We have a very special little green person in our family who runs our household. Nikki is a 7-inch tall half moon conure, a green parrot that normally lives in jungles south of the border. Nikki entered our lives almost 15 years ago when a friend at work asked me if I could help him find her a home. My friend was getting ready to move and couldn’t take the parrot with him. As is sometimes the case when I try to help people find a home for their pets, Nikki came to live with us.
For her size, Nikki is a powerhouse. Noisy, irritable (stick your finger in her cage and it is gone forever), and bossy pretty much describes her. Our Abby cat, Tut, immediately hated Nikki. He stands on the arm of the couch about a foot from her cage and tries to intimidate her by glaring. She responds by screaming, "Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!" at about the 90 decibel level until Tut’s ears can’t stand it any longer and he jumps down from the couch and runs away.
Early this week, the house was suddenly, oddly, quiet. When I got home from work in the afternoon, I noticed it immediately. I had a little trouble figuring out what was going on until I spotted Nikki sitting silently on her perch. When I walked over and at great risk (I thought) reached into the cage and touched her beak, there was no response. Uh-oh.
There were also no droppings on the bottom of the cage. Nikki apparently hadn’t eaten anything all day. Not a good thing for any bird. In fact it really scared me and reminded me of some of the injured wild birds I had lost during treatment when I used to be in the wildlife rescue and rehabilitation business.
I immediately cut an apple, a peach and part of a pear up into beak-size pieces. and started hand-feeding the pieces to the silent bird. It took a bit of rubbing apple all over her beak before she took a bite, and then another bite, and then another …
I fed her slowly off and on for the next two hours, letting her take or deny the food at her own speed. Not good to rush things on a potentially starving bird. Later she had finished eating a lot of the fruit. Next I carefully picked the bird up on my index finger and lowered her to the bottom of the cage where we kept her seed dish. I placed her on the side of the dish and removed my hand. She immediately began to search through the dish for her favorite seeds and eating them.
I backed off and let her eat on her own. When she finished, I got a large tablespoon, filled it with room temperature water and held it up to Nikki’s beak. She emptied it with slow little sips in about 15 minutes. I figured that was a good start on ending her dehydration.
It was three hours later and she was back to climbing around her cage, defecating like crazy on the paper towels on the cage bottom and giving me an occasional twitter. Whew. Don’t freak me out that way, little bird.
The next morning my wife, Lois, called (I go to work much earlier than she does) to say Nikki tried to bite her when she went to clean her cage.
"Wonderful!" I replied. "Please don’t take that the wrong way!"
(Moral: Pay attention to your pets ALL the time!)