Pet of the Day

September 15, 2011

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Roxanna, the Pet of the Day
Name: Roxanna
Age: Four years old
Gender: Female
Kind: Cockatoo
Home: Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA
   Roxanna was four months old when I came across her in a pet shop while on vacation in California. I had gone in to get my toy poodle a play toy to take home and came out with a $1,300 cockatoo that had been sitting on a cage being friendly to everyone around it. After an additional $30 for a carrying cage and a $75 ticket on the airline so she could sit under the seat in front of us, we got her to El Paso, Texas where we had to spend $200 more on a cage, food, and a few bird toys. We then drove north 100 miles to our home in High Rolls, New Mexico just eight miles up in the Sacramento mountains outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico. We found very quickly that we needed a much larger cage for her and I truly believe that is one of the reasons that she is as happy as she is. My husband says he has lived in apartments smaller than Roxanna's cage! From the beginning, Roxanna has been a very special pet. Had I read the abundant literature about parrots, and cockatoos in particular, I probably would never have purchased her. What a mistake that would have been. She has been a constant joy to us, and I must admit an occasional pest, because she is, as they say, a "love sponge."

    Roxanna is as she first appeared, a very friendly bird. She loves people and seems to have no desire to bite. She goes to everyone. We own a cherry orchard and from mid-June to mid-July we have many people in the orchard picking cherries. We take Roxanna out to the area near the sales counter and let her sit on or in her cage. She has become a big photo opportunity for many who like to have their picture taken holding her. We also have a poodle named Abby (two years old) and a kitty named Gypsy (almost a year old). The three of them get along fine although I always watch when Roxanna is out of her cage. Abby and Roxanna sometimes play with one another. If you've never seen a cockatoo chase (playing) after a poodle, you have missed a big laugh.

    Roxanna and I go out on our front deck just about dusk and watch the hummingbirds. I now have fourteen feeders strung across our deck and it is such fun to watch the hummers as they zoom in to the feeders. All is well with Roxanna unless they zing down too close to her and then she goes into an attack display: crest up, wings stretched out, feathers fluffed up to make her twice as large as she is, and a sway that purposefully goes back and forth. This is accompanied by a raucous scream that could wake up the dead. It really is quite comical and she settles down very quickly as soon as the hummer gets out of her face. How funny it is that she feels she has to intimidate a little tiny hummingbird, which, to tell the truth, doesn't work. They are fearless little creatures.

    I have read many times that more cockatoos lose their homes than any other parrot because of their very loud screaming. Again, Roxanna has not proved that true. She only screams occasionally at night for ten minutes or so and is quiet the rest of the time. She is very interactive and loves to be included in things. At dinner when we eat, she eats her food. She is quite social and we are part of her "flock." I take her to the rural elementary school where I work a couple of times a year and the kids in the two classrooms (we are small!) get in a circle and pass her around. What a thrill it is for them!

    I have had many animals over the years (my poor husband has had to put up with them all!) but she and a macaque monkey are the two most interesting animals we have spent our lives with. The monkey has long gone, but Roxanna may well live to be 60 to 80 years old. We have had to put her down in our wills and because her avian vet loves her so much, he has agreed to take her when we can no longer care for her.

    I could go on and on about how special this bird (cockatoo and friend) is. Bird authorities all say, and wisely so, not to make an impulse buy with a bird. I am so thankful I didn't know that at the time I saw Roxanna. Everything I've learned about cockatoos, I have learned since I brought her home and much of it has just not applied to Roxanna. Yes, Roxanna is indeed a very special pet. And now she and I must go spend quality time on the front deck watching the night feeding of the hummers!

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