Chico and Chiquita’s relinquishment form seemed like a pretty common situation: the owners were retiring, wanted to travel and no longer wanted their birds. They had the bonded pair for 25 years, both purchased from breeders, and I agreed to take them in and try to find a suitable home that would fit their needs. We arranged for them to come to the rescue the following weekend. During the week, a few more emails were sent, including a photo of the two birds in their current setup. It was a large (but odd) display cage with a wooden base in the center of their living room. The enclosure portion was all made out of what looked to be thick plexiglass with limited ventilation, and their perches were all made out of the same widths of PVC piping. As most of you know, parrots need a variety of different branches and a variety of widths for foot health. And sadly, since it is a regular occurrence in rescue, I was not surprised to see that there were no toys available, and their diet was seed.
Chico and Chiquita arrived: Chico is a Yellow Naped Amazon and Chiquita is a Yellow Head Amazon. Their crate was handed to me as the owners jokingly advised “Good luck getting them out”. I set the crate down near their new cage’s opening and opened the door. Chico came out excitedly, and Chiquita followed with some coaxing. With them in their big, toy-filled cage and a variety of wood perches, I was able to get a closer look at them. Chiquita’s fully plucked body added endearment to her character, and Chico’s back and tail feathers were also missing. The owners weren’t sure who was plucking who. “I think they were trying to breed or something,” the owners said. Their nails were also long and curled, and Chiquita’s beak needed some work. The birds were quiet, but appeared happy and not too frightened, so I loaded them up with fresh food with a little AviCalm added and gave them some time to adjust to their new home. They ate their fruits and veggies voraciously while making happy noises — noises that I would best describe as the “foodgasm” noises in humans.
The next day, after a good night’s rest, Chico and Chiquita stepped up readily on a dowel without much work and they got a nail trim, and then they were brought into the shower. Suddenly their Amazon personality started to really come out as they gleefully ruffled their feathers, flapped their wings and said “OOOooooo!” as the water soaked their bodies. None of us wanted the shower to end. A visit with the veterinarian the following week revealed low calcium and protein levels from poor diet, and they were in danger of fatty liver disease. Also during the visit, their beaks were filed; Chiquita would have to come back a couple more times for re-shaping since hers was more overgrown. While filing Chico’s beak, the doctor found a lump right under his ear. After draining the lump, she discovered that it was a cyst, most likely from an old untreated sinus infection. The fluid from the cyst was checked and it was confirmed there was no longer an infection, but removal of the cyst would be a dangerous procedure as the lump is attached to the ear, and also near the beak muscles and nasal passages. Since the cyst was not a concern, I decided against surgery — it is just something that has to be monitored for any changes.
Over the next few months, Chico and Chiquita remained little wild-childs that didn’t care much for stepping up on hands, but even so, they flourished, and they were learning words at lightening speeds. Now whenever I walk into the bird room I am greeted with, “HEY! Whatcha doin’?” and “I wanna ride in the car!” Their favorite phrase, especially when it is bedtime, is “But I want a BATH!” All throughout the day I can hear the word “GOOD! … Goooood? ... Good!!!” repeated over and over, and sometimes I catch them carrying on little conversations with each other: “Hi.” … “What?” “Wanna go for a bath in the cage in the car and a car ride?” … “Tomorrow?” … “Good!”
Chico and Chiquita greatly enjoy their outdoor aviary time. I still do not know who was plucking who, because in the year they have been here I have never seen them pluck, and I have never found an unusual amount of feathers at the bottom of their cage. They have also never tried to mate, nor have they displayed any breeding behaviors; they just spend their days playing, talking and looking forward to more baths, while telling me all is “Good!” The previous owners have never asked for updates since the pair was dropped off, but somehow that is okay with me, because they are here now and they bring joy and laughter to my life in the bird rescue. Not a day goes by where I don’t catch myself laughing and joining in on their silly antics. Here, they are loved for who they are, just like any bird should be.