I’ve met a lot of birds in my life, but I’ve never seen a bird like Arcturo. They say you don’t pick a bird for a pet, a bird picks you. I don’t know how he did it, he’s pretty resourceful when it comes to manipulating humans.
One day I was driving past a pet store that specialized in birds. The owner of the store was an old friend of mine, “Captain Lloyd”. I hadn’t seen this old man in over 10 years so I figured I’d stop in and see how he’s doing.
I had considered owning a bird at times, but the responsibilities, commitment and expense was not something I wanted to take on. After talking with Captain Lloyd I snuck a peek at some of the prices on his birds – no way could I afford any. If I did, it would only be one of the small parakeets or something. I didn’t like how they all wanted to bite my fingers off. The Captain showed me how to do it so they step up on your finger – I tried it on this black-faced, green Nanday Conure, and sure enough he walked right onto my finger. He seemed so happy to meet me. I looked at his price. No way! Time to put the little birdie down.
A friend and I were on a mission to rent a video anyway, so I couldn’t stick around much longer. We drove off to the video store. We got our tape and as we got in the car to head home, the sky opened up with a violent, torrential rainstorm. It was hard enough trying to see through the steamed window, but then my windshield wipers died. I told my friend “I better get us home before we hit something.”
But halfway there, I couldn’t get that bird out of my mind. I couldn’t get the price of him out of my mind either. I don’t have that kind of money to drop on a pet. I don’t know what the hell happened in that rainstorm. Halfway home, I turned the car around and said “I can’t help it. I have to go get that little bird at the Captain’s”. She was like “WTF?” I don’t know why, but I drove there in the pouring rain with no windshield wipers and bought him from the Captain.
My friend and I sat around that night thinking of what to name him. She had a lot of good suggestions and as I was tossing 2 or 3 of them around in my mind, out of the nowhere, the name ARCTURO jumped into my head. I don’t know why, it was nothing like the names we had rounded it down to.
I rationalized that it is a “bird-sounding word”, Awk-Toodle! I also made a few intelligent human-sounding words about how Arcturus is one of the most recognizable stars in the sky, etc. So that’s how he got his name – Arcturus daVinci Delarosa Rainbows, or Arcturo for short.
When I bought him, Captain Lloyd instructed me that the Nanday Conure is not considered a “talking species”, so don’t expect him to learn many words. He said you might get them to say a few things, but, they’re not really a “talking species” like the larger parrots, etc.
If the Captain were still alive today, I think he’d change his opinion. Captain Lloyd was a well known and highly respected bird breeder. Arcturo is a testament to his work.
The first few weeks of owning Arcturo, I noticed how intelligent he is, and his strong interest in communicating with people. I figured if he was going to learn a phrase, I’d make it a long one, something hard for even a “talking species”. So I decided to keep repeating the phrase “Hello, my name’s Arcturo” over and over to him.
After a few weeks I gave up on it. The novelty of repeating the phrase wore off. One day a girl from the neighborhood stopped by while we were sitting outside. I could tell he was excited to meet her, acting all shy like a little kid and stuff. I introduced myself and Arcturo came out from hiding behind my neck and sheepishly said “Hello, my name’s Arcturo” to her.
I couldn’t believe my ears. “Did you hear that?”
“Yeah, he said ‘hello, my name’s Arcturo’, hello Arcturo.”
Ever since that, he always says “Hello” to people he meets. And “Bye bye” when they are leaving.
One day, a friend was sitting at the picnic table with us. He sneezed real loud and frightened Arcturo into flight. After getting Arcturo back to the table, I explained that it was a sneeze, I mimicked one of Arcturo’s little sneezes “ah-pfft” and explained that when someone sneezes we say “bless you”.
He picked up on that for some reason. Now, whenever anybody sneezes around him he says “Bless you. Big sneeze. AAACHOO! blesshoo” and stuff like that. When he sneezes he looks for you to say “bless you”. If you don’t say it, he’ll wipe his nose on you. On second thought, he’ll wipe his nose on you whether you say it or not. He thinks it’s funny. Since birds don’t get gas it’s the closest thing they have to a fart-joke.
I can’t possibly list all the words and phrases Arcturo says. He learns new words daily and uses them differently to convey what he wants to express. For example, he’ll say “Poppa, I wanna go out.” and when we go outside, he says “Yep! I’m out. Nice out.” Stuff like that.
When I first got him, I worked at home. A few months later, I started a day job and felt bad about leaving him home with nobody to talk to all day, so I’d leave PBS on TV for him to watch while I was at work.
When I’d come home from work, he’d always be so happy to see me. “POPPA! It’s my POPPA!!!” He’d try to tell me all about his day – gibbering and blabbering like crazy, trying to tell me about all the things he saw. We’d sit in front of the TV and watch Barney, Teletubbies, and Big Comfy Couch and I’d try to explain some of the things he was seeing on there to him. He loves to dance and sing – the music is the main draw for him.
So I guess it’s my fault he’s addicted to these shows.
I don’t know how he started calling me “Poppa”. When I bought him I was with my friend “V” and I think at some point she probably passed Arcturo to me saying “You wanna go to your Poppa?” and he must have picked up on that.
Now, it’s Poppa this and Poppa that, all day long haha.
And he’s such a “love-sponge”. He walks up my arm, onto my shoulder, kisses my cheek, hugs up next to my ear saying “Awwww, I love my poppa” and “Arcturo love Poppa” He likes to put his wing around me like we’re buddies. Too cute for such a savage little bird (sometimes).
But his super mind-numbing cuteness is balanced by his insane side. He loves “Tickle Fights” where I raise my hands and say “I’m gooooonna get you… I’m gooooonna get you.” He raises his wings and says “OH NO! HELP HELP!” and when I tickle his armpits going “tickletickletickle” he yells “YAAAGGGHH! HELP!! HAHAHAHA!!” and laughs his ass off. He could play Tickle Fights all day, like a dog with a frisbee. After I tickle him, he’s gotta get me back by running up to my shoulder and grabbing my ear going “HAHAHA GOT YOU!” He can wear you out in a tickle fight.
He loves children. Little humans are not as threatening to him as tall ones I guess. They’re something he seems to want to study, to learn about. Wants one as a pet. He’s a big, obvious flirt with women, but with men, he has a sort of radar as to who is cool and who’s not. Some guys he hates and nothing they do can change his mind – other guys he tolerates. I’m the only male he really gets along with.
He really enjoys sitting near the TV with me, is inquisitive as to what’s going on, listens to my explanations of what he’s seeing, and tries to make sense of it within his limited understanding of things. This blog is our impressions of what we’ve experienced in these shows.