Toby the Famous Blue Crown Conure.
Cliff taught his Blue Crown Conure to ride in a toy car and perform.
||Toby playing dead
Toby the Blue Crown Conure
By Cliff Patterson
In 1989 I got a new pair of breeder Blue Crown Conures and was delighted when they soon gave me a single chick. He was alert and mischievous, a real handful. I was happy when a young couple fell in love with him at a bird fair and wanted to add him to their home. I could tell that since they didn’t have any children, Toby (as they named him) would lead a spoiled life.
Four years later, I got a phone call. The man identified himself as the man who had adopted Toby. He said that he and his girlfriend were about to have a baby and they were moving to Las Vegas. Toby wasn’t going with them. He wanted to know if I wanted Toby back. Of course I said yes!
Poor Toby. He had been the substitute child until they had the real thing. Now he was losing the only home he knew.
I decided that I would not re-sell Toby. I felt that God had sent Toby back to me, and now he was my responsibility. With me, he had a home for life!
It took Toby about a month to adjust, but he soon established himself as the dominant bird in my flock. He appointed himself as the “watch bird.” No one could get within ten feet of my house without Toby giving the alarm call. And he was LOUD, too!
Toby does have a mouth on him, I’ll say that. But he doesn’t do it too much. When he’s wound up, he’s generally over it and quiet again in ten or fifteen minutes. I can live with that.
He’s just full of personality, though. When he wants to come out of his cage, he’ll demand “C’mere! C’mere!” He gets louder and louder until you let him out, too.
When he wants attention, he’ll say “Gimme kiss!” I love you!” How can you resist that? LOL When you have him out and say to him “Gimme kiss!” he’ll lean forward and touch your lips with his beak, make the smacking noise, and tell you that he loves you. What a sweetie!
Toby’s favorite activity is bouncing. He’ll hold tightly to my finger and I’ll gently bounce my hand up and down. Toby will squeal with delight, then begin making pumping motions with his body. He wants to go faster! If I stop, he starts flapping his wings and pumping with his body. “More! More! Don’t stop!”
Soon my arm feels like it’s going to fall off, so I grab a Nutriberry to distract him. Nutriberries are the only thing that Toby likes better than bouncing.
He has also appointed himself the policeman in my bird room. When some of the Quakers start getting into a chattering contest it annoys him. You’ll hear this little stern voice say, “What’s the matter with you? Be quiet! KNOCK IT OFF! SHUT UP!” Obviously he heard that at his last home when he made a racket. But he sure knew what it meant!
Because he was such a personable little guy, I started taking him to occasional bird fairs. Toby just loved all the attention. He would happily step on strangers’ hands and sometimes even give them a kiss if they asked him. I wondered if I could teach him to do other entertaining things. So I began to experiment.
I taught him to lay quietly and motionlessly on his back on the palm of my had. I taught him to raise his right foot and wave bye bye. Those were big hits at the bird fairs. What else could I teach him?
He really enjoyed doing the “dead bird.” I soon discovered that I could actually get him to do a head stand! He would balance on the back of his head and on his two shoulders on the palm of my hand. He didn’t like it at first, but I raised my middle finger behind his back to help give him stability and then he was fine with it. In fact, he’d even fan out his tail (which was pointing straight up) and show off all of the pretty feathers in his tail with the burgundy color on them.
Toby became famous at the bird fairs. Folks would come by and request to see his tricks. He was starting to develop his own fan club!
What else could I teach Toby to do? What would really be a show-stopper?
I went to Radio Shack and bought a little red radio-controlled convertible, then I glued a small t-stand onto it. As soon as it moved, Toby freaked out completely. He jumped off of the car and tried to bite it! He even chased it across the room, attacking it. That was cute, but that obviously wasn’t what I was looking for.
So, how could I get Toby to accept the car? Nutri-Berries! Of course! Toby would kill for a Nutri-Berry. I began dropping them on the little convertible and suddenly it wasn’t a monster that needed to be killed. It was a treat dish!
Toby willingly climbed up onto the car for better access to the sudden wealth of treats and didn’t even object as I began to make the car slowly move. Success!
Every so often I take Toby and his convertible to a bird fair with me. Then, when it gets slow, I place Toby on his little red convertible and slowly run him up the aisle. A customer, usually a child, will spot Toby coming and will squeal with delight! “Look, momma! Look! A bird driving a car!”
I turn it around and run him back to my bird fair booth and the customers follow. Soon, even though the show might be slow, my booth is filled with customers thanks to cute little Toby!
Toby goes through his tricks for his admiring crowd, finishing off with his famous headstand. Then he retires to his well-earned pile of Nutriberries while I tend to all the customers. We have a partnership!
Toby is my little buddy, full of intelligence and love. I’m so fortunate to have him. Toby and I will be a team for as long as both of us are here.
OK I had to add more about Toby the Blue Crown Conure! Cliff posted this sweet story July 2006 on his Yahoo Blue Crown Conure Group. His Blue Crown Conure Group is the friendliest Yahoo group I've found.
If this story doesn't make you want a Blue Crown Conure, nothing will!
On some lists I’ve read discussions of whether birds can actually see the picture on a TV screen. Well, Toby, my Blue Crown, cleared that up for me over the Fourth.
I had Toby out and was sharing some air-popped popcorn with him. The TV was on, and the fireworks show from Boston had just come on. It was the one with the Boston Pops playing.
Well, I realized that Toby wasn’t watching me and the popcorn, he had his head turned away. He was looking directly at the TV screen. And then I realized that he was making little noises.
He was actually making little soft “Ooooooo!” noises every time a big shell burst on the screen!
I took Toby over to a chair closer to the TV (and brought the popcorn too, of course). He was thoroughly enjoying himself! Whenever a patriotic march would come on, Toby would break into his little dance, bobbing his head in time to the music.
By the end of the show, Toby had really worn himself out and was definitely ready for beddy-bye. As I put him up on his sleeping perch in his cage, he stopped and turned towards me and said, “I love you!”
What better way to spend the Fourth of July evening than watching fireworks with your bird over a big bowl of popcorn!
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