Friendship With An Eclectus
With a bird this intelligent, its relationship with a human goes far beyond pet/owner. Most Eclectus friends say that their relationship takes place on more of an equal playing field, even though it can seem one-sided when the bird wants to get its way!
“She always has to have things her way and, if she wants attention, she refuses to be ignored. As for other humans, you can just tell them to go away and leave you alone. She also gets more home cooking than my husband does,” said Waldman.
“I would describe my relationship with Galen as very close,” said Aurelia Hearn from Delaware of her Solomon Island’s male. “In the 31⁄2 years I’ve had him, I have learned to understand most of his sounds, clucks and dips, and I believe he understands me fairly well. For example, he knows when I don’t approve of something he is doing, and when I tell him to stop, he stops most of the time. He loves the game of ‘he makes a sound, and I copy the sound he makes.’ He enjoys singing with me — we both sound bad, but at least we sound bad together.”
Friendship among different species is an extraordinary treasure. Being friends implies that there’s mutual respect, love and understanding between the partners. Eclectus pals are quick to say they believe this is quite possible between them and their intelligent birds.
“We tend to relate more as equals than as pet and owner, but I need to constantly remind myself that the birds will always think and react as birds, not as other people,” said Thompson. “It stays interesting that way, as opposed to the routine feel that comes so often with other types of companion animals. Eclectus are extremely intelligent. Much of their talking is simply mimicry, but they also seem to use many phrases very appropriately. It happens often enough that I don’t think that you can say that it’s all just an enormous coincidence.”
“I see Flicka as a great empathetic daughter who can read my feelings before I can,” said Cindy Benz of New Mexico, about the female of her (and her husband David’s) pair of Eclectus. “She knows if I’m in need of a ‘cool down period,’ and will cuddle and offer herself as a deep friend would. She also understands if she is left alone for a time, due to a busy schedule, and will not ‘hold it against me.’ She clues into vocalizing her feelings with soft clucking and soft growlings when she feels my attention is for her only.”
Carol Frank, President of Avian Adventures in Texas, has had her male Solomon Island’s Eclectus, Murphy Green, for nine years and gives talks around the country on the virtues of parrothood. She sings the praises of the Eclectus and appreciates the species’ compassionate temperament.
“One moment Murphy will be sitting quietly with me for hours, cooing into my ear, staring directly into my eyes and giving me more unconditional love than I could ever expect from such an exceptional creature. The next moment we’ll be marching around the house, singing, dancing and carrying on while he is screaming, laughing and entertaining the heck out of me. I have often referred to him as an ‘old soul’ because he has such compassion and depth of character. I tell him every day what a lucky ‘birdie mom’ I am!” said Frank.
“My dogs are very much a part of my life; but I find that with them, I am the master,” said Chase. “With my cockatiels, even though we play, talk and give kisses back and forth, I am the leader for the most part. But with Milo, we are partners. His personality is just too big to be bossed! Although I get unconditional love from the dogs, I feel that working to keep Milo’s trust is a challenge that makes me a better person.”
Kathy Rakestraw, an Eclectus guardian from Georgia, confesses that she does sometimes think of her Eclectus as a feathered child, but that she is careful not to take that thinking too far.
“He’s a bird, and I need to let him be a bird,” said Rakestraw. “I need to always keep sight of the fact that I owe it to him to provide him the guidance he needs to be a happy, healthy bird living in a human society. I know he is not a ‘child’ and I respect his needs and wants as a bird as best as I know how. I do view myself as his guardian. He isn’t a pet to me. He’s too smart for that.
“Since I have chosen to bring him into my household, and he had no choice in that, I owe it to him to provide him with the best care, love and guidance that I can,” she continued. “I try to understand him and what he ‘tells’ me by his actions, body language and vocalizing. Sometimes I fail miserably, but he is very forgiving. I keep trying, and I think he knows that. I feel a responsibility and commitment that transcends love. I feel I have been very privileged to have this little soul in my life, and I want to honor that privilege all the days of his life.”
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