Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More secret talents

I got home yesterday to find Thomas and Beeps on the couch, and Beeps was removing a scab from Thomas's hand! He had never done that before. Of course, it was a scab that he had placed on Thomas last week, so maybe he just takes care of his own messes.

Yesterday's post got me thinking about other talents that our parrots have. Calypso is also a great weather-notifier. He has a special freak-out call that he does when there's a scary thunderstorm, extreme wind, etc. Last week he started freaking out at about 4:30 in the morning. I looked outside and didn't see any unusual weather, so I assumed that he was faking so that I'd come downstairs and comfort him. Not wanting to encourage this behavior, I went back to bed, and shortly thereafter he quieted down. I found out later that there had been an earthquake several states away at that time and he was probably feeling some sort of vibrations!

Before you think I am completely heartless, Calypso is not beyond faking in order to get attention. A few years ago, he had a leg injury and while he was healing, he couldn't put any pressure on his right leg (I actually forget which leg was injured but I'm saying right for purposes of this story). He would make his sad, injured sound while holding out his leg, and he was showered with attention. He slept in our bedroom so I could awaken if he needed me, and received other special treatment. The day I realized he was completely healed was when he was making his sad noises while holding up his left leg as though that were the injured leg! I don't want to make a habit of running downstairs in the middle of the night to comfort him if he's just faking!

Max's great talent is that of beep-intensifier. I bet you would have thought Beeps was a natural in this category, but no! Any beeping that goes on in our house -- stove timer, microwave, smoke detector, bleeped out words on TV, Thomas's pager -- is repeated, loudly, by Max. This actually comes in handy when we're baking something in the kitchen and watching TV in the living room. It's not always easy to hear that beep, but Max makes sure that our baked goods don't get too crispy! She does provide other sounds, like kissing sounds when I hug my husband or teeth-flossing sounds when I pick up the container of floss, but I have yet to find a truly useful purpose for those talents.

I'm sure there are more that I'm missing at this point, but will be sure to report them as they occur to me.


Stephanie said...

I love how the Caiques look like they have little chipmunk faces. So cute.

I'd like to know about Max's personality. Every African Grey I have met has some sort of issue. I think most people are really not prepared to meet their needs - but it does end up giving me the impression that Grey's are one of the more nervous birds.

DweezelJazz said...

It's amazing how sensitive birds are to what's going on around them. I like to be within earshot at night, just in case they have a fright and hurt themselves.

I've found that too, about the little characters learning how to take advantage and fake it sometimes. I used to live with a Jardine parrot and one time he got spooked: he learned after that if he clanged around in his cage at night I would check to see if he was ok... this soon became old hat for me though! :)

I noticed Stephanie's comment. Having lived with Jasmine, who is an african grey, I've learned that they are extremely intelligent, astoundingly so. They're also very aware of the mood of those around them. She's an entirely social being.

Jazzy is incredibly bold and when we give her even large new toys she's usually ready to investigate them within minutes. She's happy to play sillies, dropping upside down on my hand even in the dark (when I'm taking her down the hall to bed). Jazzy looks to do new things that challenge her and she even seems to enjoy the thrill of something new that's a tiny bit scary - so long as she knows you're there to keep her safe :)

Jazzy wasn't like that though when she came to live with us a year ago. She wouldn't allow you to pick her up, she wouldn't come out of her cage and anything new scared her very much. It took a lot of time and effort, working with her, allowing her to advance at her own pace until she learned that she was safe. Now she abandons herself to cuddles, silliness and all sorts.

My impression is that they're used to living in tight-knit flocks in which they look out for one another. And being so intelligent, they need challenges, things to do and a lot of social interaction. If they have that, then they can be self-assured and confident.

Mary said...

I completely agree with what DweezelJazz said regarding greys. I will do a longer entry on Max's personality and my impressions of greys next week after I have some more time to think about exactly I want to say!

Stephanie you are exactly right, though, when you say that most people aren't prepared to meet their needs. Unfortunately, too many people get them because they want a talking bird to entertain them and then lose interest when they realize they can't have conversations! It makes me so sad when I see greys with broken spirits surrendered to the rescue where I volunteer because I know their potential. Luckily, they are resiliant and in the right home can turn around, just like Jazzy did!