The Story of Henry and Maggie

bfjrbfjr Which Way Did They GoPosts: 10,980Registered Users Major grins
edited May 4, 2005 in The Big Picture
One of our fellow Dgriners (Sandy) on this thread:

http://www.dgrin.com/showthread.php?p=99145#post99145

asked if I could tell more about my parrots. So I thought I'd write this story. I hope it's not more then she wanted to know.

If you like please thank Sandy for prompting me :thumb
If you don't like it's all my fault.

So here goes, hang in there it has a happy ending :D
To tell this story we need to go back 14 yrs. Henry came to me literally left on my doorstep by a then employee who said he was moving and could not care for the bird.

Henry was totally featherless, except for his head which his beak could not reach. Quite funny actually. He paced and screamed almost constantly. He would lunge at anyone who dare approach his cage. He would not allow any contact at all, and it soon became apparent that perhaps I had bit off more then I could chew and Henry was ready to bite into me and chew on the remains!!

This began an odyssey of sort for me and I guess Henry as well. I began by trying to learn about parrots in general and Henry in particular. Henry began practicing his art of lunging, biting, blood letting, repeat. Every morning I tried in vain to come to some agreement with him and just change his food and water! And so this continued for at least 4 yrs. Some days seemed better, but mostly just status quo. Henry sharpening his beak and me doing my Bruce Lee impersonation (you know be quick) and being mainly unsuccessful.

What I learned about Henry was that he never was a pet. He was a wild caught male “Sulfur Crested Cockatoo” breeder, who lost his mate which brought on a complete mental breakdown. You see when you add this info to what I found out about parrots, it all started to jive. Parrots are very intelligent (about equivalent to 4 or 5 yr child) with this comes the down side, “Psychosis.” Being that his sole purpose up until that point was to breed, and then to loose his mate (being monogamous even in the wild) it’s seemed clear this then was his main problem. Oh and I learned that Cockatoos have a particular beak that can deliver one of the nastier bites of the parrot species, now this was something I knew 1st hand!!

I had made a promise to myself not to quite on this bird till the “Fat Lady Sang” and I must admit it came pretty close.

One day oh maybe now about 8yrs ago I was in a bike shop. I noticed the owner in the back playing with a most beautiful Cockatoo, feeding him by mouth, petting etc. My mind would not allow my mouth to stay shut and I began lamenting about the sad state of affairs between Henry and I. He looked up and said, “ever give him a bath”. No, I said can’t get him to come out of his cage. He said, “it’s going to be almost 100 tomorrow take his cage outside with him in it and try”. OK, I said I’ll try. Didn’t have much hope but I’ll try.

Well I never waited for the next day. I went straight home and dragged Henry, cage and all into the backyard, all the while Henry lunging and biting at me and my wife (who has stood by me always). I turned on the hose slowly, Henry went ballistic. I thought of quitting but persisted. Henry seemed to calm some, well at least he stopped screaming and lunging. I really don’t know what came over me but I started getting myself and my wife wet. We just started playing like kids in the water coming from that hose, I’d wet Henry then Laura then Me, then repeat. Well I got everything so wet that I slipped on the grass and fell flat on my butt, and then the most amazing thing, HENRY LAUGHED!! Yes Laughed I will swear to it!!

The next morning found me preparing for the usual blood letting. I opened Henry’s cage inserted my arm toward his food bowl, Henry didn’t move, what’s up here I thought, a new kill tactic!! I let my arm linger in his cage; he approached quite calmly for him. He walk over stepped up on my arm, and ever so gently began preening the tiny hairs there. I began screaming, “Laura, hurry you gotta see this!” Laura thinking the worst came in with Band-Aids can in hand, only to see me proudly standing with my Cockatoo sitting there on my arm, making little Cooo, Cooo sounds and preening my hair. I think the word I was looking for at the time was, Epiphany!!

Our final bonding came about a week later. Henrys new found attitude had gained him a place in the front room on an open perch, watching T.V. with Laura and I. One night we fell asleep in front of the boob tube (wonder why). I woke to find Henry sleeping on my chest with his head nestled between my neck and shoulder breathing in rhythm with the movment of my chest. What more can I say!

Maggie came to us a couple years later. She is hand raised by me and has been bonded to us and a joy from day one. Everything you would expect in a parrot. Henry and Maggie have been mates also since day one no explanation again here just the way it turned out. Good for me I think.

Henry remains a feather picker and I think always will. He is no longer violent to anyone and dances, sings, laughs in general in good spirits. I consider this a win for me and him.

Some people might argue that I failed at curing his ills, but I would quickly point out that he is a happy well adjusted feather picker!

Well That’s our story and were stickin to it.


Saddly photography did not come to me till after these incidents occurred, but if you would like to see recent shots, they can by found here


http://bfjr.smugmug.com/gallery/475443/1/15669474

Comments

  • wholenewlightwholenewlight Press Any Key Posts: 1,529Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 3, 2005
    great story and great pics too.
    john w

    I knew, of course, that trees and plants had roots, stems, bark, branches and foliage that reached up toward the light. But I was coming to realize that the real magician was light itself.
    Edward Steichen

  • KhaosKhaos Mr. Creative Pants Posts: 2,435Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 3, 2005
    Great story Ben.thumb.gif


    My admiration and respect for giving such good care. Sadly, too many people mistreat or ditch pets if they ever become troublesome.

    We give Coco baths everyday. Sometimes more than one if she's in a cranky mood. It helps calm her down. It must of been the greatest thrill in the world after all these years to finally have some affection back from the animal you unselfishly cared for.

    Again, thanks for sharing a great story.

  • SusanBSusanB Major grins Posts: 281Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 4, 2005
    Inspiring story! I had a Nanday Conure that everyone else hated because of his loud squaking when someone got in his space. He lived to be 26 years old. Back to Henry, I assume that you have likely had the opportunity to take Henry to an avian vet to double check for skin parasite/endocrine/viral things that might contribute to his feather picking, things that I have found to contribute to such clinical signs, as well as psychological. Either way, he has a lot more feathers than when he first showed up and is adorable! Henry and Maggie are wonderful together and have true love for each other. Thanks for the very moving story.


    Susan
  • NirNir Major grins Posts: 1,400Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 4, 2005
    Ben, thanks! Enjoyed the story of Henry and Maggie!
    __________________

    Nir Alon

    images of my thoughts
  • 4labs4labs Major grins Posts: 2,089Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 4, 2005
    Ben thnxs for sharing this great story. I am glad Henry finally came around and I admire what you for sticking with him. I think you will get a smile at my only experience with birds. Before I met my wife I dated a girl whose father was a vet. Among his many animals was an African grey parrot. Well my girlfriends Dad and Mom didn't exactly get along. One night I was staying over and about two Am I hear this terrible arguing. Yelling and screaming. I get off the couch and being my nosey self go see what all the racket is. Turns out it is just the bird repeating what it hears. F-you Mike F-you Linda and on on and. Needless to say my friends parents were divorced shortly after. The bird ended up at teh vets office and went on repeating the fights for quite awhile. I am sure the patients got a big laugh out of it.
  • SandySandy Major grins Posts: 762Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 4, 2005
    bfir, what a wonderful story, thank you for sharing it with me and the board. I have a lot of experience with birds, and it is almost impossible to stop the feather picking. I admire the dedication that you and your wifes had to a bird with abusive behavior. I had a situation that did not end as happily and will tell you the story in a private message. As they say "go on ya" for a generous and loving heart.
  • bfjrbfjr Which Way Did They Go Posts: 10,980Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 4, 2005
    great story and great pics too.
    Thanks
    glad you enjoyed thumb.gif
  • bfjrbfjr Which Way Did They Go Posts: 10,980Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 4, 2005
    Khaos wrote:
    Great story Ben.thumb.gif


    My admiration and respect for giving such good care. Sadly, too many people mistreat or ditch pets if they ever become troublesome.

    We give Coco baths everyday. Sometimes more than one if she's in a cranky mood. It helps calm her down. It must of been the greatest thrill in the world after all these years to finally have some affection back from the animal you unselfishly cared for.

    Again, thanks for sharing a great story.
    No greater compliment can one Man expect from another Man, then to give his respect !!
    And I know you know what the deal is with these great birds thumb.gif
    Yeah, I should give baths more.
  • bfjrbfjr Which Way Did They Go Posts: 10,980Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 4, 2005
    SusanB wrote:
    Inspiring story! I had a Nanday Conure that everyone else hated because of his loud squaking when someone got in his space. He lived to be 26 years old. Back to Henry, I assume that you have likely had the opportunity to take Henry to an avian vet to double check for skin parasite/endocrine/viral things that might contribute to his feather picking, things that I have found to contribute to such clinical signs, as well as psychological. Either way, he has a lot more feathers than when he first showed up and is adorable! Henry and Maggie are wonderful together and have true love for each other. Thanks for the very moving story.


    Susan

    Hi Susan
    Thank you for your time, and suggestions. I have had done the most common tests, and he comes back clean. He really has never (knock on wood) had a physically sick day and never been even off his food. In many ways I had it easy. Many of these birds can get much much worse, I know.
  • bfjrbfjr Which Way Did They Go Posts: 10,980Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 4, 2005
    Nir wrote:
    Ben, thanks! Enjoyed the story of Henry and Maggie!


    Hi Nir
    very glad you enjoyed thumb.gif
  • bfjrbfjr Which Way Did They Go Posts: 10,980Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 4, 2005
    4labs wrote:
    Ben thnxs for sharing this great story. I am glad Henry finally came around and I admire what you for sticking with him. I think you will get a smile at my only experience with birds. Before I met my wife I dated a girl whose father was a vet. Among his many animals was an African grey parrot. Well my girlfriends Dad and Mom didn't exactly get along. One night I was staying over and about two Am I hear this terrible arguing. Yelling and screaming. I get off the couch and being my nosey self go see what all the racket is. Turns out it is just the bird repeating what it hears. F-you Mike F-you Linda and on on and. Needless to say my friends parents were divorced shortly after. The bird ended up at teh vets office and went on repeating the fights for quite awhile. I am sure the patients got a big laugh out of it.

    :lol4
    Yes the famous or infamous Amazon gray. One of the smartest of the species. Why is it they always seem to learn those no no words 1st :wow :lol.

    thanks for reading Henry's little story, and thanks for the return one thumb.gif
  • bfjrbfjr Which Way Did They Go Posts: 10,980Registered Users Major grins
    edited May 4, 2005
    Sandy wrote:
    bfir, what a wonderful story, thank you for sharing it with me and the board. I have a lot of experience with birds, and it is almost impossible to stop the feather picking. I admire the dedication that you and your wifes had to a bird with abusive behavior. I had a situation that did not end as happily and will tell you the story in a private message. As they say "go on ya" for a generous and loving heart.

    Sandy I really want to thank you for putting it in my head to write this. I really enjoyed going thru those memories again, quite Cathartic (sp?) indeed thumb.gif.

    Silly me I even read it to Henry & Maggie :D
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