Nyla is coming. As a matter of fact, she’s on her way right now, cage and all. I’ve spent all morning and half of the afternoon moving furniture, tidying up and shoving junk around so that there will be room for her “room”. Nyla is a 5 year-old Congo Grey who, just like Pepper my second Grey, was given up. I know that the previous Caregiver got a Timneh after she got Nyla and prefers her Timneh. So Nyla languished with very litle attention due to the Caregiver being afraid of her. Finally, she was given to my friend Shari, who with her ususal flair in converting seed junkies to total vegetable pigs, got Nyla’s diet squared away in short order.
So now it’s my turn. Shari and I have a deal: She squares away their diet and health, and I work on their training and manners in my “African Grey Finishing School”. Once Nyla has a few manners, knows how to play with toys, can step up, stops biting and freaking out over the least little thing, Shari and I will work on finding her a new home.
I’m looking forward to working with her. Shari told me she’s a hell of a talker, and seemed to try hard at fitting in with Shari’s flock of “Broken Greys”. Shari’s flock includes two with twisted necks and have a humpback look, and one who is very elderly (Dr. Sam Backos, our Avian Vet thinks she’s about 40) and brain damaged but an absolutely lovely Grey.
I’ll continue this when I get a load of Nyla and see what’s in store for me and how much work it’s going to take to get her squared away.
You know sometimes I simply cannot understand why people give up their birds. My God! Within 3 hours of Nyla putting even one toenail in my home, I had her on my shoulder, she was putting her head down for me to rub her neck, and I had taught her how to “high-four”. True, she’s a little skittish, but she’s already calmed down tremendously. She was even sitting on my knee for a while and was exploring the couch. I put Parker and Pepper to bed first so I could wring every last little moment of training and experience for Nyla out of the first day. I covered her up and a few minutes later I peeked under the cover of the cage to see where she slept. she was on her rope swing. When she saw me she quickly skittered over to my face, and said very softly, “I love you.”
Well, that took my breath away right there. This is not a mean bird, a “bitey” bird, or a “Head Case” . She is simply a wonderful bird that was given up because the Woman that had her simply lost her nerve. She’s not afraid of Parker or Pepper, and she’s eating bean mix, veggies, and quinoa like it was caviar. So much for being a seed junkie. We’ll save those for training.
I‘m of the belief that either you’re a “Grey” person or you’re not. Some “Grey” people like Greys and other species. And some, like Shari and me, really prefer just Greys. There is something about them that simply enchants me. I like other species of birds, but African Greys attract me like a magnet. I didn’t know I was that way until I began working with other birds. So far I’ve either boarded or rehabbed and rehomed Cockatiels, Quakers, a Solomon Islands Eclectus, and other Greys. Not much really, but enough to know what I like.
I find Greys to have more expression, personality, and “soul”, if you will. They seem more 3-dimensional to me and I can read them easier than other species. They have a quiet dignity that I admire and a nobility about them that I respect. I don’t find them aloof, I find them introspective and thoughtful.
Nyla is a little nervous and I don’t blame her. She’s on home #3, and she’s gone from a home that was afraid of her, to a flock of four other Greys to being transported across town and put in with a flock of 2 more Greys. This bird has been blind-sided and it’s a shame. But I think she likes it here; the food is good, she has company and the house is calm but stimulating. Nyla is getting attention, she’s already learning things and has toys to play with. So she’s doing better than she was and at least that’s a step in the right direction.
Patricia Sund is a Free-Lance Writer residing in Florida with her three African Greys. She has been published in About.com, Bird Talk Magazine, Birds USA, In Your Flock Magazine, Good Bird Magazine as well as numerous websites and newsletters. She is currently doing research for a book titled "Parrot Nation".