Avery is a Cameroon African Grey Parrot (Psittacus Erithacus Erithacus). He was hatched on 4/11/98. Avery's homecoming was when he was 6 weeks old.
Avery is also known as Chubby Wubby. This little guy will never be in fear of starving to death. He is almost 4 months old and is larger than his older brother Oliver. Cameroon African Grey's are a pale grey coloration with a bright red tail. They normally are the largest of the African Grey species. In our case, it is true. Avery is a *big* boy! Cameroon's are not a recognized subspecies of the African Grey ~ Please see our About African Grey's Page for more details on the true subspecies of the African Grey Parrot.
We had no intention of getting another African Grey. We walked into our local bird store and there he was. The moment he was in my arms, the same magic that happened with Oliver. Well, the next day we visited him again to be certain. He came home with us that same day. :)
Update 8/98: Avery is a happy, healthy boy! And we LOVE him. He loves to spend most of his time (take a guess) eating! He will eat anything you give to him (broccoli, leafy greens, cauliflower, carrots, apples, etc). He loves to play with his rope swing in his cage and his leather toy with the bell on the playstand. He and Oliver are "duking" it out on who is "leader of the flock". We don't want to know, so we keep them separate. Avery is too young to battle Oliver. He can't maneuver as Oliver can. We are presently socializing them both a little at a time. 5 minutes of a good time then take them apart. Building each day on that 5 minutes to ensure they can get along with each other.
At 4 months of age, Avery is starting to talk. He is saying, "Hello" and mimicking a lot of his older brother, Oliver's, noises.
Update 12/98: Well, Oliver & Avery are getting along wonderfully. Oliver & Avery have been living together in the same cage for 3 months. We video taped them to ensure they were both being good in our absence. Please note: Later on in this page, we decided to have separate cages.
Update 3/99: Recently we had a problem with Avery having Night Frights, something more common in Cockatiels. We came home to a nightmare on 2/14/99. Luckily Avery was ok after a trip to the vet and was kept overnight. We realized he was frightened by something outside and thrashed in the cage. His wing was caught in the process tried to chew it free. Avery is in a smaller cage temporarily to limit his activity. Once he is completely recovered and more relaxed Avery will have his own cage.
Update 5/99: We have Avery in a California Cage and we will monitor his progress. Since Avery is on the nervous side, we were cautious of toy & perch placement. He loves to play and attack his toys. Aside from the nervous behavior, Avery is a very happy bird. He loves having his belly tickled. Due to Avery's nervousness, he has been jumping off the play gym with any sudden movement/noise. Avery's out of the cage play time will be fully supervised. We are using a thick/plush blanket on top of the couch for him to play on while we interact with him.
Update 6/24/99: We purchased a new cage for Avery. A Stainless Steel Broadwell Cage. This cage keeps the mess to a minimum with the custom outside feeders. Avery's nervousness has not been getting any better. I came across an article written by Alicia McWatters on artificial coloring and the effects (see link on articles page). Through research we decided to take our birds off of pellets and onto an all natural diet. Diet: Safe & Toxic Foods We are feeding a wide variety of fresh fruits & vegetables and organic sprouts. This is given in the morning and in the evening I give more sprouts and an organic seed, nut and grain mix. Avery has been eating the diet for 2 weeks and there is a *noticeable* difference in his behavior!
Due to a recent vet visit, Avery's nervousness has returned. We are taking things very slowly and are very cautious with any movement in the house. We positioned AVery's cage in a place so he can see us before we enter the room.
Back in August, when attempting to take Avery out of his cage he jumped from me. I still had my fingers on his toes to ensure he wouldn't fall. My instinct told me to grab him with my free hand to break his fall. We feel this action and with Avery's nervous behavior caused him to become phobic. My hand which tried to break his fall, was viewed as a predator. It is amazing how a few moments destroyed almost all the trust Avery had in me.
Here are things I needed to do in order to help build the trust Avery had in me. Not looking into his eyes directly (using my peripheral vision). Never approaching the cage or walking by quickly. Always having my hands behind my back or walking by his cage with my back to him. Talking to him softly. Pulling up a chair and reading to him softly. Building on the good times. Avery did not have fear of me in the morning. I used that as a basis to build our relationship up. We explain everything to him. If we are walking in the house or down the stairs we always announce ourselves. We also moved Avery's cage to a safer location so he is able to see anyone or anything approaching his cage. Prior to the move, his cage was on a corner so that when you entered the room he could not see you coming. One thing we learned, is African Grey's do not like to be startled from behind.
I am at the point when I can touch Avery at any time during the day. This was not possible in the beginning of "building trust". Refusing to give in to his fear, we did took ever possible path to work with him to get him through this period. It is natural for humans to feel hurt when going through something as this. All we want to do is heal their pain.
Here is what we did: Since he is somewhat of a phobic bird, we allowed him to come out of his cage on his own. We took his playpen and placed it beside his cage. When he was ready, he would venture out of the cage and onto his playstand. It took about a month for me to be able to touch him outside his cage. I am still not able to have him step up when outside the cage. But I am able to have him step up from within the cage. But I am cautious of his moods. If he is having a nervous day - I at no costs attempt this. I wait for him to feel confident and playful. This is a matter of watching your bird and knowing his body language. When he is out of the cage, I always make sure Oliver and Abby are back in their cages. Sudden movements can upset him, so it is best to anticipate any problems that may arise. When we feel it's time to get him back in the cage. We entice him with a Walnut. This is using what his favorite means of bribery! It works. If you know your bird LOVES apples, use it to the fullest extent. The key is showing him a piece and let him watch where your put it. He has to see you putting it in the cage, in his food bowl. We refrain from giving him Walnuts outside the cage so that we can coax him into going back into the cage.
I wanted to share my JOYOUS news with you all. Because I have received the best Christmas present that no MONEY can buy!
Just to recap about Avery, About 6 or more months ago I had an "episode" with him taking him out of his cage that sent him reverting back to not trusting anyone at all. I was horrified to say the least because I was the only person in the world that he trusted. It took me months to get him to somewhat trust me and let me approach his cage without him jumping off his perch and screaming bloody murder. My husband and I have learned how to approach him and walk by his cage and it is now second nature. We are always VERY aware of what we do around Avery. I have gone to great lengths to help Avery for all of his life as he was always on the nervous side. I changed their diet dramatically with the greatest of hopes that it would help. Which it did help all our pet birds but then one day I attempted to take him out of his cage. I ignored the fact that he was a little uneasy that day. When I took him out, I automatically hold his feet because he is known for jumping and crashing and I didn't want him to crack his chest open on the floor. So he attempted to jump and I held his feet and instinctively my left hand came swooping up to catch him so that it would break his fall. Well he interpreted that as a Predator coming at him. That incident set him back to fearing EVERYTHING! And I was not able to go 20 feet near him for a very long time. This just broke my heart, but I worked LONG AND HARD to get where I am today. After 2-3 months I was able to touch him all over with hugs and skritches. He still has his moments though (don't we all?). Up until 3 days ago, he did not let me take him out of his cage, he has to come out on his terms. Forcing a phobic parrot is the worst thing you can do to them. I still play every morning with him and in the evening, spending about 45 minutes with him! Yesterday morning was an inspiration to today.
Yesterday I was doing my usual playing with him. I open up his cage and he lets me touch him all over as long as he is in his cage (his cage is his safety net). Well as he was doing the Leg/Wing Morning Stretch and I tickled his foot and he opened it and I gently grabbed it and picked him up. Out of the cage we went. Oliver and Abby were sleeping still and covered it was about 6 am at that time. So we played in the middle of the room. Oh what a pleasure!
TODAY: I wake Avery up. I skritch him for a minute or two then I go to open the cage up. He didn't want to step up, so I gently took his foot and UP UP'd him. He came out and was a little uneasy. So I spoke to him really calm and I was doing deep breathing to help him relax. I decided to walk to the other side of the kitchen and I happened to have the bathroom light on. He was leaning towards the light. Now I didn't know if that meant he wanted to go there or if he was just nervous. So I made a game out of the lil walk. ONE TWO "WHO LOVES YOU" etc. Every two steps I would stop and sing quietly to him. We got to the bathroom and now he's really excited and wants to go to the top of the Shower Stall!!! Ok BIG decision. Its 7' high and its a long way down. I place him up there and see how he does. Ok he's happy. I'm thinking "I need to make sure I can get him down". So I got him to step up just fine GREAT! I take him to the mirror to see that "HANDSOME GREY" and he was so excited!! So I decided what the hey (who cares if I'm late for work). I put him back up there and took my chances. I covered up all the tile with towels and every possible thing that could harm him was covered or put away. I open the shower door and explained to him that the water is going to come on. So he was fine and was chattering away!The true test is having him step off the top. When we were done he lifted his foot up high and said UP! Took him back to the mirror to see the handsome grey fella again!
Now is that the best Christmas present! I was so excited about it. Missing my evenings on the couch with Avery, I am going to try to do that every morning with him.
This took an extreme amount of patience to come this far but I feel someday Avery will be completely trusting again. Keep the faith!
To those who have behavioral issues with your birds, I hope this is an INSPIRATION to you, to keep the faith. Believe me there were times when I cried feeling sorry for myself, but that was my release. But the next day I worked with him again. Sitting by his cage reading.... etc.
God blessed me today and my lil grey boy who is the light at the end of my tunnel. I love him dearly and would do anything to have him back and we are WELL on our way.
Check out those thighs!
Avery is living in a Broadwell Cage. Avery has several gyms he shares throughout the house. Avian Inc Playgym, Panama Heights Gym for busy bodies. All are available at: Grey Feather Toys. Toys are changed regularly to keep their interest. All our birds are on a Natural Diet. You can read about the diet at: Diet: Safe & Toxic Foods. Water is changed several times throughout the day. Cage papers are changed daily. Cage, perches & toys are cleaned & disinfected daily. After all would you like to live in a dirty home?. Oliver has various toys and different types of perches in his cage to keep him busy & entertained when we are not there. He is about 14.5" long and holds a steady weight of 470 grams.
Avery's Favorite Sites - for African Grey Eyes Only
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