Life with Kiwi.

Have you ever found yourself asking: Is a pet bird right for me?  Nope; me neither.

I don’t profess to be a bird expert, but I do speak the language.  I live with a parrot named Kiwi.  Or as I call her, my birdie appendage.  Kiwi is a gold capped conure, a small species of parrot native to Brazil. We adopted her several years ago. And when I say adopted I really mean my husband was offered a parrot for free and then brought her home. Not that I minded, but I want to make clear I had NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. We were told at that time she was young; maybe 2-3 years old. Also, her name was Robin.  Not a bad name, but I felt strange calling a conure ‘robin.’  So I named her after a fruit instead.

Kiwi quickly bonded to yours truly and I now spend the bulk of each day w/ Kiwi nesting in my hair, grooming me and generally making herself comfortable. Most of the time I don’t mind, but when she gets particularly engrossed in picking my face, it can be a bit distracting. Especially when my husband starts screaming, UUGHH WOULD YOU NOT LET THE BIRD DO THAT!  In addition to surrendering much of my physical person, I have also surrendered my wardrobe.  Most of my shirts have holes and keeping anything with buttons or a zipper intact is a near impossibility.  Let’s not forget the matter of her “birdie business,” which she does at will and with abandon.  Suffice it to say, I change clothes often.

Kiwi has one goal in life.  It is called I MUST DRIVE ALL OTHERS AWAY FROM THIS WOMAN.  See, Kiwi likes me.  A LOT.  And like all stalker/victim couplings, it’s a special kind of relationship.  Normal people can talk on the phone.  They can leave the house.  They can hug their children without ducking down and glancing around wildly.  The day my husband brought Kiwi home, I went from being a free woman to a claimed territory.   And not just my body.   I’m not talking boogers here (though she definitely wants those too).  Kiwi wants ME.  She wants all of my love & attention and BOY does she let me know.  Her voice can be deafening at times.  She also likes using her beak.  NEVER ON ME! mind you.  No, just on anything and everyone else.  I am her property alone and the rest of the world must be kept at bay.

In this way, she is much like my husband.  Yet the constant pull for my attention can wear thin.  When her jealousy reaches intolerable proportions, I tell her NO.  I stick her back in the cage.  Over and over.  And OVER AGAIN.  But she never lets up.  My husband says, “Baby, you tell me when and the bird is HISTORY.”  But I just look at him.  And he knows.  We all know.  Kiwi’s here for good.  Even though I did NOT bring her home, I can’t turn my back on her now.  I’ve off-loaded too many pets over the years.  And my parents aren’t interested (I asked at Christmas.)  It’s unfair to tame these animals, make them dependent on us, and then abandon them when they grow too needy.  Though trust me, the temptation often abounds.

Not to discourage anyone, but there is a reason birds are considered EXOTIC pets.  Exotic can mean non-native, or topless, but in the case of birds it’s really code for unusual.  Bird people are also an unusual species.  Long on patience and short on clean tops.  As far as birds go, parakeets are pretty easy.  I had one as a kid.  But as you get into the larger species of pet birds, things change dramatically.   The mess, for instance.  Parrots are poop machines.  Just ask anyone who’s ever been to my house.  And like all birds, they are social.  They do not just need but indeed demand companionship.  Many large species will also outlive you.  Apart from this massive time commitment, you need to consider your living circumstance.  Birds are noisy.  The squawking may drive close neighbors (and often you) insane.  And lest I forget to mention, birds can be nippy.  If permitted, they will chew you, your clothes and your furniture apart.  All of this – the noise, the biting, the destructive tendencies, can be lessened through proper training, but in some semblance will always remain.

Now that Kiwi is “mature” (meaning reproductively), I’ve begun wondering about her gender.  Although many birds are dimorphic (i.e., you can tell whether they are male or female simply by looking at them), gold capped conures are not.  I have always referred to Kiwi as a girl.  I put a little nest thingy into Kiwi’s cage ages ago.  I’ve never actually seen her in it (she sleeps on top of it), but I do occasionally glance in there, just to see if she’s produced anything.  I know Kiwi thinks of me as her human mate, so I wonder why she hasn’t yet laid me an egg.  Which (were she female) she’d have likely gotten round to by now.  She is certainly a very happy bird.  Plenty of food. and attention.  Hmm.. In order to establish her gender w. certainty, I could have a DNA test done.  Which isn’t a big deal, but frankly I’m not rushing to do.  Deep down, I’m starting to think Kiwi is a boy.  But I still call her my (favorite nickname) “Bird Girl.”  Do you think it’s confusing?  I don’t think she/he cares, but still.  I wonder.

0 thoughts on “Life with Kiwi.

  1. YEAH!
    All About Kiwi!
    (I’d get a bird just because MIL HATES our feathered friends)

    I loves you Dishy… the topless comment… the poop machine… the skwaking insanity…
    And the deal-sealer, “make them dependent on us, and then abandon them when they grow too needy”

    Maybe Kiwi hasn’t laid eggs because they’d be useless… does he/she mate with your head? What about if you put a small egg out and see if he/she “makes friends” or sits on it?
    Perhaps Dr. Frankenfurter would have been an equally appropriate moniker.

    1. Oh Steph – I heart you TOO!

      As for Kiwi, no she does NOT mate w/ my head – If she tried something like that she’d be banished to the dungeon (cage). She loves me up by picking my face clean. She enjoys eye crust, nose crust and dental plaque in particular. Yes you are welcome. My old next door neighbor thought this picking tendency of Kiwi’s was the greatest thing ever. He used to try to get her to pick him too, but each time I handed her over, she’d immediately fly back to me. Even if I quick stuck her on him and then literally RAN AWAY – swoop, back she was.

      I know much of her independence could be stifled simply by clipping her wings, but I refuse to do it. I like the fact that she is allowed to be a BIRD – as much as it plagues me so. The only complaint I have is when she flies out the door after me. Which happens, oh, typically once a day.

  2. It sounds like Kiwi is a boy to me, too. In our house, the boy cat LOOOOVES me and the girl cat LOOOOVES Chris. If she every starts cuddling on me when Chris happens to be home, I know she’s hungry.

    “It’s unfair to tame these animals, make them dependent on us, and then abandon them when they grow too needy.”

    This really is so true. And you really do set the tone for them. Rowan and Zoltanista acted very different when we were gone (and they were with house sitters), then when we came back.

    P.S. “Let’s not forget the matter of her “birdie business,” which she does at will and with abandon.”

    – shudder –

    1. Hah! I love cats. They are so gloriously independent. We lavish all this attention on them, and they’re all – meh. Get me some vittles!

      Trust me Hayden. When you come for the SLOBS reunion, bring an extra top. Just in case.

  3. Mwa ha ha! Birds live for-everrrr, sucka! You are stuck with her! Ant’s dad brought home some crazy ass parrot or toucan in 1990 and ther bird is still alive and is likely to live for another 60 years! Tipsy is a psycho bird and lives for drawing blood. My mil loves her and the rest of us tolerate her. She’s green and can sing, whistle, and talk. She’s the devil.

    Team Kiwi! Can’t wait to meet her.

    1. Oh yeah – Kiwi should live another 25 yrs, easy. I’ll be gray and long in the tooth by the time we part ways. We had a (third hand) macaw – Lily. She was VICIOUS. We tried very hard to help her, but once a human ruins one of these birds, they’re hard to fix. Poor things. Though she bit my hand so hard one time, my finger was hanging open. Tipsy! Too cute. I think your MIL & I would get along like a house on fire. Two crazy loons & their birdie friends – LOL!

      1. It just dawned on me. People are probably wondering whether Kiwi can talk! Am I right? Well, Kiwi has a very gravelly little voice. She likes to say “HEEEEEYYYYY.” and “WAZZZZZUUUPPP.” and also she sometimes grumbles when I put her in the cage. She is never put in the cage unless she’s being bad. So I think that’s her smack talk “rasssinfrasssinwrassin” (indistinguishable muttering)..

  4. Such a lovely bird! Husband and I have always loved birds but I find them to be a lot of work and our cats think they are toys.

    We had a pair of hand raised cockatiels who would ride on shoulders, groom hair and facial hair, and bite through any necklace one may be wearing. They would also pull out earrings from one’s ears. They were fun to watch and hold and would fly back to their cage when they wanted to. I loved them but they were noisy, dirty, and as I said, attractive in the wrong way to the cats.

    Kiwi is so beautiful. Hope she has a home with you for life.

  5. Nat, Jude sounds like a real kindred spirit. Good to know you’re already accustomed to a zoo!

    S. Le, I completely understand. Before we left Philly we had 2 kittens who found Kiwi irresistible. We ended up giving them away before they ate her. Cockatiels are great. My sister used to have a pair. The male, Romeo, was a real charmer. She taught him to whistle “pop goes the weasel” and a few other things. Thanks for the compliments about Kiwi. She’s a character!

  6. We came home one day to find a peach faced lovebird hanging on our screen door. We let her stay for awhile, but I don’t know how she got her name – she was anything but loving. One day she flew away the same way she came. I was so glad to see her fly off on her little broom… On the other hand, my Aunt had a bird (not sure what kind) and loved it to pieces and it talked a blue streak and whistled the theme from “Mayberry RFD” and kept her company; it was a good bird. I got kissed by a macaw once. Just a little trivia.

  7. I’ll be delivering a homemade Valentine to the nursing home tomorrow as I visit a friend. I’m going as katklown to clown-walk with my puppet Poopsie. After that I have an appointment to donate via apheresis at the Red Cross. I’ll be stopping by, on my way home, to see you & the girls. How will Kiwi respond to bold color? From a stranger in your home? With a large puppet? Since puppet will walk at the nursing home & the Red Cross & your house, I will bring 3 separate ones, all white, so that germs will not get spread. At home, later, I’ll have Poopsie, Pansey, & Potsy sitting in bleach to clean them of dirt & germs. I have 4 glass jars; could you use them? Let me know so that I can bring them with me tomorrow. If you’re not home around 3 PM, I’ll leave them on the back deck by the door, in a bag. Kate

  8. hmmmmmmm…what clever repartee can I come up with…bouncy and curly have covered it all! Is it necessary to watch the face picking i.e. nose etc. if one were to say visit????????

    Our friend’s bird has to be put in the cage and covered when company comes…it likes NO ONE and it bitches (literally) the whole time anyone visits them.

  9. Tracie, what a great story – though I’m sorry to hear the lovebird was less than amorous. I’ve heard similar tales; I’ve yet to have a pet bird literally “find” me. Though I guess Kiwi’s close enough – hah!

    Hey Kate! Hope you’re having a wonderful time in Portland today. I’m sure you’ll be spreading great cheer. Sorry we won’t be home to see you in your costume. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Connie, Kiwi sounds very much like your friend’s bird – right now she’s super peeved b/c I just got home & am NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO HER! Must go – the noise is DEAFENING–! xo

  10. I really like Kiwi! That is such a cute name and she/he is so smart. You are very tolerant of her/him interating with you. Sometimes, I wish our bird interacted with us the same way, but I think I would get tire of him ruining my clothes. Our bird is a white ring neck dove named Moe. He use to sit on the computer screen in front of me and bob up and down cooing. I was told it means he likes me. My computer isn’t in his room anymore. I kind of miss it. Since we moved to our new house, he is alone and we have to make a special effort to hang around him. When we are in the room, he repeatedly hops from his perch down to the cage floor and paces at the door because he wants out. He is a good bird. I love to hear him coo.

  11. I left clown nose stickers in the bag with the 4 jars. At the nursing home, folks willingly wore them on their noses & had fun following the puppet around in the hallways. What a fun time. I’m exhausted; they must be, too. I know my friend, whom I visited, pushed herself in her wheelchair while I walked the puppet & I left her ready for a nap but wanting to keep her painted face on until bedtime later tonight. So many folks, even staff, thought Potsy Puppet was a real dog. Just great fun for all. It breaks up the winter. Hope your winter is going well with so little snow. Kate

  12. Oh Tammy, doves are such lovely birds. We have a whole flock of mourning doves out back – their feathers glisten in the sun and they have the prettiest colors beneath the wings – pinks, greens. I know a lot of people hate pigeons, but I find them tremendously interesting to watch. I think I’d love Moe, he sounds like a great bird. I hope you & your family are able to move him closer to the action. I think you’ll all be happier!

    Hi Kate! Thanks so much for the jars & stickers. Happy to hear your valentine’s treat was such a success. Sounds like you had a great time yourself! Good job.

  13. You two look so happy together! lol

    My older sister has a colorful bird. Not sure what it is but it is a pretty cool looking bird.

    I, on the other hand, could never own a house bird. I just can’t stand our local news paper. 🙂

  14. Hi Cristy,
    I have just been half listening to a program on MPBN on making seabags using old sails for the material. The business is probably in Yarmouth, or in the Old Port area. You should check it out- They sound like a business of smart women-much like yourself.

  15. Immediately after reading this in my office, I asked my business partner who majored in bird zoology (?) the gender question. He says to turn the bird over and feel the pelvis. If you feel a pelvis bone where it should be, it’s female- and if there is none or a tiny one, it’s male.

    And thanks for the lovely opportunity to meet Kiwi!

  16. Mssc54: if you hate your local paper then you should definitely get a bird. No better use for it!

    Thanks Abbie – will do!

    Rob, I attempted the pelvic tweaking this morn. Kiwi seemed to tolerate the squeezing, but he/she is so bony I cannot tell a thing. This bird would not be 2 bites of meat (not that I would ever eat him/her). Safe to say gender is still unknown. But many thanks anyway. xo

  17. Cupid….draw back your bowwww
    and let your arrow goooooo…
    Hey super Dish Lady Cupid…. thank you for nudging my old man and getting him to think about jumping… and bones…. *wink wink*
    Love you to bits and thank you sooooo much!
    We did laugh!

  18. I’m one of those crazy bird people you speak about, and although I have to have a lot of patience, I have no shortage on clean tops because I make all my birds wear diapers >:)

    I’m glad you’ve decided to keep Kiwi! A lot of people fall into your same situation and get rid of them without a second thought. My conure went through 8 homes in 2 years. Thanks for not continuing the cycle!

    1. Diapers?! Kiwi would NOT be on board w/ that! Lol

      As for keeping her, I simply can’t imagine life w/out her. As much as she drives me nuts with her screaming (oooh the screaming..!) and her constant doo-doo fest, I love her dearly. And boy does she love me!

  19. I agree “birds” are exotic pets with wild actions. This is more so with parrots. Finches and canaries do not care about human contact for example. However, the great thing about parrots is thier social nature and their ability to learn tricks. Budgie are small and independent and cockatiles are sweet but conures have more of a parrot personality. Conures can be noisey and messy but if you can handle those to things conures are great birds for those that want more of a parrot like bird but never jad a big parrot (which are even louder, ect). I have a geen cheek conure and they are not as noisey as he other conure species. Conures will need socialization, toys and foraging toys that will need to be switched out daily. Pellets, good healthy seeds and fruits and vegetables for thier diet, fresh water and a spacey cage that you will have to keep clean. Newspapers, paper towles and corn cob bedding can be fine. However, the first two gives you a chance to see the bird’s poop.

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