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This is the ONLY official 'Sally Blanchard', "Companion Parrot", "Companion Parrots", etc. website that is related to Sally Blanchard and her information. Any other website using the Sally Blanchard, Companion Parrot, Bongo Marie, Spikey LeBec, and/or Pet Bird Report name is in no way associated with Sally Blanchard. Any information on any other site whether it is parrot information, behavior recommendations or product promotion is neither approved nor sanctioned by Sally Blanchard without written permission.
 

 

 As most readers know, I love hearing stories about parrots and I love to tell them! I will add more stories to this section of the website. If you have a great parrot story, I would love to read it!
 
PIGGY BACK COCKATOO

I was called to do a consultation with a woman who had decided to "double her pleasure, double her fun" with two cockatoo babies, a Moluccan and an Umbrella who were about the same age. She had called to get the best information about raising her birds properly so she wouldn't have "double trouble" too. Both bappies were full of energy and had already started to take over the household. During the consultation, the interaction between the two 'toos was the most fun to watch. At one point, the Moluccan was stubbornly hogging the the food dish on their playgym. The Umbrella wanted something to eat too but despite all of his efforts, the bigger bird would not budge. Finally, the clever Umbrella solved the problem by simply climbing on the Moluccan's back who just let the Umbrella hang off of his shoulder to get a snack. For a moment the combination looked like a rare hybrid mutation: a two-headed cockatoo.  

WHITE AND FLUFFY LAUNDRY

by Karyn Amaral
I hate doing laundry, so I avoid it until I have no choice. My kids were at their dad’s for the weekend and I knew I had to attack the ever growing piles. I laundered, folded and stacked the clothes on the couch until it all but disappeared. Finally, the kid’s laundry was put away in their rooms but I just sat mine on the bed and went to finish another load. As I was working, I had glanced at the birds and they all seemed happy playing on their cages. After all, when Bianca my 11 month old umbrella cockatoo goes exploring, Gidget, my noble macaw, hollers from across the room “NO NO BONK! BONK, NO! MOMMY! She has learned well from the kids. It took me a few minutes to realize that everything was too quiet. I hurried into my room to find Gidget and Ariel, my citron-crested cockatoo still on their cages but Bianca had disappeared. “BIANCA!” I yelled furiously. Before I panicked, my eyes hit the bed where my neatly folded clothes had been ransacked. As I called her name, she popped her white head up from the deepest center of the mess with her crest all askew. Her body was completely hidden. “HI!” she greeted cheerfully, obviously proud of her handiwork. My anger melted and together, albeit slowly, we resorted and folded that dam laundry.

 
AN ADROIT GAUCHE 'TOO

By Sally Blanchard

Many companion parrot lovers have observed that their birds consistently use the same foot to pick up and hold their food or toys. It appears that most of them use their left foot. Last fall, an article in National Wildlife magazine by Doug Stewart mentioned the left-footedness of the glossy black cockatoo. According to the article, “About 90 percent of humans are right-handed, and until recently, scientists thought our species alone had such a pronounced preference for one side over the other. But recent studies have turned up evidence of “handedness” in some other species. And now University of Michigan biologist John W. Pepper reports that a species of cockatoo, a kind of parrot, appears to be 100-percent left-footed.”


The article continues, “Pepper studies an endangered population of glossy black cockatoos on Australia’s Kangaroo Island. The birds perch in casuarina trees, where they spend most of their waking hours feeding on small seed cones.” Pepper stales, “They always hold the seed cone with the left foot while standing on their right foot and ripping the cone apart with their bill.” The article states that Pepper’s research team observed 27 cockatoos devour 1,382 seed cones over several months. Only once did a bird handle a cone with its right foot. “That particular bird was young,” Pepper says. “She may just have been goofy.”

Mr. Stewart reports that “biologists have speculated that the human preference for one side or the other is linked to our brain’s specialization for either speech or fine motor ability, if not both. And wouldn’t you know it: Cockatoos are skillful vocal mimics, and they are remarkably adroit, so to speak, with those big left feet.”

While
the Glossy Cockatoo is rare in captivity, we could have told the scientists all about our parrots being left-footed if they had just asked us. 
 
PRE-WORK COCKATOO GAME

Most cockatoos don't like to be left and it is not uncommon for them to balk at going back into their cages when their caregivers are leaving for work. Some carry the game to extremes by hanging off of the back of their cages against the wall. Of course, the more frustrated the person becomes the more intensely the cockatoo plays the game. One woman reported to me that the moment she was ready to leave for work and her 'too knew he had to go back into his cage, he jumped off of his stand and ran into the bedroom to hide under the bed. She had to get down on her hands and knees and reach under the bed to retrieve him and of course he was difficult to catch. The more upset she became the more fun he had. Finally she would drag him out from under the bed and he would laugh hysterically. Of course, the best way for her to stop the game was to put him back in his cage while she was getting ready ... perhaps at a different stage of readiness each morning.
 

FALSE ALARM

By Katy McElroy  

(Illustration by Jeff Riebe)   

My friend Sam, a Moluccan cockatoo, is definitely not a creature of the great outdoors. He loves sunning himself in a hornbeam tree near the front porch, exchanging loud, cheerful insults with the cockatoos in the outdoor flights. But let there be a few drops of rain, a gust of wind or a cloud of gnats, (Sam hates bugs) and he’s ready to come inside. Right now! If I can’t rescue him soon enough, he climbs down out of the tree, up the porch steps, over the sleeping dogs and begins chewing on the screen door.
 
Sometime yesterday afternoon I realized that I hadn’t heard Sam for a while. I glanced out the window and saw him standing near the base of his tree, holding one foot gingerly up off the ground, looking thoroughly miserable. When he saw me he tried to take a step, but immediately pulled the foot back up as if walking was too painful to contemplate.

I imagined the worst, of course. The poor bird had fallen out of the tree and broken his leg in a million places. He’d be in a body cast for weeks and his owner would never forgive me.

I hurried outside and knelt beside him.

Sam, the big, sweet wuss, had been stopped in his tracks; grossed out by the mucky green goose poop that he had stepped in on his way to the house.

 

DAD’S HAD ENOUGH!

By Nancy Boudreau

A grand experiment is taking place in our household. My husband and I share the responsibility and pleasure of raising the youngsters of our tame pair of Umbrella cockatoos. This illustration shows Roscoe, the Dad who is perfectly tame and handleable, and his youngster literally going through the motions of weaning. Both adult birds and my husband and I simultaneously participated in the duties of parenting: feeding, brooding, and cleaning. There were even times when the babies would be in our arms while Roscoe, sitting on one of our shoulders would lean down to feed the little ones.

At this point, Roscoe has had enough and refuses the grownup babies begging for food with a shove in the chest. His actions confirm our decisions on hand-feeding – it is time that this chick is eating on his own.

 

COCKATOO, SQUIRREL, OR SQUIRRELY COCKATOO?!

By Sharon Keagle

Gabby is my 2 year old pet Goffins cockatoo. She seems to be having an identity problem. She has the amusing habit of hiding food and pellets. I have found pieces of food crammed in the hems of my kitchen curtains, into her cholla cactus toys, in crevices of her perches and she even wraps them in the down feathers on her back. I was alarmed the first time I found these while petting her. I thought she was covered with scabs! I recently bought her a food toy which has empty chambers that I fill with treats for her to empty. After she empties them, she refills them with cage floor debris (empty nut and seed shells and broken pieces of pellets.)

It seems as if Gabby has also been thinking of holding a clinic for feather pickers. Whenever she loses a feather or piece of down due to molting, she promptly picks it up and puts it back -- flight feathers where they belong and tail feathers in their correct spot. Shell also pick up pieces of wool from my sweater and put them in her feathers. This tends to make her very colorful! Could this be adaptation to life in the Buffalo area during our famous winters? I guess Gabby’s basic philosophy must be: Waste Not - Want Not!!

 

NARCISSISTIC COCKATOO

by Sally Blanchard

In my travels I get to meet some delightful parrots. Su Egen’s Umbrella cockatoo, Siva is one such bird. Su started singing part of an old 60’s rock song to him when he was a “bappy”. She didn’t know the whole song just enough to sing “Do ya love me?” with an emphasis on the “love me,’ Then she would sing “1 love you” to finish the song. Siva loves this song and of course, talking parrots, as if to amuse themselves, like to make up their own versions. Anyone who has been around an enthusiastic Umbrella cockatoo knows that they are expressive birds. It is an Umbrella trait to bounce on one foot, repetitively stretching their body as high as it will go. Often there will be a vocal outburst as they reach the apex of their leap. Sometimes it is a scream - but in Siva’s case, it is a “narcissistic serenade”. Each bounce is accentuated with high vibrato, “I love meeee, I love meee!, I love mee!” with an added punctuation of “Love me, Love me, Love me, Love me! ‘ He sings his song of self-admiration whenever he is happy and delights in singing it directly into the ear of anyone who allows him to sit on their shoulder. Siva also presents his a capella performance for the entire neighborhood when he joins the Egens for their daily walks with the dogs.


DESTROYER OF TEDDY BEARS

By Nancy Boudreau

Being perpetually short of cash, I’m always on the lookout for inexpensive entertainment for my birds. Garage sales and yard sales sometimes yield a treasure or two and this weekend I discovered something that my pets really love in a disturbing way: teddy bears

Like the “Velveteen Rabbit.” I imagine all tag sale teddy bears once belonged to a child who spend a lot of time hugging his hear and dragging it around like an imaginary friend. I see that bear tucked into bed, fending off nightmares with his beloved presence. Naturally the child would grow up into forgetfulness and the bear eventually be relegated to the closet along with many other toys.

One day with the child away, Mom decides to clean house. She dumps Teddy and friends into a cardboard box in her front yard where on a summer weekend I find them. Mom collects her quarter handing over Teddy envisioning some poor child cherishing this stuffed critter as her own once had.

Well back home an excited cockatoo’s eyes light up as teddy makes his debut. My beloved pet snatches the little bear up hops away with and marches off to examine her prize in private. How sweet. I go about my business in the kitchen while she sits on the back of a chair turning the plush creature over and over.
 
“So how is it going?” I bend over the cockatoo in a motherly way. She pauses and I notice that among other damage,
Teddy now has only one eye and a half a nose. My wonderful pet has managed to mutilate this stuffed creature in ways the manufacturer thought impossible Child proof does not mean cockatoo-proof, that’s for sure. Poor Teddy!

 

What Would She Do With a Tube of Toothpaste?

Molly, a large Moluccan Cockatoo who lives with Gail Goldman, has a strange way of eating her pellets, veggies, fruit and other soft foods.  She stuffs and jams as much of them as possible into her rubber Kong toy. Then, carefully holding onto the toy, she hobbles up to the perch on the top of her cage. Once there, she holds her cornucopia up to her beak and eats her meal by power squeezing portions out of the toy a little at a time.

 

BALANCING ACT

Jeremy, a lesser sulfur-crested cockatoo owned by Gordon King has an unusual and entertaining habit. She grabs a beak full of pellets and climbs up to the top of her playgym. Then one by one, she precariously balances each piece on her shoulder next to the top of her wing. She is very deliberate about their position and may change them from place to place before she seems satisfied. Jeremy also tucks the pellets inside her wing and holds them there. Then she may decide to transfer them to the other wing, losing several in the process. Jeremy also balances several items including other food, sticks, and toys that seem too heavy to stay on her shoulder. Sometimes she will climb laboriously to the top of her playgym with all of her ‘loot’ and then drop it all only to climb down; collect more ‘stuff’ and climb back up to repeat the process. Jeremy can occupy herself for hours with this activity.

 
 
DAISY AND THE ACORN WOODPECKER
Sometimes I feel like a nut ... maybe an Acorn? 
     Acorn woodpeckers are famous for the fact that they drill holes in trees to store the acorns. They are a fairly common bird in California oak forests. Sometimes a birdwatcher can find many trees with thousands of acorns placed there by these woodpeckers. They will also store their acorns in telephone poles, wooden buildings, fence posts and even automobile radiators. Their granaries are quite visible and several other birds, including the local jays rob the acorns.
    About a decade ago, I visited Chris Shank near Grass Valley, California. She had a trained multiple species flock of free-flying cockatoos. She taught the majority of the 'toos to accept her as "flock-leader" and to stay within the territory of her large yard. In the late afternoon she would round them all up to get them in their aviaries for the night. Daisy was a Triton cockatoo that didn't always follow all of the rules. One of her favorite past times was to rob acorns from the local acorn woodpecker's stash.  The 85 gram, 9 inch woodpecker was no match for the Triton cockatoo. They can weigh in at close to 700 grams and can be 18 inches from tail to beak. As much as the 'too was attacked by the woodpecker trying to save its stash, Daisy just kept eating acorns.
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