What's New In My Zoo?

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I hope to post an update about my parrots every Friday, complete with pictures.

Orpheus, a very young male red fan (hawk-headed) parrot, Deroptyus a. accipitrinus,
who lives with me (December 2007).
GrrlScientist, 2007 [larger view].

Orpheus has been busy this past week, destroying or trying to destroy nearly every material object that I own and behaving in an aggressive manner towards me, so — sadly — I clipped his primaries to prevent him from flying freely around my apartment. It made me sad to take away his gift of flight, even though this is only a temporary deprivation, but the improvement in his mood was nearly instantaneous. Further, like all pets, he needs a job, so I plan to clicker train him to perform tricks, and thus, he must be clipped so he will focus on the tasks at hand (learning new behaviors) rather than flying all over the place and chewing up my curtains, for example.

Despite being annoyed with me for clipping his wing feathers, Orpheus was happy when I returned home last night, and sat on my knee while I took picture after picture of him. When parrots are relaxed and happy, they often will signify that by sitting next to you or on you while scratching and fluffing their feathers. Orpheus also did this, as you can see below, dropping his “dandruff” all over my knee — it was a good thing that my laptop was closed to prevent this “dust” from getting inside. This image was taken without the flash;

GrrlScientist, 2007 [larger view].

Even though the above image is a bit blurry, i like it because it gives a sense of the movement and life in this sweet parrot.
The image below was taken with a flash.
Here, surprised by the flash from a previous picture, Orpheus pauses momentarily from his head-scratching, foot up, and looks at the camera.

GrrlScientist, 2007 [larger view].

As you all might be able to tell, I have probably learned everything I can about how to use this camera by simply playing with it. Now, I need to spend some serious time reading the manual and, you know, actually learning how to use its special features such as optical zoom and image stabilization.


About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to What's New In My Zoo?

  1. Bob O'H says:

    In the final photo, isn’t he saying “No photos”?

  2. you think?? i thought he was offering to give autographs.

  3. Annie says:

    Oh, he’s gorgeous! That adolescent stage behavior is one that most dogs go through, too. But it’s typically when they no longer look puppy-ish, haven’t been obedience trained,and then start destroying everything in their realm. It’s also when they are most likely to be abandoned by owners and land in shelters. I think your strategy to begin his education is a great one. And the photos – thank you from me, too to your camera benefactor. We are all enjoying the photos!

  4. Bardiac says:

    Wow, what a wonderful bird!
    My Conure used to wake me by preening my eyelashes. Mmm, talk about a lovely way to awake. It’s amazing how those sharp, strong beaks can be so incredibly careful and gentle.

  5. carolyn13 says:

    He’s beautiful and such a ham!

  6. biosparite says:

    I had no idea hawk-headed parrots are so colorful. Wow! Judging from the pictures, I would conclude this bird has a mind of his own.

  7. The Ridger says:

    Wow. How colorful he is. I like the flashless one – the expression on his face is sweet indeed.

  8. kozmetik says:

    He’s beautiful and such a ham

  9. geciktirici says:

    he’s gorgeous!How colorful he is..

  10. art minier says:

    You have done a very excellent job starting out..but then your fudging look at the subject…I do feel as you the motion of the bird is told by by the blurred picture. I have marveled at the memory and intelligence of the dogs with clicker training. I do feel it lacks in one area that
    I am sure can be controlled in birds.
    I hope all bird owners would concentrate on the command to return to the owner when called….Keep up the good work but if your worried about dust….Don’t worry…;o)

  11. Sue Ditmire says:

    Hello Grrrlscientist,
    I have to augh. My 9 year old Granddaughter is here and keeping her self busy while I napped.
    She was on the computer and then went off to read The Hunger Games.

    When I got up Orpheus and your blog were on the computer. André is sitting right next to the computer. They look so much alike!

    Your friend mentioned that they are often abandonded at that stage. Poor AndrĂ© and was left in a tiny cage and ignored. He was all I can say is psychotic when I got him. He now sits on my lap for comfort expecially in the Hurricane and Nor’easter we just had. He lets us pet his beak with the back of our hands but not touch any place else. Still he will sit with me and kiss my face.

    I suspect sadly that someone must have hit him or his cage and he is afraid of fingers.

    Still after 3 years he is doing well and happy to sit beside my desk and preen and spend his days.

    Atlantic City