I had been considering on and off for a couple of years whether to add another parrot to my family. After much debate and discussion, I concluded that I would apply for a rescued bird, in order to give a parrot in need a second chance of a happy home. Now the wrong side of 40, I felt that taking on a baby would not be the right thing to do, as the potential for a parrot to outlive me is a real possibility. I won’t lie – the thought of dealing with a baby parrot’s nippiness and “terrible-twos” once more was also a little daunting, and I figured a more mature bird would bypass this issue! A little Green Cheek Conure caught my eye on Birdline Parrot Rescue’s website and with some excitement I registered as a member and put in an application.
I soon received a call from a lovely Rehoming Officer who conducted a 45-minute phone interview. This was followed up with a home check, which I was both delighted and relieved to have passed. However, as my application progressed it became clear that the bird, I had applied for had bonded with another at his temporary home and his Safe-House carer decided to keep him. Of course, this was brilliant news for the little chap, and I was thrilled for him. Safe-Housing is Birdline’s first step to a parrot finding their forever home; giving the bird time to settle and be assessed before being put up for adoption. However, I understand it’s not uncommon for the Safe-House to end up keeping their little feathered friends.
Fortunately for me the Rehoming Team had another bird in mind, and I was asked whether I would consider Safe-Housing a special-needs Green Cheek who had recently been surrendered to the rescue because her owner could no longer care for her. Any concerns about coping with her condition (a deformed beak) were quickly allayed and I readily agreed to take her. So, on a wet and windy evening at the end of October 2017 I drove into a Tesco’s car park somewhere close to Manchester, with instructions to look out for a Birdline Area Manager and the tiny bird who would shortly steal my heart. The Area Manager had kindly suggested the supermarket as a meeting point because it wouldn’t take me too far off my planned route for the evening. She met me with a hug and after a brief chat in the rain I said hello to my new little foster parrot – Rani. What I saw near broke my heart, as a scruffy little parrot, huddled into a corner of her cage, peered back at me with a terrified look in her eyes. How confused and unsettled she must have felt.
With paperwork signed and Rani safely secured in her cage on the backseat of my car, we set off for the relative’s house where I had arranged to stay for the night. Not a peep was heard from Rani on the hour-long journey – not even a single squawk in objection to my terrible radio Karaoke! On arrival I was therefore extremely surprised to hear her excitedly say “biscuit, biscuit” as I offered a hospitality gift of cookies to my relative.
I placed the little cage on a side table next to where I was sitting and debated whether to open the door, or just to let her settle. But after noting that she screamed every time I left her sight, I decided she might be happier if she wasn’t stuck inside. She immediately rushed out and climbed up to the top of her cage and leaned towards me.
I offered her my finger to step-up and she promptly bit it. Quite right too – where were my manners? I’d forgotten to introduce myself properly. After a little bit of quiet conversation and reassurance I offered a covered arm and she hopped on. By the end of the evening I had tackled some of the pin feathers on her head that were causing her obvious irritation and she had fallen asleep in the crook of my arm. Such trust from this tiny creature – I was already falling in love.
So, we were off to a flying start with the bonding, but sadly I noted that she wasn’t in the best of health. She was in poor body condition, which I put down at least partly to the difficulty she had eating with her long and deformed beak. But worse still she smelt bad – I suspected a fungal condition. She also seemed to be in some distress and pain whilst passing her droppings.
The next day I messaged the Rehoming Director of Birdline with my initial observations and she kindly reassured me that the charity would cover the vet costs for any pre-existing conditions. Shortly after getting home I took her in to the vets for that much overdue beak trim. The vet also weighed her and gave her a general wellbeing check. Examination of her droppings under a microscope confirmed the fungal infection – for which she was prescribed medication. Two weeks and several baths later she smelt better but still had frequently runny droppings and continued pain.
Back to the vets we went and this time we came away with antibiotics and an appointment for X-rays to investigate her internal problems. Fortunately, the X-rays showed no blockages or other ominous signs – but the vet suspected damage to the muscles in her vent area from a previous egg laying episode. He prescribed painkillers (0.05 mm of Loxicom a day) which started helping her discomfort levels immediately. She is such a good girl and comes to me when she sees the medicine bottle. She licks the dropper clean – it must taste very nice. Since bringing Rani home, I have gradually been introducing pellets and chop to her diet of seed and started supplementing her water with calcium and vitamins. I’m delighted to see her feather condition improving along with her general health. She has also gained confidence and started exploring her new home. Her delightful cheeky side is now emerging too.
Rani was clearly much loved by her previous owner and quickly bonded to me. She stuck to me like glue for the first few weeks and would lunge at anyone who came near me – including my other Conure. Any hopes of an immediate friendship between my two girls was quickly dashed. But I’m hopeful that within time they may become friends. For now, each Conure has time out with me alone and they at least have each other’s company from their side-by-side cages whilst I’m out at work.
Having initially taken Rani on a temporary basis, I’m delighted to say that I too am a failed Safe-House. Just before Christmas I applied to foster her permanently. Taking on a rescue is so rewarding. Any time and effort I have spent has been paid back to me tenfold with the love and trust she has shown me. I’m so grateful to the Birdline team for allowing me to care for such a special little parrot.
I’ve also become part of the Birdline Community and the support and advice given to me by the Rehoming Team has been invaluable. Having seen the wonderful work that Birdline does, I decided I too would like to help the charity and recently started volunteering for Birdline. I often take Rani to Birdline events with me, (when she can be persuaded to wear her harness). The other volunteers find it funny when she sits on top of my headed, like a fascinator. Rani’s name means Queen and this little diva certainly rules my heart and home. I look forward to helping many other parrots find their own chance of a second forever home.
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