Shahnaz Camatchee has written this delightful story about her Parrots Jerry, Noora and Bella.
I grew up with Budgies and Lovebirds during all my childhood years in the Middle East, and then had a Cockatiel when I went to university. When I moved to the UK and got married, my passion for Parrots came back with a vengeance.
I decided to take the plunge on an African Grey (Jerry) whom I got from a breeder at 3 months of age back in 2014. I did a lot of research first before taking the plunge. I had visited Birdworld in Farnham in 2005, where I had encountered a caged African Grey, who came up to me for head scratches. I was absolutely smitten and that was when I decided to get one, although I waited many years.
Finally Jerry came and he drew blood from my husband's finger, after a nasty bite on his first day back in June 2014. It took me five days to break his fear and gain his trust. Fortunately I have bags of patience, as when I had my Budgies, Lovebirds and Cockatiel, I used to spend hours training them. I suppose that skill never died.
Jerry started talking when he was about 9 months old by saying 'hello'. Now he just won't stop talking! He also says 'watcha doin', 'step up', 'what', 'cmon', he can say my son's and our Persian cat's name as well.
He had me fooled when he mimicked the phone once and I ran from the garden to answer the phone only to find him laughing at me! He can mimic the microwave, different bird sounds in the garden, he growls, meows, quacks, screeches etc, etc, etc. He is an absolute joyous addition to the family.
He loves his mixed seeds and nuts, Kaytee rainbow pellets, fruits and anything he can get his beak on, he shreds it to smithereens. He does not have any particular favourite toy as whatever he can get hold of, he will shred it and that is his favourite pass time. He also loves listening to classical music and going out.
Jerry was trained from whence I got him, to wear avian flight suit which means, our dwelling is 100% poop free. He has gone to the park with me few times only to be hounded by kids who were totally gobsmacked to see a Parrot.
He has been shopping and to family dinners. Overall, I have trained him to socialise with everyone. He does not bite until provoked. His favourite game is; he will lower his head down, inviting one for a head scratch and then he takes the plunge to bite the finger off! There is never a dull moment with Jerry.
He has his play station in the house and also bird house in the garden. During the holidays, he stays with a couple who board birds from others as well.
Jerry was born in 2014 and 3 months after acquiring him, I decided to add another member to the flock. This time I was after a Cockatoo. I again read up, inquired and finally came across Barrett Watson who is the top well renowned Parrot breeder in the UK and also internationally.
His Parrots have been released in the wild by Parrot conservationists and his Parrots were also featured in David Attenborough's Parrot documentary. It was an absolute pleasure meeting Barrett and I am grateful that he helped me finally decide on getting a Corella Cockatoo (Australian).
The day finally arrived when Barrett came to drop off the Cockatoo to my house. I named her Noora and she was a 3-month-old baby. I had no issues from day one getting her to step up. She used to cry for the first 4 months and she hated her own reflection.
She freaks out when I wear anything colourful that she has not seen me in. She does not like changes and she can screech her head off! She loves cuddles and kisses and she is extremely jealous if I shower my affection elsewhere.
Noora (too) and Jerry (AG) have bonded finally after 3 years of squabbling. Now they are inseparable, they will have their bickering like an old married couple, and then they are best mates again. She also has been trained from a very young age to wear a flight suit.
She has only been in the garden and not outdoors like my Jerry has, as she shies away from strangers. She loves to eat nuts, seeds, pellets, corn, apples, pears and nothing more. She can be quite fussy when it comes to fruits and veggies. She loves to shred anything she can get her beak on. Both Noora and Jerry love to shred wood, paper, etc.
I make a lot of their toys out of cardboard stacked together but have bought some quality toys from Northern Parrots as well. I have read that Corella's are the best talkers amongst the Cockatoos. Up to now she has not uttered a single word but I am not bothered as I could not care less if my Parrots spoke or not. I love them just the way they are.
Both Jerry and Noora get along well with my two children and cat. In fact, our cat is more frightened of them than vice versa, as he knows not to mess around with their beaks. I add probiotic multivitamin drops in their water daily and de-worm them every 12 weeks. When they first arrived, both had their vet checks.
I thought my family was complete, well on the contrary, I decided to have one last addition to my flock. This time I decided to go for a Blue and Gold Macaw. I was not sure which Macaw to get, but once again Barrett came to my rescue and he guided me to my third baby.
I visited Barrett at his farm in Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk) last year and was bowled over by the hundred plus birds he has in his aviary. The noise was deafening when the Macaws and Cockatoos set off all at the same time. I must say, I still have my hearing intact!
I told Barrett that I wanted a baby girl and he told me that a baby had hatched but would have to wait until it was ready to leave the nest and then he would get the baby DNA sexed. I was overjoyed when he informed me that it was a girl.
So, I visited baby at 8 weeks and then again at 14 weeks. Barrett allowed me hours to spend time with the baby at his farm. Then finally on 3rd February 2018 I brought Bella home. It was quite a journey for both of us. We travelled one hour and a half on the train and then cab after, and she squawked all the way entertaining kids and passengers on the train.
She is now 17 weeks old and I am giving her alternate day hand feed in the morning. She is learning to eat varieties of fruits and veggies. I keep out nuts and seeds mix with pellets and then offer fresh fruit and veg twice a day. She received a warm welcome from my AG Jerry but Noora my Too is taking her time to welcome her. I respect her wishes.
Whilst Barrett was looking after Bella, he trained her to wear the flight suit on my behalf. She has taken to it like a duck to water. She hasn't got any favourite toys yet, but she tries to nibble on anything woody. Barrett heard her say 'hello', but I haven't, so who knows, she might surprise me one day.
The reason why I decided on a Blue and Gold Macaw was when I visited Gibraltar with my family last August; there I was greeted by a Macaw in a mini zoo who climbed down from this huge enclosure to say hello to me. I have to admit, this was deja vu for me.
Bella is still a baby and we have a long road ahead of us in our journey together. Now I must say, my family is complete, with three Parrots, one husband, two children and one cat, my plate is very very full!
I recently heard someone say, that they were planning to get a 'talking' Parrot! and I responded by saying, 'what talking Parrot'!! there is no such thing as a talking Parrot. You might as well get a toy Parrot with a battery in it. My advice to new Parrot owners is, please, please do not buy Parrot because you are expecting the Parrot to talk. You will be hugely disappointed.
Parrots mimic and although African Greys and Amazons are reputed to be the best Parrot talkers in the world, there is no guarantee that they will talk. Take them as they are, not what you are expecting them to be.
They are highly super charged emotional creatures and not like cats and dogs. Sadly many Parrots are re homed numerous times because they had such huge expectations placed on them through no fault of their own. I have watched many Parrot documentaries and it is heartbreaking to see these beautiful majestic creatures plucking, self-mutilating and eventually dying.
Whatever Parrots you want to get, please do a lot of research and groundwork first before taking the plunge as it will be a life long commitment. You have to remember, these Parrots cannot be locked away all day with no human interaction at all, as it will kill them. I work part time and so does my husband, hence there is always someone in the house, as they need daily interactions of several hours.
Novice Parrot owners, please do not get large Parrots as their needs are much much more than smaller species. I started off with Budgies, Lovebirds, a Cockatiel and when I was mature enough and confident, I decided to get an African Grey, Cockatoo and now a Macaw.
They are all different Parrot species but highly demanding of human emotions and interactions. If you think you cannot give them the time and interactions they need, then please steer clear, as it will save you and them a lot of heartbreak in the end.
If anyone is looking to get these big birds, then I would only and highly recommend Barrett Watson (UK) as the top breeder in the country. He is extremely dedicated and his babies are well socialised which is very important if one is considering getting a baby Parrot.
Wow! this is quite a story I have written, I can hear my babies calling me to tuck them safely for the night. I am hoping to come back in the near future and give an update on my 'Lady Bella'. Until then, enjoy, love, cuddle and cherish your feathered friends and don't forget to put them in your will.
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