Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Joey the Red-bellied parrot
Joey entered my life on March 1st 2008, a couple of weeks shy of his 3rd birthday (March 14th).
Earlier that week for no particular reason I was looking at online classifieds for birds. I normally stay away from those sites, feeling the temptation to "save" one or two or three parrots almost unbearable at times. So why I did it on those last few days of February I do not know. Oh and I went deep in old posts on one of those websites. Joey's "For sale" post wasn't a recent one. When I saw it, I was immediately drawn to it. The add was nearly a month old if I remember properly and I didn't have high expectations of Joey still being for sale. Which, I thought at the time was a good thing, because I wasn't really looking to add a bird to my flock. I tried convincing myself that I was looking at the adds simply because I was curious. I had done research on Red-bellied parrots when I was looking at Poicephalus as a whole. I actually knew that at one time in my life I would like to own a male Red-bellied parrot (because of the bright orange belly..now that I've seen females up close, I must say they are beautiful too and wouldn't mind adding one to my flock eventually..). However, I didn't know if then was the time. But I still contacted the seller, mostly out of curiosity (so I like to believe). Lo and behold Joey was still for sale. And I actually knew the seller (used to be a member of my parrot club). So we arranged a time and day for me to meet Joey with my significant other (can't take on a new bird without him being comfortable with it). Because of somewhat conflicting schedules during the week, the first visit was made at night. It wasn't the best meeting (nor the worst), but because of the lateness and it being dark out, Joey wasn't particularly cooperative. So we scheduled a day visit the following week-end. World of difference. That morning I was still in conflict with myself (will the new parrot get along with my other two, will I disturb the harmony I have at home). But with that sole visit, Joey won me over. We brought him home (after I went to get money out of the bank, see how unconvinced I was with myself, I didn't come entirely prepared (or maybe I thought I would be less tempted if I didn't have the money during the visit, who knows)).
I do not regret the purchase. I'll be honest and say I did not put him in quarantine. I knew his history, I had access to his file at the avian vet's office, I knew he was not sick, I knew my birds were healthy too, I took my chance. I was told by his former owner that he usually takes a day or two to come out of his cage when he was being birdsat. Well, he didn't want to stay in his cage that first day. He wanted to come out and interact with us. He was curious about my other birds and was quite friendly with them (Piper tried bullying him around, not being mean though). He did show a preference for my significant other (and other men), but I'm slowly winning him over too. He's learned that my head scratches are probably the best and steps up readily when I ask him to.
He is a hoot when we have company over or when we go to parrot club meetings with him. He loves to entertain people. Red-bellies do have the reputation of being the best talker out of the Poicephalus family. However, with Joey it's more mumbling than actual words (he does say "Hi Joey" almost every time I come through the door). I do hear him practicing saying other things when he thinks no one is around (I'll be in another room) while the birds are in their cages. So he might say more distinct words one day, but for now, Shade and Petey have a larger "clear" vocabulary.
Red-bellied parrots, specially birds under 2 years of age, are known to sometimes have panic attacks. I didn't quite know this fact before getting Joey so the first time he did have one, I was a little scared. After reading that it is somewhat common knowledge, I eased out. It is important that a Red-belly who is experiencing such an attack (with Joey it was going to the ground and flapping/jumping around erratically) to be allowed to finish it before being scooped up. Otherwise, you can be associated with whatever bad thing (real or not) that caused the attack in the first place. Although Red-bellied parrots love to "show off", they won't necessarily want to go to strangers right away.
A Red-bellied parrot can be a wonderful companion. I can't imagine what life would be without my little clown.
One of my favorite pictures of Joey
Joey and I