To tell this story we need to go back 21 yrs.
Henry came to me literally left on my doorstep by a then employee who said he was moving and could not care for the bird.
Henry was totally featherless, except for his head which his beak could not reach. Quite funny actually. He paced and screamed almost constantly. He would lunge at anyone who dare approach his cage. He would not allow any contact at all, and it soon became apparent that perhaps I had bit off more then I could chew and Henry was ready to bite into me and chew on the remains!!
This began an odyssey of sort for me and I guess Henry as well. I began by trying to learn about parrots in general and Henry in particular. Henry began practicing his art of lunging, biting, blood letting, repeat. Every morning I tried in vain to come to some agreement with him and just change his food and water! And so this continued for at least 4 yrs. Some days seemed better, but mostly just status quo. Henry sharpening his beak and me doing my Bruce Lee impersonation (you know be quick) and being mainly unsuccessful.
What I learned about Henry was that he never was a pet. He was a wild caught male “Sulfur Crested Cockatoo” breeder, who lost his mate which brought on a complete mental breakdown. You see when you add this info to what I found out about parrots, it all started to jive. Parrots are very intelligent (about equivalent to 4 or 5 yr child) with this comes the down side, “Psychosis.” Being that his sole purpose up until that point was to breed, and then to loose his mate (being monogamous even in the wild). it seemed clear this then was his main problem. Oh and I learned that Cockatoos have a particular beak that can deliver one of the nastier bites of the parrot species, now this was something I knew 1st hand!!
One day oh maybe now about 15yrs ago I was in a bike shop. I noticed the owner in the back playing with a most beautiful Cockatoo, feeding him by mouth, petting etc. My mind would not allow my mouth to stay shut and I began lamenting about the sad state of affairs between Henry and I. He looked up and said, “ever give him a bath”. No, I said can’t get him to come out of his cage. He said, “it’s going to be almost 100 tomorrow take his cage outside with him in it and try”. OK, I said I’ll try. Didn’t have much hope but I’ll try.
Well I never waited for the next day. I went straight home and dragged Henry, cage and all into the backyard, all the while Henry lunging and biting at me and my wife. I turned on the hose slowly, Henry went ballistic. I thought of quitting but persisted. Henry seemed to calm some, well at least he stopped screaming and lunging. I really don’t know what came over me but I started getting myself and my wife wet. We just started playing like kids in the water coming from that hose, I’d wet Henry then Laura then Me, then repeat. Well I got everything so wet that I slipped on the grass and fell flat on my butt, and then the most amazing thing, HENRY LAUGHED!! Yes Laughed I will swear to it!!
The next morning found me preparing for the usual blood letting. I opened Henry’s cage inserted my arm toward his food bowl,Henry didn’t move, what’s up here I thought, a new kill tactic!! I let my arm linger in his cage; he approached quite calmly for him. He walk over stepped up on my arm, and ever so gently began preening the tiny hairs there. I began screaming, “Laura, hurry you gotta see this!” Laura thinking the worst came in with Band-Aids can in hand, only to see me proudly standing with my Cockatoo sitting there on my arm, making little Cooo, Cooo sounds and preening my hair. I think the word I was looking for at the time was, Epiphany!!
Our final bonding came about a week later. Henrys new found attitude had gained him a place in the front room on an open perch, watching T.V. with Laura and I. One night we fell asleep in front of the boob tube (wonder why). I woke to find Henry sleeping on my chest with his head nestled between my neck and shoulder breathing in rhythm with the movment of my chest. What more can I say!
Henry remains a feather picker and I think always will. He is no longer violent to anyone and dances, sings, laughs, in general in good spirits most times. I consider this a win for me and him.
Some people might argue that I failed at curing his ills, but I would quickly point out that he is a happy well adjusted feather picker!
Well That’s our story and were stickin to it.
A typical Henry Lunge
A More Serene Henry with more Feathers too!
As this was written some 20+ years ago, an update seems in order. Don't worry it will be short.
What I suspected back then has remained true. Some times Henry will let a goodly amount of Feathers grow but just as quick for no apparent reason he will pick them away. He never has wounded himself just gets ugly.
He also has a deep respect for our little Flock and never questions my lead.
The Flock grew by one some 14 years ago when I raised Maggie, a Blue & Gold Macaw. She quickly blended in to our group and Henry & Maggie have been buds ever since.
As of This Morning