Photo by Jamieleigh Location: Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands Playmate: Swainson Toucan "Fiji"
Fiji is my four year old Swainson Toucan. I've raised her since she was six months old and she is so different from my parrots. Everything from her mannerisms to what she likes to eat in her diet, to her entire diet completely, actually! Most newcomers are most intimidated by Fiji because of the size of her beak. I don’t blame them, it sure does look as strong as it is. While cleaning cages yesterday, I happened to put a small stack of newspaper on top of Fiji’s cage instead of on the floor as I usually wood. As I replaced her cage with fresh newspaper, I noticed her take an interest in the newspaper on top of her cage. She tried pulling it between the bars but quickly became frustrated that it could barely come through. I took a few pieces and shredded them into long pieces and put them on top. Sure enough, she hopped over and began playing with them immediately! It is now the new “cage cleaning ritual” that Fiji gets to play with the shreds on top while her cage is being cleaned. She eventually pulls them all through and lets them float to the bottom where they are then disposed of. She’s so cute about it though; she will actually watch the pieces flutter all the way to the bottom of the cage before going for more pieces. I love when you discover new playtimes your birds really enjoy. Fiji is also adapting well with the changing of her toys. She used to take it pretty stressfully when we would change out a new toy but when we did it yesterday she welcomed the new toys with excitement which I’ve never seen her do before. And this wasn’t just adding one new toy - it was transitioning all but one of her current toys for new ones! I felt her cage needed some revamping and I decided to keep a “toy bin” of toys to have on hand so changing them out comes easier and faster. If I can just keep a stash of toys, it makes it easier on both me and my birds. Just for fun, I thought I’d make a list of Fiji’s favorite playtimes;
Squishy Balls (she's a great catch-player)
Drawstrings (mostly on sweatshirts but pant related strings will do the trick, too)
Any type of toy with a bell on it
Face masks (the type that cover your eyes)
I love how as we grow up with our feathered friends, we learn things about them no one else knows or may understand. Fiji is such an avid traveler with me that she can drink from a water bottle! I've even carried her through cruise ship buffet lines before, dropping fruit into the opening of her carry bag - with the person behind me wondering what type of horrible creature is in there growling at her!
Article by Jamieleigh Womach. She has been working with parrots and toucans since the age of 17. She isn’t homeless but is home less than she prefers to be. She travels the world with her husband, daughter, and a flockful of parrots whom she shares the stage with.