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Old 02-12-2018, 08:08 PM
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Re: need help, guidance for my girl Kali

Y, Thanks for the words. It helps me understand.

I know someone named "Calli" short for California, I think. Pronounced the same, spelled differently.

I didn't mean to say that your relationship was in trouble, just that you are facing a crisis. You both want very different and seemingly incompatible things, and there is no easy answer. How can I say it...the only way to work through something is to truly understand and emphasize with all the beings involved in the transaction, including yourself. Your wife's feelings, your kids' feelings, your feelings, and Kali's feelings all matter and there is no shortcut. If you make all the sacrifices, it will come back to bite you in the butt. You'll go postal, or shut down, or a rift will begin, or maybe it will be fine. The kids are going to grow up and move out some day, so they don't get a vote. They get to express opinions, but not vote.

Birds are not like cats. Cats are very independent, and while they do get attached to people they seem to do better with change. A cat might have a favorite buddy among other cats, but it doesn't seem to be a true pair bond. They are less choosy and more changeable. Birds are flock animals, and they bond for life. A parrot might spend most of its day preening and being preened by its mate, looking for food with its mate, sleeping next to its mate, sitting on a perch touching its mate ... they form very close pair bonds. When a parrot loses its mate it seems to grieve and search for them and even become depressed. For a parrot to lose its entire flock is even worse. A parrot in the wild that looses its flock is likely to die. Parrots depend on their flock-mates to help watch for danger, to find food, to find a safe place to sleep. What must it be like, to be surrounded by creatures that look just like you, sound like you, eat like you, act like you? And losing a flock .. a parrot is genetically wired to freak out about that and to find the flock again ASAP.

It's many times worse for a parrot to lose its flock than for cat to lose its home. But I bet if you insisted that the cats go, or that the dog go, you would be shouted down. Cats and dogs are more familiar to us and it's easier to relate to them than to a parrot, which is basically a tiny talking dinosaur. They're little aliens. But you are the only one in the house who understands Kali. Maybe getting others to think about giving away the other animals will help them to understand how you feel about Kali.

You and your family are Kali's flock. She's used to you. When she calls to your wife in the morning, she's calling as if to another parrot in the flock. "Are you awake? Where are you? I'm over here. I said I'm over here!" Parrots call so they know where the others are, so the flock can stay together, and they are programmed to keep calling until they get a reassuring result. Once you figure out how Kali's brain works, you can figure out how to outwit her and use her inborn habits to your advantage.

Your wife might call back to Kali in the morning, just so Kali knows she is heard. Or cover the cage at night, so Kali doesn't wake up so early. Or you could get up first and go take care of Kali so your wife has a peaceful morning. Parrots are creatures of habit. Either someone gets up with her, to fill the need to check in with the rest of the flock, or Kali needs to sleep later so the flock is ready. African grays, in particular, live in very large, gregarious flocks and Kali is programmed for that companion-filled life.

Is there some way to make Kali seem more attractive as a companion? Grays are smart. Can you teach her to say "Hi beautiful"? "I love you (wife's name here)"? To do a trick, something interesting and cool to show off to company? If your wife were interested, and did some trick - training, clicker training, with Kali it would not only make Kali a more interesting pet, it would improve their relationship.

I totally understand your wife's frustration with Kali taking over so much of the house. A cage with a parrot does take up a lot of space in a dining room, plus it isn't so appetizing to have poop so close to the table for a lot of people. It makes it hard to have dinner partiers. Parrots take up a lot of psychological space in a house and need constant attention. Thing is, humans need space too. Humans need a place to relax and unwind and be free of responsibilities, and a parrot is a never-ending responsibility. A parrot is like a toddler that never grows up. That's a lot to ask of a partner, to live a good chunk of the rest of their life with a bird-child.

Your wife is absolutely within her rights to ask for the parrot to be gone. You are absolutely within your rights to keep that parrot forever. How can both of these dreams come true? It's a huge challenge. I don't know how you can resolve it. Start with half-measures. Lots of people keep a "roost cage" in a quiet room, and take the parrot there to sleep at night. It could be any place, a spare bedroom, or even downstairs. It's just a place to sleep at night. Then you can go get her when it's time to rise and shine, and bring her to the bigger cage in the living room. Would that work?

And you can say no to walking the dog, maybe. Remind everybody of who promised what, who was supposed to feed/water/walk if only they could have a dog? Well, it's time. If they see how much work the dog is, how annoying it is to have to take them outside, then suddenly Kali isn't the only problem. Maybe a trade ... you clean the cage, I'll walk the dog. You give the bird breakfast, I'll take the dog out for the morning walk. Suddenly the bird is much easier to take care of.

If Kali were to be boarded somewhere for a week or so, you would find something out. Either you miss her terribly and long for her return, or you feel miss her but feel slightly relieved. Either feeling is OK. There's no right or wrong. But it would give you a chance to explore the feeling on a temporary basis before taking some irrevocable step.

I know someone who depended on a parrot for companionship, and they didn't relate well to others because they didn't have to. They had the parrot. It's no fun being second wife to a parrot. I hope you can find a way to make both your ladies equally happy!

As for the contract....yeah, it's tough to enforce them. We signed one for our parrot, and if he had to go for some reason I would call the people and talk to them at least, but I would reserve the right to not send him back if the rescue had deteriorated into a hoarding or otherwise unsuitable situation. I'd try to find a good place for him before I called them, and likely they would agree. Wherever he goes, if he ever has to go, he will be financially provided for and that's one way to enforce care. What if you agree to pay for an annual vet checkup, and you get to be there for it? You can see for yourself that she's doing OK, and they get a free vet check. Oh wait, maybe that's not good, what if it distresses Kali to see you and then lose you again? Maybe you could depend on the vet to check the band (make sure it's the same bird) and report back to you, maybe retaining possession of Kali if it seems she is being neglected? Nah...there is no good way out. That's why it's so dangerous for a parrot to be rehomed. If the first person, who presumably had the good baby bonding experience, didn't keep the bird for life how can the second person be counted on to do so? It usually doesn't go well for the parrot. That's partly why I hope you can figure out a way to keep Kali home and have it work out for everybody.

Please stall for time if you can. Winter is hard on us all, and you don't want to do something desperate in the dark of winter that you might regret come spring. Good luck. I'm pulling for you.
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