Meet the Store Pets: Nero, Black Palm Cockatoo
Meet Nero, a 7 year old male Black Palm Cockatoo. I feel silly even writing this, because Nero is such a fan favorite with you all! Since he had his big 7th hatch day this week I thought his back story needed to be shared. Black Palm Cockatoos are not the easiest of species to find in the United States. We previously had a pet as well as a breeder pair, none of which had made great impressions on me growing up. Pepe was an adult when we got him and of course he befriended my dad (they all do), so I never had much interaction with him. It’s amazing how one bad interaction with an individual bird can turn you off the species—I’ve learned not to do that since I’ve grown up a bit. When my dad said he was saving up to get a Black Palm in 2015 I was adamantly against it. Not only were they extremely expensive, but I thought it would be just like Pepe and I didn’t want to go that route. I had a whole list of other species that were on my want list well before a Black Palm. My dad was insistent and so he went to our long time friend, Terry Timberlake, to help find one in the avian community. It took about a year and a half of waiting and weaning (see, we had to go on a wait list, too!) but we finally got the call that it was time to go pick up our new friend. Luckily enough Nero’s breeder was within driving distance and we got to go pick him up in person. It was a wonderful experience to chat with his breeder and see a dozen or so Black Palms in one place. Once we got Nero home my dad told me that I’d better take him over since I (as the younger one) would have to take care of him my whole life. Thanks, dad. Seriously, thank you! I couldn’t ask for a better experience or companion.
Nero has been an incredible challenge in many ways, but also one of the easiest birds I’ve ever worked with. Black Palms are extremely mechanical. We had to replace his powder coat walk-in cage to stainless steel within 6 months of getting him because he was already peeling the paint off. Then he decided his favorite thing was unscrewing the cage apart. I would go to clean his cage only to find 3 or 4 big bolts on the bottom of the tray. It’s a miracle a panel hasn’t fallen on him! He goes thru 2-3 big toy per week as well and finds joy in discovering all sorts of things he isn’t supposed to get into: the outside water faucet in the aviary, the seating benches, every type of quick link/hook to hang toys; he can take apart and learn how to use every foraging toy I give him within minutes. His intelligence and smart aleck behavior has no bounds! However, in spite of all this adorable naughtiness, he has been an incredibly sweet, affectionate, and personable bird. I know you all know this already! When he got really sick last fall it put me in a pit I never thought I’d experience. Unfortunately when you’ve been around as many birds and other pets as I have and seen so many illnesses, injuries, and sudden deaths you become a bit numb to some of it. But Nero’s illness really put things into perspective and I am forever grateful that he was able to pull out of it.
Nero’s talking ability is continuously improving. He imitates my high-pitch excited voice with “how you doing?”, “hi pretty boy” “Hey Nero”, “Ooohhhhh” and “Oh boy!” among many others. He loves to dance, hang like a bat upside down, and act like a sunning vulture, too. Basically he can do no wrong in my eyes even though he’s gotten in more trouble than any other bird in the store. He has a whole bag of trinkets that he’s stolen/broken of aviary visitors, including a ring that he crushed onto a woman’s hand. Thank God she was not upset about that one! His incredible strength is so subtle, it’s hard to even know what he’s doing until it’s too late. I’m sure many of you have your own Nero’s story. He gets a lot of attention because of his rarity and good looks, but even if he didn’t have all that going for him, I know he’d be a fan favorite because of his amazing personality. We love you Nero!