Acquired: Pet store
California, United States
Posted Jan 09, 2014
Mateus was my first bird after becoming an adult. I was a homemaker at the time, not spending a great deal of time writing yet and I was expecting my first baby. My military husband thought it would be a great pet since he didn't think that a bird required as much care as dogs.
Birds like the sound of my voice (along with other animals) so I've had pretty good luck with training and taming them. I'm also dysfunctionally patient when I want something. I would sit in front of the cage and talk with him until he became comfortable with me. Then slowly I'd introduce the open cage door with me in front of it so he couldn't come out unless he wasn't worried about me. If Mateus didn't come out on his own, I'd put my hand in by degrees until he let me pet him. These birds have sharp beaks with some fantastic pressure poundage per square inch and I have my share of scars from owning parrots over the years to prove it.
Once tamed, Mateus loved being taught tricks, such as: fetch, nodding, voicing on command and "go to bed" where he would return to his cage. On his own, he picked up various sounds around the house and was my first bird that imitated the phone so clearly, I fell for answering it all the time.
These birds like to throw their seed husks around as they dig for fresh seeds. And because he loved to ride on my shoulder, I had to put a cloth there or forever wear the consequences. It's important to keep their cages clean and bathe them occasionally (I did it once a week) by placing a bowl of water in their cage for them to enjoy or, as in Mateus's case, I'd put the bowl on the kitchen counter and he knew what to do.
Later he became obsessed with the shower and we placed a little perch in there so the torrent from the shower head didn't wash him to the bottom of the shower. That way he could dip into the spray bouncing off me and my poor shoulders no longer suffered claw marks from Mateus trying to hold on.
His most famous trick was what we called, "The American Eagle". That was when he stretched up to the tips of his claws, spread his wings like the American Eagle pose you sometimes see, and start waving his head around to get everyone's attention. You ignored him at your own risk. Once, a young navy man came over to give my husband a ride into work. The kid was a newbie, looked uncomfortable with people he didn't know and parked himself on the couch to wait for my husband with his head and eyes down. Mateus loved company - as long as they didn't ignore him. I was folding clothes on the dining table and saw The American Eagle stance out of the corner of my eye. Mateus's wing span had never been wider, his body never so taunt at that moment, his head swiveling faster then fans at a pro tennis match, but still, the stranger had not noticed him. I was about to say something when Mateus jumped into the air and, with claws baring down like he was going in for the kill, Mateus cawed at the top of his little lungs. The kid looked up and saw what mice see before they die and he covered his head and screamed like a girl. I never get tired of that memory.
The trick I never taught Mateus but that he learned on his own had to do with love of shiny things. He constantly tugged at my wedding ring so I went out and but him shiny junk jewelry rings - ten in all. I'd place them on the table when he wanted all of my attention and I had to do something like wash dishes or make dinner. Mateus would scatter the rings by flying at them. Then he would walk around and pick them up, delivering them back to the center of the table. This would take awhile. As soon as all the rings were back, he'd fly into them again and repeat the process. And that smart bird KNEW how many rings he had. If you took one and hid it, he'd look at that pile, walk around it like he was counting, and then start squawking until i gave it back. I could never get one passed him.
When we got transferred from California to Michigan, we had no idea how the weather change would affect Mateus. Though it killed us, we found a wonderful lady who had a huge bird atrium with various birds to take him for us. He clicked with her immediately and we knew we had made the right choice. I think about him even to this day.