By Gina Spadafori
May 13, 2008
Eddie is a black-headed caique, a species of parrot known for their playful, outgoing behavior. He’s all that and a handful of change, holding his own in a multispecies household where even the rabbit is bigger than he is.
We’ve had our issues. When he reached sexual maturity, he decided I was his mate, and that I wasn’t behaving as he expected me to. That led to tantrums, biting (him, not me) and “marriage counseling” with my “Birds For Dummies” co-author, avian specialist Dr. Brian Speer (pictured with Eddie), who is one of only a handful of veterinarians certified in avian medicine in both North America and Europe. More importantly, Brian’s a funny guy and a great communicator.
Anyway, Eddie and I worked through our issues with Brian’s help, with me being very careful to handle Eddie in a gentle, confidentÂ way that reinforced the idea that I wasn’t the missus, but rather the boss. Also, lots of trick training, which is not only fun — and dead-on easy for the genius of a parrot — but also again gets things right in the avian mind. Oh! Her? Nah, she’s the boss. Pretty easy boss, but still.
Pretty smooth sailing ever since, for the most part. Now and again, we have flare-ups of nasty behavior. But that’s life with a parrot, which is really like living with a three-year-old. Parrots can be sensible, snuggly and focused one minute, and throwing a screaming tantrum the next. Although in all fairness, he really gets snotty only when I get busy and he doesn’t get as much time as he deserves. (Yeah, I have parrot guilt at such times.)
Aside from his issues, Eddie is darned entertaining. Caiques aren’t known for talking, but he manages a couple of phrases. Most commonly: “What are you doing?” Most endearingly, he whistles “Here she is, Miss America!” when I come into the house. (Yes, I know I should be embarrassed to admit I taught him that. I’m not.) He also does the Florida State war chant, although in a wimpy whistled version that would never strike fear into the heart of any UofFlorida Gator.
The morning, Eddie is truly on the war path. Why? Because last night he got his toenail caught in toy.
I had to wrap him in a towel, spend a few minutes trying to disentangle him, cut off the toy and finally realize that his nail was so jammed into the jingle bell inside that there was nothing to do but cut the nail off, cutting well back into the quick. Yes, I know that hurt. Lots. Bloody, too. The dogs and cats ran from the room, because Eddie was screaming, first in pain and then in righteous anger. Fortunately for my own safety, he was so snuggly wrapped so he couldn’t return the favor by drawing blood from me. Ohhh, though he wanted to!
He’s fine this morning, eating well. I know his foot hurts. And I can tell he’s still itching to make me hurt.
This is going to take some time to resolve.
Sorry, Eddie. I had to do it, unless you really wanted to go through life with a toy on your foot.