Acquired: Bred bird myself
Florida, United States
Posted May 29, 2015
I pulled my bird from the nest box at 2 days old, along with another hatch-ling from the same clutch. The parent birds were not feeding them. I looked at the underside of their wings and saw no bars, so assumed they were both females and named them Thelma and Louise. I worked for a resort/residential community at the time in their aviary. Thelma and Louise needed to be hand fed and came home with me and kept me awake more than an infant would. Eventually, they were feathered out and weaned and I returned them to the trailer/office I shared with the curator of birds. It was a very cold, for Florida, winter and we had to leave the heater on for the 6 birds that resided there at the time. Overnight, the power went out. When I arrived for work the next morning, most of the birds were cold, but okay. Thelma had died and "Louise" was in very bad shape. I did what I had been trained to do for birds in distress. I warmed some Gatorade and gave some to the bird from an eyedropper. This was the first time I saved this bird's life. I kept an eye on "her" for a little while and being that I needed to care for the outdoor flights of birds, I checked the thermostat and felt that the office was warm enough. When I returned from the outdoor aviary, the power had gone out again and once more, "Louise" was at death's door. Once again, heated Gatorade. For good measure, I tucked "her" inside my sweatshirt. Let's count. This was the second time I saved "Louise's" life. At this point, the curator suggested that I take "Louise" home. That later became permanent.
I gave "Louise" a spacious cage and spent a lot of time socializing "her" and building up a pet/owner relationship. Every morning on the way to work, I would stop and say "Hi Louise". Then one day, "Louise" said "Hi Louise". This was a little shocking because only male Cockatiels speak and whistle. Now "Louise" was "Louie".
Louie was a very sweet, affectionate little bird. I was and still am extremely fond of him and he WAS fond of me. Until Connie came along. Connie was a Cockatiel that had been rescued from a window ledge and could no longer be cared for by the man that had saved her. She was also very sweet and affectionate. Now I had a new addition to my menagerie. Louie and Connie quickly became attached. I mean really attached. Soon, neither one of them wanted anything to do with me.
Eventually, the two of them came of age. I gave them a nest box and over the next five years they had 6 clutches of babies and traveled with me to Oregon and back to South Florida.
Sadly, one day Connie died. Louie was desperately searching for her, even though he had seen me remove her body from their cage. He mourned her pitifully for days. It was very sad to hear his frantic chirping and see his frenetic flying around in the cage.
Once he was alone again, I hoped to regain our previous pet/owner relationship. I got bitten for my efforts. When a Cockatiel bites, they hold on and they have razor sharp, curved beaks and take little triangle chunks of flesh when you can pry their tiny beaks away.
Louie still calls out "Hi Louise". It actually sounds more like he's calling a French king, more like "Louis". Cockatiels and parrots can't pronounce the "Z" sound. A few years ago, Louie started saying something else, but I couldn't figure out what he was saying. Then one day as I was leashing up my dogs to go for a walk, which is a tricky proposition because the Alpha dog throws a tantrum if he's not the first one out the door, I realized what Louie had been saying. "C'mere". Apparently, I say "come here" a lot during the preparation for walking the dogs.
Louie got very sick one day and I took him to the vet, he was underweight and just droopy. He had an infection in his nostrils. A course of antibiotics and he was fine. If you’re still counting, that was life- saving maneuver number three.
Louie only does two more vocalizations. But they are impressive. He actually whistles the "Andy Griffith Show" theme songs. We used to watch a lot of Nick at Night. I don't know why, but this is very common in Cockatiels. You can go on youtube.com and scroll through pages and pages of Cockatiels whistling that song, with varying degrees of talent. But my Louie is gifted with a beautiful voice/whistle and after hearing the song nightly for about two years he sings it in its entirety. The other vocalization is entirely his creation and he changes it up about once every year. He whistles his own little song that he makes up. This year's is just a little different than last year's. It reminds me of the changes that Humpback Whales make to their songs.
My bird doesn’t really care for most fruits and vegetables. He loves celery greens and Granny Smith apples. No other kind, just the Granny Smith variety. There are two things that he really likes to eat and he gets very excited when he sees them in his dish. Spray millet, most small birds like it and “Arnold’s Oatnut” bread. Oatnut bread has a lot of seeds, like sunflower and whole grains. He loves it.
Louie is seventeen now. A Cockatiel can live to twenty five or so. So we still have some good years ahead. Maybe one day, Louie will stop wanting to bite me. I’m not holding out much hope. He has a very spacious cage and I just recently realized that all these years, I never had his cage in a place where he could see the TV. I have moved his cage and the day I did, it seemed like he was seeing a whole new world. I have heard that birds can see colors on a much broader spectrum than humans. I sometimes wonder how he sees things on TV and what he must be thinking about what is happening there on the screen.