Bacall is a bird who exemplifies the African Grey’s extensive vocabulary. She arrived with Muffett, a Goffin’s Cockatoo and enjoys watching Animal Planet on TV. Her favorite foods include banana chips and pistachio nuts, and she adores taking a shower. She can say “Hi, Bacall!” “I love you,” and many other expressions. She tends to prefer men over women and is another one of our charges with an actual date of birth, which is December 28, 2001. Right in between a Christmas and a New Year's gift!
One year update from Donna: It's been about a year since we brought Bacall home with us and I thought you might be interested in hearing about her progress.
Bacall instantly bonded with Tony, and her love affair with him has persisted. She understandably built up a protective wall around herself, having lost the only family she knew, and then her beloved Rich. But little by little, she has come to love everyone in the house. The first few months, my hands looked like they had been through a wood chipper from Bacall's assertive way of letting me know that I was not her chosen one. Eventually, she decided that I wasn't so bad after all, and I was surprised when one day I got home from work and she gave me an enthusiastic head bob. Although we originally believed that she did not like women, she tells me that she loves me regularly, will step up gladly, and has let me know that she loves me almost as much as she does Tony. I feel honored.
We adopted a puppy a month after Bacall, and due to our constant corrections of the puppy, Bacall quickly learned to say " Pearl " (the puppy) with a fair amount of authority and disdain. She still lets Pearl that she's a little exasperated by her, but they go nose to beak, and have a healthy (and supervised!) respect for each other. Pearl loves that Bacall drops a lot of food for her to clean up, but is a little confused by the talking bird.
Bacall's friendship with our other African Grey "Dusty" has been slow going. Bacall has let Dusty know that she is top bird. Once, Bacall chased Dusty off our couch and Tony sternly told Bacall to be nice. Bacall paused a moment, then said to Tony, "I love you.... OK?" Like - you and me - we're ok, right? Interestingly, Dusty has let Bacall be the dominant bird, and has given her all the space she has needed. When Bacall took over Dusty's cage, Dusty just moved into the one left behind by Bacall. And little by little, they hang out a little closer to each other. It's now not unusual to go into the bird room in the morning to find Bacall and Dusty inches apart from each other. Although Dusty had stopped vocalizing when we first got Bacall, after 7 or 8 months, Dusty's vocabulary and vocalizations returned with a vengeance. I'm hopeful that eventually our two beautiful girls will become fast and forever friends. I believe that they're on their way. Our two cockatiels coexist with our greys in the bird room, and everyone seems to be happy, entertained, and thriving. (Cody - the cockatiel that we also got from your rescue is doing fine. He's definitely NOT a social little guy, but he's very proud of his friendship with Spike, our other cockatiel. He loves his millet, but prefers that we not hang out in "his" bird room. So although I'm not sure that he'll ever fly onto one of us by choice, he's definitely happy and healthy.)When we first brought Bacall home, she was extremely unsteady on the ropes in the bird room, and stuck to the cage tops. We thought that her one foot with only 3 toes was the balance problem. I'm proud to say that Bacall now maneuvers the ropes, rings, and swings with expertise. he flies from one spot to another, landing on ropes with confidence. She gets so much exercise, and her missing toe is not even an issue.
Her vocabulary is extensive. We knew that she made a lot of fun sounds when we adopted her, but had no idea how vocal she is! Little by little, dozens of phrases and words emerged. Our son was having a snack and she said "Whatcha' got over there?" Steve said "Chicken". Bacall said "Want some?" So we gave her a piece. Bacall said "Mmmmmmm......" One day Tony and I were talking near a window after the season's first snowfall. Bacall said "Summer's over..." Anyone who says that greys only repeat memorized words hasn't heard the use of the vocabulary as applied to a unique situation. Bacall is so bright, and seems to have an opinion on all seen and heard (she has an ongoing commentary like "oh...", "mmmm....").
At first, she liked very few people foods, and seemed to prefer to stick to safe bird treats like nuts, seed balls, etc. Today, we think of her as mostly a healthy eater, although she'll indulge in a few people foods from time to time.
Our vet says that she's extremely healthy. She's building muscle from all her flying and rope climbing. She's lean, and her feathers are gorgeous.
We're happy to have Bacall in our lives, and that she has decided that this is a good place for her. Our kids love the birds too, and know that they'll probably be with them a lot longer than Tony and I will. I asked the kids what would happen if they ever fell in love with someone who didn't like animals. They both answered that they wouldn't fall in love with someone who didn't like animals! Heaven knows what the future will bring, but for now, all is as it should be. When we were there, there was another bird that caught our heart, Booboo. He was such a special little guy and seemed so defeated and scared... If Bacall hadn't made it so clear that she wanted to leave with Tony, we would have picked Booboo. At the time, it just didn't seem right to deny Bacall when she was working it so hard... yet we never forgot about Booboo. I have seen that Booboo has chosen his family and Bacall has chosen her's so in the grand scheme of things, it all worked out the way it was supposed to and we are all happy for that.
So thanks again for providing our family with a valuable addition. Bacall definitely makes all of our lives richer, and our 2 dogs and 3 other birds love her as part of the "flock", "pack", "family". I hope you had a lovely Christmas, and that 2008 will bring lots of joy and fulfillment for you.