Pretty girl Fina hanging out at home.
About 3 years ago, Nick got a parakeet. He'd wanted a bird for a long time, and after researching, he decided that a parakeet would make a good intro bird. It was his 32nd birthday present. He named it Forte, fed him, held him, carried him around on his shoulder, even taught him how to fly. Then Forte thought it was hilarious to fly and dive into my hair while I was busy in the kitchen. Everyone loved him. About half a year later, there was an accident and Forte died in Nick's hands. It was very sad and Nick was devastated. The kids put together their Christmas money and got Daddy a new parakeet a few months later. His name was Solo, we think he was too old when we got him, because he would not leave his cage unless forced and never bonded to any of us. He just died about 6 months ago. I think only Carlo missed him. Sad, but true. But, Nick was still longing for a bird friend. He took to visiting the sun conures at the local PetSmart. One of them is pretty snotty and jealous, the other more friendly and fun, but under the "thumb" of his partner. Nick wanted to bring him home, but the bird and large cage we would need were about $1000. YIKES!
After we got our tax return a couple months ago, Nick started looking at craigslist ads for a feathered friend and ended up taking our 4 oldest kids to the Bird Hut, a local pet store with every kind of bird. They had the opportunity to play with several kinds of parrots there, they even had a sun conure, but it was a little scarlet lady who stole Nick's heart. She snuggled right up to Nick and was gentle with the excited fingers of our children. I was recruited for a visit, and after talking about finances and other concerns, we brought her home at the end of the week. Fina is a female eclectus, still quite young, and has totally bonded to Nick - even enjoying outings to Starbucks and the outside tables at OHOP. She is just starting to chatter and likes to whistle when she hears music or the vacuum. We picked the name "Fina" because it means "the Lord provides" - and there were several prophetic references to birds in the week we got her and in weeks following.
Keliah with Skittles
Now, we have a friend at OHOP, Charlotte, who has an amazing ministry of provision in Africa http://www.possibilitiesministries.com/ - and it looks like God is sending her there personally in the coming months. She made the decision to come on staff full-time at OHOP until she is sent to Burundi to minister. That meant she wanted to live closer to the missions base and needed to cut living costs, to opportunity to move in with another OHOP family fulfilled her needs, but she couldn't bring her 2 birds. She approached us about taking in her African Grey Parrot, Storm, and her Macaw, Skittles. Nick was ready to say yes and kind of asked me as a formality. In fairness, when she asked us months ago about the possibility of taking them when she went to Africa and we'd agreed. That was before we'd adopted Fina, of course. Anyway, we have 3 birdy babies in the house.
Now, Storm and Macaw are, I think, about 3 years old so they have more boldness than Fina right now. Storm is super smart, as an African Grey, and a pretty vast vocabulary already not to mention all the other noises he makes. He has different whistles, imitates a knock at the door and the barking of a dog following (Charlotte's dog), the whines at the door of our own dog Indy, and has already perfected the high-pitched screams of Sabina in a temper. YAY. However, he had acquired a bad parrot habit of over-preening. Whether out of nerves, boredom, or other causes we're not sure, but he was pretty plucked-over when we got him. Through the advice of a vet, and our own attention, his pretty feathers are starting to fill out again. I'll be so happy when he has a proper tail and wings again! Skittles is a rainbow colored Macaw with all the loud squawking of his breed which can be trying at times - but he loves the kids! I think he's really just a kid himself and wants to play all the time. He can say "Hello" and dance, he kind of says "step up." He likes to be ticked under the wings and ride around on our shoulders.
Sabina and Luca with Storm "kissing"
It's been a little crazy around here getting into the flow of caring for so many little ones, but the kids have stepped up to help with the responsibility - especially Cecelia. I tell ya, there is never a dull moment around here.