When I enter the room to visit Oscar, he immediately appears pleased, raising his crest and looking alert. He often reaches the front of his cage just as I arrive there and stretches his foot out through the bars to grab onto my extended finger. Once he’s perched on it, he then reaches with his other foot to grab onto my arm or wrist. He sits staring at me and unintelligibly (for the most part) answers my questions as we catch up on the time that has past since my previous visit. He clearly reminds me, though, that he’s a “pretty bird.” This greeting has lengthened over the last five years that I have cared for Oscar—a large white cockatoo.
Oscar is one of the first parrots I came to know. For many years we had parakeets in our home, but it has been the interaction with these large birds that has caused me to become fascinated with parrots. I am always happy when someone calls to ask me to care for one. Although these visits do tend to put a kink in my pet visit schedule—I linger a bit longer than I should with these feathered creatures.
I find them to be very intelligent and interactive. When I look into to their eyes as I talk, I believe they are paying attention to what I’m saying. I wonder if it is because of their ability to fly or because their physicality is so different than ours that makes them so interesting to watch and spend time with?
If we didn’t already have two dogs and a cat, I would pester my husband to allow me to have a parrot–and if I were 30 years younger. These birds require a lifetime of commitment. A cockatoo, such as Oscar, can live from 40 to 60 years (and the larger the bird, the longer they can live).
I suppose my visits to other people’s parrots will just have to get longer.