Cricket came home to live with me April 26th, 1998. He is a Bronze-Wing Pionus, a small type of parrot. A friend of mine translated the scientific name "pionus chalcopterus". In Greek it means, basically, "fat thing with brass sides". The amazing thing about Pionus species is the iridescence of their feathers. These are all pictures of the same bird, I swear. It just depended on the light in the room. He doesn't really speak yet, but he tries very hard by making these chirruping noises when he wants my attention. He was hatched around April of 1997 [see 1/12 journal notes below!], and his last mommy found him a new home because she was afraid that he was not going to be well socialized. In the light of health problems she had not anticipated herself having, she wanted him to have a good upbringing. She trusted him to me and I still can not believe I am so fortunate. He is beautiful. [I'm biased] I get all squishy-hearted when I think about coming home and seeing his bashful face peeking down the stairs at me as I get home. He sits next to me while I geek. He loves wheat thins. And cooked corn.

here is the Pi Cam

Here are gratuitous pages of Cricket Pix:
    ok i had too many photos on this main page. so to be polite i've started a new page where all photos can reside and those who have the patience can let them all load.
  • Nudie Shower Pix!
    Jim took some fantastic pictures of Cricket in the shower with me!
  • Color Shots
    these are good color shots of all my feather variety - you can really see the turquoise of my wing under-feathers
  • Baby's First Pix
    the first "cam" shots i took of Cricket
  • Photo Shoot
    a set of 6 nice pictures
  • Puffer Pi Mode
    cranky pi? this is what it looks like

i love my BEAKABLES play gym. o/~ ohhh P is for pionus, that's good enough for me! o/~


8/25 - cricket's latest hobby: watching the birds! We live facing a gulch. As a consequence, the treetops are right outside the kitchen window. this link is a good-sized picture of cricket in the window. For some reason, I love it...someone at work saw it and said "Do you have a raven??" Hah. Hah hah. No.

9/1 - cricket Eats! it's true - this week cricket has managed to taste tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, grapes, apples, almonds, cashews and walnuts. which ones do you think he likes the best? how does one convince a child that broccoli is good for him??

9/11 - cricket showers! i took cricket in the shower yesterday afternoon. he wasn't scared - he didn't try to fly away or shrink up into scaredy-bird shape or leeeeean away from the water. he wasn't particularly enthused, however. he hates his morning baths, still, so far. i was hoping that a shower might be more exciting than the mister or a bowl or the spray bottle... i let him sit on a perch and, now and then, had him step up on my hand and bring him into the spray of water. at one point he had his beak stuck in the stream straight from the showerhead and was drinking the water! he clearly wasn't too upset, but it certainly wasn't a terribly enthused response. well he got good and soaked and i got good and clean. i left him on his perch and turned the shower to tub so i could shave. he just sat and watched. when i was done, i turned the faucet back to shower. now, some how, this was Very Scary to his little bird brain. from then until i was done showering he did that infamous Pi Baby Cry - sobbing and wailing at the top of his lungs in my gloriously echo-y tile shower. as soon as i put him on his perch he was ok enough to sit there, but he wouldn't step-up and i was afraid he would bite. so i left him there while i finished, talking to him all the time. dunno why this terrified him so, but as soon as i turned off the water he was his tentative but cheerful self again. some birds, i tells ya. next stop - a REAL perch that's bigger so he can move around on his own. maybe we will have better luck if i shave other times, too...

9/13 - cricket bathes, part 2 - the conquest. well i bought one of those big shower perches. and i didn't shave my legs. and y'know what? this is the closest thing to excitement about water i've seen in this precious boy yet. he was siddling over to the shower stream and drinking it. and he *actually* lifted his wings up a couple times. what a good boy. i'm excited to do this again, now. the problem is that i have few opportunities to take the time to shower with him. i will find a way.

9/18 cricket eats sprouts! i bought a sprouting kit from China Prairie and i splurged and bought the sprout tower too. this shit works. it is so warm in our house that in 2 days we have healthy happy sprouts for the fids [feathered kids]. getting them to eat them is another matter. we tried tuesday night. and i tried again last night. i gave him two bowls full - one plain and one coated with baby food. they were equally but not enthusiastically consumed in small amounts. hey - it's a start!!

9/29 - cricket eats paper! well this is nothing new for birds.. but he's being so gosh darned spunky that i took this picture.. he thought he was bein' all sly; sneakin' up on the corner of my desk while i was typing.. boy isn't he embarassed now!

10/6 - cricket eats sprouts! really! with very little convincing cricket now thinks his sprouts are just the yummiest thing. he's also been taking showers with me more often and although he doesn't love the water yet, he does like to edge over to me and lick it out of my palm. almost too cute.

10/26 - he talks now. not that anyone could understand. i love my birdy. but he has a word that is clearly "hello" in cricket language, and a word for "mmmmm food yummy!" and a "ok time to go back please" word. right now hes just sorta crick-ing along with a continuous stream of little peeps and gurgles and noises that could be "hellocricket" piped through some weird machine. he does love to wolf whistle though.. and then make songs out of it - like instead of just whistling uuup and doowwnn he trills it almost like rolling ones rs in spanish. very funny. precious little bird.

11/11 - cricket survives our vacation! me and my sweetins and family went to cozumel for a week. cricket was alive when i got home. and despite the fact that it was 1am he came climbing right out to see me. oh my heart melts.

11/26 - cricket, Defender of the House. thats right. after his oh-so-dreadful spray-bottle baths cricket gets to sit in His Window and watch the birds. well this morning he decided that he really didnt like the jays screeching at him, thankyouverymuch, and started screeching back. until one of them hoped over onto a branch real near us. suddenly the dirt in the window frame was a much more interesting thing for cricket to focus all his attention on.

11/27 - cricket pukes! thats right ladies and gents. i was working on computer stuff when i noticed that cricket was trying to regurgitate on one of his toys. he was restless and kept waddling around the top of his cage so i went over there. he came running over to me with his head a-bobbing and proceeded to throw up some lovely sprout remnants for me. he kept stretching up to touch my nose with his beak and then would throw up something for me. [for those of you who dont know - this is an incredible sign of affection] i know, gross pet things. but i almost cried. my baby looooooovvveees meeee. *beam*

12/22 - happy hanukah to ME!! mommy got me a new cage for hanukah. its a CA Cage Y540 model - more than a little tyke like me could possilby want. i love it. its nice and big so that i have room to play while shes at work.

1/12 - is it 1999 already? cricket has a hatch date!! In conversation with cricket's first mom, we managed to come up with a small list of breeders where she could have bought cricket. the first one i called was a winner! cricket was hatched 4/22/97 and "it's" parents names are Edith and Roy. he was not sexed. i am having that done this week and should know soon anyway.. but a BIRTHDAY is nice to have. thanks to Eggs-otic Parroting for looking up cricket in their records [you can find their ad in the back of Bird Talk magazine].

1/19 - its a BOY ! thats right - hand out the baby-blue cigars! crickets blood tests have come back and he is officially a He! we all suspected, because he has bonded to me and not my sweetie but now we Know For Sure. cricket, of course, continues to act exactly the same and sees nothing new or exciting in this revelation.

2/20 - cricket eats yams! last night i made a yam and sat down to eat with cricket on his little ladder gym on the table. hes never been one for table food with me but last night i got him to start eating the yam with me. his had to be in His bowl up on the gym with him but thats fine. anything is ok. then i put the bowl in his cage and he continued to eat all the yam i had given him - about as much as his head! this is a big step forward for us in the Vitamin A deficiency area. if i can get him to eat yams i will be much happier than feeding him baby food. besides - i get to eat them too ;]

- 4/19 my new trick trying to open my dish door from the outside. mom thinks i dont really know what im doing, but that im just playing with it because it moves. one of these days, when shes not looking, im gonna open that door and pull out my food dish all over the floor!

5/26 - a new adventure! i got a new job at JSB and the presi said i could bring him to work, so cricket went to work today!! he had never been in the car other than to go to the vet and hes certainly never been in a strange place with so many strangers before. he was such a good boy that im actually letting him eat nutriberries for dinner. he didnt bite or get puffy or cry when i went in the other room. and after the first half hour he even stopped looking like a deer in headlights. what a wonderful good boy he was!!

6/17 - well cricket is trying to talk. so much so that our new housemates can even understand him. now i had heard rumors about late bloomers but this is shocking. he's over two years old. he says, in his mumbling gravelly way, "pretty bird" "hello" "whatchadoin" and "cricket". now these are, by no means, clear words. but the inflection is good enough that all 4 housemates agree on what he's saying. at this rate he may even get better!!

12/21 - well i had done all these pretty updates to this site, and last week managed to wipe them away while adding the Puffer Pi Page. i've tried to recreate things. i know that i had put some information about cricket's illness here. the latest test results show that the endoscopy and xrays and 3 months nebulization were all worth while. the vet says cricket's sinuses look fantastic and we really hope, after 1 1/2 years of struggling, that cricket is finally well. don't get a bird if you can't afford medical the bills. this is no joke! so we go back in a few months for a recheck. then in six months. then a year after that. here is to hoping the new year is healthy happy and um... birdyful.

this is me with nebulized medication all over my face

2/16/2k - we moved!  really, all the fids were very good about it.  mom and dad needed to be on their own, and The Housemates were smoking in the house - something not good for birdies.  now cricket lives in the livingroom of our new house, right next to Baby (picture is of Baby in Jim's hair, on the back of his neck), our aged oscillated skink.  cricket likes to climb down the side of his cage and watch her, but she seems not to care if he exists or not.  the most noticeable change in cricket is he is much more vocal.  he doesnt talk yet, per se, but he really mumbles all the time.  i think its the fridge noises that set him off, as this fridge is noticeably louder than the last one (although no annoyance).  whatever the case, it sure makes us laugh.  we were watching An Ideal Husband the other night and, at the end, when everyone is laughing, cricket was just laughing along.  thats one thing he does really well - laugh.  he loves to laugh when people laugh.  which, of course, makes us laugh more.  almost two years now and cricket has become such a precious integral part of our family, and has opened himself up to us so much.

this is me on our new front porch.
i love to watch the ducks and planes
fly overhead. i growl at them.

4/25/2k - with the arrival of Ernie, cricket seems to be doing ok. they are already picking up each other's noises, which is terribly funny. they both sound very different so it's interesting to hear. they are like peas in a pod - when cricket eats, ernie eats. when cricket naps, ernie naps. today i am watching them on the cam and cricket seems to not be sitting in his normal spot, but over where he can keep an eye on ernie. i wonder if he is trying to intimidate him (through the distance and cage bars) or whether he is just keeping an eye on him or whether they are talking to each other. i wish i had a microphone =] the bad news is that the vet has found cricket is sick again. he goes in for another x-ray this Thurs. and then we send all the x-rays off to some exotics radiologist who is Most Knowledgeable, up in san francisco, to see if he sees anything more than we have. if not, then we will probably have to do a trepanation of his sinuses to see further into them, hopefully to find the site of whatever is causing such a weakness of his immune system such that he continues to re-catch these same two strains of the same two bacteria over and over. i am just grateful that whatever is plaguing him does not seem to affect his attitude or mental well being. he seems just as happy as the next bird and it reassures me that whatever is going on is not, at least, painful to him. it's so frustrating to think that he was well enough to fight off infection for a few months, yet it still reoccured. i suppose it's a good sign that the nebulization DID help for a few months - it means that we are, theoretically, on the right track in assuming this is some sort of abscess or damage deep in his sinuses or lungs that continues.. but frustrating nonetheless. he's been sick since before we got him and i just want him happy and healthy.

5/5/2k - vet status report. Dr. Silverman looked over the xrays. he is a radiologist up north and considered one of the best in the world, with exotic animal xrays. he feels an MRI is warranted. so we will drive the 3 1/2 hours each way to UC Davis to get an MRI done. don't have a date yet - my vet is organizing it for me. guess we're in The Big Time now..

6/22/2k - Dr. Tell is the vet at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC Davis (aka the VMTH). we took Cricket up and actually had a CT done (cat scan on a bird har har). the good news is that he came out of it ok. there was a chance that he might not. he may have further complications so we won't be out of the woods for 4 weeks. meanwhile the initial review of the CT does not show anything unusual. they did note that his R sinus does not flush as if it is impeded. could be related. could be a physical deformity.. we are waiting for all the vets to "pow-wow" and then they will call me. meanwhile cricket was very tired when we got home yesterday but otherwise seems just fine. he bounces back so quickly and has never pouted.

i'm cranky about all my meds, mum! oi! i'm plucky, i am!

11/16/2k - well we're well overdue for an update, arent we? after being at davis, there wasnt much to report. many people urged me to get a second opinion from Dr. Brian Speer who lives and works closer to us than davis. at least theres that - thank goodness we live where we do. after much vacationing (summers and all) and wrangling, we got an appointment about two weeks ago and took cricket up there. Dr. Speer and i discussed a variety of options but he felt the best thing to do would be to keep cricket there (since it's 1 1/2 hours away if you drive fast) and run some tests. the long and the short of it was we are now doing oral antibiotics twice a day, as well as flushing cricket sinuses with a cocktail of enzymes, antibiotic and saline once a day. boy does he love that part. we do this for two weeks and see what happens. Dr. Speer had done an endoscopy and found "huge amounts of snot" just covering everything in cricket's sinuses. he feels that this is keeping the really strong resistant bacteria from being killed by antibiotics which would be why cricket keeps getting sick. Dr. Speer hopes that the sinus flushes will clear out all the snot so that those passages are clearer. we will see if it works.

the good news is cricket still loves me. he runs and hides when i get the towels out, but after it has all been done, he goes back to being his sweet self. he and his brother are starting to coexist. they cant be left alone together, but if i put them both on the floor at least they dont charge each other. hopefully cricket will be better soon, too. although at that point he may start trying to kill ernie again ;]

11/11/2k - just a quiet moment
snuggling with mom

2/13/01 - ok waaayy overdue again. just after the new year we put cricket on oral antibiotics twice a day again with a sinus flush once a day. after that we took him to see Dr. Speer again. Dr. Speer did an endoscopy and we got to watch. that part was really cool! what wasn't cool was that cricket's sinuses are still (quite clearly) full of snot. so the question at this point is what is causing it? Dr. Speer's latest cultures indicate a "pure staphorious" (sp) infection. this is good news because it seems the lazy common enterobacter and such are gone. this is bad because it means that some complicated pure bacteria is still living up in there. is there a nitus of infection or an abcess or a tumor? there's no way for us to know and no way to go drilling up in there without a goal. so we are sending cricket off to Camp Oakley (aka Dr. Speer's office) for two weeks and they will flush him there and monitor him every day and run tests. we are hoping that it is only my inexperience with flushing that is causing the antibiotics and flushes to fail. that happens 3/3. i'll keep things updated.

thank goodness that meanwhile cricket is in a great mood and eats well and plays well and still hates ernie (when i'm looking) and doesn't seem to be feeling any of this on a daily basis. he's going to hate Camp Oakley but i know it's best for him.

this photo was just the other day. something startled cricket and he flew all the way across the livingroom and out into the front hallway. usually he lands on the floor but it looks like a few flight feathers growing in got him a bit further and he landed on the coats.. see? he's got lots of energy. =]

3/20/01 - well i just got off the phone with Dr. Speer. cricket was there for two weeks, having his sinuses flushed. he says that when he first looked up into cricket's sinuses he got really depressed. the short version is that there is still heavy mucous production on the left side. the good news is that this means i wasn't flushing wrong, and the other good news is that nothing is growing in the mucous - cultures yield nothing.

so where do we go from here?

Dr. Speer and i talked about how there could be some sort of granuloma or site of mucous production up in cricket's sinuses that is creating all of this. but unless cricket were a macaw, there's really no way to get up in there and look - cricket is too small. as Dr. Speer put it - if someone is going to cut a hole in you, you probably want them to have some idea of where they are going to do it and what they're going for. and we just don't.

it seems that sinus flushing helps keep the problem at bay. but that's not really a solution, it's a workaround (and one that cricket would dislike immensely) and who knows, long term, if it would still be effective or whether it might even clear things up. it certainly might. cricket is less mucousy than he was when Dr. Speer first saw him. so in theory, we could be going in the right direction. but how long would it take us to get there? would we get there?

so since we know that that might be a workaround, what other options are there? well, there's Do Nothing. maybe if we leave him for six months the lessening of mucous production will continue, if we can just leave his sinuses be and let them settle back to normal. or maybe if we leave him for six months he'll get an infection bad enough that we can actually find more specifics about the site of infection or cause. either way it will give us an interesting piece of data.

so for now we are doing nothing. in 6 months, Dr. Speer and i will talk. and we just don't know what we'll find.

so that's the latest on cricket. at least it's not worse =]

bird talk is yummy!
7/5/01 - mmm cherry lips. we order our nuts from Nuts 4 U because they have whole raw almonds that have not been treated or seasoned in any way, and the nuts are huge. but when i called for my latest order, the fella said "well, we have these new dried cherries. you wanna try 'em?" no no, says i, i don't want anything with extra sugar in it. "oh naw!" (says he) "we make these especially for the bird people who call - it's just whole dry cherries. no added nothin! just whole cheeries - pits n all" so i tried them, and the boys absolutely love them. they get them as treats (not every day) and they both adore them. they are fastidious about picking out the stone, licking all the cherry off of it, and discarding it, before smearing cherry everywhere. mmmm sticky cherry.

otherwise cricket has been cricket. he bit me, for the first time, about four weeks ago. in hindsight i deserved it. he was puffy. he lunged at my twice. and i still didn't put him down or on a stick. i really asked for it. he's having his first hormonal spring (the late bloomer) and it seems we can't look at him funny without him puffing up. we're learning to deal with it, and he's just chugging along.

no nasal discharge. he's had a couple wheezy days but mostly nothing. we still have a while to go before we see Speer again, and cricket's weight is solid so that's a good sign. and he loves his cherries =]
9/26/01 - can you believe it's been 6 months?

i talked to dr. speer. we agreed that since cricket's weight has not changed, and his symptoms are the SAME as they have always been (clicky now and then, attitude ok, eating well, nothing really visible without testing) then there is nothing to be done. the theory is that if cricket does have something more complex going on, eventually it will have to become bad enough to show stronger signs, at which point it can be attacked. until then, dr. speer feels that we will simply be chasing in circles as we have been for almost four years. so we wait, and we hope that nothing else comes of this.

on one hand, it feels terribly anti-climactic. on the other, i begin to dare to think that whatever was there has faded and is dissapating, and might actually be beaten. only time will tell.

so we go on about our daily lives, and i'll just be glad not to have more bills right now.

that's all there is to say really. short but sweet .. ? here's to hoping!

1/27/02 - yes. 2002. we've had cricket almost four years. since we moved, in september, things have been really hard. cricket's health has been very very good, but his attitude progressively worsens. he's very jealous of ernie and has taken to SCREAMING when i take ernie for one on one time. we're working on it. he feels good and his weight is up, and those are good things.

on a lighter note, after four fricking years he's finally learned that popsicle sticks are yummy. see? patience is the key

7/23/02 - what a long strange road it's been. cricket and i were having more and more difficulty. cricket had become an handsome adult male pionus, and i was becoming more and more unsure around him. his cage aggression and screaming were not only exhausting me, but interfering with our ability to interact with ernie. cricket was incredibly jealous, and vocal about it too ;] with a kind offer from the shade's at high spirits aviary, i consulted with avian behavioralist liz wilson. liz had a lot of good suggestions and positive observations.

and after some thought and some work, it became clear to me that cricket was simply more than my patience and hearing levels could handle. he wasn't doing anything wrong - i simply wasn't enough to be able to take care of him. so recognizing that love just isn't enough, i arranged for cricket to move in with my friend shar.

sherry, barbara, cricket, and shar

shar is one of the co-founders of TARA - an avian rescue org in tucson, arizona. yes, that's far away. but shar has been on mailing lists with me since before i got cricket. she has a WC of her own, named nadia, and is familiar with cricket's entire medical and behavioral history. that knowledge, combined with her experience with second hand birds, made her my first choice. it was crucial that i find him a home where he was going to get the medical attention that he needs. shar, of course, said yes.

so since she was driving out to santa barbara for a whirlwind visit, we decided to meet her there and hand off cricket, instead of shipping him. saturday, july 20, we drove the four hours each way to hand him off. the drive home certainly wasn't easy. and as much as i miss him terribly, i know that i've done what's best for him. and i must admit that the quiet is awful nice. and i know that he's settling in fine. shar sends me updates. i'm going to miss the little stinker. and it's been the best choice.

and i don't really know what else to say. we still have ernie and i will continue to update his page. so stop by and say hi. and if you ever want to talk to someone about deciding about whether to keep a bird, you're welcome to email me. it's been an incredibly difficult decision, that we took a year and a half to come to. and it's the best i could do.

June 22, 2005 - After living with Shar for some time, Cricket "chose" a friend of hers named Alyssa to like. Cricket was just as cantankerous with Shar as he was with us, but Mister Stubborn found the woman of his dreams and he's happy at last. This email from Shar was such a lovely example of how different his life is now that I had to post it (with her permission, of course!). How happy we all are that the bird with the huge personality has found someone he truly adores. Shar writes:

Well, he is doing soooooooo well.
He absolutely loves Alyssa. He gets to be a traveler when she goes
to Flagstaff to be with her family.
And he does very well going with her places.

She told me that he was even preening one of the either it was
finches or tiel babies!!!!!!

He flies like a pro all thro the house.

But let me walk in that door and he becomes MR NASTY! he is such a kick.

I guess he is talking a lot more now. The thing that is so funny is
that he is saying things that he could have only heard being with me.


He really loves her. I guess he wakes her up every morning by crawling
into bed and preening her eyelashes! And takes a shower with her.

It slays me. :) Cricket is so strong-willed and and it seems he was just determined to find the perfect person - looks like he has. A happy ending for everyone, I think.

where did all the PIS I SPY and PIONUS LINKS go? click here to go to the pionus page

cricket / last update: 6/22/05 all text and images copyright by DogBrain Enterprises and may not be used without express written permission.