Steve Will Do Anything for Skritches

I haven’t posted for awhile, as I’ve been recovering from a nasty case of sinusitis/bronchitis.  I’m surprised my flock hasn’t begun to mimic my hacking!

Steve, I have learned, will do just about anything for head skritches.  So what better time to train him (instead of the other way around) to come OUTSIDE his cage for head rubs?  Besides, my neck and back were beginning to cry out from the contortions I was going through to give skritches to Steve through his food hatch.

So while I watched a DVD, I waited for him to at least come down to the door, where I had installed a wide perch for him just inside the door (I’ve since also installed a rope perch outside the food hatch).  But no, he decided to be much more creative.  He hung from the cage with his head and neck exposed to me.  He hung there, quite happily, for a good 45 minutes!  Then I introduced the blue pillow shown in the photo, and he finally got the idea he could actually get head skritches right-side up, standing on the pillow.  That quickly evolved into his climbing up to my shoulder where he presented his head for even more head skritches.  This guy would be content if I rubbed his head all night long!  Considering that he’s been deprived of this kind of loving touch for years, I guess he’s making up for lost time.  Since he hasn’t been outside his cage for weeks now, this was a huge night of progress.

Also, one night recently as I was giving him a goodnight skritch, he began regurgitating food for me.  I was so surprised!  But I was also glad in one sense – not that I want Steve to bond with me as his mate – that he has begun to trust me and to form a solid relationship with his human companion.  This may also be the first time in his life he’s been able to do that.

Way to go, Steve!

PS  The cute cotton rope toy outside Steve’s cage was generously made and sent by Michelle at The Beak Whisperer.  She makes fun toys for parrot enrichment.  Steve is getting used to this one before I introduce it to his cage.

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11 Responses to “Steve Will Do Anything for Skritches”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    Cutest picture ever! I can’t believe he climbed on your shoulder. That’s such amazing progress.

  2. Mary Says:


    I love that picture — he looks so happy! And he’s being an acrobatic, fun-loving grey. I am going to send this post to the volunteers at the rescue — they are not going to believe how well he’s doing. I can hardly believe it.

    Thanks so much for everything you’ve done for him. Since I know you won’t mind, I’m going to do a follow-up on my blog and direct people here. You are just such a testament to what can happen with patience, love, and time.

    Great job!!!

  3. Michelle Says:

    I am bursting with joy for you and Steve!!! He is making HUGE strides! An angel in grey feathers…that’s what I call him. And how priceless to have him come on your shoulder!

    Oh Shannon…what a special soul you are also. Steve knows you love him and his trust is beautiful proof of that. Good job! I eagerly await your next post.

  4. Shannon Ryan Says:

    Yes, Mary, isn’t he so quintessentially African Grey in this photo? I could hardly believe my eyes! During the day, he isn’t so daring and doesn’t let himself be a Grey. But if he can do so at night, eventually he’s going to be himself all the time. And thank you! for saving him from euthanasia and getting him ready for his new home!

  5. Shannon Ryan Says:

    Yes, I’m very proud of Steve’s courage – and very glad that he’s really a true African nutty Grey at heart :)

  6. homelessparrot Says:

    Wow! That brought tears to my eyes. My grey is sitting on the desk beside me, fluffed up, one foot tucked, content. I can’t imagine him suffering through the abuse and neglect that Steve went through, and I am so glad that you took him in!

  7. beloved parrot Says:

    Shannon, Shannon, Shannon — who knew you were a grey miracle maker? I am so proud of you and of Steve. I am most especially proud that Steve is training you in the proper use of human hands. Seriously, this is a wonderful development. Thank you!!!

  8. Lucky's mom Says:

    Shannon, I just saw this post for the first time. I am overjoyed for both of you.

  9. Shannon Ryan Says:

    Thanks, BP! But I give Steve the credit for being such a brave boy. He hasn’t come out again since that magical night, but he will again. He just forgot his fears that night, I think.

  10. Lucky's mom Says:

    Shannon, I think you’re right. In 3 1/2 years, Lucky has bowed down deeply, asking for kisses on his shoulders and back twice, for real. Usually, when he does any kind of bow, it’s so he can play gotcha. But those two times, it was a real request for affection and he responded with that special grey purr when I obliged. We are definitely living on their terms, and that’s o.k.
    You have the advantage of knowing Steve’s history. And he is a very lucky boy to have such a wonderful and patient mom.

    Take care.

  11. Shannon Ryan Says:

    Thank you, Lucky’s Mom! I figure if we can do anything to let them feel our love and understanding, that will go far! It sounds to me like Lucky is awfully lucky to have you!

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