). This particular ladder is circular, so the next rung is positioned just right.
Arthritis prevents Tiko from tucking his bill into his back feathers, so he just leans forward, and Joanna built him a small block as a pillow to support his head when he sleeps. Joanna's message ended with this advice that I am following for my arthritic old Amazon Lena:
Joanna gives Tiko 1/4 of a cat chondroitin pill (Cosequin) in his food each morning. She also adds special omega-3 oil mixture. These medicaments have been successful. Joanna writes. Both of these were life-savers for him. Before I started this he was stumbling around when he walked and had trouble standing on his perch. But now he walks around happily, holds onto my finger tightly, and flies short distances. I don't know about other Parrots, but it has been a life-saver for Tiko. He is back to loving life, me, and every day.
Joanna says that: "People sometimes don’t understand how complex the thinking Parrots really is. People who haven’t read much, experienced Parrots, or stopped to think about what they observe, may have trouble being part of a Parrot’s flock."
"Parrots make suitable pets for people who realise what commitment they are getting into; who are prepared to give them the attention and the freedom and the enrichment that they need. Parrots are not for everybody. In fact they are not for most people. Taking on a long-lived bird like a Parrot is like having a strong-willed four year old in your home, forever."
Remember, you can read part 1 of the article here and find everything you need for Amazon Parrots here.