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African Grey Parrot, Habib, Submitted By Veronica Tetchner, Doha, Quatar

From feisty to compassionate African grey.

By Veronica Tetchner
Posted: April 22, 2009, 10:00 p.m. EDT

african grey
Photos Courtesy of Veronica Tetchner
Habib started out aggressive, but ended up very tame.

I have always dreamt of owning an African grey like my sister in South Africa. My dream came true when my son heard of someone who no longer wanted to keep an African grey he had bought as a baby. I was ecstatic when this person gave the parrot to me. Upon arrival in my home, this African Grey was extremely nervous, growled and hissed at me continuously. The first thing I did was give him a name. I knew he was male because the previous owner had him DNA sexed. I ended up naming him Habib, which means “friend” in Arabic. Living in the Middle East, I thought the name was appropriate.

The first few days I had him, Habib was very aggressive. On the third day he was with me, I opened his cage door and left him to decide what to do next. For three to four days, he stayed put and never ventured out. Eventually, after about a week, he decided to climb on top of his cage. I never force interaction but I approached him every couple of hours. The growling and hissing started to drop off. I then started offering him nuts, and he eventually started taking them from my hand. After about two months, he was confident enough to allow me to stay next to his cage. I then, unfortunately, had to go abroad for a week and felt terrible leaving him with a friend. I was concerned that changing his environment again would set him back to stage one again.

I returned from abroad late one evening and approached his cage. The moment he heard my voice, he started calling. I could not resist and opened the cage. He came over to me and climbed onto my arm. I stood very still and spoke softly to him. After that, I tried to scratch his head — big mistake — he gave me a horrible bite.

Getting him to step up was a joke. I worked with him for roughly five weeks and then I had to leave again for vacation. When I returned this time, he came to me, lifted my finger on my hand, and placed his head under my finger. I started to scratch his head. I walked away, then approached him again and the same happened. You won't believe how surprised I was. It was almost as if a little switch came on in his head and said “This isn't so bad.”

It has been three months since then, and today he is very tame. He loves me to carry him like you would a baby. There is very little I can't do with him. Unfortunately, he hasn't taken to my husband or my two adult children and is fairly nasty to them. I believe that patience and love got me to this stage. I am now working on getting him to accept strangers, as he doesn't like strange people around. He is just so affectionate I couldn't have wished for a better companion. I think sometimes my husband gets a bit jealous of the bond Habib and I have.

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African Grey Parrot, Habib, Submitted By Veronica Tetchner, Doha, Quatar

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Reader Comments
Nice story
Hector, Corpus Christi, TX
Posted: 7/8/2010 8:43:35 PM
Great story! Sounds like Habib missed you when you were away and wanted to make sure you would still be his friend.
Elaine, Darien, IL
Posted: 7/5/2010 9:59:06 PM
I got a grey for $300 from 2nd hand owners who were scared of him. He was unhandable/cage bound at the time. It took me over a yr to get him to trust me. I found it I petted/kissed the dog/cat, my other bird, he would go crazy w/envy wanted to be petted too! Great motivator! I could kiss my finger and touch his beak. I put him on a pillow and would let him 'hang out' w/us. I was bitten every day/he drew bl every day. It got where I could have him out, a 1/2 min get bit, put him in cage. Next day 3/4 min, get bitten again, put in cage etc. He was slowly learning. Then one day he got a head scratch! He loved that of course. Would still get bitten tho. I finally worked up to letting me handle him, scratch him. I also got to learn his body lanquage right quick so I knew when to back off. He also knew how to say yes, no w/a head shake, when you asked him a question.
He got to where he could hang out in the kitchen on his perch all night and stay there. He was in LOVE w/the light over the stove.
Julieankha, Philadelphia, PA
Posted: 5/31/2010 3:39:38 PM
It showed he really missed you when you were away. There was progress each time. I think your husband and adult children should feed him. I hope this might work.
Dorothy Andrade, Nanuet, NY
Posted: 5/23/2010 9:10:56 AM
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