Archival photo: from left, Mr Graham the cockatiel (still with us, now aged 24),
Sylvie the cockatiel (now 19), Kim, Alice the Galah (released to the wild at age 11);
Patrick the Galah (24 here, he got out one day and we have no idea where he ended up. He was quite a handful, as he had been abused and been through multiple owners when we acquired him at age 12. Sadly, he didn’t have the skills to survive in the wild, and we suspect he came to an unhappy end. But we learned a lot about caring for psychologically damaged birds from our time with him);
Me; and Rainbow Lorikeets Carlo and Katie (rescued skittish and terrified from a garage sale budgie cage after being taken from the wild illegally. Katie was lost early on from a respiratory infection, but Carlo stayed with us for over a decade and spent the last 7 years of his life flying free with the local flock).
Taken at ‘Euphoria’, our property in Greenbank, Queensland, Australia, 2008.
There are at present two humans and four parrots in our household.
It’s like living in a house full of three year olds. Parrots really are not suitable as pets for most people; they have complex needs, are extremely long-lived, and when you acquire one you are committing to a lifelong relationship with a smart, sassy, independent, toddler who will love you passionately and whose heart you can easily break. I refer to our parrots not as ‘pets’, but as ‘friends’ or ‘companions’.
All but one are rescues. At the time of writing (September 2017), our oldest bird, Mr Graham the cockatiel, is twenty two years old. His companion, Sylvie, is eighteen.
The Galah (aka Roseate Cockatoo), aged four, has his own facebook page (Mr Tucker T Tucker), where you can read his story, and over 70 followers. (This photo of him was taken at 6 months of age.).
We also have a young female rainbow lorikeet, a little sweetie named Birdy.
And below are Mr Graham, and Sylvie, the elders of our flock.
The birds are a big part of our lives and bring much joy and laughter. Here are some videos and links to blog posts I’ve written about them.
Blog post (2018): https://lizhalldowns.com/2018/09/17/a-new-home-for-our-flock/
ABC Radio interview (2018): https://lizhalldowns.com/2018/04/03/my-chat-with-melanie-tait-talking-about-parrots-abc-radio-2-4-2018/
Domestic life with parrots (2017): https://lizhalldowns.com/2017/10/22/this-is-the-way-we-watch-tv/
Tucker and me having our ‘bed cuddles’ (2017). Listen closely you’ll hear him say his name.
(Below) Tucker hears his Dad coming home, and he’s having quite a lot to say about it (2018):
Tucker and Kim playing ball in the kitchen (2018):
Birdie plays with her toys on the bed. Throwing stuff on the ground is a favourite parrot activity.
And here is some useful information on the care and feeding of companion birds. I should say here that, as with puppy mills, the breeding and selling of parrots should not be encouraged as the vast majority of them end up living unhappy lives – usually because their owners did not properly educate themselves on what parrots need before buying. Apart from Sylvie the cockatiel (whom we bought after Mr Graham’s partner died when he was inconsolable), all our birds are rescues or foundlings.
With native birds, the ideal situation is ultimately to teach them to fly free, so they can join local flocks. But if this isn’t possible, the next best thing is to ensure your parrot is adequately socialised. They may well outlive you, so as well as providing for them in your Will, it’s important to teach them to play well with others, and to discourage biting and screaming and other antisocial behaviours. These behaviours often result in the parrot being ignored and left caged and alone, and from here they can end up feather plucking (self mutiliating) and descending into madness. Not a happy scenario.
Thanks to Birdhism for agreeing to allow me to share their parrot keeping handouts below,
If you have enjoyed what you have read here, please consider supporting a crip freelancer and buy me a coffee – and some exotic treats for the birdies. My Paypal link is below: