A long time ago, I was mom to a little green Quaker parrot named Absynthe, or Abbey for short.
Quakers are like big parrots in a small body. Abbey was a part-time sweetheart, sometimes a monster and 100% my baby. She literally called me “Mommy!”
I had her for ten years before ultimately giving her to another family because our lives had changed and she wasn’t getting the attention she needed and deserved. We had a special needs dog at the time, I traveled a lot for work plus we were trying to conceive and prepare to become parents to a human baby.
Abbey was not the first parrot I lived with. Long before Abbey, I was “sister” to an African grey parrot named Claudius; I guess you could say parrots run in my family.
Abbey was amazing. We got her from a pet store where she was a timid, quiet little frog. Soon after getting her home, we learned her true personality! She could talk, sing, whistle, laugh and play. Abbey was truly an active, adored and respected (sometimes even feared!) member of our family.
Abbey and I were totally bonded to each other. For a time, she also bonded with my hubby, but he was not a bird person and ultimately could not stand the noise or the mess involved in owning a Quaker parrot. All parrots are loud and messy – it just comes with the territory!
Abbey liked anyone tall, loud and confident, but she had no time for short, quiet people or anyone who acted afraid of her. One of her favorite hobbies was acting cute and innocent by saying “baby bird!” really sweetly in order to get people to pet her. Then, she would nip them and laugh!
Abbey also used to boss around our three dogs. She was absolutely fearless. She loved our big dogs and would share treats with them often, but she also used to enjoy biting their noses and laughing when they flinched away from her. Needless to say, she was only able to interact with our other pets under close supervision.
As a young bird, Abbey had three near-death experiences and survived them all. We used to say she had nine lives like a cat! Each time, we thought we had lost her forever.
The first time, she flew away on a summer day before we knew to keep her wings trimmed. Thankfully, we got her back with the help of some neighbors and a very tall ladder!
Next, we almost lost her when she completely impaled herself through her beak and throat with a D-ring hook from one of her toys (before we knew those can be fatal to Quakers). There were no emergency bird vets in Dayton at the time, so we rushed her to Sugarcreek Bird Farm. The knowledgeable staff there were able to remove the D-ring from her body and provide us with antibiotics.
Abbey’s final brush with death happened when she flew down from her cage to attack our ferret and nearly became a mini chicken dinner. She was truly something!
Abbey also survived a few nasty bouts of feather-plucking. She came through all of the above with her indomitable Quaker spirit fully intact. She was an incredibly special bird of far-above-average intelligence and humor. I still miss her and truly hope that she ended up loving her second family as much as she loved us.
Z has always loved birds and insists on holding parrots anytime we visit the pet store. She’s great with parrots and has the confidence required to hold them.
I often wish Z could have met Abbey. I think they would get along great now! But the worry was always that Abbey would bite baby or toddler Z – and honestly, knowing Abbey as well as I do, I think that’s entirely likely.
Have you ever loved a parrot? I’d love to hear your bird tales in the comments below or over on Facebook or Instagram.