Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nancy Pt. 2

From the moment I opened Nancy's cage, she was completely attached to me. She would freak out if I left a room and didn't bring her with me. She was so desperate for love and attention that she didn't care where we went, as long as she went with me. Two days after befriending her, I put her on the bathroom counter when I was going to take a shower. Three minutes under the water and there was a frantic flapping over the top of the shower curtain, followed by a bird scrambling to find purchase on my wet shoulder. She spent the rest of the shower snoozing next to the shampoo bottle.

She had to be retrained on a lot of things, foremost being how hard is too hard to bite. Parrots use their beaks like another hand, and have a difficult time sensing how much pressure they're applying. If she didn't like how I was petting her, she would nip me to let me know. If she didn't want to come out of her cage, she would nip me. I went through a box of bandaids in the first couple of months, and a lot of antibiotic ointment. She also had to learn how to control her volume when she was on my shoulder. These were long processes, and took months for her to learn them just for me. She still didn't trust anyone else, and would defend herself if someone else tried to pet her.

Her first step towards being friendly with other people happened on a road trip to Montana with a close friend, Heather. We'd taken Nancy with us because if I'd left her behind at this stage, a month after my stepmother had given her to me fully, she would have reverted to the loud bird she'd been, and wouldn't have let anyone else feed her. Nancy spent most of the drive on my shoulder, with Heather feeding her bits of grapes and cherries. At one point, stopping for gas, Nancy was still on my shoulder and a woman came up to get a closer look. Nancy, always wary, fled to Heather's nearby shoulder for safety. From that point on, she loved Heather just as much.

Now, several years later, she's an entirely different bird. She actively tries to seek out other people. She loves my boyfriend even more than she loves me, especially when he's got a goatee that she can groom. She hasn't broken the skin months, and has taken to squawking instead of biting if we rub a feather the wrong way. She is only loud now in two instances - if she feels that she's being left out of the fun and is taking exception, and if the people around her are loud. I suppose that in her world, if your flock is loud, you are too.

Nancy has a definite personality. She loves grapes, zucchini, and apple, but seems to be scared of broccoli. She is definitely scared of pencils, sticks, eating utensils...basically anything poke-y. Oh, and towels. She hates being moved anywhere near her. She will chirp at me in an annoyed manner if I don't cover her cage when she's ready to sleep, and any excess noise or light after doing so will get a, "Hey! I'm trying to sleep here!" squawk. She also mutters to herself for a while after her cage is covered, a lot like a little kid talking to themselves as they fall asleep. Occasionally, I'll hear a frantic chirp, flapping, and then a thud from underneath the cover as she dozes and falls off her perch.

Birds are not neat creatures. She sorts through her food, tossing aside whatever's in her way or deemed undesirable, which leads to seeds and other bits being flung out of the cage. She's developed enough problem solving skills that she will drop her cereal pellets into her water to soften if she thinks they're too hard, but this also creates a mucky soup if I don't notice. (She always carries three at a time across the cage in her beak, and I've seen her turn around to get one more if she's only got two.) She'll poop whenever she feels the need, or when she's been startled into with style away from a perceived threat. Ironically, she also loves water so much that she has a pumice stone perch in the corner of my shower and has been known to try and bathe in someone's water glass instead of just taking a sip like she's supposed to.

She'll probably live for another 15 to 20 years, longer if I'm lucky and she's supremely healthy. She's spoiled rotten, I'll be the first to admit, but that same spoiling means that she's also a very happy bird. She gives back just as much love as she gets, is endlessly entertaining, and is probably the closest to a human personality out of all the pets I've ever had. She was unhappy and hurting and scared of people in the beginning, and the past few years have been rehabilitation and therapy for her. I had to earn her trust, and in the process I learned things about myself that I never thought I would. Loving her has helped me to heal as well. In finding her, I found myself.


  1. I'm so glad that she is happy and that having her helped you too.

  2. Sweet. Glad you found each other.

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys. :) I promise I'll be more interesting with the next few posts.