March 31, 2013

Vinny talks dirty!

You know, before we got Vinny, while we were talking to various people about Eclectuses (or Eclecti? Anyone knows the correct plural?) and doing our research, every person and website told us that there's never a guarantee that your parrot will learn to talk.

I say: the heck with that theory! You're pretty much assured that your Eclectus will talk. Never 100% guarantee, but I would say 99.9% chance. It'll probably start around 4-8 months old (for Vinny it was around the half year mark) when your Eclectus will speak his first word or phrase. And it won't be what you expected.

For months now, we've tried to teach Vinny all kinds of words and expressions, but it's the least expected ones that stick with him.

Before his latest discovery in speech, he pretty much got the following ones down: "Come on", "Hello", "Shower" (pronounced as "..ower"), Coca Cola, and his all time favorite: "Good boy!". Besides that, he knows a whole range of various sounds, like "wawawawawa" and some whistling.

The ones that we've been trying to teach him, are "I love you" (he said that once or twice), "Thank you", and "Harley Davidson" and "Go Iron Pigs!". But training him isn't limited to just speech. We've also been trying to teach him to poop on command. Especially when we take him out of the cage, Vinny is now at the point where he does his Number Two before he steps onto our hand.

However, this last training came with some collateral damage. Vinny now knows how to say .... here it comes ... drumroll .... "GO POOPIE"!

He loves this new catch phrase so much, that he can't stop saying it. It has banned out most other words, or he will only say anything else, if it's followed by Go Poopie. It's a bit like the cute game teens play, where you say "... in bed" after everything you say. Especially when you've had a few beers/wines, it's quite funny. For Vinny, this is it. Go Poopie.

It's quite obvious where he got it. From us. Inadvertently we've been saying it quite a bit, to teach him the poop-in-the-cage thing. And he's caught on and successfully separated the phrase from the act.

At first, he didn't say it super clear. For someone who didn't know what he was saying, it could have sounded like "Cookie". Obviously, we've tried to get him to say that, but unfortunately his pronunciation has gotten better and it turned to a very clear "Go Poopie". We've now restarted his bathroom training with the word "Timber". Hopefully we'll have more luck with that.

Of course it's all as cute as a button and if this is the least innocent he'll be, we can live with that for sure. We are very careful to stay clear of anything near the 7-word-list. We definitely don't want to turn our bird into a cursing bird. A good example of a (rescue) bird that came from a wrong environment and inherited some bad lingo, is this one ...

A while ago, when I got a hair cut, my barber said that he once bought a bar and it came with a parrot. He's couldn't remember what kind of parrot, but by the description, I'm guessing it was a Macaw. And apparently it was fed all kinds of stuff, offered by guests, including steak, beer, of course peanuts and the like. And the parrot had a vocabulary that would fit a shady bar.

Do you have any experience with cursing birds? What do you teach your parrot? Comment section is open!

Ps. I know, a picture is a bit lame for an article about Vinny talking. But Vinny is a little bit camera-curious. He usually talks when he's relaxed and sitting on a perch, or whenever we watch tv (sigh, more about that later). But whenever a camera or any electronic device comes near him, it's all he's interested in. Let's just say ... i'm very happy that my smartphone has Corning Gorilla Glass. Trust me, as soon as we have any kind of audio/video footage, we'll be posting it here.

March 07, 2013

Vinny shows his true colors

I can remember it clearly, just about 15 months ago, we got in touch with Jessika, a fantastic Eclectus breeder, about 1.5 hours drive from where we live. We made a reservation for the first available hatch, and we were very happy to wait it out. We had no clue how long it was going to take. Could be a week, could be 5 months. It's nature, so who knows, right?

Then, just before the year 2012 came upon us, we still hadn't heard anything, so we gave her a call. And as it turned out, we had a bit of a problem with emails from her, early December 2011, and we totally missed the message that there were eggs! In fact, as she explained, they were about to hatch already!

Of course we were very excited. Getting close to getting your first big parrot, is a moment to remember. And every step in the whole process has been memorable .. at least to us. Like that phone call, just before Vinny using his fragile baby beak to break through the shell and see daylight for the first time in his life.

Vinny hatched on January 1st, 2012. That's a bit over a year ago now, so time to take a moment and look at Vinny's life so far, but we'll take the beak-approach. From a fluffy baby-bird with dirty-black beak to his adult candy-corn colors! A year in pictures ....

at the respectable age of 2 weeks, still in the nest, no clue what gender
4 weeks, first pin feathers so we knew he's a 'he', almost black beak.
6 weeks, who cares about the beak, look at my feathers!
9 weeks, feathers mostly green, now let's focus on the beak
12 weeks, that's a bit better already, starting to see color
15 weeks, yeah baby
17 weeks, nice clear picture, color change really going fast now
22 weeks, starting to see some peeling of layers
31 weeks, the peeling at its worst, so we thought
34 weeks, even more peeling, we were starting to think about a visit to the vet
43 weeks, luckily, the peeling cleared up by itself, apparently a natural thing
(ps. not a beak defect, that's corn he's munchin' on)
53 weeks old and colors are getting deeper and more intense
Vinny today, 1 year and just over 2 months old, look at those strong and gorgeous colors.
Isn't he a handsome beast?