Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saturday Project for Charlie

Charlie is our double yellow Amazon parrot.


Yesterday, I decided that his day perch needed a makeover. I searched the web for ideas and came up with one for Charlie made out of PVC pipe & fittings.

After breakfast today, we went to Lowe's so I could purchase the necessary materials for the project.

Here is the finished project. It fits onto the original playpen nicely and is very secure. I built steps covered with jute on one side to help give him more exercise, and a place to hang a few toys to chew on. I want to work on adding something to hold wood so he can chew on that instead of my floor or door moldings.

Extreme Home Makeover - Bird Playpen Edition

All of this is just fitted together, no glue. The PVC cement is toxic to birds so I certainly didn't want to use it.

I would like to get a few new toys to hang on it including one with leather strips that he loves to gnaw on. I'm hoping that the revamped day perch will help keep him from getting bored.


Charlie has been a unique addition to our family. He traveled up from South Texas in the summer of 2003 with my mother. At that time, he was her bird. She had rescued him from a lonely existence.

We don't know much about Charlie's past, including how old he is. Parrots can live 60 or more years. He came as part of a house purchase when Dr. Mary Lou (Mom's ex-boss) bought an older home to use as her new office. The older lady who lived there had passed away and the bird and a cat came with the house.

During the day, Charlie lived out on the covered back porch in a small cage. At night, he was brought into the kitchen until the next work day began. He did not have much interaction with people and Charlie most certainly did not like Dr. Mary Lou. Bite, bite, bite was all he wanted to do to her.

Parrots are very social creatures and need lots of attention. Mom, being the soft-hearted person she is, felt bad for Charlie and started bring him home at night. She bought him a new and larger cage. Before long, Charlie belonged to Mom. She still couldn't handle him but at least he would let her clean the cage without biting.

When it was time for Mom to head north for the summer, Charlie (and Stormy, the cockatiel who was another rescue) traveled with her in the Rialta motorhome to Washington State.

During Mom's stay, there was a death in the family that required Mom to fly to the east coast. When Mom and newly-widowed Aunt Linda returned, the two ladies decided to go traveling in the Rialta for a while. Charlie and Stormy stayed with us.

Neither Karl or I had owned a parrot or cockatiel before so we bought books to learn more about caring for them. One book said that Amazons may not be the best bird for novice owners. Uh oh...what were we getting ourselves into?

Aren't I a handsome fellow?

But we persevered and educated ourselves about them. We gave Charlie lots of attention but kept our fingers clear of his beak. Around Christmas, I finally got brave enough to touch him. He loved the scratches on his head. Before long, he would sit on my hand. Progress!

Over time, Karl and I grew attached to both birds and asked Mom if we could keep them. She agreed to it.

We purchased an even larger cage for Charlie and Stormy moved into his old cage. We lost Stormy about a year later due to old age (according to the vet). She was the sweetest little bird though and I would own a cockatiel again.

Charlie loves to "talk" and sing. His vocabulary of sounds is quite extensive (at least I think so) and we still hear new things occasionally. He enjoys having his head and neck scratched and a foot massage now and then.

He also understands the command "no bite". He will however, bite strangers, including my mother who was the one that rescued him in the first place. Ungrateful bird. Karl and I are the only ones he will allow to touch him.

Amazon parrots have the temperament of a 2-year-old child. He can have hissy fits and scream to the point you want to serve roast parrot for dinner. We've given it some thought on a few occasions about re-homing him with another family, but Charlie is part of ours. We made the decision to care for him for the rest of his life and that's that. Even if it means having a 2-year-old who will never grow up.

Ahhhh, the joys of owning a parrot.

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