Last year, in December, I took on a new foster bird named Chiku! He’s apparently a hybrid of yellow-sided Green-cheeked Conure and Crimson-bellied Conure, possibly with other Pyrrhura species in there. I can’t help but wonder if someone was trying to create a very wildly-coloured orange conure by trying that cross. Of course, it didn’t work since the yellow-sided trait in green cheeks is recessive. Chiku! doesn’t have the bright crimson on him from the Crimson-bellied Conure either. That’s okay – he’s still an attractive little bird.
I first described Chiku! in my post about hybrid parrots, which is one of the more popular posts on this site. Chiku’s not too unusual looking, since he’s a cross of two very similar species, and he looks very much like a Green-cheek conure with a bit of extra blue shading and extra red under the wings. He’s one hell of a guy so I’m going to write a little more about him. This post isn’t meant to be all that educational, but Chiku!’s such an interesting bird that I have to write more about his personality. I think he’s a boy, but I can’t be 100% sure. I’m getting him DNA sexed at the end of the month.
Chiku! is such a fun bird that I recently applied to permanently adopt him. I really enjoy the Pyrrhura conures, and Chiku! will be my second one, as I already have a Maroon-bellied Conure, Lucy, who I wrote about Here: Living with a Maroon-bellied conure.
Chiku! is a lot different from Lucy. He’s quite a bit younger (he’s a little over a year now) and is about twenty times more energetic. While Lucy is calm and docile, Chiku! is a complete firecracker. When he’s out of his cage, he’s on a non-stop spree of crazy. Destruction is his favorite activity and I have to make sure he doesn’t go on my laptop as he removed several of the keys and I had to replace the keyboard. He loves shredding anything – especially books – and throwing the debris around. I’ve had to work at trying to convince him that when he eats messy food that produces crumbs or juice (such as crackers or berries), that it’s not necessary for him to eat them while standing on top of my head. The top of my head is his favorite perch, and he likes to hang over my face, clinging to my hair, and preen my eyelashes and eye brows. He loves to go down my shirt as well, and stick his head out over the top. He hates my husband and wants to rip his ears off. Chiku! will even try to walk downstairs if my husband’s there in order to find him and bite his ears. We are working on that behavior and my husband can now at least pick up Chiku! without winding up with a bird as an earring. Biting men’s ears is one of Chiku!’s little vices (passions, even) as he badly bit the man at the last place he stayed at. His nickname is “Man-seeking Dart.” I can handle Chiku! just fine and he’ll even lie on his back on my hand. I don’t know much about Chiku!’s past so I’m not sure how his dislike of men developed, although I do what I can to prevent him from nipping anyone. I’ve been doing a bit of clicker training with him and he’s a very fast learner, as is Lucy the Maroon-bellied Conure.
Chiku! likes to say his name over and over again, quite loudly, in several different tones of voice. I have no idea if he was named after his vocalization or if he was named “Chiku” and then learned to say his name. I spell his name with an exclamation point because it just seems to suit him.
He has learned how to imitate Peggy, my Jenday Conure, and can say, “Whaaaaaat??” in this surprisingly indignant and sarcastic-sounding tone of voice. Peggy sounds like a Blue Jay, only more shrill, and Chiku!’s imitation of that is even shriller still. He insists on sharing anything I may be eating or drinking in front of him which is fine almost all of the time, since most of the food I eat is okay for birds. However, he can’t have coffee, and if I have coffee while Chiku!’s out, he’ll violently protest by pecking on the lid of the coffee cup and making these angry mumbling noises. He’ll simmer down if I get him a little cup of juice to drink out of. He can only have pure juice that doesn’t have any extra sugars added, and the juice I usually give him is carrot-blueberry.
I kind of wanted to keep Chiku! very early on in his foster period with us. But, if a better home applied to adopt him, I decided I’d let him go. However, most adopters were a bit turned off by his biting-men’s-ears-and-faces habit. Go figure. The parrot rescue that Chiku! was surrendered to held an adoption day at the local Humane Society in June and I figured that I’d take him and that if no one adopted him, I’d keep him.
Chiku! didn’t behave too badly at the adoption day and mainly stayed in his cage. When I took him out, he mostly stayed under my hair on my shoulders and basically clung to me. He wasn’t adopted, so I decided to keep him and just submitted my formal application to adopt him.
I’ve noticed that, often, small birds are seen as being “starter birds” – the ones that people should get to gain “experience” before getting a bigger bird. However, as Chiku! demonstrates, the small conures are just as smart and interesting as the larger parrot species. I have a couple bigger parrots (a Red-lored Amazon and a Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo) and still decided to get another small conure because I just enjoy these little birds so much. Chiku! needs as much attention as the bigger birds.