Introducing Strawberry…

As the previous posts on communal housing make pretty clear, I’m a big fan of having at least two parrots of each genus or species in my household, and if possible, housing them together.

When I brought home my first parrots, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. Around the same time, there was a beautiful movie released about the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a flock of mostly cherry headed conures (Psittacara erythrogenys, previously Aratinga erythrogenys). The local rescue had several of the unreleasable wild birds for adoption, and I even asked about one to find he was already adopted. I did get to meet several of them and thought they were just a really neat species.

And then I moved to Canada, where cherry heads are really, really rare. 9 years pass… :)

In March of 2013, a male, untame, unknown age, mostly naked, former breeder cherry headed conure was being rehomed. He came home with us, and for whatever reason (likely due to not taking the camera downstairs as often as I should), his story doesn’t get told on this blog as much. It’s a wonderful story.

We were told Radish wouldn’t play with toys, wouldn’t eat a healthy diet, and was completely untame. When I met him, he spent most of the time lunging at the cage bars. Two years later, with a great deal of patience mostly on my better half’s part, he’s in perfect health, eats a very healthy, varied diet, destroys toys constantly, and has learned to target, is working on stepping up on a perch, and will fly to places on cue. He is a very happy parrot and a lot of fun to work with.

But he’s alone… and a weird size. Most conures for sale in Canada are Pyrrhuras or the yellow-based Aratingas (suns, jendays, gold capped). I was keeping my eye out on kijiji and other rehoming places to see if there were any larger conures that needed a home, but figured it was a long term problem to solve.

Wednesday of this past week, I was looking at Facebook as usual, and saw that The Parrot Hotel had shared a post about two parrots about an hour away who needed rehoming. One of them was a 18 – 22 year old plucked cherry head conure. I nearly sprained something emailing for more details, and went to meet her (?) on Thursday. I’m sure no one is surprised to know she’s now up in my bathroom in quarantine.

Strawberry was purchased from a local aviary roughly twenty years ago, and lived with one family her entire life. She hasn’t been DNA sexed, so she may be a him, but we both feel like she’s female. (If she’s a him, he’ll be Berry for short. :)) Her previous owner had to rehome her birds due to health issues. Strawberry has been cage-bound for a few years due to some rough handling by the owner’s husband, who has now passed away.

She’s pretty plucked, but has a few tufts of down that suggest that she may be able to regrow a little bit of fluff in the belly region. Her diet wasn’t optimal, and she is quite overweight and out of shape.

She won’t step up onto bare hands, but will step up onto a hand covered in a towel, and is very happy to get head scratches and preen people’s hair. She talks, although the words aren’t so clear, and is just considering playing with toys.

We’re currently supplementing her diet with fruit puree and handfeeding formula to hopefully get some good nutrition in her as she shifts to eating pellets from her predominantly sunflower seed diet. Her beak is a little overgrown, but not terrible. In these pictures, as you can see pretty clearly, it’s stained with berry juice. :)

She is a super, duper sweet bird who I think will come around and be quite hand tame in a very short period of time. Once she goes to the vet next week and all the results come in clear (including DNA for our own curiosity), she’ll be introduced to Radish, which I think will go very, very well.

How I managed to find two cherry heads in Canada is beyond me, but I could not be happier about it.

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