Paco (Umbrella Cockatoo)
By Shirley Riddle
“Paco, pretty bird!” That’s typically the first thing you will hear from the newest member of the Riddle family. He’s Paco, the Umbrella Cockatoo. Within a few minutes he’ll be chatting up a storm. Though you don’t always know exactly WHAT he’s trying to tell you, he’s more then happy to give you an earful anyway. Other signature phrases include “Momma!” “Kittie kittie”, “Night night time.” “Sleep now”, “Pretty Paco” as well as “Shut Up!” when addressing the other avians of the household. So far we have counted around 36 words and different phrases.
Paco has adjusted quite well in the last 2 years in his new home, as well as his new family. Sociable by nature and quite the class clown, he enjoys interacting with others, may they be human or his fellow ‘housemates’. He is particularly fond of his neighbor, Belle, the family’s blue Ringneck. The two ‘chat’ to one another in their own secret code, carrying on till the wee hours of the evening. Paco will even occasionally try to share his food with him, sneaking a piece of apple or a nut through his cage bars.
Paco knows you're watching!
Interactions with Ballou, the Rainbow Macaw, have not been quite that quaint of a picture when compared with Belle. If anything, the two males have a sort of friendly rivalry in place, like any siblings would. They have screaming matches, attempting to out-vocalize each other. Sometimes Ballou will start laughing and singing, just to annoy Paco… till the crazy Cockatoo tells him to “Shut Up!” In turn, Paco will go out of his way to get Ballou in trouble, like calling for anyone in earshot when Ballou manages to escape from his cage.
Paco never seems to find himself in a dull moment. His cage is enormous; a doublewide ‘penthouse’ with many learning toys and perches for him to keep himself occupied. However, most of the time he seems content with shredding newspaper or paper towel rolls then his other, more elaborate toys. He’s a quick learner and his lessons with mom show it, and he’s very quick to conquer his fears. Recently he’s learned to walk up the basement stairs and has become more comfortable with exploring the world around him. When the weather is nice he enjoys wearing his harness and venturing outdoors with mom, but he still doesn’t like car rides.
As enjoyable as Paco is to have around, he is not without a few bad habits and quirks. He’s very picky when it comes to food; sometimes more ending up on the floor then in his mouth. He doesn’t really know how to fly either. The few times he takes wing it is usually caused by sudden panic, resembling a lame albatross more than a parrot. Most of all, he is VERY punctual. Every night at midnight exactly he will call at the top of his lungs, letting everyone throughout the house know it’s time for bed.
All in all, he’s become and inseparable member of the Riddle ‘flock’. There’s a lot about his early days we don’t know, but it doesn’t really matter. At a healthy 10 + years of age he has fiddled, danced, and talked his way into our hearts. And that’s good enough for us.