We don't try to train the parrots in our home; it is our belief they already have some idea how to be birds. While it's true, being captive bred and raised, there may be a bit of confusion based on the unnatural circumstances of their existence, we know they will not become human, and are content to have them be who they are. Of course the matters of encouraging them to do the right things where possible, and discouraging behaviors that are dangerous to them, but we are not interested in them doing tricks on cue and similar behaviors. For us, that is enough.
When Christo the Congo Grey came to us, it was the plan that he would be "my" friend; meaning that my wife, who is much less the bird enthusiast than I, would not need to worry much about the care and maintenance of him. Of course we had no idea that the man who had previously kept him at the pet store had, on more than one occasion, struck him as a form of discipline (who could possibly imagine that striking a bird could discourage bad behaviors?!), and as a result Christo bore a VERY strong mistrust of human males (2 years later he still can't find it in his heart to welcome me as a full flock member worthy of trust and love). And so, even though I am the care giver, cage cleaner, food source, toy provider, etc I am not to be trusted. The love sought by him is sought from my wife. Thus is he her friend. But that is okay, he has someone now, and that is THE thing. He has found a safe place to land, and that is in the arms of my wife, who loves him and gives what she can to help ensure that he is healthy emotionally.
All birds need a safe place to land. And so now Christo had found his. He is a stoic fellow, quite observant and very suspicious (as is the Grey way). But he also has a great sense of humor. While he does not trust me enough to deem me worthy of conversation, he does often communicate with me in other ways. It is quite a different story where my wife is concerned however; he will speak to her in both Greek and English, with a very large vocabulary, and seemingly often with words chosen in context. He tolerates the little parrots always flitting about the room in their silly manner, and mostly watches them warily from his playstand/throne upon which they are not worthy to land lest they incur the King's wrath. But they don't mind, they learned quickly that the King was not a friend, but rather a being ruled (mostly) silently in a manner that does not concern them. And they also learned that they, too, had safe places to land; some of human flesh and bone, many of a more destructible nature such as tree limbs, furniture (which obviously to a parrot is disposable), door frames and the like. All the while, Chrsto rules over his kingdom quietly, observant and content (I hope) that he has found both a home and love.
In trying to see to the creation of a sanctuary here on Syros island, what I am really trying to see is A Safe Place to Land for more parrots like Christo, as well as those even more in need of saving from bad situations. Parrots don't really belong in the human household, this is my belief. But they are here now, and many of them (whether having been captive bred and deprived of true instinctual understanding of survival in the wild, or wild caught and having been treated in such a way as to corrupt their true nature so as to cause a psychological scar leaving a need for rehabilitation), and so we are responsible to their care in a meaningful and responsible manner. They are not ornaments, or toys to be taught tricks. They are not property belonging to us and so disposable at our whim or fancy. They are highly intelligent, deeply emotional and sensitive beings who have been forced to bring thier lovely gift into our lives, and deserve reward for that fact alone. And I would like to help those who do not receive that just reward.
I have been given the offer of some land to help see this dream of a place for them here through. Of course this is far from all that is needed to realize that dream, but it is a start. I have also enlisted the promise of help from an Avian Certified Vet on the mainland; one of my main concerns when this dream first began to take shape in my heart, as the Vets currently on the island leave much to be desired in all areas of expertise. I have also been in contact with some other Greek-based NPO's who help our wild brethren, and have been given a bit of advice with the promise of more later as needed. Apparently here in Greece the wheels of bureaucracy turn very slow, and this undertaking may take some time to develop, but I am committed to it, and have every intention of seeing it through to the end. We owe much to these beautiful birds forced to leave so much of who they are behind for our benefit, and I for one plan to pay something back to them.