Pepper became a “Calhoun” the summer of 1986, when the then-current caretaker of Pepper, my eldest brother John, brought him down to our newest home in SW Virginia from their home in Massachusetts. Pepper doesn’t particularly like car rides, by the way. For the entire trip, he will hang upside down from the top bars of his cage. Weird. Anyway, on to the story.
Pepper’s diet consists of a seed variety designed for large hook-bills, plus additional fresh fruit and vegetables, with an occasional treat thrown in – he loves potato chips, for instance (we hold that treat to a minimum); when he sees us eating them, he does the old “crouch-tremble thing,” as described in the story yesterday, and makes little grumbly sounds under his breath. We give him one, which he takes very delicately from your hand with his beak, then he transfers it to his foot, and holds it there while eating it very daintily. Even though both his beak and his claws are extremely powerful, he is so careful with that chip, that it does not crack nor crumble, and except for a few flecks that fall from his mouth as he is eating, he consumes the whole thing!
Anyway, he was spoiled very early in his life with us, because we indulged his preference for sunflower seeds. They really should not be the main seed in his diet, but should only be included as part of it; they are good nutrition, but incomplete for his dietary needs. Pepper is stubborn – he has developed a real taste for sunflower seeds, and prefers to eat them above anything else. They are a part of the seed mix we feed him now, and he always picks them out first, and then shuns the rest, hoping that we will refill his seed cup so he can have more. We got wise to that trick very early on in our custody of Pepper, and we let him go hungry long enough for him to give in and eat the other seeds and nuts in his dish. Many times it takes more than a day or two for him to give in.
Hubs is usually the first to see Pepper each morning, and the one who feeds him. He uncovers his cage – which we cover each night to give him a darker space, and signal to him that it is time to sleep. Pepper likes to eat when we eat, so Ashley takes his breakfast into the living room where Pepper is and eats while watching the morning news. On one particular morning, Pepper was sitting at his seed cup, but was not eating. Ashley got up to check on his food supply, and realized that Pepper’s cup was empty! He must have really gotten hungry, because he had given in and eaten all of the contents. Ashley apologized, and immediately removed his cup, washed it and refilled it. Pepper was doing his “mumbly-grumbly,” and excitedly waiting to be fed. When Ashley put the cup back in his cage, Pepper suddenly broke out singing. Years ago, my nephew and niece had taught Pepper to sing the first two bars of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from “Messiah” by Händel. That’s what he sang – loudly – as soon as he saw the seed. “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” Hubs almost fell over laughing. Pepper had never been quite so appreciative before – nor has he since, but his seed cup hasn’t gotten that empty since then, either!
The furred and feathered members of our family have always been an endless source of entertainment. From your comments on other stories I’ve told, it appears that we are not alone in that. Share with me some of your pet stories!
Our pets have blessed us over and over again; they have given us enough. . .