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