Chicken the Sun Conure - And how I almost didn't get to adopt him!

Squeeing_Onion

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"Bongo" - Green Cheek Conure
"Chicken" - Sun Conure, rest in peace, my precious friend.
I thought I would share the story of my experiences adopting, living with, and caring for, my first bird - Chicken.

1. The Research, and Deciding :orange:

I thought long and hard about teh decision to adopt a bird. I spent weeks pouring over article after article, reading a few books I was able to get my hands on, and in general trying to cram into my head all the mind-boggling information that is the world of parrot husbandry.

"Be prepared for hormonal behavior - a lot of parrots are disowned because they could not or were not prepared to handle it..."

"Their diet is expensive! Fresh vegetables, fruit, and a quality pellet and seed mixes are a must..."

"...attention needy - you're life will be overtaken."

"Choosing to live with parrots is choosing to take on an entirely new lifestyle."

"So many things that can kill your bird! Some you would not even have thought of!"

And the information dumps when on, and on, and on...

...Finally, I decided that it wasn't just an impulsive choice, or something I was half-hearted in. The nittiest, grittiest stories didn't scare me off birds. In fact, such stories only tended to serve to increase my interest and drive me to want to further understand our avian companions so I could provide a safe, healthy, and engaging home.

Heart set - I began researching what species might be the best fit for my lifestyle. There were so many species! It was overwhelming.

In the end, I tentatively settled on wanting to meet-and-greet some Timneh and Congo African Greys. I was highly intrigued by their intellectual nature, even amongst their avian kin, and their behavior, demenour, and general acclaimed mood struck me as appealing - I even found the fact they are inclined to be a One Person bird to be acceptable. I wasn't looking for a family pet, I wanted a companion for me.

That said, I also made the decision to keep my mind open. I was well aware that not all birds fit their 'general' and 'average' species' attitudes, and that I may even find a bird of a different species who I connected with.

At the time, I was living by myself in my own one-room house on my father's property, which I rented.

Cue rescue researches! At last, I located a rescue that happened to be only a half an hour away from my house... what kind of amazing luck is that?

~~

2. Entering a World of SQUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWK and SCREEEEEEEEE! :orange:

At this point, though I had my own house I rented, and a happy job as a waitress, I did not yet have my own car. My father came with me to the rescue.

His face screwed up the moment we walked through the doorway, not unlike the expression of biting into bread only to realize afterwards its moldy. We had been immediately greeted by a cacophony of Macaw, Cockatoo, Conure, 'Grey, Amazon, Budgie, Finch, and many, many other species' loud vocalizations. I'm sure you can imagine the noise!

Credit to him, he didn't say anything against it, and let me go explore! I chatted with the rescue's owners about birds.

Today, I had come in to meet a few African Greys they had: l I was simultaneously disappointed and delighted to find that a few had been adopted before I arrived, and they had one remaining. She encouraged me to go walking down the rows of cages. I also, of course, was here to meet other birds, and find out for myself if I could handle the mess, noise - and yes, the biting beaks!

I saw big birds, tiny birds, noisy birds, sleepy birds. I even met a macaw who had been there for many, many years, the poor dear. He'd been terribly abused by his previous owner, who had locked him in a closet and lit his feathers on fire when he made noise. I do believe that feathery bundle has been since adopted.

I still remember the first time seeing Chicken as fresh as if it were yesterday. I walked around the isles, seeing many beautiful birds - but none of them had really stood out to me. I never even made it to the African Grey I had come to meet.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a quiet bird looking at me with one wide, round black eye. I had never even seen a photo of this type of bird before - he was so colorful! All bright yellows, oranges, and greens. He hoped from his perch to the side of the cage and turned his head fully to look at me, quiet at first. Then, he let loose a Sun Conure's tiny cheep-screech. (y'know, one of their supremely rare quiet sounds!) Something about the way he regarded me struck me as very different from the other birds in the room. I couldn't explain it; it was just... different.

I stopped in my tracks, some unknown force attracting me to this little cheepy thing I didn't even know the species of!

I asked the owner about him, and she opened up the cage to take him out for me to meet. I remember being a bit uncomfortable at first - a little intimidated by that sharp looking beak - and feeling bad for him because he was, at first, very adamant about not wanting to leave his cozy cage. She explained that he was not trustful of hands yet, but did not generally mind stepping up onto a towel. His previous owners had surrendered him because they had not the time for him.

Once he was out of his cage, Chicken - 'What a terrible name for him,' I remember thinking at the time, disliking the name - calmed greatly. We looked at each other, assessing, then I offered him to step up, and he daintly walked right onto my hand.

And immediately scampered up to my shoulder!

And thus began my first lesson in managing a parrot; learning how to safely remove a bird from thy shoulder when bird desires NOTHING to do with that nonsense! Renee had me practicing with him in the small bathroom (a nice safe, smaller space) by leaning my body to encourage him to step up or walk up my arm. His wings were clipped, I noted.

When asked about it, I learned he had come to them fully flighted, but they clipped all the wings of rescued birds for their safety; the room of the rescue was very large with high ceilings, and they did not want to risk them getting up there and being irretrievable. They did not required boarding birds to have trimmed wings, but it was at the owner's risk. (they have since moved to a new facility, with much shorter ceilings, and a really nice settup!)

The bond I had with Chicken was pretty instant; he didn't want to get off me, and I felt inexplicably drawn to him.

I left the store thinking that he might just be the bird I took home.

~~

3. What do you mean, he's been adopted? :orange:

It was a pretty quick decision for me to adopt Chicken. Once I returned home from the rescue, I spent the next several days cramming research into my head after work. What did they eat? What was their general behavior? Did they have any unique dietary requirements, or were they known for a particular activity? Yes, yes they were. Being expressively LOUD and even more than that - shrill. Oh, boy. Chicken had been very quiet when I met him. What did his loudest screech sound like? Could I handle that in my tiny house? So many people cited surrendering their bird because of the noise level being unbearable.

I think it was two or three days of Sun Conure-specific research before I wrote up an email to PAEP saying I would like to consider adopting Chicken; could I arrange an appointment to meet with him again? I felt almost feverish making the choice; a little dizzy-headed, even! I was in a bit of a rush to decide, because I had been warned he'd already had several people considering him for adoption.

That evening, my heart crumpled in despair.

I got an email reply letting me known that they were so sorry - Chicken had been adopted literally right before the owner checked her email and found my message. (let that be a lesson, folks; phone calls are much faster!) Someone had called to adopt and pay for him with a credit card, as well as the African Grey he had come into the rescue with. Both had come from the same home.

I was heartbroken.

I thanked her for the time and for letting me know. I felt so saddened at the thought it was not meant to be, for I had really become quite attached to the little Sun Conure, and heart-set on having planned ways to integrate him into my life.

Oh, well. I would resume my search... After I licked my wounds for a bit.

~~

Continued in the next post!
 
OP
Squeeing_Onion

Squeeing_Onion

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"Chicken" - Sun Conure, rest in peace, my precious friend.
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4. YES, ABSOLUTELY. :orange:

Almost exactly one week later, I got an email from the owner of PAEP. Chicken's adopters hadn't even brought the little Sun home yet before deciding they no longer wished to adopt him; evidentally they had brought the African Grey home first to settle the birds in one at a time, and the 'Grey made all the noises of a Sun Conure! They didn't want to live with two birds making that racket.

"If you want him, he's yours. You have first call, just let me know."
I stared at the email hardly able to believe what i was reading.

Alarm bells in the back of my head went; "oh nooooo the Sun Conure's dreaded noise level! CAN I EVEN HANDLE IT?" even as I replied with an absolute affirmative.

It was definitely, all things considered, an impulsive decision: I said I'd adopt him right then and there. I wasn't going to risk another person butting in!

Cue another drive over to PAEP, and an almost dizzyingly lightheaded state of delight and nerves!

"Oh god I don't even know this bird and I said I'd adopt him."
"Oh shoot shootshootshootshoot every bird owner in the world is going 'ONION Y U SO HASTY?'"
"Oh gods what if he doesn't like me oh nooooooo"

Once arriving there, the owner was very certain to make sure that Chicken and I were a solid match. She questioned me about parrot caretaking and told me what little more she knew about his past life experience - it would not be for another year and a half before we learned more.

One of my favorite, most uncanny moments, happened that day.

"I've been warned about the Sun Conure's very shrill call, and that it's too loud for a lot of people to handle," I said. Chicken had been shockingly demured and quiet! I knew it couldn't be as loud as he could get. Especially not with a Cockatoo blasting off in the background... now that's a birdcall I couldn't live with for long!

"What does it sound like?" I asked.

The owner opened her mouth to answer, but Chicken did it for us! He was, at that moment in time, perched on my right shoulder.

The little devil turned his head, and emmitted exactly one short, shrill, Sun Conure SCREEEE right into my ear.

I paused, waiting for the ringing to go away.

"Yep, I can handle that," I said, a grin on my face.

I left PAEP with an aviator harness, a giant bird cage, food, supplies, a playstand, and my new birdie companion.

~Part One End~
:orange:
 
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Squeeing_Onion

Squeeing_Onion

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"Bongo" - Green Cheek Conure
"Chicken" - Sun Conure, rest in peace, my precious friend.
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~Moar story, yay! One or two more, then I should be done <3~
 
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Squeeing_Onion

Squeeing_Onion

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"Bongo" - Green Cheek Conure
"Chicken" - Sun Conure, rest in peace, my precious friend.
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~BIRB BIRB BIRB! Want can birb?~

~End story reservations... if i have more to add, hehe, I'll just post as normal <3~
 

Aratingettar

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Sun t̶e̶r̶r̶o̶r̶i̶s̶t̶ C̶o̶n̶u̶r̶e̶ terrorist Cytrynka (F),
Peach faced lovebird Fiona (F),
Peach faced lovebird Fionek (M)
The little devil turned his head, and emmitted exactly one short, shrill, Sun Conure SCREEEE right into my ear.


I know it well. Too well, actually :) My Cytrynka does it to me, the ringing afterwards is awful!

Thanks for sharing, nice reading & interesting story. I almost feel your pain when you've learned that someone adopted him earlier, while you couldn't stop thinking about him.

I'm looking forward for more. I know theres unfortunately no happy ending to the story.. but I'm sure he have been happy with you. Do you know what was his age at the time you've acquired him?
 

ChristaNL

Banned
May 23, 2018
3,559
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NL= the Netherlands, Europe
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Sunny a female B&G macaw;
Japie (m) & Appie (f), both are congo african grey;
All are rescues- had to leave their previous homes for 'reasons', are still in contact with them :)
aaaaaaand *that* was a click!

best description I have ever read!
(you really do have a gift here!!)

Love your story sofar! Just keep writing :)
 
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Squeeing_Onion

Squeeing_Onion

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"Bongo" - Green Cheek Conure
"Chicken" - Sun Conure, rest in peace, my precious friend.
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The little devil turned his head, and emmitted exactly one short, shrill, Sun Conure SCREEEE right into my ear.


I know it well. Too well, actually :) My Cytrynka does it to me, the ringing afterwards is awful!

Thanks for sharing, nice reading & interesting story. I almost feel your pain when you've learned that someone adopted him earlier, while you couldn't stop thinking about him.

I'm looking forward for more. I know theres unfortunately no happy ending to the story.. but I'm sure he have been happy with you. Do you know what was his age at the time you've acquired him?

We only had the word of his previous owner, as he did not come with any paperwork on being surrendered, but he was told to be 13 or 14 years old. He was 16 or 17 when he passed away.

And don't worry - there will be plenty of fun, happy moments in the story! :') I may not have had him for long, but what time I had with him, was full of precious memories and quality experiences.

aaaaaaand *that* was a click!

best description I have ever read!
(you really do have a gift here!!)

Love your story sofar! Just keep writing :)

Thank you for the motivation! I'll be adding the next chapter tonight :')

:orange::gcc:
 
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Squeeing_Onion

Squeeing_Onion

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"Bongo" - Green Cheek Conure
"Chicken" - Sun Conure, rest in peace, my precious friend.
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Well, boy do I feel silly - I have just learned that you cannot edit posts after a set amount of time (which I have, of course, immediately forgotten how long it is), and so my clever trick of reserving spots was for naught. Oops.

Onwards to more story!


~~

A New Home & New Roomate! :orange:

A disclaimer: Herein you will find the floundering mistakes of a first-time bird owner figuring things out. This is NOT a guide on how to care for a bird, or how to manage taking a new companion home. Please do not reference it as such; and please remember to understand that this was three years ago, and I have learned a -lot- since then! I do not seek critique on this story. Please do not jump in to tell me all the things I did wrong and beat me up about it. Thank you, and enjoy the read <3

Taking Chicken home was far easier - and in some ways more complicated! - than I had anticipated. I was prepared for the worst case scenario of a bird terrified of car travel, especially considering that I was a new and unfamiliar person to him, and the environment had to be new and frightening.

Chicken took everything in stride.

In fact, not fifteen minutes into the drive, he busted his way out of the cardboard box! My first stop of the day was a petstore to buy him a proper carrier, the last supply on my list of Things-To-Get that the rescue did not offer for sale. He ended up riding on my shoulder to the petstore.

:orange:Bird and human safety notice:Travel safety is VERY important! Having your bird loose inside the car while driving is and can prove dangerous, or worse, to your precious darling... or you! What if they get spooked and take flight - what if they are on your shoulder, and lose balance, and bite your ear to regain it? Will you be able to keep focused on driving? A bird will be a distraction to the driver, whether that is you, or someone else driving.

What if an accident occurs in traffic? Don't plan for the "well the chances of that are so little!" Hope for the best, plan for the worst. What if a deer jumps out in front of your car, and you have to hit the breaks? Your bird could be launched forward and be injured, or killed, by the impact. At the least, it will be very frightening to them. A carrier keeps them safe.

Many people recommend not even letting your bird out of the carrier in the car, so they do not learn its even an option.

Safety notice done!

That said... Chicken survived the ~ten minutes to get to the petstore, sitting on my shoulder very smug and pleased with himself. Boy did he have many things to tell me about what he thought about being tucked back inside the box to come with me into the pet store!

I bought my first pet carrier; one advertised to be made for birds, and the only one they had in that Petco at the time.

I was quickly displeased with hit, as was Chicken, but that's a story for another time. Let's just say to avoid the Petco bird carrier.

We had another 45 minutes of driving ahead of us, and when we got home, the first order of business was getting him settled. The first cage I had is not a cage I would ever want to put a bird in again, simply because it was rusty. It was only two feet deep by about two and a half feet wide, which I myself found to be far too snug and cramped. (I later upgraded it first chance to a larger, brand new one free of rust, yay!) he had dowel rod perches and a single natural branch perch, and a number of variety of toys; lots of them focused on wood chewies, because I had been told he preferred them over, say, shredding paper.

I stared at the settup with hands on my hip, and a bird perched on my shoulder, heartily disillusioned as to the lack of grandeur of my first bird settup. I felt I could do better, but I didn't know how, yet. Already I was starting to feel anxious from a lack of experience.

Next began the task of encouraging a bird to accept an unfamiliar and new cage full of unfamiliar and new toys. A daunting task, and I was prepared for the struggle of it.

After maneuvering Chicken off my shoulder - without bites, but plenty of upset squawks! - I slowly approached the cage.

Immediately his interest was caught on it. I prepared for him to take flight, or to try to scramble back up my arm -

And up he went... stepping very daintily onto his new dowel rod perch from my finger.

And straight to his food dish he went, and settled down, content as could be.

I stared at my parrot in disbelief, which quickly melted into delight.

And thus, began our first day living together.

:orange:
 

Jen5200

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Aw, loving the Chicken story....waiting for the next chapter :)
 

reeisconfused

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rescued IRN Max and Cockatiel Honey
I’m so hooked to Chicken’s story! Thank for sharing with us. Can’t wait for more. :)
 

ChristaNL

Banned
May 23, 2018
3,559
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NL= the Netherlands, Europe
Parrots
Sunny a female B&G macaw;
Japie (m) & Appie (f), both are congo african grey;
All are rescues- had to leave their previous homes for 'reasons', are still in contact with them :)
Yea, a new fresh installment! :) keep them comming.


After you have finished this great story you can ask the moderator of this section to unscramble it for you? (and remove this post as well- because it will be redundant at that time)
We cannot add to posts etc. but the mods can (and darlings as they are,) probably will.


Finish first (take your time) clean it up later :D
 

Aratingettar

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Sun t̶e̶r̶r̶o̶r̶i̶s̶t̶ C̶o̶n̶u̶r̶e̶ terrorist Cytrynka (F),
Peach faced lovebird Fiona (F),
Peach faced lovebird Fionek (M)
With a rebel yell, more, more, more :orange:



:D
 

Laurasea

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Neptune blue quaker (MIA), Ta-dah GCC female, Penny quaker female, Pikachu quaker female!!, Phoebe quaker female, 3 parakeets males, Burt The Burd GCC female RIP
I'm left hanging!?! What is Chicken up too? How did I miss this thread before???!
 

AmyMyBlueFront

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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.
I just found this thread and I'm loving every paragraph! It saddened me to read that Chicken passed on a few years later,but it does sound like you two had a wonderful relationship,though a short lived one.
PLEASE tell us more!





Jim
 

Kalel

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Sun conure named Lemon (nickname Moonie) hatched August 28, 2014, BFA Professor Green hatched August 22, 2014, Macaw Flash hatched Sept 15, 2007
Wow! What a great story! I love the way you write! I was so interested the whole time! One of the best descriptions I have ever read! Thanks for sharing Chicken's story:)
 

MikeD91

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I'm over a month being owned by my YNA Bill, and I'm really enjoying your tail(get it, tail!). I can't wait to hear the rest. Thanks for taking the time to tell it.
 
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Squeeing_Onion

Squeeing_Onion

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"Bongo" - Green Cheek Conure
"Chicken" - Sun Conure, rest in peace, my precious friend.
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Oh my, I wasn't expecting so much demand for more story!
Sorry for keeping you all hanging - I've had a crazy busy few weeks around the house and with work, but things are starting to settle down.

I will ensure to get the next chapter posted, hopefully this weekend <3
 
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Squeeing_Onion

Squeeing_Onion

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"Bongo" - Green Cheek Conure
"Chicken" - Sun Conure, rest in peace, my precious friend.
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6. The Honeymoon of Biting:orange:

My house at the time was small and I was renting it - it was owned by my father on his own land inherited from his father. The building had originally been built as a sewing and art studio. One room, no running water or bathroom, a dim light, and a newly installed AC/Heater unit, and I was delighted as could be. It was my Big Step towards gaining adult independence... woot woot! Windows on every side, a gorgeous view of the forest and pond and marshland outside, birds being noisy outside at all hours of the day, many in view of the windows...

And now I had somebirdy to share it with! the countryside was, and still is, my favorite place of residence, but a life of frequent traveling had landed me friends far and widespread, with few close to home.

(for those wondering about no bathroom or running water - I simply had to trudge my way up to the main house not that far away where my father lived. At least it wasn't five miles through hip-deep snow uphill both ways!)

I had been given so much advice about letting a new bird settle in for the first few days or week The first day he was home, I pretty much left Chicken to his own devices in his cage... for the first few hours.

I sat on the massive four-poster bed that took up nearly a quarter of the entire room, much to my annoyance, but I wasn't allowed to swap it for something smaller.

Trying to focus on the book I was reading, and later the chatroom with friends on my laptop, was proving difficult when I had a brightly colored avian I was dying to get to know.

I peeked over at him.

He stared unblinkingly back.

I tilted my head.

He leaned down, ducked his head, and made the strangest fluttering motions like he was about to take off! I blinked, and hoped he didn't try to fly yet - his wings were clipped, and it would be some time before they grew back, and I could begin training him for flight.

Chicken's vet appointment wasn't for another week, but I had scheduled it first thing after adopting him. I was already entertaining guesses from friends on his gender, though I was pretty confident in my guess he was a boy. To this day, I can't help but admit to feeling a bit smug that my first impressions were correct, against the many who assumed Chicken to be female.

I couldn't help it. I caved.

And shut went the laptop as I hopped off my bed to go see him. His cage was located at the opposite corner of the house... maybe ten feet away. The whole building was only about twenty by fifteen.

Bird stared at human, human stared at bird. Human decided it was time to work on his step-ups... And her biting tolerance.

I wasn't familiar with bird body language, and to this day am still learning new things every day. But right then, I had a niggling sense Chicken was pleased I had come over to him. First point goes to the bird for training his human!

However, once my hand entered into the cage, all bets were off. I had already learned from working with him at the rescue that Chicken was a very, very experienced biter... And very distrusting. A lot of birds will give you all kinds of warning signs - some more subtle than others - that they are going to bite you if you keep doing whatever it is you happen to be doing.

Chicken didn't do all that - he went right for biting, and man, did he know just how to twist his beak and stab his pointy little hookbill right onto your cuticle! He was a true finger demon.

So he was more than a bit miffed when I saw him opening his beak trying to lunge at me, and simply turned my hand and closed it in a fist, and let him strike at the back of my hand. He couldn't get at my fingers, and with my skin stretched taut, he couldn't easily pinch the flesh and cause more pain than a sharp pinch or draw any blood. I got a good scratch up, but I was feeling pretty good about how calm I was being.

I just smiled at him, and talked quietly. I waited until he stopped biting, and he sat back on his perch, fluffed up and still aggressive, but he'd backed off enough. I pulled my hand out, still talking to him, then picked up a towel. I placed it over my hand and offered it to him - and up hopped birdy boy.

Once out of his cage, he ceased to bite me, and it quickly became apparent where his favorite perch to be in the whole house was: my shoulder! Well... when I wasn't moving around too much.

For the first three days, Chicken tested me at every corner. He never bit at my face or ears, but he had a lot of misgivings about hands. I was expecting things to go on for quite some time - weeks, at the very least. It became oddly obvious to me, on a level of understanding I still don't today quite get how I came to grasp at the time, why Chicken would resort to biting me as he did - somewhere in his past, someone, or someones, had taught him that humans didn't listen to anything except a bite. Someone had clearly taught him that if he wanted to tell you he was scared, upset, or just didn't feel like being interactive, he'd have to btie you to make his message clear.

He was just so obviously taken aback when I began listening to him when he started telecasting he might bite me because he didn't want to do something, that I myself was a bit shocked. Once I figured that piece out... I made a point of showing Chicken that he was going to have something he had been obviously denied before: freedom of choice.

It started by leaving his cage door open. The first few days, he didn't seem to know what to do about it, and just stayed inside unless he was coaxed out.

On the same day he stopped biting me - come to think of it, I don't think I made that connection until now! - he had exited his cage of completely his own initiative, very slowly and cautiously.

After that... I had to take vet-wrap to the metal bars around the top of his dingy cage to make it more comfortable for his feet, for Chicken's favorite resting spot during the day quickly became being anywhere but inside his cage.

He'd step up daintily onto my hand when asked, and I'd set him inside for night.

Until one night, I fell asleep on accident, without having shut him in for the night.

And found a sleepy bird still dozing in his cage, door open, the following morning. It wasn't long in coming after that when the status quo came to leave his door open 24/7, so long as I was in the house with him. (I don't recommend that for most birds. I certainly cannot grant that privilege to Bongo, my current darling dear... If she had her way, she'd be trying to sleep with me in bed, and that'd be dangerous for her.)

Falling into a routine with Chicken was easier than I ever thought it was going to be. I'd gone in expecting and planning for the worst, only to be delighted by finding things falling into place as naturally as breathing.

It would not be for some time later when I came to realize just how much I depended on having him in my life, and how large a part of my days he became.

In the meantime... It was time to start training my little bird-boy to not only tolerate, but LOVE to travel, while we still had some warm weather left to enjoy!

:orange:
 

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