Today is River's 10th birthday, or rather hatchday. We met him the day he hatched. He was this tiny white down-covered chick. My friend Dave brought him down from his incubator in a tiny dixie cup to show him to me. River was about 12 hours old, and it was love at first sight. I can't even put into words how much he means to me. Those of you who aren't animal people wouldn't understand, and even those who are animal people, if you've never been around an African Grey parrot, there is a good chance you wouldn't understand either. Don't get me wrong, I love my dogs and cat, but the relationship with a parrot, especially this breed, is much different. It's deeper, and more on a human level. (I already hear Chef Mark lecturing about anthropomorphizing my animals) River and I have been described as "joined at the hip."
River is extremely intuitive and sensitive. He is always the first one to notice if I'm off, or something is bothering me, and he is always the first one to say, "Are you okay?" He always is coming up with new phrases, and uses them in context. (African Greys have been tested to be as smart as a 6 year old human being.) He is a combination of a very old soul and yet he has this wide eyed sense of wonder. He is constantly learning things, and amazing me. He has such a gentle spirit, and I truly consider him one of my very best friends. I'm blessed to have him in my life.
He also has a great sense of humor. He likes to play tricks on people, and then he will laugh hysterically at his own joke. Jeremy the supervisor for our builder would come over to repair things, and River would make the noise for Nextel phones. Jeremy would without fail grab his phone and answer it, only to have the office tell him they didn't call him. Then River would make the noise like our smoke detector's battery was dying. Jeremy would ask if we had a 9 volt battery, and River would laugh. River always outsmarted Jeremy, and had a nice laugh at his expense.
River calls all the other pets by their names, and isn't shy about tattling on them if they are misbehaving. In fact, often rather than rat them out to me, River will just yell at them himself. The dogs mostly ignore him and he gets quite exasperated. River also calls both Nick and I by our names, and will also make up nicknames for himself and others.
Happy Birthday to my dear baby. May you have many, many more!
(I know I sound like a crazy animal lady, and maybe I am)