Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The first Timneh babies

The water is washing against the shore with only a light breeze. It was hot taking the dogs for their early am walk so we didn't go far, just to the church garbage. A 5 bag day - 4 from my dogs and 1 of some unseen other dog - thanks for picking up norton (not the first word to come to mind…).

I may be getting some of these memories out of order, it was so long ago that the timeline is a little faded.


One evening in the early spring of 1996 we noticed that Oscar, the female of our pair of African Grey Timnehs, didn't come out of the nestbox when we "did the bird room". We lured her out with a walnut and quickly peeked in. One lovely white egg cradled by wood shavings glowed in the nest box. To say we were excited was an understatment. But it is a long time from laying to hatching so we tried not to get our hopes up too high. Over the next few days 2 more eggs appeared. We'd been waiting for this for 1 1/2 years but the next 28 days seem like the longest.

Every day we checked the nestbox to make sure nothing had happened to the eggs, until one day, after what seemed like an eternety, a tiny, naked chick took the place of one of the eggs. It was barely the size of my pinky - it seemed impossible that Oscar and Felix would be able to take care of this fragile being. Two days later there was a sibling and another two days after that the third egg was cracked open.

The parents cared for thier precious offering for 2 weeks, at which point we removed the chicks from the nest to hand-rear them. Hand-raised parrots make the best pets since their very first memories are everything human. Caring for bappies (baby parrots) from a young age is a lot of work. They must be fed every 2 to 3 hours from early morning to late at night. Special parrot pablum has to be made, their little nests need to be cleaned, they need to be kept warm until they fledge, they must be carefully weaned onto adult food, and they must be handled and socialized.

Feeding every 3 hours meant that I had to 'sneak' them into work with me. Their little clear plastic container sat on a heating pad tucked onto a shelf under my desk. I fed them during my breaks, carrying them and all their feeding and cleaning stuff to the ladies bathroom. I could do it fairly discretely - many women didn't even notice (this wouldn't be the case a few years later with the Blue & Gold macaws - they created a huge stir)! As they grew and became more aware of their surroundings they'd raise their cute little faces, looking up at me as I worked at my desk.  Spending so much time caring for something so helpless made me fall in love. They were darlings.

As it happens to all children, they grow up and it becomes time for them to leave the house. The same is true for bappies. The first chick to be claimed was Cato, the oldest of the bunch. A nice family came to see them a few weeks before they were ready to go, and when the time came, returned to make their choice. Carm was in charge of this transaction as I was at work. When he called to tell me which chick had been chosen I sat at my desk and cried. She was my favorite. There is always something good to come from the bad: her new owner, Ruth, has become a close friend.

The other two chicks went to their new homes not long after. There were more tears for each departure, but that's part of the job - if I'm doing it right.

Our goal was to raise happy, well-adjusted parrots and we had succeeded with our first clutch. We were pretty happy.


Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.  ~Steve Maraboli