Rocky the Cockatoo

There is no greater comfort than a snuggle with a Cockatoo. There is no greater challenge than a Rescue Cockatoo.

Rocky the Cockatoo

Whatever you know or think you know or know you know about parrots, toss it aside and start fresh when you get a cockatoo (though Hubby and I ask each other at least every couple of days, “Who in their right mind would get a cockatoo?”).

In many ways, a ‘too is a petulant child who demands his way and has a tantrum if he doesn’t get it. Having been a petulant child myself once upon a time, I recognize this. When Rocky wants attention, he wants it NOW and oftentimes, that attention is only that one of us is in the room keeping him company. He doesn’t necessarily want us to play with him, though that’s usually it. He just wants us there. If he doesn’t get it, he starts out by whining (imagine an exceptionally loud fussy baby in church) and builds up to the Tornado Siren Scream. Yes, we come running. Anything to stop the noise. And he’ll look at me with this wide-eyed, beak-half-open expression like, “What? I didn’t hear anything.” 

In the mornings, he doesn’t scream for someone to get up and uncover his cage. He waits until we get up on our own. We are grateful. Then he might yell a little just to knock the dust off his yeller, but it’s not that bad. Midday, he might do that again. Or he might do it a lot if he’s feeling froggy. He yells at night for us to cover him and he yells a while after we’ve covered him, but then he just mutters or talks to us and occasionally, like last night, he’ll hang upside down and poke his head beneath the bottom of the cover and say “Hello!”

I don't know how to tell the difference between regular 'too screaming and actual distress, the way I can with my other birds. So far Rocky hasn't been in distress, and I run when I think he is, and it always turns out that he's just yelling. I know the other birds' voices apart and can even tell the difference between angry budgie and in trouble budgie, and whether Jade is squawking because she's seen a spider or because something red is in the room.

Rocky is very needy and demanding of time and attention, but what that looks like is mostly just sitting with him on my lap so he can hold court. He watches wild birds and he chews up junk mail and I preen his head and he preens my hair. So far, I haven't found any games he wants to play. So many things scare him. I reached out to pet him last weekend and he flinched. He still hasn't processed that the days of people being mean to him are over. 

At night, he wants a last snuggle before bed and if he gets it, he won’t even squawk much about being covered up. Or it being bedtime. Or whatever it is he squawks about at bedtime. He’s reluctant to get off my arm no matter how long I’ve held him and will grab onto his door for dear life and squeeze my arm with his feet in an attempt to get me to let him stay and if necessary, give me little nips, never breaking the skin. I know he can break the skin and probably bones if he wants to, but he doesn’t want to. That’s just one of his ways of communicating. It means I have some interesting bruises, but he’s not trying to hurt me, or he would.

He knows when Mom’s leaving for work and will put up his crest and sometimes even display when he sees me and my purse and keys heading for the door. I work long, odd, soul-crushing hours and he also knows that when I leave, I might not be back for a long, long time. Some nights I get home after he would be in bed, but he stays up and waits for me. And unlike Clyde, the Chief Bird in Charge who is a Quaker, Rocky doesn’t punish me for my “neglect.” He just wants to crawl into my arms and lean his head against me and be loved on.

We also often say to each other that the ideal home for a ‘Too is one in which there are no other critters, but Rocky has to share his home with two dogs, seven other birds, a lizard and some fish. He hears the other birds but has only seen Clyde at a safe distance, he has the dogs trained to have a healthy respect for a safe distance, and he is still very reluctant to get out of sight of his cage so he hasn’t seen most of the rest of the house. I tried to take him on a tour the first week and it terrified him. Last night, I came home exceptionally late and wanted to change his water (he’s a pellet soup fan) but he wouldn’t get off my arm, so I took him with me to the kitchen to rinse and refill, and the crest came up but he didn’t display. He wasn’t comfortable, but he wasn’t panicked, either. That’s an improvement

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