By Lin Westgard, Bird Mom
Elliot came to my home after his owner could no longer care for him. He was just over
two years old. He was totally plucked from the head down. He was scared and lonely and
very weak. But he had a tremendous will to live that kept him going. He fell many times
off of his cage and he didnít know how to be a parrot. He was quiet and hardly said anything
and never squawked for attention.
I knew he was in trouble. I gave him his space and a safe cage and sat next to him for days
on end, never intruding on him and told him it was okay. He wouldnít let me touch him for a
long, long time. He went to the vet and got thoroughly tested for disease and a full CBC was
done on his blood. Elliot was also DNA tested as male, so he went through a name change
from Ellie to Elliot. And other than slightly elevated white blood cell counts, he tested
What I figured he needed was a second chance. I was busy with my other bird, a rambunctious
male umbrella cockatoo, full of life and very loud. Elliot was scared of him and watched him
from across the room with awe. It took three years for Elliot to come out of his sheltered
self-protection mode. Three LONG years of giving him his own space and letting him come to
his own terms with his new home and his new flock members.
A little cockatiel named Peter came to join the flock and the house was filled with wonderful
bird noises. Elliot is a medium sulphur crested cockatoo. His species comes from Australia,
where they flock in groups of 50-60 birds at a time, sometimes more. I knew he was going to
thrive in his new home with other birds, I just had to give him that chance to come to his own
terms and not force anything onto him.
He was still plucking and was starting to say "step up", but he wouldnít step up. He preferred men
and I wasnít a man. His vet, Dr. Jackie Frederickson, did a heavy metal toxicity test to rule out
other possible medical problems. He came back negative. He twitched, which stymied the best of them.
He could have had a neurological problem, we didnít know. It looked like a combination frenzy of food
hoarding in his feathers and autism.
His previous owners would laden his only drinking water with over-the-counter vitamins and then
let the water sit and evaporate into a mucky, sticky mess. He still, to this day, will not
drink from a water cup.
Casper, Peter and Elliot
Today, after five years, Iím pleased to say that Elliot is coming along wonderfully. Heís acting much
like a parrot and trying to grow his feathers. He flies now and not afraid to land on perches
placed strategically around the house for him. Heís talking and dancing and interacting
with the other birds. He steps up onto me for a cuddle and then he leaves. He gives
wonderful "kisses" and by tapping his beak on my nose.
He cares about his surroundings and he tolerates us humans rather well. I believe he is
beginning to trust us again. He did it all on his own. I whisper in his ear, day after
day, "you are a wonderful parrot and I promise to take care of you on the level you deserve."
On those days Iím tired and donít feel like cleaning cages, or cutting up endless fruits and
vegetables, or stringing endless toys and baskets, I think of that promise and look at Elliot.
I remember that will to live and the obstacles he overcame and I get up and just do it. He took
that second chance and ran with it. He trusts humans again and plays like a two year old. He
treats the other birds with respect, but defends his own space just like he should. I
can see him getting better every day.
I hope one day to see him in a huge aviary, outside with other birds, foraging
for food and playing with toys; being the parrot he was born to be.