Tag Archives: parrotlets

A Tiny Wee Heart

5293_121759486490_547246490_2899209_3924748_nI’ve always loved birds. When I was a kid I had budgies. Of course I didn’t really know how to take care of them and they lived, but I didn’t love them. Until high school. My dad bought me a blue and white budgie for Christmas and it was love at first sight.

There is something so mystical about having a wee bird love you. There’s no reason why they should, really. We are huge and wont to tread on them, we keep them in cages when they should fly, we feed them stale seeds and fluoridated chlorined water.

Their tiny little hearts beat so fast. The feeling of cuddling with a bird is unimaginably precious.

My budgie and I hung out all through my senior high school days and I loved him. We had a sudden move across the country and I had to find him a new home. It broke my heart.

But nothing approached the love I had for wee Dora, my parrotlet. I got her from a breeder and she was hand raised. I’d done my research and was an adult now, with adult capability to look after her. She came to my home and stomped across the floor and into my heart. She hung out on my desk when I wrote, she ate all the plastic buttons on my remotes. She shared my sandwiches. She travelled with me to a cottage and yelled at hummingbirds.

Meanwhile I was learning how to cope with Multiple Sclerosis, newly diagnosed. She cheered me, made me laugh when I was feeling low, cuddled with me and teased my hair.

She started plucking, for some reason. I couldn’t figure it out. I played with her more, I cooked up special warm breakfasts and fed her kiwi by the ton. I shopped for the freshest fruit, I fretted, I asked people about it, I talked to the vet. She plucked on.

I researched parrotlet behaviour. Maybe she was lonely? I got her a roommate, Flora. She hated her on sight. I thought, she used to hang out with a budgie, maybe that would help her. Nope. Maybe she was hankering after a partner? I flew to Ottawa to adopt a wee male fellow who she terrorized. He didn’t pluck, but my poor wee Dora did.

She had a parrot-sized cage, filled with toys and tasty treats. She acted healthy, played and  cuddled with me (but not her partner). She simply pulled out her feathers. I tried tiny sweaters on her but they all weighed more than she did. I bathed her in soothing solutions.

At the same time, I was having a terrible time with my MS. I couldn’t handle trying to keep the two birds (I’d rehomed the budgie and returned her girl roomie to the breeder). I was beside myself, desperate and so sad for my girl. I reached out and found her a home with It’s a Bird’s Life Aviary, together with her handsome “boyfriend”. I’m so glad for her that I did – she is I think happy there, and I know her care is excellent.

But I miss her, and her tiny fierce heart. Every every day.

I live with a cat now, a furry gentleman who provides warmth and lashings of fur. I love him. He’s my dear buddy and he’s a gentle old gent with a purr that melts me.

But there was something really special about that Dora. It is a true gift to be loved by a bird.


I like my bird…

Being a pet owner has its privileges. I get to be a part of their little intimate lives. It’s an honour, especially in the case of my little gal, Dora. She’s a parrotlet, a tiny Amazon parrot. According to Wikipedia:

Parrotlets are a group of the smallest New World parrot species, comprising several genera, namely ForpusNannopsittaca, and Touit. They have a stocky build and a broad tail, much like the lovebirds of East Africa and fig parrots and pygmy parrots of Australasia. They are endemic to Middle and South America.These miniature parrots in the wild travel in flocks which, depending on the species, can range from as low as four to over 100 birds. Most species travel in flocks of about 5–40. They form life-long and tight pair bonds with their chosen mates.Parrotlets are the smallest commonly bred Parrot species in captivity. The genus Forpus, particularly the Celestial or Pacific Parrotlet, is growing in availability and popularity in aviculture.

I adore Dora. She’s about 3 inches long and every inch is filled with attitude. She loves me, too, and there’s something about having a little bird think you are fantastic that is so strange and wonderful it never fails to touch me. My puppy loves me, too, but dogs are supposed to love people. It’s their job. Birds aren’t supposed to love us. They are wild things, after all. So when Dora hangs upside down to peer at me and beg to come out, or when she flies through the apartment looking for me, only to land on my head and settle there, it is infinitely heartwarming.

She cuddles in on my forearm when I write, gently and persistently wrecks all my pens and papers, and lets me groom her to get those pesky feather wraps off her beautiful blue feathers. I’ve seen her eat an entire half sandwich  – freakiest of all was that it was a “baby chicken” sandwich – fried egg and cheese. She loved it, but then she likes eggs, generally speaking.

Today I was treated to a Dora bath on my desk. It can’t be good for my computer components but it is so cute to watch her in her mini tub, splashing water all over herself. It’s an oddly intimate moment – when her feathers are wet, she can’t fly as well – so she is putting herself at risk, bathing so close to a big human person. I’m honoured by her trust. Of course, in her mind, she could take me anytime.

It’s such a blessing being able to see into the minds of our non-human companions. It teaches us so much – about ourselves, about the world around us. In many ways we are our best or worst selves with them.

For me, I’m likely to become a crazy bird lady. She was always my favourite character in Mary Poppins … although in these days of the 99% and 1%, the message means more. We share with our pets; we must share with our fellow humans, too.