Alpha Take-Down

Sugar likes to shred the junk mail; what a great service!

Our Goffin’s Cockatoo, Sugar, is everything you’d expect in a pack’s alpha male. He is forceful, bossy, and expects everyone to obey him. A visiting dog has challenged our Alpha and totally took him down.

Sugar loves to tease the dogs. He also enjoys feeding them with the food he steals from the humans, so the dogs give him lots of leeways. Unfortunately, Sugar is also a little cocky and likes to play with the dogs. If you think that prey playing with predators is a recipe for disaster, you’re right.

Hey, doggy! I’ve got your bully stick! Nom, nom.

On Memorial Day, I was caring for my daughter’s dog, Allie. You’d think that Sugar would understand that the dog is (a) bigger than him; and (b) a predator. And yet, I caught him on the floor, chasing Allie and intimidating her. He chased her out of the room several times and strutted around so that we all knew that he was the boss. He has a big beak, and he knows how to use it! I heard things getting a bit rowdy while I was in the next room, and I called Allie away to leave Sugar alone. I knew it was hopeless to try and control the wild bird, but I know Allie is a good dog and would listen to me. She obediently retreated to my bed. Catastrophe averted, I thought.

I found this a few weeks ago. Sugar sulked when I took away the paper towels away. Shredding is fun!

When I found the blood on the floor a few minutes later, I knew I was wrong. Who was hurt? Wondering if Sugar bit one of the dogs, or even the cat, I checked them all over. No blood. I turned to Sugar, who was sulking on the curtain rod, well out of my reach. I knew the blood was his. I stood on a chair and got close enough to see blood on his foot. Now if a dog or cat were to get a scratch or even a mild bite, they would soldier on and get over it. Not birds. If the saliva of a dog or cat enters a bird’s bloodstream, like when they’re bitten, the bacteria in the saliva will kill them. It’s critical to begin a course of antibiotics within 24 hours. The clock ticked.

dog; couch
Allie looks pretty innocent here, but don’t let the relaxed look fool you. She’s got teeth and she knows how to use them!

Birds require a specialist, an avian or exotic pet veterinarian, but they’re hard to find and never seem to work holidays or weekends, so I was grateful to find a general clinic that was open and willing to see Sugar at least preliminarily. I caught Sugar and away we went to a vet 45 minutes away. The vet found several scratches and punctures in Sugars chest and wings. He was quite bruised and obviously sore. We got the life-saving antibiotics and appointments for re-checks. From the wounds, it looks like Sugar flew over Allie and Allie just jumped up and caught him. About that time, I hollered at her, and Allie obediently dropped him and responded to me. She could have easily mauled and killed him. We were lucky.

Sugar sits by the window, quiet and much lower than his usual perch.

Sugar has been cowed all week, flying very little and refusing to hang out with me. I began worrying that he wasn’t eating at all and that I’d find him dead. After the second antibiotic shot, he began to bounce back. Thank goodness! He’s eating again and seems to have forgiven me for catching him, and the car rides – at least until I have to take him for his re-check tomorrow. He’s out of the woods, though, I think.

Sugar’s appetite is back. You can see he has dipped into my brown rice!

That bird has a LOT of attitude, and yet, he is affectionate and sweet. He’s a complex companion, and I love him dearly. I hope he has learned something and will stop teasing Allie when she comes to visit. Either way, he has recovered to strut and dominate the pack another day!

Cockatoo; Green-Cheeked amazon; parrots
Sugar and his girl, Hannah, sit together in quieter times.

36 replies »

  1. I’m glad Sugar is okay! Maybe he’ll be more careful next time.

    A friend of ours has a parrot and a Jack Russell. They get on really well. She looked after a greyhound recently for a relation. The greyhound approached the parrot ‘s perch and knocked it over when she left them alone for a split second. She rushed back on hearing a commotion. The parrot was up on one of the lights. The greyhound had a bloody nose and a Jack Russell hanging onto one of her back paws pulling her away from the parrot. The greyhound was very polite to the parrot after that!


    • It is a risk, but Sugar was deeply depressed for the first two years after we got him from the rescue organization. Letting him loose to fly was the only cure for him. It has its risks, but it is the only thing that works for him.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sorry about your Sugar. Seems like you had your hands full with your daughters dog and your Sugar. I hope that he recovers soon. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this!! A great example of not leaving pets together unsupervised… I’m so glad Sugar is in good shape and will recover. You’re a great parent!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t like being the bad example, but there you go. This was clearly Sugar’s fault for teasing and intimidating Allie, but I need them to live together peacefully. Usually, they do, but I need to be vigilant for when they don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t view it as being a bad example. We are human, everyone makes mistakes. I sure have but it’s great to share because it will help others and they will learn to get along just patience and time is all you need. 🙂


  4. You should have been a veterinarian, Karel. Knowing how to love is a great life skill that not everyone has. Good for you. I know Sugar will recover and be a much wiser bird for the experience. He may make himself scarce whenever Allie visits in the future. Now that he knows how high Allie can jump, he may seek the highest perch in the house and not move until Allie goes home again.


    • I’m afraid that he has learned nothing. That boy is a bit too confident. But he’s also smart, so I hope he has learned. I am so grateful that he’s recovering; at first I was not sure he would. It has been a heart-pounding week for me. I left out some of the more difficult parts….Thank you for your support! He can use all the thoughts, prayers, and blessings he can get.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Mee-yow wow Miss Karel mee wuud not do well with a birdie like Sugar…mee has too high prey drive…mee will admire him from afar. Pleese tell Sugar mee sendss him POTP an wee both hope hee feelss tippy topss inn no time!!
    Allie sure iss a beeuteefull girl even if shee DOES have teefiess an knows how to use them!
    ***purrsss*** BellaDharma

    Liked by 1 person

    • With good reason! There is a long story behind Our decision to let Sugar fly free in order to bring him out of a deep depression when he came to us from the rescue. As a wild-caught bird, he could not accept confinement.

      Liked by 1 person

      • What a heart wrenching story and a beautiful ending. I hope that little rascal has learned something. Allie looks like she had had it, and seems to me that she’s pleased with herself for finally doing what was needed to set him straight. Kisses to them both.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you. Allie is generally a good dog. I don’t blame Allie, but I am very grateful that Sugar survived. Birds are such fragile creatures.


  6. Oh goodness, Sugar! Behave yourself! Get better soon!

    PS: I never knew that birds suffered so from dogs and cats! Good information to know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When our cat has caught a wild bird, even if it results in just a little puncture, we take it to the wildlife rehabilitation facility for a course of antibiotics before being released back into the wild. Otherwise, it would die. We love our cat but we love the other creatures too, and we feel responsible when she goes all predator. She’s more of a stately older lady now, so it hasn’t happened in a few years. But we know what to do if it does!

      As for Sugar, well, he will always be wild, even if he has lived in a human home for over 40 years!

      Liked by 1 person

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