About three and a half years ago, I stopped by the bird room at the MSPCA Adoption Center to look for a companion for my lonely female cockatiel. There were several birds of all shapes and sizes available. I noticed a large cage full of cockatiels that were available. Upon checking in with the staff, I learned that the group of cockatiels was surrendered because the former owner had too many animals and was not taking proper care of them. The MSPCA’s Law Enforcement department convinced the owner to sign them over to the Adoption Center’s care. These birds were never allowed out of their small cage.
I noticed a cute gray male with big brown eyes-he was the loudest one of the bunch, too. I took him home and introduced him to his new companion.
My home is a ‘bird’ home and my cockatiels are allowed out of their cage when I am there. I was a bit concerned to see how Oliver would react to being free. Thankfully he sat quietly on top of his cage and surveyed the room he was in. He was nervous of things and would fly around if he was startled. His wings were clipped so he didn’t go far. I would scoop him up and place him back on his cage. Over time, he grew accustomed to the routine of my home and he loved his mate, Raya.
Oliver loves to sing and quickly learned to whistle the ‘wolf call’. He whistles it over and over, putting different emphasis on each note. It is quite comical because he holds his shoulders out as he whistles. He also mimics one of the Cardinals outside and often makes up his own songs.
Over the next few months, I would often feel guilty for not making an effort to hand-train Oliver. I spent time with both birds but did not focus solely on Oliver. Raya was hand-trained and I would take her for her ‘bath’ when I took my shower. Oliver would complain but settle down after a few minutes.
One morning while I was performing the daily cleaning and feeding, Oliver came over to my face and was curious about my hair. He gently reached over, took a strand of hair in his beak and gently preened it. I was amazed that he was curious about me and over the next few weeks he would ask to touch my hair or my face. Thankfully he was gentle.
Soon after, on one of Raya’s bath times, I asked her to step up on my finger. Oliver ran over and he looked like he wanted to come too. I put my finger up and asked him to step up. Without hesitation, up he stepped and came with Raya to sit on the shower curtain rod. Oliver has progressed so much every day since. He is now completely hand-trained and can be taken to any place in the house. He now comes in the shower with me-he still is unsure about it but humors me. He really loves to be sprayed while he is on his cage- immediately poofing his feathers and raising his wings. Then he dances in the mist, getting every feather wet.
Recently, Oliver’s mate suddenly passed away and we were all devastated. He would call loudly for her at times. Again, I made the visit to the MSPCA’s bird room. As luck would have it, there was a cute pair of curious female cockatiels available. Now Oliver is teaching the new girls about life outside of their cage and serenading them frequently.
Over the past decade, I have only adopted my pet birds. There are so many unwanted pet birds given up every week-many of them have lots of potential, all they need is quality time and the opportunity to learn to trust you. If you make the decision to share your life with a bird, please adopt!
-Pam Nixon, Assistant Barn Manager, MSPCA at Nevins Farm