The Homecoming of Aziza:

(11AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

Today, I will be posting something different;  I’ll be going back to Aziza, but here is the longer essay on her that I promised to write about.

This is a photograph of Aziza, where she looks like she’s doing a dance.  She’s in one of her favorite poses, on her favorite outside-her-cage height and place:

Homecoming of Aziza

Here’s yet another photo of  Aziza,

Homecoming of Aziza

playing in her cage, looking curiously down at something while she’s on her bong rope swing, which is a favorite inside-her-cage perch of hers.

Here’s another more exuberant photo of Aziza.

Homecoming of Aziza

She certainly reveals her beauty, exuberance and gracefulness when she’s in that position.  It’s great!

This is a photo of Aziza perched on my forearm/hand.  You now have a close-up view of her, and you can see her beauty on a somewhat larger scale.


Here’s yet another photo of Aziza, in one of her most pensive modes:

Aziza my baby Congo African Grey Parrot.

This photo, too, reveals how beautiful she really is!  One of my favorite photos of Aziza.Now that I have presented afew (albeit familiar) pictures of Aziza, many of them taken when she was even younger than she is right now, I will proceed with the essay itself.

After the unfortunate passing of my (almost) 20-year-old Noble Macaw, McGee in early February of this year due to unknown and natural causes, I knew in my heart that I wanted another exotic bird.  Yet, going out and getting another bird right away didn’t make sense.  I needed time to mourn and do research as to what kind of bird that I wanted.  It was at about ten-thirty on a Sunday night, when I went to cover McGee’s cage.  Seeing McGee lying still on the bottom of his cage, I called his name, and caressed him, hoping to wake him up.  There was no response forthcoming, so I immediately knew the worst;  McGee had passed over the pet rainbow to bird heaven.  Not thinking what to do, I wrapped his little body in two coats of foil, put it in two plastic bags, put it in my kitchen trashcan which was full of shredded old documents, and then put the whole trash bag out in the dumpster.  Probably not the best thing to do, but, being in shock, I was just thinking on my feet, so to speak.  The next morning, I called my sister and told her the sad news, and then I got a call from my brother a few minutes later, after my sister had called him and given him a message.  I received much condolences from my family, friends and some of my neighbors who I told.  I knew that I  wouldn’t be getting another bird until the spring, and, although it was a fairly short time, I began to feel the emotional pain of  not having a pet to greet me when I walked in the door, and I often found myself looking over at McGee’s old cage in the corner of the living room, expecting him to be there, but finding an empty cage instead.

A week later was my birthday, and one of my birthday presents was a couple of books about parrots;  One was called Parrots for Dummies, and the other was a complete book on African Greys, because I was leaning towards getting an African Grey Parrot.  I did much research on African Greys and other parrots both on and offline.  I asked around about a reputable pet store in our area, talking to the veterinarian that I’d taken McGee to, a couple of her assistants, and a neighbor who’d purchased a Red-Lored Amazon at that same place ten  years before.  All roads pointed to a pet store down in East Walpole, MA, called Bird and Reptile Connection.  After I explained about the passing of my Noble Macaw,  I went down and visited the place, and looked at a not-quite-a year-old Goffins Cockatoo, which is one of the smaller cockatoos.  It was a beautiful bird–all white with a sort of orangey-pink coral color underneath.  The Goffins and I got along splendidly, but after doing much on and offline research, I decided against getting the Goffins cockatoo, and I concentrated on the African Grey instead.  I asked about the baby Timneh African Greys that were due to arrive in April, which were a little cheaper than the Congo African Greys and were reputed to be somewhat more easygoing.  I decided to look at the Timneh, being set on that.  I bided my time, doing as much research as I could, on the Greys, housing for them, care, and food for them.  I kept in touch with the people at Bird and Reptile Connection via telephone and email.  April finally came.  

One morning in late March/early April, I received an email from the owner of the pet store, who’d received an email from the Timneh breeder down in Florida;  that, for some unknown and strange reason, the two baby Timneh African Greys that were supposed to arrive that week had gotten killed by the parents.  What a sad, strange and scary event!

Afew days later, the owner of the store was scheduled to pick up a couple of baby Congo African Grey Parrots from a friend of hers in Albany, NY., and they would be sold at the same price that the Timnehs would’ve been sold at.  I made it clear that I was interested, and afew days later, I got an email saying that the two Greys were due in on Thursday, but not to come in until after eleven o’clock on Saturday morning to decide on and pick out my bird.

Saturday, April 10th, was the big day.  I drove down to the pet store, looked at the two baby Congo Greys, and loved them at once.  Aziza actually chose me….she tried to climb up the front of my shirt!  My heart knew I had a connection, and I decided to take the baby Congo with a blue band on her leg.  After a week or two, I decided to have her DNA-sexed, and it took a week for the results to come back.  Everybody in the store, including a number of the other customers, were guessing that the grey that I’d just bought was a girl.  They were right;  one of the women who worked in the pet store emailed me one morning with the results;  The African Grey that had chosen me was a girl.  I set to work really researching names, and consulted with my family.  Finally, the name Aziza (which means “gorgeous” in Swahili)   came up, and we all agreed that this was the best name for her.  

Then, I had to look at a cage.  I chose a 32″ x 23″ playtop cage for her, with a securely locking door, which was a neutral sandstone color, which I thought would go the best with my house, and I was right.  For several weeks after purchasing the bird, I drove down to the pet store every 2 or 3 days to visit Aziza, spend a couple of hours with her, get to know her, and to start the bonding process.  It all paid off in the end;  she and I got to know each other very well, and we get along famously.  After deciding what kind of cage I wanted and what color, I still had some time to go before Aziza could come  home with me, because she was still on formula.  

During the time I spent at Bird and Reptile Connection, I got to know the pet store staff, as well as many other customers, many of who also owned African Grey parrots, and I listened to what they had to say.  The cage was ordered, and it finally came in.  In mid to late May, I was told that the cage would be delivered right to my house on a Sunday morning.   One of the young women working at the pet store who’s also an African Grey parrot owner (she has a boy and a girl), put the cage together for me, and then helped me pick out the right toys and perches for me.  I thanked her.  

Afew days later, on Sunday, the owner of Bird and Reptile Connection and her husband delivered the cage right to my house that morning.   They were quite impressed with my place, and declared that Aziza would love it there.  I thanked them for delivering the cage, and for the compliment.     That afternoon, I drove down to the pet store to get Aziza, and I also purchased food, and some other stuff for her.   After being given a paper full of advice, and talking more with the owner and the other staff at the pet store, I thanked everybody, drove myself and Aziza home, and put her in her new cage.  Not having an adequate cage cover for her at the moment, I resorted to covering her with an old cover made of two sheets that I’d covered McGee’s cage with for quite awhile.   After disinfecting and scrubbing McGee’s old cage, I decided to donate it to the store, and the owner of the pet store and her husband took it back with them, thanking me before they left.  

Aziza is a sweet bird, and, like a small, sometimes mischievous child, she’s forever testing me.  I make it a point to spend 2 hours a day handling her, alternating between having her on my lap, hand or forearm, and having her on her playtop.  One thing I started doing with her while visiting her in the store was talking to her, and teaching her the “Jets” whistle from West Side Story, which she’s picked up and does beautifully, using it as her contact call for me.   As I pointed out earlier, one would have to hear it to believe it!   Not long ago, Aziza and I watched an airing of West Side Story on TCM together.  She seemed intently interested in the movie (I often play the CD soundtrack of WSS), and was constantly cocking her head to one side, as though listening.  That was so sweet to behold!  

She’s also a very sociable bird, and it’s often somewhat difficult to get her to go back into her cage when I need to leave the house for whatever reason, to work in my studio, and when it’s her bedtime, although I do end up putting her to bed at different times.  Not long after I got Aziza, I ordered a black cover for her cage, which, although it quite tall, was perfect.  Aziza accepts being covered (not every bird likes it), and is beginning to accept spraying water when she’s on her J-shaped perch on her playtop.  Some, but not all of my neighbors, have met her and loved her.  One night, not long ago, My brother and sister-in-law and their young son and daughter, 9 and 7, came to meet Aziza, and were warmed to her right away.   At the request of my brother and sister-in-law’s son, I took Aziza out of the cage for awhile, and their daughter, despite being scared of the bird initially, also warmed up to Aziza.  I can see why the bird would be intimidating to some people, especially young children, however.  After meeting with, petting and caressing Aziza for awhile, we all went out to dinner at the Royal East, a wonderful Chinese Restaurant right near me, and our favorite restaurant, due, at least in part to its reasonable price, and friendly staff.  I paid the tab.  

I’ve begun teaching her to talk (quite awhile ago) and I’ve even been reading Mother Goose poems to her, as weird as this sounds.  Last Friday, I had a friend over to meet Aziza, after we’d had dinner over at Legal Seafoods.  What a wonderful evening top that off.  On Sunday, August 1st, I’ll be having several friends of mine for a social that revolves around intense toys.  i’ll tall you all more when I get another day.



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    • mplo on September 12, 2010 at 3:26 pm
  1. if you have the time. People who don’t have them have no idea how smart and complicated these creatures are.  

  2. She would have a conversation with Nym and it was like listening to an adult have a conversation with a 5 year old.  It was very clear that Nym understood what Pat was saying to her; the physical responses were appropriate to the conversation at hand.

    These birds aren’t just smart, they’re so smart that it’s anywhere from having a 3 year old to a 6 year old human child for a companion.

    Thanks for the great diary.  Hugs and condolences for McGee.

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