Sophia (aka Sopha Cushion) - the Senegal

I did not need another bird.  I knew I had reached my limit with three parrots and a canary.  I live in a small apartment in NYC with too much stuff already.  My living room resembles a zoo as it is.  Face it, we are "bird people" – who cares about décor if we have our little friends nearby.  When my rescued budgie Seven passed away, I began getting that itch to open my heart and home to another bird.  I had always wanted to get to know a Senegal parrot but was not sure where to turn.   I had promised myself several years ago that I would not purchase a baby from a breeder or store.  Any new avian addition would be a rescue or a "second hand bird".   I began poking around tentatively on local rescues.  One NY local rescue had a Sennie; but never got back to me.  I let the matter go…until I was nosing around on another local bird site.  There was an ad from someone in NJ who wanted to place her young Senegal into a better home.  Apparently this youngster had been a Valentine's Day gift from the woman's boyfriend (YES, I hear you groaning, I did too.)   She told him she had a conure when she was young and missed having a parrot.  Never mind that the couple already had two small dogs and a cat.  This young Sennie named Mango was being stalked by the cat; so she and her huge cage were relegated to a room all by herself for her own safety.  Still, the small yapping dogs and cat found their way in there. One day when the owner heard Mango screaming, she ran into the room, only to see the cat lying on top of the cage with her de-clawed paw dangling into the top as if she was going fishing. The owner also realized that each time the room door opened for any reason, Mango would scream, and not as a normal parrot scream. It was a scream denoting fear – would the cat be back or the loud barking dogs jumping at her cage?  The owner knew that by being in a separate room with closed door, Mango was also missing out on attention she should have been getting. Now I was in rescue mode.  To dissuade bird re-sellers, Mango was being sold instead of being free to a good home.  I corresponded with the owner back and forth for several weeks, talked to her on the phone, trying to convince her that I was the best Mama. We arranged a meeting to see if we could get along.  Apparently, there was also some guy in NJ willing to purchase Mango via PayPal and I jumped into defensive mode.  THIS BABY NEEDED ME.  On short notice, I asked a friend who had a truck, if he would drive almost 2 hours deep into NJ to pick Mango up. This is when you know who your friends are.  One of my sisters did everything but stand on her head in trying to get me NOT to adopt another bird.

We arrived after work, almost at 9 at night!  When introduced to the little girl, I spoke softly and offered her my finger to perch.  She slowly and deliberately took my finger in her beak and closed down, giving me a warning– as if to say "Who the hell are you and why is your finger in my face??"  When I brought Mango home, I renamed her Sophie as this seemed a more fitting name.  Now it has morphed into Sopha-Lee or because of her stout little body, she is my little "Sopha cushion".  I had a rough time rearranging her diet.  Her owner had spoiled her with nuts and she came with a huge bag of mostly sunflower and safflower seed.  She had tried to feed her pellets and monkey chow which were going uneaten.  Sophie is now fond of veggies and quite a chewer.  She eats pellets, seed, people food and especially veggies.  She has learned the calls from my other birds.  She amplified my green rump parrotlet Isabelle's tiny peeps so now they are big shrieks.  She and Juju, my green cheek conure, trade calls that can raise the dead.  I thought green cheeks were quiet – not when they are mimicked by a Senegal masquerading as a green cheek.  Her own distinct call to me sounds like a raptor call.  The night I finally brought her home to my apt, she called to me using this same piercing, high pitched shriek that sounded like a hawk; and my hair stood up.  My friend and I looked at each other and I said "Well, she has spoken like a true New Yorker…a true NYC subway car that is."  My neighbors say whenever they come to their own doors; they are greeted to many parrot calls.  This is mostly Sophie channeling herself, Juju and Isabelle.  Soph does not talk much, but she does greet me each morning with "hi" and can say her name.  She is also fond of saying "Ready?"

She is a jealous little girl, and cannot be out at the same time as my other birds, she is very aggressive to them.  She seems to have the run of the house now.  She flies to her designated perching areas – and chews my apartment to pieces.  I now can join the ranks of parrot owners who have trouble finding a shirt to wear each day with no holes.  She favors munching cotton material and has ruined many new shirts and bras.  One day I picked up a pair of new, clean jeans which were folded over a chair, only to find the rear end of the pants all chewed up.  Apparently new jeans make a great perch and chew toy.  She is mischievous.  One day I stupidly fell asleep on the couch for ten minutes, only to be awakened by a strange chirping. She was in the bedroom, perched on my open (I told you I made a stupid mistake) laptop, with half of the keys plucked off like chicklets and most of them chewed.  It was demolished and I fully believe that she was proudly calling me over to see her handiwork.  Still, I love my "chewy" little girl and it has been fun to find new toys for her to shred.  I had no experience with Sennies, so I am still learning their unique ways.  She is loveable and affectionate in a quiet way, preferring to nuzzle her beak directly onto my face.  Her favorite place is on my shoulder, a habit she learned from her previous owner that I cannot seem to break her of.  She is content to just sit and she has never been overly aggressive.  I am in school and often tend to fall asleep in a chair with a parrot and book in my lap.  If she does not choose to chew my textbooks, she too will just curl up on my chest or shoulder and snooze.  She is in her "terrible two's" now so I know there are new adventures awaiting me.

I encourage everyone who wants to add to their flock…to consider a "second hand" parrot.  There are so many birds in need of homes!  Sophie may be a youngster but had she been older, it would not have dissuaded me from opening my home to her.  We were meant to be pals even if all my clothes are shredded.


Editors Note:  Sophie's favorite toy is the Fiesta Flinger.  We have a bunch of photos (thanks, Nora)
of her enjoying the fiesta flinger so wanted to share a few with you!



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This page was last updated on 08/05/2012

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