For the Love of an Eclectus
This love affair started approximately 18 years ago. A tiny worm looking alien was hatched at 5 minutes after midnight on Easter morning, April 12, 1998. A phone call from the breeder, Patti LeMaire, greeted us early Easter morning, the egg had hatched the baby bird was pink, wiggly and healthy. Did we want to come visit next week? Yes, of course we did.
Let me back up a few months and fill in a little background. We were looking to adopt a cockatiel, as our 21 year old cockatiel had passed over the rainbow bridge and our house was soooooo quiet without the cheerful sound of a bird. We visited the breeder, found our little baby cockatiel and met a green bundle of feathers with the most beautiful, soulful eyes and quiet, cuddle disposition, a 2 month old male Eclectus which was already spoken for. We happily continued to visit our baby tiel till the day we could bring her home. It was at that time that we told Patti that should she have another Eclectus hatch that was not spoken for, we would truly love to be contacted. Male or female it didn’t matter, we were hooked! Five months later, she had a baby Eclectus for us. We watched that baby Eclectus change from a tiny pink alien looking creature into a cute beautifully feathered baby girl Eclectus who we named Taco Belle.
Over the years we have experienced the screaming of an unsure, insecure baby girl Eclectus. Wondered if we would survive Taco’s terrible twos and then watch her grow into a determined, confident adolescent. Then came the onset of sexual maturity and hormonal surges. Breeding Taco had never been an option; she is a pet and a pet she will stay. Handling the hormonal surges is interesting. No longer is she allowed to run and play on the floor with her toys. As she had abandoned her toys in search of dark corners to make a nest and protect it with every essence of her being. Diversions and lots of exercise have become a way of life.
Taco has grown up. She is still very loving, cuddly, good-natured and a wonderful companion to each member of our family. She did become territorial for a time, but our kind constant insistence that we are included in her world and territory has made her understand that we are not a threat and are to be completely trusted. Besides, we are the keepers of new toys and Taco really is not into cage cleaning and prefers that we do that for her. We do respect her space when she really wishes to be left alone, and by the same token if we really need her to step up she does so without hesitation. Mutual respect is crucial, in our family’s opinion, for a good relationship with your companion Eclectus.
With the onset of hormones came another problem. We were dismayed at Taco’s clipping of her feathers to the point that she looks like a gray bird with partial red wings and tail feathers. In our search for the cause, we consulted with Taco’s vet and discussed the situation with other Eclectus owners facing the same situation, with birds at about the same age. We also took a look at her diet at the suggestion of my friend, Carolyn Swicegood, who is a long time Eclectus breeder and owner of one of the best informational web sites regarding Eclectus, www.landofvos.com. Hormones were the first consideration and after much discussion our vet suggested a hormone shot, Lupron. After the shot, some of the nesty type behavior subsided, but the feather clipping continued, and soon was accompanied by wing flipping and toe tapping. At this time it would appear that the cause might have been a commercially prepared food she was being fed. We have omitted this food from her diet, the toe tapping and wing flipping have subsided. Taco now has more pinfeathers than regular feathers. We hope she leaves them alone and returns to her beautifully feathered self.
As it turned out, commercially prepared food was only part of the problem. Seasonal hormones are to blame for the re-occuring feather cutting. Feather destruction, wing flipping and toe tapping are a few of the special challenges of Eclectus ownership. The support of knowledgeable Eclectus owners and breeders, in my humble opinion, is a must, especially when problems arise. You can find this type of support on the internet at The Eclectus Connection, as well as with your own breeder.
Taco has traveled with us over three-quarters of the United States.
She has been invited and attended an Art Gallery opening, yes she attended in a black tux and tails. You can read her story at http://www.landofvos.com/tales/taco/taco.html. Long time friends Shiori and Reggie along with their dedicated slaves, Darla and Kathy, who are more family than friends, visit from Wyoming and Georgia on occasion. Taco travels to Wyoming to visit Shiori too, and we have been to Georgia to visit Reggie.
Most rooms in our home have a cage, playstand or perch to accommodate our precious feathered bundles of joy. Yes, we even have guest perches for visiting birds. We have had birdy hatch day parties, Birdy Bar-B-Q’s with family and friends, including their Eclectus Shiori, Sinbad, Clover and Reggie to name a few. We walk our neighborhood and hike in the mountains, when weather permits, accompanied by Taco, along with our floor bird (chow chow puppy) Mystic. Since the addition of Taco to our family, our lives have never been the same and we have come to enjoy it that way.
On a sad note, Tiki Tiel, Taco’s cohort in crime, passed over the Rainbow Bridge on July 15, 2013, at the age of 16 years-old. It was a tough time for the entire family. Ultimately, we decided to watch Taco and see if the addition of another bird to our family would be necessary. Taco always lived in a two bird family, with dog and turtle, but after the mourning period, weighing the many pro’s and con’s, (Tiki was an extraordinary Cockatiel – Taco and Tiki were best friends from almost hatching – they were eight months apart in age) we decided that Taco was able, content and happy to be an only bird.
I guess what I am trying to convey is that Eclectus ownership, as with any parrot is wonderful, but it is not all roses, nor is it for the faint of heart. It is a lifetime commitment to a perpetual 2 year old, who is extremely intelligent and will always test her/his boundaries.
Your commitment must be for better or worse. There are lots of challenges and hard work in sharing your life with an Eclectus, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges, if you are up to them! There is nothing quite as heart warming as a warm beak laid upon your cheek as your feathered one snuggles next to your neck making contented beak grinding noises, now that’s happiness and contentment Ekkie style!
WARNING NOTE: The gathering of people and birds of which you are unfamiliar is not recommended due to the dangers of deadly avian diseases.
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