Cairo and Children (photos at the end)

charmedbyekkie

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Cairo the Ekkie!
Every weekend, we go out to a local cafe (are you kidding, it’s Starbucks) next to the field we fly Cairo in. And because it’s a popular beach park area, though our flying field is frequently empty, there is always a ton of kids passing by and they often want to interact with Cairo.

I always make a quick assessment of the child first. A fidgety kid is a no-go when it comes to holding Cairo. A calmer child that listens gets the offer of holding Cairo themselves or their parent holding Cairo.

(That being said, I wouldn’t recommend this sort of interaction to anyone. Individual birds have different reactions to new situations. As I understand, clipped birds’ instincts lean more to biting when stuck in a situation they can’t fly away from. Cairo has always been fully flighted, so if he’s in a situation he doesn’t want, he’ll fly straight back to me. He doesn’t bite strangers - just flies straight to safety on my head.)

And I always make sure that, no matter what we’re doing, if someone comes up and politely asks to talk/interact with us, that we stop and do our best to share what we can.

Overall, I do hope it’s a good learning experience for children. Sometimes it’s something as basic as “ask permission first” in terms of taking photos or wanting to touch him (and our rule for Cairo is no touching him - he just doesn’t care for it unless I’m helping him manage the situation). Sometimes it’s simple like summoning the courage to talk to a stranger (me) to get their questions answered. Sometimes it’s a deeper learning, like the time and effort it takes to care for a parrot or how do parrots repeat what they hear or the fact they are as intelligent as the child themselves.

Yes, we get the silly questions like, “is that a real parrot?” or “how much?” But sometimes we get thoughtful ones like “What does he eat?” “How old do they live for?” “Does it take a lot of care?” “Does he understand context?” And hopefully the kids gain a greater appreciation for nature and the fact that other creatures have needs just as much as they do. And it’s too cute when parents use Cairo as a colour identifier “What colour is the parrot?” “What colour is his beak?” Then I have Cairo open his wings, and we get even more colours!

And I do think it helps Cairo. He’s placed in a situation where strangers are near him, but not interacting with him directly. While they’re talking to me, Cairo has a chance to observe them and learn that they’re not scary. He generally follows my cue and only listens to my requests (strangers can’t get him to wave or shake or even step up, unless I give the cue word). And I watch closely, encouraging him when he’s a bit hesitant and stopping all interaction when he’s clearly uncomfortable.



Now, a couple of our good friends have a little boy who is only a day older than Cairo, and the little boy loves Cairo (I’ll name him B for this). B even named his parrot hand puppet Cairo and knows to ask for Cairo. His mum used to work with wildlife, so she’s shaped his interactions to be very positive around critters. And over time and supervision, B and Cairo handle each other quite well.

Cairo, surprisingly, is incredibly tolerant when it comes to B petting him. He will hold still and accept a few touches before shifting himself away, which is more than what he gives even my partner. He’ll even tolerate when B explores the texture of moving against the growth of the feathers, feeling the individual feathers between his fingers (I always gently correct by showing how to properly touch an ekkie). And when Cairo pushes away adults’ fingers, he puts his beak gently around your finger and moves your finger away, but for B, he’ll not put the finger in his beak but just push it away instead. And Cairo doesn’t escalate the situation - if he really feels uncomfortable, he’ll just climb onto me instead and B will patiently watch.

Xv6Vabh.jpg


B will happily sit and feed Cairo nonstop (luckily I make dehydrated butternut squash chips). And Cairo is very gentle in taking food from fearless B who giggles with delight whenever Cairo’s tongue brushes his fingers. What I find most surprising is that around most children, Cairo is very alert to what’s going on, but around this family, Cairo will happily preen, practice vocab, and nap.

gFJxnVu.jpg


Just this past weekend, we met up again. And B had fun playing with Cairo’s stacking cups. Cairo was, at first, curious that someone other than me or my partner was playing with his toys. We then showed B how to give Cairo a cup and ask Cairo to stack it. And boy, did he love that! At 23mo, he realised that sometimes he was holding the cup in a way that Cairo couldn’t take it, so he would adjust his grip for Cairo. And Cairo was kind enough to keep taking a nonstop flow of stacking cups from the little one. It seemed to be great fun for the two of them.

fqTJuoe.jpg


Yes, Cairo is on my head because there was another friend in the room that he wasn’t so familiar with.

But we also brought a little perch that B was so excited to have Cairo step up onto. And Cairo happily stepped onto the perch every time B asked him. Then when B rested his arm on the same perch, Cairo thought it was a request to step up and walked onto his arm without any prompt from me! (No beak testing to making sure the new proposed perch was secure either - just trusted B’s to hold him.) Of course, Cairo’s 415g is too heavy for a 23mo to hold without support, so his arm dropped down and B giggled to see Cairo fly to me. But Cairo was very forgiving, and soon, they were back playing together again.

My partner and I were saying how proud we were of the way Cairo interacts with B. I do think the weekly socialisation helps. Hopefully in the future, we'll be able to join the local community when they visit schools to share about parrot life.
 

Anansi

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I'm in love with this thread! This is beautiful. And it's awesome you have Cairo so well socialized. Not to mention all of the precautions you take. I agree wholeheartedly with your observation that this kind of scenario is not ideal for every bird, and that at least as much depends on individual temperament as on training.

Cairo's patience with children, and special indulgence with B, is equal parts touching and impressive. As is B's restraint and discipline at only 23 months old. Awesome! Thanks for sharing.
 

Scott

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Aug 21, 2010
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Goffins: Gabby, Abby, Squeaky, Peanut, Popcorn / Citron: Alice / Eclectus: Angel /Timneh Grey: ET / Blue Fronted Amazon: Gonzo /

RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
Gorgeous images, Cairo as goodwill ambassador of Ekkies to a new generation of future parronts!
 

AmyMyBlueFront

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Apr 14, 2015
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Jonesy a Goffins 'Too who had to be rehomed :-(

And a Normal Grey Cockatiel named BB who came home with me on 5/20/2016.
What a fantastic story! :04: And awesome photo's! Such good boy's Cairo and "B" are! Maybe B will be a "parront" some day because of this. I'm sure Cairo has made a lasting impression on him, and YOU get much credit for making Cairo the sweetheart that he is ;) Congratulations!!


Jim
 

SailBoat

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Jul 10, 2015
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We have been very lucky that Julio provides very clear signals regarding whether he has an interest in meeting people. He has a fondness for children and will tolerate their handling errors.

Love your evaluation of whether anyone should handle your Parrot. Even with that in place, Julio has a very clear back lean if he is not interested. YUP, always respect the Parrot's choice!

Love the photos!
 

Laurasea

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Beauty!!! Inspirational and Wonderful promotion of parrots and how to meet living and intelligent creatures. Moments like this can inspire children for a life time.
 

PickleMeDickles

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May 17, 2015
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SassyByrd (DYH Amazon) JoJo (GCC) Betty (GCC) DEARLY LOVED fids lost to “Teflon Disaster� 12/17 RIP Pickles (GC),RIP Winston (Sun), RIP Lady PLEASE TAKE 5 MINUTES &TOSS OUT ALL YOUR TEFLON NOW!
:04:I almost can’t blame people for asking if it’s a real parrot, I could almost see them asking if he is even real! I’m sure you get that a lot. Of course everyone knows Amazons are the best birds in every sense (kidding :04:), but your bird definitely wins the cute award hands down! I don’t think most birds look “real”, but your bird looks like it just flew in off a UFO from a planet full of muppets (not quite muffets but can’t quite define it either). Every time I see your pics it makes me smile. And thanks for taking the time and having a passion for connecting with others over parrots. Perhaps you will help someone else find their passion. Or even more importantly, the education you provide others may just open a few eyes enough to prevent someone from making the mistake of getting a parrot, once they realize it’s a difficult lifestyle choice. And of course all the enrichment it provides The Fid. Keep it up!
 

Tami2

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Aug 18, 2017
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Levi - 6 yr old CAG

DOH-4/2/2016
This is wonderful, I love it!! 💚 Thanks so much for sharing!
 

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