Acquired: Pet store
Florida, United States
Posted Jun 01, 2015
I had graduated college, moved across country and was on my own. I took some time off from a schedule of too many credits crammed into too short of a time period. I took a job as a waitress to support myself. It wound up paying pretty well.
I had a day off and I passed a pet shop. I don’t know why, but I wandered in. They had a bird with a big beak. This was in the days before importation of wild birds was banned. Most birds sold were wild caught birds. So was he. He was a Mealy Amazon Parrot. I had the money, so I bought him, cage and all and transported him home, cage and all. I set him up in my living room, sat down and we stared at each other.
For the next two weeks, I passed by his cage regularly and talked to him. One day, I got up the courage to open his cage door and invite him out. He bit me and scrambled up on top of his cage. The pet shop owner had only clipped one of his wings, so as he stood there on top of his cage, trying to make himself look bigger and tougher, he tipped sideways. Now he had a name and I had an angry, wild bird loose inside my house. Eventually, he got hungry and went inside his cage and I hurriedly shut the door. This process went on for another two weeks until he discovered that he liked having me scratch him on top of his head. He began to step up on my finger and take food from my hand. Now, he was a “hand tamed bird”.
At one point, my mother stayed with me for a while. Sideways adored her. She taught him to make kissing noises and lightly touch her lips with his beak. She also gave him her pizza crust. He got to the point that when he saw a box of pizza come in the house, he perked up and said “Pizza!” She taught him that, too.
I moved to South Florida and started bartending at a place on the beach. I spent a lot of my time off at the beach and often took Sideways with me. We often wound up at a bar in the marina with my friend Gretchen. We were there one day and I got up to go to the bathroom. “Are you okay with Sideways, Gretch?” “Sure, no problem.” There was a tree growing in the middle of the bar area behind the bar. When I returned, Sideways was half way up the tree. It took a lot of coaxing and a Virgin Rum Runner to get him down.
Sideways is still my companion and he’s still pretty tame. These days, hand-fed birds are sold. I have had them, I have some now. It is much easier to deal with a hand-fed baby bird. There are many great breeders out there and some beautiful birds being bred. I’m sorry that Sideways was stolen from the wild. He still cocks his head and looks up when he hears an airplane, even when he’s inside. Somewhere in him, there is still a wild animal.