by Sandra Gallimore, Guest Blogger
Intoducing Shine with a bone the size of his head.
Parrots love bones to chew on, and Shine is no exception. He loves to gnaw. and it's good for his beak, plus keeps him occupied.
Shine was born January 8, 1998 making him 15 years old, and I have had him for 14 of those years. He was born on Elvis Presley's birthday so it looks like they would have named him Elvis -- but they chose Sunshine. He's just happy with 'Shine' though, and he does shine when his winning personality comes through.
I have been lucky, as Shine's friend, to be able to work all that time at home before I retired. He has not had constant attention in these years, but much more than the average parrot would have with working owners, so there are many bored and lonely parrots in the world . I think it affects being happy or unhappy and how long they live.
It took Shine a while to start talking, but then I was surprised to learn he had been listening all along! Shine has a large and varied vocabulary, including sentences when he so desires. Some of these are as follows: "I want to go outside and see birds", "I want to go for a walk", "how's my boy?, "I want a chip", "Get outta here!"(to the dogs and cats), together with phrases such as "come on", "go on", "stop", "quit", "scratch my head", and many more.
While it is true that most birds and parrots mimic what they hear, it is also true that they learn. As an example, I think of when my husband and I would run to get Shine when he flew into a wall or window. "Are you all right?" we would ask and see if he was. One day I was in the kitchen and a lower cabinet door was open. When I turned around, I hit my leg on it and yelled. When I did, Shine yelled "Are you all right?"
I love that story. So as smart as he is an owner must realize that a parrot, especially a Grey, has the mental age of only about a 2 1/2 years old. So he has moods and little patience and a short attention span.
Recently, I had Shine outside for fresh air. Somehow he had gotten out of his smaller cage and had flown away. Of course, I was in a panic. Birds in captivity cannot care for themselves -- may not find food or water, and many die. So it is of the utmost importance to start looking for them immediately --just as it would be for a child. Time is the enemy of a lost animal or child. We started immediately, first looking up and down the highway in front of our house to see if he had been hit, as he would have flown low. But no Shine. To make a long story short, we looked all day until dark with no luck. Too many trees and too much noise. So I spent the night having to think the worst.
I started again at first light the next day. I went back for the third time to an area I felt he might have gone as it was a straight flight path from our house. Just as we gave up and pulled away, a lady came running from her house. "I have it --I have it!" she yelled. And she did! Her family had done yard work until dark that day before, and when they went in her little boy said: "Mom, there's a big bird on the porch!" The lady went out, and it seems she looked enough like me that Shine immediately walked over to her and climbed on her shoulder to her surprise. Then her husband said 'That bird belongs to someone if it came to you." So the family made a makeshift cage and tried to care for him all night. When she saw us looking she knew we were looking for him. Needless to say, Shine came home unscathed after his night on the town -- and the next day I treated that family to pizza and ice cream!
As I am older I must plan ahead for Shine when I am no longer able to care for him. He will live another 30 or 40 years. Since he is pretty much a one person bird, I am going to try to find him a bird sanctuary since he knows birds are like him. So one day, if you happen to see many birds together you just might hear them say to each other, "Are you all right?"