Austin in Austin

I know I haven’t blogged in a while.  In my defense, I’ve started several blog topics but haven’t finished them yet for one reason or another, and I’ve also been consumed with some pretty exciting life event stuff which I can’t announce yet but very much hope to be able to announce at the end of the August.  It has been consuming every spare moment of my time, though, so blogging has fallen by the wayside.

I also recently stayed busy building a new website for Austin Parrot Society, so check it out!  And I’ve also been busy preparing for APS’s booth and my presentation at Austin Pet Expo.  That’s going down at Palmer Events Center this coming Saturday, August 3rd, from 10a-6p, so come on down and say hello!

The most exciting and wonderful news, however, is that I have a new feathered friend who came to stay with me this past Thursday.  He is a Congo African Grey whose name in his previous life was Austin.  I haven’t decided yet whether or not to keep the name.  I am waiting to see how he relates to the name: if he self identifies and seems to like his name, we’ll keep it.  If he doesn’t seem to have any particular attachment to it, we’ll probably start looking for a new name together.  For now, though, for convenience’s sake, we’ll call him Austin.

Austin is 14 years old and is one of those rare birds who has lived in the same home since he was weaned.  The problem is that his home was a veterinary clinic.  His owner did everything she could to provide him with the best life possible, with a good diet, lots of enrichment, and lots of attention, but being in a vet clinic was setting both her and Austin up to fail.  She tried many things to work on his behavior and make him happier and better adjusted, but the deck was stacked against her, being in a vet clinic environment, and finally she decided to send him to a more stable environment to give him a better chance at a calm, stable, happy life.

I don’t know yet whether my home is that place for him.  He may not like living with 5 other birds in a bird room.  He may prefer being an only bird in a quieter home, or living with just one other birdie companion.  I may just be a halfway home, rehabilitating him as much as I need to before finding him a permanent solution that may work better for him.  But so far, I have to say, he is adjusting remarkably well here.  In just 3 days so far he has started taking nuts from my fingers, eats chop with gusto, eats his pellets with decidedly less gusto (but eats them nonetheless), and has started to explore his cage.  I have caught him playing with the ladder by one of his perches a few times, and shredding some of the paper towels I tied to the cage bars.

His former owner told me that he has a fear of stainless steel, which was a problem because the bowls in his cage are stainless steel, and the bowl holders are too small for his ceramic bowls.  I put his ceramic bowls on the floor of his cage with food and water in them, but also put food and water in the SS bowls in their holders.  For the first two days he hadn’t touched either the SS or ceramic pellet or water bowls, so yesterday I tried wrapping the SS bowls in paper towels.  It worked.  Immediately after I put the bowls back in his cage, Austin walked over to them, started shredding the paper towels, tapped on the stainless steel a few times, then started eating his pellets.  Hence the paper towels tied to his cage bars: I know he likes shredding them, so that’s the first step in getting him to play, and eventually forage, in his new cage.

But for now, the sole focus is just getting him comfortable in his cage first.  Every day he tentatively explores a little more of it.  When he’s explored the whole thing and has made himself at home, we’ll start introducing the foraging.

Another sign that he’s already getting more comfortable here is that he has gradually started vocalizing.  It started yesterday, with some tentative, quiet, brief whistles.  Both Chuck and I would respond any time he’d whistle, so last night he started whistling a little louder.  This morning, he started with two note whistles while I was feeding him breakfast, which I also responded to.  Then, this afternoon, when I went in to check on everyone, he whistled a little tune!  I tried to imitate it as best as possible, and then, as I was leaving, he whistled an entire song!  I don’t know what he was trying to sing or if he just made it up, but it was at least 8 bars long.  So cute!  I can’t wait until he starts talking.  His former owner told me that he talks a lot, and when she was packing up his stuff he looked at her and said, “Poor bird.  Poor, poor bird.”  So he’s obviously a clever boy who uses language in context.  It will be thrilling to hear him when he gets to that stage!

Here’s a picture of him with chop beak:

chop beak 072713Isn’t he cute??  It’s hard to tell here but he’s plucked all his contour feathers off his chest and abdomen, leaving only the down.  He’s also plucked and barbered over his wings and back, too.  I’m curious to see whether he’ll let his feathers grow back in after he’s settled in here.  I must confess, I’m kind of hoping he wants to stay here.  At first I was neutral, fully content to either foster or permanently adopt, but now… I can feel my little heart tendrils curling around him.   ❤


About Emily Strong

behavior consultant. veterinary technician. crazy parrot lady. lifelong animal lover. cellist. yogi. hula hooper. horse rider. swimmer. singer. reader. writer. dreamer. music lover. amateur gardener. nutrition enthusiast. eternal student. language lover. aspiring polyglot. tattoo canvas. water drinker. overthinker. bountiful laugher. overenthusiast. attention deficit meditator.
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2 Responses to Austin in Austin

  1. Nicole says:

    For what it’s worth, I wish both you and Austin great success. Please keep us (aka The Internet) updated. Looking forward to more posts.

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