Having got caught up in the flight disruptions caused by the Icelandic volcano, we are glad to be back in France on our current house sit.
We are in a small village just north of Carcassonne, looking after two small dogs, an elderly cat, an aged Camargue pony, 7 chickens and 3 African Gray parrots.
Our current house is a converted windmill on top of a mountain with 360 degree views over the surrounding countryside, giving us superb sunrises and sunsets.
This is our first time looking after African Gray parrots. We have been looking forward to getting to know this beautiful bird.
We are looking after 3 African Parrots.
Cookie is a male bird caught in the wild. He was initially very shy with us, and stayed in his nesting box just poking out his head. Gradually, day by day, he has got braver, sings us a lovely tune and bobs his head up and down. By the end of the week he was staying out on his perch when we entered the aviary.
Sugar is a female bird and was raised in captivity. She is much braver with us, and from day one she had stayed out on the perch, gradually coming up to us to take a peanut from us.
Baby is the offspring of Cookie and Sugar, this is a rare occurance, and was not expected by the owners. He/she is now about 6 months old and the gender is not yet known. He was very shy of us to start with, growling when you approached his nesting box. At the end of the first week, he was getting braver, staying out on the perch and singing to us.
We sat in with the birds to start with, just chatting to them. We had a pet owner's manual to give us some background information and what to look out for in terms of behaviour and what it means.
These birds are extremely intellegent and we wanted to learn how to communicate with the birds, in order to build their trust. The first thing we learnt was not to look at them directly to be less intimidating, and we sat down in the aviary to make ourselves smaller.
Our first breakthrough was reading that when a parrot wants to gesture to another parrot that he wants peaceful contact he rubs his bill (whetting) against a branch, by rubbing our fingernails againgst a branch or on wood, this sends the same signal. The first time we tried it Sugar came right up towards us and started whetting his bill, mirroring our gesture.
We were also told that parrots may try and peck your hand, but this does not necessarily mean it is being nasty, we were told not to flinch away from the peck, or scream "ouch!" as this will shake the bird's confidence! Sugar has pecked Della a couple of times, and she managed not to react or pull away each time.
More info on African Gray Parrots