Cella, our 18 year old vos maeri eclectus, eagerly searches for a
hungry baby.
 Cella, our 18 year old vos maeri eclectus eagerly searches for a hungry baby.

For the last eight years, Cella (pictured Eclectus) has shown a sustained interest in the young babies raised at SBBF. Her interest in Eclectus babies is particularly evident.

Finding Jerry Werks' baby Girly Cake, Cella happily feeds herDuring Baby Season 2001, I decided to go ahead and let Cella interact with baby Eclectus in new and increasingly important ways. Soon after I relaxed my previous “look but don’t touch” rules, Cella was happily feeding and preening the chicks.

Clarity look on, hoping Cella will see her tooThe best of both worlds, I thought. A lovely companion’s influence and my own dedicated competence will surely combine to produce healthy, happy, well attended chicks. Cella spent time daily with the youngsters who quickly became accustomed to her ministrations and attention. We made a great pair of caregivers.

Cella obliges Clarity with a bite to eatWhen it came time for the two baby girls to fledge (please refer to “Seeing Clarity”), Cella was a willing participant in their fledging experiences. She used the opportunity to get in better shape herself and soon after the girls fledged, Cella renewed her own flying skills. She followed them whenever they took off, she beckoned them to follow her, as she showed them the ropes in the fledgling aviary.

Caroline Kneip's Pierre was next in lineAs they sometimes do, our parent Eclectus, Rosebuds and Mr. Ro, had a second clutch. Upon their arrival in the house, these babies were also greeted enthusiastically by Cella. Her recent experiences with Clarity and Carmen made her an expert with Pierre and Fiona (pictured) who became the honored adorable recipients of our mutual care.

When it came time to fledge these two chicks, however, Cella’s enthusiasm for the task waned. She spent two months with the first clutch, then 6 weeks with the next. At the end of those 14 weeks, Cella showed clear signs of burn-out. Like a baby sitter with too much work for too long, Cella began to fly back to her cage in order to escape the rambunctious duo.

Normally, Boo enjoys the fledglings who visit his playgym. However, as this picture shows, enough is enough. Around this same time, that is, late in the Baby Season 2001, we noticed a similar burn out with Boo, our Greenwinged macaw. Normally, Boo enjoys the fledglings who visit his playgym. However, as this picture shows, enough is enough.

Boo teaching his little sister to chew woodFrom these experiences, I learned as much as Boo and Cella did. Baby birds are a lot of work, and the work gets more vigorous and demanding during fledging. While they are capable of helping with chicks, my young adult psittacine birds are still primarily companions with lives of their own. When they chose to help with parenting, I accept their assistance with gratitude. When they are finished with their chores, it’s time for them to be companions again, pure and simple.