our cockatiel was a little holiday treat from the Seattle Animal
Shelter in December 2007. The shelter is not far from my work, and one
evening I just had a feeling I should stop by there - even though we
weren't really looking for another pet. Sparky was huddled in a grungy
little cage with no toys, dirty water, and a dish of old seeds on the
floor. Someone had just dumped him in front of the shelter that day with a
note that said "He's old, he's noisy, and he bites!" How could I not take
him home? Especially since it was right before Christmas...
I didn't know what to expect that first night. But when I opened the cage
door, Sparky walked right onto my arm and then up to my shoulder. He
weighed almost nothing! I hadn't realized he was so skinny because his
feathers covered it up. So I was worried, but glad to find out that the
new bird was friendlier than the sign said. That first night, he and I
watched a movie together because my boyfriend was away on business.
Sparky has turned out to be quite a character. His most endearing traits
are whistling military drill tunes off-key (the "I don't know but I've
been told..." type songs) and spending much of his cage time in a shoebox
that's attached to the side of it, destroying the box from the inside out.
He is still afraid of hands, but will ride on a shoulder or arm around the
house. He loves mirrors, and also loves playing tug-of-war with his bell
toys. Sparky likes to dine with the family - he'll sit on a shoulder
eating rice and making clicking sounds while we eat or watch TV.
The only way we've gotten Sparky to take a bath is to let him wade into a
frying pan filled with water in the kitchen sink. His method is to walk
from one side of the pan to the other, squatting down in the middle to
fluff his feathers. Since he's a cockatiel, he's almost waterproof at
first, so the water just rolls off his back. By about the tenth pass
across the frying pan, he just starts to get wet.
The vet gave him a clean bill of health once he put some weight back on,
and Sparky seems happy to be in our family. Despite what his shelter sign
said, I don't think he's that old, he definitely isn't very noisy, and the
only time he bites is if he's cornered and scared. Bad information or not,
I'm glad he came home with me that dark rainy night!
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