Celebrating, Conservating and Educating (about) African Grey Parrots

Einstein’s Aerie

This page on our website is devoted to Einstein, the DYH Amazon parrot ,who we added to our flock on December 15, 2005, at the age of 9-1/2 years old.

A separate page will feature several thumbnails you can click on to see more pictures of Einstein, but it is still under construction.

And now, here is his story …

EINSTEIN THE AMAZON: FINDING A HOME AMONG THE GREYS

By John Geary

Why include stuff about Amazons – on a page about African greys?” you may ask.

The answer is simple.

In December 2005, a double yellow-headed (DYH) Amazon joined our flock of two greys, so I decided it was time to post something about him.

In addition to his personal story, you’ll find some other info about Amazons in this subsection of the website.

Read on ….

Einstein joins the flock

Early in 2005, the adoptions director at Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary asked me if I could foster a new bird that had just joined our program.

His name was Rocky, he was a blue-fronted Amazon. He had been a close companion of a mature gentleman for 18 years, but he had passed away in 2003, and due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, Rocky was cage-bound for the next two years, which probably created some behavior issues for the poor bird.

To make a long story short, he stayed with us for six months, but never really adjusted to living in our home. He seemed to dislike any man who tried to interact with him, and eventually, after a failed attempt at living in another home with a couple who lived with a companion orange-winged Amazon, he was placed in a loving home with a woman who he seemed to accept.

Fast forward six months to the week before Christmas, 2005. Einstein was coming into the Greyhaven program, as his human caretaker was moving to Europe and could not take him. I was asked if I could take him even for a little while, as we only had about three days’ grace to find a place for him.

Needless to say, after having been bitten badly by Rocky on a few occasions when he stayed with us, I was not all that keen about having another Amazon stay with us. (If you read some of the other articles on this website – links are below – you’ll understand that Amazons can, at times, present problems not associated with other parrots like greys).

However, I decided to help out, and accept him as a foster parrot at least until the New Year. “I’ll foster him until we can find a good adoptive home for him, but I don’t want to keep him permanently,” I told our adoptions director.

Famous last words.

Amazons do tend to be one-person birds, and for some reason, Einstein decided quickly he liked me more than Ann. (His previous owner was a male, a bachelor, so he probably felt more at ease with another male.) That first night, he reached over while perched on my hand and took a bite of my pizza.

Just like with a man (as the old adage tells us), the way to a bird’s heart is often through his tummy …

The next day, the food-bonding continued with Einstein sharing my scrambled eggs with me at breakfast (much to the chagrin of Nikki, who usually got to eat eggs with me!).

Within a few weeks, he was spending more time sitting with me, on my hand, interacting with me, looking out the window at our bird feeder. I gradually worked up the courage to give him some light scratches on his head.

He was starting to crawl into my heart.

After only a few of these affection sessions, he reached over after I’d stopped one time, and very gently picked up my finger in his beak and pulled it toward him, as if to say, “Don’t stop, I want more!”

Which is, of course, exactly what I gave him.

Over the next few months, I had to learn how to interpret Amazon body language (it is quite different from that of African greys), and our bond continued to grow, but I still wasn’t sure if I should adopt him. My career, my volunteer work and the time I spend looking after our greys were all very time-consuming.

Then, over Easter weekend that month, the Greyhaven adoptions director called and said they’d had some inquiries about Einstein, people were interested in adopting him.

The organization always gives the foster home first shot at adoption. I’d been anticipating and dreading this call, trying to determine if I should adopt him. I wanted to do what was best for Einstein, not what I wanted. I honestly felt he was very happy here, and I didn’t think turning around and uprooting him by placing him in another new home for the second time in a year would be in his best interest.

So I told her, “Where are the papers I have to sign to adopt him?”

That, by the way, is not an unusual development in the world of animal fostering. The foster homes often choose to adopt their animal fosters (which is why we always need more foster homes! You can only look after so many animals!)

Since then, my bond with Einstein has grown deeper. He’s gained confidence (although the greys still pick on him, especially Nikki), he’s developed more interest and ability to play with toys (he didn’t play with them much when we first met him), and he’s even learned to fly!

He is a very gentle bird, at the exact opposite end of the spectrum from Rocky, although he does have his moments (like all Amazons!). He has only every really bitten me hard once, and that was in an unusual situation in which I had ignored some of his signals that told me he wanted to go back into his cage. (Ignore any parrot communication at your peril!) He loves going with me to public outreach events to senior pet therapy sessions and public education sessions.

I do need to spend a certain amount of quality one-on-one time with him each day, a time when the greys aren’t buzzing around the room, so he can relax and enjoy our interaction.

It’s those moments when I truly believe he is another little feathered angel sent down to Earth to enrich my life ….