Wednesday, December 3, 2008



Crackers has lived here for about 15 years now. He belonged to a woman who was living on a neighbor’s property. I could walk off the back of my place right onto the neighboring property and into her little compound. It was about ½ mile to get there winding around by the roads. I had been feeding her beasties on several occasions when she was gone, walking there twice a day to tend the birds, dogs, horses, and pigs. It was fun to visit the birds.

Then she needed to stash the birds somewhere else for a while so she trucked them up here in their cages and we put them under the overhang of the tack room. I now had a pair of African Greys in a 4 x 8 foot cage, several Macaws in cages of various sizes and Crackers, the only Amazon, in his 3 x 3 foot cage. Eventually, she was able to move the birds to new homes but she left me Crackers as a “Thank You”—ahh, well, that was some Thank You. She had gotten him free because he was not tame and would bite. I think she dumped him on me because he was not tame and would bite. And to this day, he is not tame and he will bite.

I moved him, inside his cage, up by the house, right outside the door near the kitchen window. This allows me to have “conversations” with him when I go outside or when the window is open. I use the word conversations very loosely. He has a limited vocabulary which consists of a bunch of unrecognizable mutterings and a few distinct words. He says his name, Crackers, sometime he says Graham Cracker Good. He can say Hi, Joe; since my handyman is Joe, that works well. And his most famous is something that sounds like “Rucka Rucka Rucka” which can have a different interpretation in a different manner, especially when he says it in a low threatening voice.

When I had dogs, he enjoyed making them howl. He would get going with a high-pitched, rapid fire squawk, over and over until they howled. He would then puff up his feathers and march along most proudly. He could really keep them going too. He never met a dog that he could not cow, striking at the cage when a dog nose got too close. My own dogs were wary of him and any stray coming by soon learned to avoid that cage.

Over the years, I have been able to add further cages to his original cage, creating quite a nice mansion for him. All the cages are outdoors aviaries that are 6 feet tall. To his original 3 x 3 foot cage, I first added a 4 x 4 foot cage. Next came two 4 x 4 foot cages tied together to make one that was 4 x 8. Finally, this fall after my last cockatiel died, I added their 4 x 6 foot cage complete with fancy roof. He does very well outdoors here since he acclimatized so long ago. The 4 x 4 cage has a complete roof and two enclosed sides which gives him wind and rain shelter. He climbs and flies from one end to the other and has several favorite perching spots. The perches are mostly manzanita wood which is hard, to resist chewing. There are some soft wood chew toys for him inside as well as some other toys.

Since he will attack and bite (he got me once years ago and once latched on to my finger had to be shaken off), we have a feed time routine. I go to a cage away from his feed dish and lure him over there. He knows that if he wants food, he has to move away from the feed dish. Then I move back to the feed door and pull his crock and put in fresh seed mix, put it back fast as he now flies at me squawking. He always eats all the peanuts first.

I have no idea how old he is, but hope to have him a long time yet.

No comments: