It is now 6 months later. Opie is now much more relaxed and
trusting. There are still occasional setbacks, during which he gets
scared for nothing - those crows landing on our deck, geese flying -
but these are less and less frequent. Overall, he is adjusting to his
new life very well.
While for the first several months he was scared of moving around in
his cage, spending most of his time in a single spot on his favored
wooden perch, recently he became more and more interested in exploring
his surroundings, and we now find him in different places when we come
back from work. He started to take an intense interest in his toys
about one month after he arrived. Opie loves his toys, especially his
plastic and wooden ones, and has many of them. He has several variety
of foot toys whom he likes to pick from a little basket, chew on for
awhile, and then drop and move on. He spends endless time on his gym
chewing on them, oblivious even to food, reducing them to splinters in
no time (that beak...). The contrast with our Jardine, Reggie, is very
striking: while Reggie gets bored with a toy after a few minutes and
moves on to the next one, Opie is totally focused and does not let go
until the toy is "killed". Intense is the adjective that best
describes him, followed by head-strong. Boy, is he stubborn. (That
must be a constant with Poicephalus parrots. Reggie is too.) And when
he does not get what he wants, or is not taken where he wants to go
pronto, he bites... not too painful if with the back of his mouth,
but exquisitely painful if he gets you with that pointy part of his
beak. He is very rumbunctious, has to explore everything, and be with
us all the time. He clearly favors Daddy, with Mommy second-best, whom
he cleverly manipulates to get to his favored person. Oh well....
Yes, he bites, but I think this is not malicious. He is still pretty
much insecure and can go back to fear-mode pretty easily. Besides, I
do not think he knows yet about our fingers - that those wiggling
juicy worms are actually attached to us... Another situation when he
bites is when he is molting. All those pointy feathers must feel like
someone is poking him on the back, and he takes revenge on the closer
finger. He has this habit of diving down from our hand on the nearest
shiny toy, and when he loses balance and falls, he punishes us by
biting. We are working on his biting problem. The secret is to
distract him with a toy, a song, or just by doing something
silly. Favored tricks are "Got your nose!", "Pickaboo!", or "Opie on
the luge", when he gets to fly around upside down on Daddy's hand.
He is our clumsy boy, affectionately nicknamed "The Big Bopper"
because of his bumbling and tripping around on those stubby little
legs but enormous feet. And at 358 grams, he is a big boy! He is
extremely fond of fruits and nuts, and he is built for those - with
that powerful pointy beak that is perfectly adapted to scoop out the
flesh. We have a ritual after dinner. Both Opie and Reggie get an
almond and they get to pick it out of a jar. While Opie dives into it
and grabs the very first one, Reggie stands on the jar and searches
around, checking for cracks and for the tastier one (in her mind).
You can see those two different personalities at work here.
And just like little kids, they covet each other's stuff. Every chance
he gets, Opie climbs on Reggie's cage and goes inside to check out her
toys. He runs around biting everything, all while making sure with the
corner of his eye that she is not looking. They have exactly the same
cage and most of the toys are the same, but no, what the other bird
has is definetly much better. The grass is always greener in your
Opie has become quite the cuddle bug, but on his own terms. His
favored is to stand on Daddy's arm or lap, with both Daddy and Mommy
tickling him - four hands skritching his head, neck, and chest. He
juts his head back, closes both eyes.... aaaahhh, nirvana! He could
stay like this for hours (and all night to avoid to go to bed).
Opie has an exceptional talking ability. In the 6 months he has been
with us he has developed quite a vocabulary (click here for a list). He carries on
convoluted conversations with himself using different voices - a
low-pitch one for my husband's, a high-pitch one for me, and a third
one which must be his. He scolds his toys when they do not "behave" by
telling them to be good boys, to step up, etc. He has demonstrated
that he understands what the words really mean and the tone of his
voice is always in sync with the meaning and the context. For example,
one time Reggie was lunging at him from a little too close. He backs
up, looks at her in utmost surprise, and with an offended tone of
voice says to her "....good boy!". He meant, of course, "be a good
boy" or even "I am a good boy, what do you want to hurt me for??".
Another time he was on Daddy's forearm. My husband was moving plants
and had both hands occupied so he said to Opie "Shoulder! Shoulder!"
to tell him to go up his shoulder. It was the first time Opie heard
this command. A puzzled Opie looks at Daddy and "?!?.....Step-up!!",
like if Daddy did not really know what he was talking about, but he,
Opie, instead did.
He is also an excellent whistler and makes up his own complicated
songs, so melodious to rival with an opera composer. Daddy answers
from the kitchen and the two of them engage in a duet. Many times we
just stand outside the door to listen to his music.