Monday, May 16, 2022

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People & Pets

For the birds


16-year-old bird like a “grumpy old man.”

Peanut is perched on Holden King and Hugh is on Abby Kruse’s shoulder.

Walking into Abby Kruse and Holden King’s home, I didn’t have to look far for their pet birds, Hugh and Peanut, since both were perched on their owners’ shoulders throughout the interview.

Hugh is a 2-year-old pineapple green-cheeked conure, and Peanut is a 16-year-old cockatiel.

When Abby was 6 years old, she ran and chased birds outside. She scoured bird books, selecting her favorites. Her parents noticed her obsession, and one day her dad took her and the family to see his coworker, who was a bird breeder.

“We went inside to look at the birds. There was a tiny bird with no feathers and very ugly looking,” she says. “My dad said we could take him home. Soon I fell in love with him.”

Although Peanut was a family pet, it was Abby who cleaned the cage and fed it. Peanut eventually followed her to college, although there was a no-pet rule.

One bird was perfect, but every time she went into a pet shop, she’d visit the bird section. She fell in love with another cockatiel, brought it home and three months later, it escaped.

“I was devastated. We searched for months and never found him,” she says.

She longed for a second bird, and two years ago, Abby received Hugh as a gift.

If birds are happy or angry, they cock their heads up and down. Abby holds the birds like an ice cream cone, scratching their heads. Peanut likes squeaky toys, and when she squeezes the toy, Peanut squawks back.

When Abby and Holden first started dating, Abby mentioned how animals can sense whether someone is a good person.

“I’ve heard to trust your instincts if the pet likes the guy,” recalls Abby. “Peanut liked Holden even more than he liked me.”

Holden knew the birds were a “package deal” when he moved in. Peanut is the oldest of the pair and doesn’t like loud noises.

“It’s like he’s a grumpy middle-aged man,” he says.

Peanut and Hugh aren’t necessarily friends; Hugh is like a little brother who picks a fight with Peanut. The birds sleep in separate, covered cages at night. The sun dictates their natural rhythms, and they squawk like an alarm clock when the sun rises.

Holden is trying to teach Peanut to whistle the “Adams Family” theme song, but it only knows the first three notes.

Hugh often shrieks, and the couple ignores it, but Hugh tries a different tactic to gain attention.

“Recently Hugh started imitating and chirping like Peanut — thinking we’ll be fooled and come to see him,” says Abby.

Abby feels blessed by her birds.

“Some people buy birds because they’re pretty,” she says. “I love interacting with them. It’s rewarding to earn a bird’s trust. I feel chosen and special.” ♦

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