I can’t believe I’ve only got a week left at Parrots in Paradise…
I don’t wanna leave. I love the birds, I love the people and I love the area. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been here any time at all and its kind of painful to think I’m now moving on. Financially, I know I have to, there’s no getting round it, and my Sydney New Years is all paid up, but I’ve got a sinking suspicion I’ll be migrating back to Glass House Mountains next year for some time, monetary issues aside, to come work here again.
Anyway, when I realised I’ve been here almost 8 weeks, it occurred to me that I’ve never fully gone into the birds here. I’ve been reluctant to post anything regarding my regional work, just in case I put something about either of my jobs that makes immigration look closer (dumb, since what I’ve done IS regional work, but paranoia is what it is. In hindsight wish I’d at least done a weekly post of things that had happened), but since my time is almost up (and believe me, there are gonna be tears when I finally go), figured I should probably introduce the avians I’ve been looking after during my time.
Not all of them, because god knows that would take forever, but the ones I’m not going to forget in a hurry. Barbara is of course, the one I’ll hold in my heart fondest, but there are other birds that vye for attention, such as.
Mtoto the African Grey
You might notice that Mtoto looks a little…weird. This is because she plucks herself – its because of relationship troubles. Her partner, Hakilli, wants to start a family, but Mtoto just isn’t ready to settle down. The stress and bickering means plucking follows. The first time, she plucked him, the second time, she plucked his tail, but this time, she decided to do the plucking.
Thankfully, her feathers are starting to come back, and my hosts hope she’ll finally stop pulling out anyone’s feathers in the New Year.
(Some photos missing. Tablet transfer has been iffy lately. Watch this space)
Jeana the Alexandrian
One of our resident crazies. Jeana is that child in the back of the class causing mayhem and mischief, because they’re actually gifted and extremely bored with the coursework. She’s really smart, and performs in the shows, but wants to learn how to do more – something my hosts would love to do, but just don’t have the time at the moment. In protest, Jeana has taken to biting just about everyone and causing chaos. She’s gotten out of her night cage no less than 4 times since I’ve been here, and caused one power outage when she managed to chew through the air conditioner wires.
Of course, its partially biological. Jeana is the daughter of a little lady called Lena, who is absolutely vicious, and has given rise to 2 other daughters – who are the only birds to have ‘titles’. Tina the Terrible and Nina the Ninja!
Kelele the Alexandrian
This little guy is a heart stealer. Known as a ‘Stargazer’, Kelele and his siblings have a form of Autism. They constantly cock their heads back staring at the sky, and don’t use their wings to keep their balance. The vet wanted to put them down, but my hosts weren’t having it, and now Kelele is one of the show’s stars. He does have a tail, but bits it off, because this little guy is a skateboarder, and doesn’t like letting it drag on the ground. He’s also very smart, and my hosts favourite example of why you shouldn’t give up on someone just because its different.
Kosuku the Alexandrian
This guy will mostly be remembered for his appearance when I arrived. It was breeding season, and this little guy happens to think he looks sexiest in his underwear. For the past 7 years, he’s plucked his chest bare in order to attract his lady, and it results in a very weird looking Alexandrine. Grown back most of his feathers now though.
Poppet the Cockatiel
Aww…this little sweetie steals the hearts of everyone who enters the freedom flight. A highly imprinted cockatiel who honestly believes she’s human. She won’t have anything to do with the other cockatiels, but when she finds a human in the cage, she’ll fly onto your shoulder in a heartbeat, singing little songs in your ear. Given the choice, she’d stick to you like glue all day.
Whoppa the Eclectus
The Facebook face and general mascot of Parrots in Paradise, Whoppa is one of my hosts best talkers. He has an incredible vocabulary, including several songs, animals, numbers and his own name. He can actually spell and count (though will NEVER say 7), and recognises corn whether its tinned, cobbed or popped. Just saying C-O-R-N has his head up and going ‘corn!’ Currently, he’s trying to master the song ‘You are my Sunshine’ but keeps running out of breath before he finishes the lyric ‘how much I love you’.
He’s also a fantastic foster daddy. Many of the eclectus pluck or eat their children, so they have to be taken from their parents and given to surrogates. Whoppa and his wife Phoebe are fantastic parents, and can raise 5 chicks in addition to their own 2 with help from my hosts.
Bonnie, Fiona and Anjewelie – the alpha female Eclectus
(Anjewlie and her hubby Kumar)
Also nicknamed by the volunteers as ‘the bitches’. These 3 female Eclectus rule the living room. Bonnie in the far left corner, Fiona is the opposite right, and Anjewelie gets a position right next to the shop entrance. These are the birds all volunteers fear as they are notorious biters, and not afraid to prove it. Bonnie at least is easy enough to dispatch (tap her nest box and she’ll go in to defend her home). Fiona is the same…except when she has a chick. Then, she can only be fed by my host unless we like risking our fingernails.
But Anjewelie is the big danger in the house. She’s the partner to the Alpha Eclectus, and will even bite my host when she feels the need. Highly territorial, the previous volunteers told me horror stories of her ambushes. Every volunteer that has to change her seed and water gets several warnings about what to do around her cage (mostly consisting of ‘never be eye level or above’, ‘never take your eyes of her’, and ‘if you can’t see her, back away slowly’). I’ve thankfully taken their advice and never been brutalised, but nobody will forget the head psycho in a hurry.
Blu Hue the Eclectus
The foster child of Whoppa, though he’s technically his nephew. Blue Hue is special as he was just a few weeks old when I arrived at Parrots, and I’ve watched him grow. He’s one of the few chicks we still have, mostly because Blu now has a permanent place here. His feathers have a spectacular blue sheen to them, one my hosts hope to encourage by breeding him. Its a childish wish of theirs to get a breeding line that could one day create a blue eclectus, and it would start with a boy like this.
Also known as ‘the crazy birds that can smell fear.’ I think just about everyone at Parrots hates having to take care of these guys. They are next to completely feral, and they KNOW I’m scared of them. These guys have lunged for peoples heads, crashed against the cages, and require double teaming in order to get into the cage and to refill their bowls. They may one day breed, and hopefully the chicks will be a lot sweeter…
Elvis the Black Cockatoo
Elvis is probably the biggest of the birds here, and named for his swagger (which is adorable and awesome at the same time). Big, adorable…and really, really stupid. Often referred to as having the IQ of a houseplant, its kind of like being around a really big puppy. His wife, Cilla Black, is making motions that she wants to start a family, but Elvis doesn’t appear to be seeing them.
Rex the King Parrot
Also known as ‘Sexy Rexy’ – somewhat ironically given his love life. My hosts tried to find him a girlfriend, but ended up with 2 additional males (moved on to new homes as of now) since male and females look the same until they become territorial. Finally though, they found ‘Queenie,’ a genuine female King Parrot. However, Rex turned out to be absolutely terrified of her. Put them near each other and Rex flees up your arms to get as far away from the (perfectly tame and adorable) female as physically possible. So both remain single at this time.
Rex is the most placid creature you’ve ever met. Doesn’t like being touched, but much like Poppet, is happiest on your shoulder seeing what you’re up to. Has been on medication for an eye infection since I came here, but now has a clean bill of health.
Rocko, Curly and G-Fer, the Gang Gang Cockatoos
These three are gathered together because although I love them dearly, they all have the same problem. They are problem birds.
Its not really their fault – all of them are rescue birds taken from really bad situations. Rocko spent his entire life before Parrots living in a cage in a shed – very little interaction and not real contact. As such he’s completely wild – and that beak may seem small, but it CAN sever fingers when properly motivated.
Curly has a similar problem, although he at least CAN be handled by the right person, and is utterly in love with our only female Gang Gang, G-Fer (although neither of them really understand what they’re meant to DO when it comes to making bubbas). Unfortunately, they can’t stay in the same cage full time, as G-Fer likes to pluck herself.
Curly clearly likes the naked look, because he helps her pluck. G-Fer in turn, starts taking of his fluffy red top not, and we end up with 2 bare birds. As such, they only get to be together when G-Fer is getting broody.
Cindy the Major Mitchell
I very rarely interact with Cindy, but when you see a bird sleeping while cuddled up to a large pink bunny rabbit, you’re gonna be hard pressed to forget about her.
Cindy is a pretty spectacular bird – when she gets out her full crest and spreads her wings she looks like a completely different bird. She’s also completely in love with my host’s husband (much to said host’s frustration) and hates blondes.
Django the Lovebird
The only parrot in the place that can give Jeana a run for her money in the escaping department. I’ve lost count of the number of times this crazy bird has flown out of his cage and sent us on a wild parrot chase. My hosts have even clipped his wings to try and deter him, but he still manages to hop on out.
That said, he’s a very sweet bird. Will happily hop on your finger and spend some time with you, or play catch the birdie on your shoulders. Just don’t try to get him back in his cage!
Sweetie and Pie the Princess Parrots
Sweetie and Pie, who yo yo between being exactly that, and anything but. These 2 hop around their cage asking ‘what are you doing’ and will hop on your fingers before trying to dart out their cage. Sweetie recently started moulting, and we’ve had to keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t get sick – its been a tense few days since she often looks a little woozy.
This little bird doesn’t actually have a name, but will be remembered for being the best little mama bird she could be. This canary laid several eggs last month, and for weeks we passed by the finch cage watching the little eggs become little bubbas…only for the vicious heatwave in November to take the lives of her brood and leave them as ant food.
However, Mama Canary is not a quitter, and a few weeks ago had another nest, and 2 new baby chicks. Who have now set the record for longest surviving canary chicks in that cage. We unfortunately had to take them off her though, as a finch began attacking the nest and the parents didn’t appear to be coming back. We’re now attempting to hand rear them along with…
Cracker, Santa and Bell
Our baby budgies. Their mother was plucking them, and so another volunteer and myself have become foster parents! It took a few days for them to get used to hand feeding, but now they’re taking the spoon like pros. They are utterly adorable and spending a few minutes every few hours just playing and interacting with these little bubba’s is the highlight of my day. Gutted I’m not gonna get to see them grow…
Sukari the Persian
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That’s a cat. We have 3 felines who live at the aviary, and are completely fine with the birds (the small ones stay in their cages, and the large ones put up too much of a fight). Their job is to keep the rather vicious mouse population down, and do a pretty good job of it. Sukari is the most affectionate leech of them all though, essentially living down at our bunkhouse and mooching hugs and strokes whenever possible. I adore her smushy little face.
Janice the Eclectus
Janice is a little bit of a special case on this list, as she probably shouldn’t be on it since she’s no longer here. Why? Because she was my favourite eclectus baby, and has since been sold…
Janice is one of the babies I helped hand rear (though admittedly how much I helped is limited to a handful of cuddles at night), but has the best personality of them all. She takes some time to warm up to people, but when she does? All she wants to do is cuddle up on your shoulder and stay there. She doesn’t mind being stroked, and when she bites, its mostly just a nibble – just reminding you that she’s there. I really hope her new home appreciates her.