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the Ballad of Petey the Parrot...

edited 6:52AM in Off Topic
Sunday, working in my studio, head down, focused on a deadline. Son #2 comes running in yelling "dad, Butterscotch is trying to kill a parrot!"

Butterscotch is our giant (fat) cat, one of two cats we have.

With no time to spare, i turn to my little buddy and said instead, "Let's go...". I ran upstairs, into the back yard, and perched in the forsythia bush i spot our massively heavy tabby cat, Butterscotch. A forsythia can barely hold it's own weight. I told my wife that if i had to perch a frozen turkey somewhere in that same bush i couldn't do it. Yet here's the cat, at about 16 pounds, near the top, balancing on thin arcing branches.

A foot above him is a beautiful parrot. Red/Orange head, yellow shoulders, green tail.

Hmmmm. what to do. I didn't want to scare the bird off, or have him get scared off by the cat (or worse). So i grabbed a stick and nudged the cat down. He was none too pleased and let out a bit of a growl, which loosely translates as "thanks a lot, man". He reluctantly scooted down the tree.

Back into the house. ...i found a cardboard box with a handle, about a foot square. I ran back outside, fully expecting the bird to be gone, but when I looked up, he was still there. The forsythia is about 8 feet tall, and he was at the top. Plan was to grab a branch and bend it down and somehow magically get him into the box.

As soon as I tried, he flew away, landing uphill, on the other side of a compost pile and clutter of deadfall branches, alighting on a neighbor's chain link fence, four feet off the ground, the cats watching all of this with much interest. By this time "Cutie" (the real hunter, the female) had joined the hunt. Butterscotch is a load, and sat there, but Cutie (my kids named the cats, not me), saw an opportunity. I looked at her, she looked at the bird, and we both took off. I clamored over the branches and leaf pile, but she handily beat me and ran instantly to the spot under the fence, just below the bird, who has his back to us, aloof and apparently unaware of just exactly what a cat is...

The cat stopped. I expected her to leap but she hesitated, and that gave me a split second to shoo her off. I threw a towel at her, one i'd brought to wrap the bird in perhaps. She (the cat) took off, and I stepped quietly to the bird, hands at the ready. Just as I was putting my hands on him, his head turned slowly. He looked at me, and at that point I found myself wondering if parrots bit.

I grabbed him, and gently put him into the box.
Called the wife, related the story.

An ad on craigslist, call to the animal rescue, and an email to the local paper of a lost and found ad, and the drama was over.

The kids were in love. Within ten minutes it had a name. A nearby cousin donated a cage.

The boys wanted to sleep in the same room with him, so a hasty camp-out was arranged, my youngest sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor next to his brother's bed.

An hour later, they are in our bed. The bird is making a "racket". I never heard it, but they said he was clanking around. We had a sheet over the cage, to cut the light and calm him down.

About 1 o'clock, everyone asleep. My wife hears the brief but unmistakable clank of soft body against cage-bottom. I see her trundle by me, half asleep, in the dark, as she headed to check on the bird. She calls me in. He's pitched head down, lying on the bottom of the cage. I put the sheet over him, frowned to the wife. We sighed, settled back in to bed and, disappointed, fell back sleep.

My youngest, who went to bed clutching a stuffed parrot toy that I didn't even know he had, came to me this morning as I sipped my coffee. I was trying to stave off the moment I knew was coming. "Dad, can we check on the bird?"

We had a cat which died within days of coming home. Doc said kidney failure. Goldfish here last about as long as chinese-made toys, whole gardens here are testament to our inability to keep goldfish alive fo longer than a month. And now we have somehow both saved and killed Petey the Parrot (they named him last night).

Kids are now off to school. And I'm off to dig yet another hole.

Sleep well, Petey. We hardly knew ya....



  • MaineggMainegg Posts: 7,787
    LOL And I am sorry :( But I can just pic you and the cats trapesing out across the yard with "oh ****" written in a bubble over your head LOL I know nothing about birds so no help there ('cept how to cook them maybe?)To bad for the boys :( see you in a few weeks :)
  • he is on ice. maybe we can do a spatchcocked conure? (forgive me... my boys wouldn't be happy with that.)

    yeah. pretty sad. absolutely gorgeous bird, and standing there unable to help, running things thru your mind convincing yer-self that somehow you killed it. gah.

    looked perfectly healthy one minute. dead the next.

    "He's pining for the fjords..."
  • That's too bad Jeff. At least Tucker & Henry didn't have much time to get "attached." Not much pulls on the old heartstrings more than a child that's just lost a pet. Lost track of how many hamsters, gerbils and lizards are buried in our back yard. haha
  • our back yard probably qualifies as a burial ground. going to have to sign a disclosure if we ever sell the place.
  • AZRPAZRP Posts: 10,116
    Jeff, any number of things could have caused the bird's demise. First its possible that a cat did get a hold of the bird, the feathers cover puncture wounds making them hard to see. Second they are tropical birds and can't take cold temps and you would have no way of knowing how long it has been outside. Third, the fact it let you capture it tells me that it was the tamest parrot ever or it was already sick. Parrots take a long time to develop a trusting relationship and will bite a stranger. And lastly, parrots don't like changes, if I put a new toy in one side of our bird's cage, it might take a month before he will go to that side of the cage. So it could have have just died from the stress of a different cage and all the strangers peering in at it. I guess what I'm saying is I don't have a clue as to what killed the bird but I'm sorry for your boys, it has to be very hard for them. -RP
  • Thanks for your thoughts. I was told they stress very easily.

    We had a parrot when i was a kid. My dad worked with a woman who also owned a pet store. she didn't know much about birds though and someone brought in a parrot that had completely plucked all it's feathers out. ugliest thing, all grey down and pink skin.

    For some reason my dad got it into his head we could help it (all evidence to the contrasty). Miraculously, after a diet of veggies and fruit (this was early 70s, when the idea of a mango was unheard of, but we got them), he grew his feathers back.

    When we brought him back to the pet store, he plucked them all out again. I guess we'd thought he was "healed", but never understood that the pet store was probably bad for him in and of itself.

    as a side note, my brother had a reel-to-reel, and he mad a looped tape that said "go pluck yourself" and played it over and over. the bird never learned to talk though.... :laugh: :laugh:
  • AZRPAZRP Posts: 10,116
    Ours won't shut up. -RP

  • lowercasebilllowercasebill Posts: 5,218
    parrots, parakeets, etc are quite fragile creatures outside of their element and very sensitive to cold and damp and drafts.. i suspect he was doomed as it was too cold for a tropical bird up your way.
  • afraid so...

    just strange that he looked and acted fine. then. plonk. bottom of the cage.

    E's resting
    The Norwegian Blue prefers keepin' on it's back.
    'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory!
    'E's off the twig!
    'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!

    He's an ex-parrot.
  • Gator Bait Gator Bait Posts: 5,244
    Hi Jeff, sorry to hear your Sun Conure didn't make it. I have raised a few birds and have handled hundreds of wild birds while working at banding them and though stress is a consideration, I have never seen a bird die from it. Yes, it does happen but rarely. The rapid change of climate from inside it's original owners dwelling to the out of doors was probably the culprit. If it had been acclimated to the out doors it may have been OK. It is a shame that the original owner neglected to keep its wings clipped, 2 painless minutes with a pair of scissors and it never would have escaped.

    Nice try, sorry it didn't work out.

  • FidelFidel Posts: 10,172
    You lie. I know you named the cats. Your wife told me so (and that Cutie was your favorite).
  • i originally tried to name cutie "sweet cheeks" after you, but my wife remembered that's what i called you when you walked in that time, when we had to pretend we'd never seen each other before or met or exchanged polaroids or anything like that which didn't happen, i swear.
  • thanks for your thoughts on the whole situation. Yeah. bummer it didn't work. would have been a great story for the kids in later years.
    I finally figured out that's the kind of bird we had ( a conure). Beautiful bird.

    thanks again
  • nice blue gray. what's he say?
  • JLOCKHART29JLOCKHART29 Posts: 5,897
    bill sent me an email with both links. I never come over to the OT. Barly have time for the regular some times. First off, as you all ready know, you did all you could. No regrets. I hate it for your kids AND you as I can tell from your writing you were all ready liking the little bugger. He was, as Gator I think said a Sun Conure much like Jake and about the same size. Just a little smaller. Personalitys about the same. Local co op has a set of siblings. Cutest things in the world. The bird was in bad shape from the time you found him. VERY FEW parrots are you going to just grab like that and not get eat up especially in a stressfull shape like that all ready. I really suspect the night time temps and drafts along with the stress catching him and a new cage/people finnished him up. It's a shame as he would have made a wonderfull pet. Its just one of those thing. Sun conures are a pretty stable bird as birds go. They can take a lot of stress but he may have been lost for a week barily eating to add insult to injury. Jake is full flight but we have no kids and few friends ride out to the country to visit so it works ok for us. Again sorry for all involved. :(
  • thanks very much. i was waiting for you to weigh in. jake is the same kind of bird?

    man. i have never seen one of these birds up close. what an amazing color.

    if i had a big house, with a beautiful greenhouse or something, i would love a bird like that.

    this little guy did have one bowel movement, so i think was eating ok before we found him. just feel bad that my naivete about these animals had me thinking we could care for him and get him back to his owner.

    and of course the boys being heartbroken.

    ah well. something they need to learn i guess.
    thanks very much for weighing in... much appreciated
  • JLOCKHART29JLOCKHART29 Posts: 5,897
    Just wish there was something I could have done before the fact. Covering with towel in cage all helped. Poor fellow was just in bad shape to start with I am afraid. Jakes a Nanday Conure. Same family and personalitys close but differant color. Parots really are amazing creatures but as I have said if you don't want an eternal 3 year old you don't need one!! :laugh:
  • AZRPAZRP Posts: 10,116
    There is really no limit to what he says, if I sneeze he will bless me, if the cat walks by the door he will say here kitty kitty kitty. If the phone rings he says hello followed by a short bit of gibberish then yells for my daughter to get the phone. He whistles out the tune and says don't worry be happy. I once taught him to say to my wife, you have nice legs, that was pretty funny. Several years ago I remodeled a bathroom within earshot of him and he picked up the phrase oh sh!t. The interesting thing is he speaks in the voice of the person he learned, he'll say your silly in my wife's voice, does my wife's cough, and calls the dog in my voice. If he sees me opening a door or cabinet he mimics the squeak of the hinge for that particular door before I open it. He also does a great smoke detector chirp, wonder how many batteries I've changed because of him. -RP
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