by Deidre Dykes
This is Smokie.
He is a 24 year old Congo African Grey parrot who is now living with my husband and I. We volunteer with an area parrot rescue and rehoming non-profit called Phoenix Landing and work as foster bird parents to help birds who are between former homes and a Forever Home. Smokie here is the fifth bird we have fostered over the past three years.
But the point here isn’t my husband’s and my story – it’s Smokie’s tale. And right now, we don’t know much about him.
What we know to be true:
- Smokie is 24 and has never laid an egg (so he’s probably male)
- His owner died of COPD and the owner’s family could no longer care for him
- His diet was mostly seeds and table scraps (not very good for a bird)
Otherwise, we were given almost no information about him. The first thing we discovered is that he’s skittish about hands. The second? He really likes scrambled eggs.
The first time I offered him a spoonful of eggs this morning, he said, “Pretty. You’re so pretty!” Flatterer.
He’s been with us for three days now and, as birds do through their repeated words and their behaviors, he’s revealed some things to us:
- He likes to be hand-fed food tidbits from your dinner plate
- If you leave him alone in a room, he will fly to the floor and try to find you and follow you like a dog
- His owner had a terrible cough
About half of the vocalizations that Smokie makes are growling, coughing noises. But today he let out what was clearly a long, wheezing cough. It sounded like someone fighting to breathe. It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard and it told, in fifteen seconds, the sad story of Smokie’s last owner. A long life of love together with his bird living in his bedroom and a slow, terrible death from suffocation.
And poor Smokie had to watch it all.
This is a sad, damaged bird who desperately needs a loving home to give him the life he deserves. I hope we can help him get eating healthier, teach him to trust new people again, and help to find him the right family.
As I took this photo, Smokie said to me, “Okay. It’s okay.” And he’s right. It’s okay. It’s going to be okay, little bird. We’ve got you.