At the beginning of this year, Kirsten made the decision to give our breeding parrots a break from breeding. Some of our kids had been breeding for over a decade and while they’ve enjoyed some breaks throughout the years we felt that a longer term hiatus was needed.
Even before I became involved in the breeding side of Kirsten’s work, I was always amazed at the relationship she had with all of her breeding parrots. One of the things that fascinated me about her breeding technique was that it was ‘unconventional’ in the sense that she would interact with her breeding pairs. Because of this interaction, she knew each and every one of their unique personality traits. This in turn gave her the ability to match the personalities of their parrot babies with her approved clients.
Red was always one of our best breeders. She would consistently hatch and raise three Eclectus babies when she bred. After about 3-4 weeks she would tell Kirsten “I wanna come in for a shower”. This ‘call’ was Red’s way of telling Kirst that she was ready for her babies to be picked up and for Kirst to take over the rest.
Every time we pulled babies from her nest box, Red would always watch us while Sprout – ever so curious – couldn’t resist the urge to hop onto our shoulder and watch what we were doing close-up. Once we gently placed her babies into their mini carrier, we always showed Red that her babies were okay – and we always made it a point to thank her. We respect the work and effort that all of our breeding kids put forth.
We’ve never treated our breeding parrots like machines and we honestly believe that they can understand this.
When we pulled all of the nest boxes, the majority of the hens adjusted to this change quite easily. We stocked their flight with plenty of toys and fresh parrot-safe branches and they have been getting along quite happily.
Red on the other hand showed a great deal of interest in where ‘Mum & Dad’ lived and soon began lifting her foot up and looking up at the house when we would visit with the kids. We brought her a travel carrier which she stepped into quite happily and we brought her inside with us. Ever since then she has been an amazing pet. She helps Kirsten cook meals, prepare the fruit and veg that we feed the kids every day and she quite happily perches next to us when we work inside. She showers regularly with us and her vocabulary has grown amazingly!
So what makes all of this newsworthy? Red has been breeding for over 10 years. Typically when a breeding bird is retired, if they are sold as a companion parrot, the transition from ‘work’ to ‘play’ can be quite difficult for birds to adjust to. If the breeder has spent little time with their breeding parrots then suddenly being put into a situation where they are surrounded by people can be extremely difficult for them to handle.
Kirsten has tried very hard over the years to balance her breeding technique with an insight into what the parrots experience. Being empathic is a good way to live not just when it comes to human relationships. While her method may be non-traditional from a breeding standpoint, the results speak for themselves. We both have the most amazing companion parrot in part due to the way Kirsten has raised and cared for her all these years.
Red is just one story, but each of our kids has their own equally unique story. Our hope is that over time other breeders who share this same level of care for their birds will also enjoy the success we have.