Meet the Birds

I have had a bird companion since I was 8 years old. Right now I share my life with two birds, Asa the white cockatiel and Nym the turquoise lineolated parakeet. Their antics give me daily inspiration, and I am grateful for the bond we have. 

Asa the white cockatiel


 Asa is my little sweetheart. He loves to whistle and play peekaboo. His favorite color is purple, and he gravitates to toys and clothing of this color. Asa likes to copy everything I do. Anything I pick up he wants to have too, and anything I eat he wants to share. He even knows a few words, though he's very shy about it. The first word he learned was "poop," a silly side effect of me cueing him to poop on his stand before I pick him up. Every time he says "whatcha doin?" it melts my heart.

He is a very gentle bird. Even when he gets upset enough to bite, it's very weak (Nym's bite hurts a lot more). Asa is more inclined to run or fly away when something is bothering him. Though he is bonded to me, Asa is very nervous around other people. He is a nervous bird in general, very easily startled. We have worked over the years on making him more comfortable and confident. He doesn't mind if other people are around so long as they don't get too close or reach for him. I have him trained to fly to me when I give a special whistle. This training pays off every time he flies in a panic. Instead of crashing in a random spot, he knows he can always land on me.

My family and I joke about Asa being a bit simple-minded, but he has learned quite a few tricks. He knows how to step up and step down from my hand. I have target trained him to follow a stick, and used that to teach him to spin both directions, as well as aid him up and down objects he would normally have been too afraid to climb. Trick training gives Asa something to focus on when he would otherwise be upset by a strange noise or a shadow passing outside. I use his desire to mimic me to my advantage when introducing him to new objects. By pretending to play with a new toy, I gain his interest and he is more inclined to check it out.

Asa was a seed junkie when I first got him, but in his second year I was finally able to coax him to try new foods. It's mostly thanks to Nym and his jealousy at seeing her get all this new "fancy food." He now enjoys corn, peas, bell peppers, sweet potato, beets, beet greens, spinach, apple, broccoli, and kiwi seeds (yes, he picks around the sweet bits to get at the seed). His favorite are bell peppers of every color. Asa seems to prefer crunchy food, like the bell peppers and broccoli. He will eat pellets when I feed them to him, but inside the cage he prefers to pick around them. I am working on transitioning him to a pelleted diet with seeds as a treat, but right now he gets half and half. 

Nym the turquoise lineolated parakeet


Nym is the most complicated tiny bird I've ever met. I first read about lineolated parakeets years ago in Bird Talk magazine and I was intrigued. Since then I researched as many resources as I could find before deciding to welcome one home. It was a long drive to pick her up and I worried how she would handle the stress of the way home. My worries were pointless. Her breeder sent her off with a little bowl of veggies and some millet, and all she did was eat and sleep the whole way home. 

She is mostly a calm easygoing bird, but Nym can be fierce when she wants to. She used to fight me every day when I changed her water and it would take me many long minutes to wait for her to calm down so I could pull the water trough out. She was perfectly fine when I was putting it back, though. Nym would growl if I was too close to her when she ate (unless I closed my eyes). It took me many months to get the hang of her body language. Once I did, I was able to take better steps to bond with her. Now I can be inches from her while she's eating and she doesn't care at all, and I can move anything in her cage without any reaction. She knows I'm not going to bother her. 

Nym is more aloof than Asa, but she can be sweet too. She always greets me when I come in the room, and in the morning when she hears me get up. She likes to snuggle my earlobes and my nose, and play with my hair. Nym is a very quick learner when it comes to tricks and training. She is 90% toilet trained and knows to poop on her stands and in her cage (which is a great thing, because linnie poop is no joke). Her favorite trick is waving, an easy one for her, since linnies pick up their food with their feet. She even started to wave to solicit treats without a cue, and it always made me laugh. Sometimes she still does it to get me to laugh and she laughs too. She mimics a large number of sounds, words, and whistles, mumbling through it all while she naps. The first sound she learned was Asa's cockatiel weep, two weeks after she came to live with us.

Unlike Asa, Nym likes meeting new people and exploring new places. She is quicker to examine new toys and try new vegetables and fruit. Her only triggers are the color red (which she mistrusts for whatever reason) and hands. Nym will step up 8 times out of 10 and will calmly ignore me if she wants to stay put, but if anyone approaches her with a hand or finger above level with her chest she becomes very upset. Whenever I need to take her to the vet, she is testy and extra hand shy for days afterward. I am working on helping her be more comfortable with hands, but we go at her pace.


Some more pictures of the birds:

baby Asa 

Baby Asa - November 2014

The first picture I took of Asa when I brought him home. I had planned to place him in his new cage and leave him alone to rest for a few hours and get used to the room, but he was terrified of his cage and cowered on my shoulder. So I left him there and started working on homework. He fell asleep in ten minutes.

Asa bathing
Asa Bathing - January 2015

Asa has never liked bathing in a dish. He prefers to be misted instead. This picture of him fluffed and happy after a shower is one of my favorites.

baby Nym

Baby Nym - November 2014

 The first picture I ever saw of her. I still cherish this photo of my spiky dino.

training Nym 

 Nym's First Training - January 2015
After I gained some of Nym's trust, I began target training her. This is about how well the first session went. I got her to tap the stick and rewarded her, then on the next try she hopped straight onto the stick and started eating the millet from my fingers!