March 08, 2014

Vinny has the Winter Blues

It's early March. Vinny turned Two not long ago. And Vinny has the Winter Blues.

A while ago he was still fine. He was talking, chatting, showing many many signs of happiness, playing, learning, he just picked up the awesome skill of whistling, and did I mention talking and chatting?

He would just sit there at the top of his cage, especially around sunset, he would just talk away, go through his whole vocabulary in all directions and especially when stimulated, he would whistle. We had this thing where I would do a simple 2-tone whistle (high-low) and he would repeat it. Sometimes this went back and forth over 10 times. Always followed by laughter from both Vinny and me.

During our morning showers, we would have complete discussions about anything that fits his vocabulary.

But now?

It's gone. He lost his mojo. He still does all the same things, being cute, showing signs of happiness, playing, communicating, but sans the talking and whistling. One day, about 3 weeks ago, he just stopped.

All he does now, is make short sounds. Like humming, but a bit higher pitched. Sometimes he does it in an asking way, sometimes just to give confirmation. Like someone just saying 'uh-huh' instead of 'I agree'.

Actually, come to think of it, it stopped around the time when we were giving our bathroom a big overhaul. We used a lot of chemicals and the bathroom had a very strong swimming pool odor, so obviously the bathroom was not a very healthy place for a parrot. We had to put showers on a hold for a little while.

After the smell went away, we gave it a few more days and an extra, very thorough, hose-down. And this week we have resumed giving Vinny showers in the morning. Yesterday he uttered a half-baked '.. come out' or something, but today he's back to uh-huh and uuuumm.

Of course we did our usual Google sessions, where we tried to figure out if other people have dealt with this before. And people have. Apparently it's a pretty common thing for a bird to stop talking, and we read a million and one reasons for why it could happen. But you know... everyone's just guessing, no final answers or studies on this behavior.

Our advice:
Don't google this particular problem. If the no talking persists and if your parrot shows other signs of trouble (depression, physical signs of illness or injury, other very strong behavior changes), just give your vet a call.

Vinny has been and is as happy as a parrot could be. He's affectionate, playful, trainable, he's been eating well, need I go on? He's also not going through a hormonal phase. No molting, no biting, etcetera. In fact, now that he just does the humming thing, he's actually more communicative. Vinny has just stopped using words.

So what is the cause, in Vinny's case?

No clue. But we suspect that it's just a case of the Winter Blues. Lack of sunshine and thus vitamin D12 deficiency, like in humans? He has been sleeping a bit more than usual.

Although the Dutch Winter of 2014 was extremely mild, we haven't had a lot of sunshine. It's been a pretty dull and grey winter. And today, this weekend, is actually the first weekend of beautiful weather. This morning Vinny had the longest shower in quite a while. He kept asking for more by fluffing up, spreading his wings, the usual. And now he's been sitting in front of the window, in the bright sunlight.

Maybe it's an instinct to look for natural light? We like to think so, and this has also confirmed another valuable lesson for us ...

Vinny Is Sunbathing After A Shower
Watch your parrot's behavior closely. Be a true bird whisperer. Just read the signs, weigh them, and draw your conclusions. Don't panic. Discover what your parrot's sad, neutral and happy sounds are. "It's elementary, my dear Watson!", as Sherlock would say.

We are not worried. We are confident that he will be his old chatting self soon enough!