Karma, my African Grey Parrot

I purchased an African Grey Parrot in March of 1998, and named her Karma. At the time, I had no idea whether she was male or female, so the androgynous name appealed to me. That and the thought that I would be able to say "good Karma!" and "bad Karma!" over and over again.

At somewhat less than a pound, she has acquired a vocabulary in the hundreds of words. Here are some photos of her:

She likes to climb on things, especially this chain. The rope is only there for her to chew on. The plastic plate is there so that she does not chew through the ceiling beams (notice some dings which she took out before I wised up).

She is quite agile, and is as happy upside down or sideways as she is rightside up.

Her claws are prehensile, and she holds all food in one claw while standing on the other. She even sleeps on one foot, with her head draped over her shoulder. Her neck is quite long and thin (and a bit coiled up under normal circumstances, kind of in an "S" shape), so it needs rest at night, I guess.

When she wants something, she lets you know by making as if to fly over to the item of choice. Her flight feathers are not clipped, so she can fly if she gets frustrated enough. It is not uncommon for her to fly in to another room if she hears people talking, and wants to be part of the party.

This is another flight pose: she can throw quite a lot of air around, even if she doesn't take off. Extra food and guano-catching newspapers can fly around the room from time to time.

She preens often: here she is preening her back and wing feathers. One reason that her neck has to be so long is because she has to maintain all of her feathers, even the ones on her tail, with her beak. There is an oil gland on on her lower back which she uses to keep her feathers properly maintained.

Here she is with a small Swiss army knife. Normally, she would just grab it with one foot, but she was so excited this time that she grabbed it with both feet, and sat on her butt.

Here she is with another knife.

A nice shot showing how she grabs the knife

A good shot of her black, dry tongue.

Pulling the tweasers out of the knife

Karma emitted some pretty strange sounds during her first 11 months on this planet. Here are a few of them:









Wolf Whistle

Hello Karma

A Shower

<mystery sound> (I made this one, actually...)

I bought a rainbow lorikeet, but had to give it away, because he was so stunningly aggressive. Not only did he emit ear splitting shreaks, but also would chase the cats off of my lap out of jealousy. He was a horny bugger, who would hump my hand with enthusiasm.

I purchased a 11-year-old African Gray as a companion for Karma back in 2001. As a "used" pet, he came with a pre-existing slave name, "Tiger Boy". The name made no sense to me, but it was "his", so I kept it. I never had Tiger tested for gender, because the test (which Karma had) involves putting them out cold under anesthetic, and this has significant risks. To simplify nomenclature, I decided that Tiger was a "boy", so I could refer to them as "he" and "she". For the first few years, Tiger would often say his name softly and slowly, in the clear voice of a little-old-lady, which made me wonder exactly what his history had been. I tried to get in touch with the previous owner, but was un-successful.

Here is Tiger, with his wings in a characteristic pose, which I interpret as him wanting to be mounted. He often assumes this pose after I take a shower with him standing on the shower curtain rod, making soft clucking noises, all of which makes me think that "he" actually is a "she".

Tiger and Karma look almost identical to the casual observer, but they differ in a huge number of ways. Karma is almost fearless, while Tiger is fearful. Karma is an acrobat, while Tiger is a bit of a klutz. Karma is a great flyer, while Tiger started out unable to fly at all (although Tiger's flying skills get better every year). Karma's feathers are almost always dissheveled: she always looks like you just woke him up from a nap; Tiger's feathers are always neat and clean, as if he were about to go out on an important date. Karma likes just about everyone, but won't allow anyone to touch her, while Tiger will only let me touch him, and enjoys being petted every day.