Frida – part one

Dear readers, 

Birds. This post is about a particular bird, more so, as opposed to the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Nor am I being sexist by referring to a woman as a bird. The type of bird we are talking of is actually an Amazonas Albifrons, otherwise known as a white-fronted amazon, which is a breed of parrot deriving as the name suggests from that large jungle in South America. Yet this breed of amazon only exists in Central America, Mexico and California (which Mexicans will tell you is still part of Mexico anyway, no matter what gringos, international law and frontiering walls say). They are quite small in compared to other amazonas parrots; about the size of a cockatiel, but with stockier bodies, shorter tails and bigger beaks, which scares the jeebies out of my wife.

So what?” I hear you think.

Well, if you follow my social media feeds, you will know that my wife and I have adopted a little white-fronted amazon and her name, as the title of this post suggests, is Frida. And she’s sat on my shoulder as I type this (to be specific verb than sat, she is actually tarting herself up while simultaneously crapping down my back).

We adopted her in October last year. We didn’t plan to have her, which is ironic really because my wife calls her our daughter. It was my wife who thought of the name Frida. Pamela is a huge admirer of the artist and has a collection of books, t-shirts and movies, which I nor Frida (the parrot, not the artist) are allowed to look in the direction of, let alone go near, these shrines to her sacred idol. I knew Pamela was going to call her Frida. She was obsessed at the time. It could have well been a cat, dog, hamster or chair; something in the house was going to be called Frida. Frida is the perfect name for her, however. It is actually an ancient Germanic and Nordic name meaning peace, and despite what Pamela says and if you ignore her boisterous six o’clock in morning flock calls, she really is a peaceful bird. But more so, she looks like a painting by Frida. Mother nature could not have made a more fascinating creature. The shades of green and black’ish feathers, mixed with the flashes of blue, red and white on her face makes her look a francophile. Particularly the red, though. It makes her look as though she’s wearing a fiery eye mask at carnival. The detail is immaculate and I know my mother back home is going to have a tough job trying paint her to perfection. Not even photos do her justice. She blends into houses, forests, jungles, gardens or even settees; the ultimate fashion accessory. Beware though; she craps for Honduras. Her ability to relieve herself on my shoulder is staggering, somehow synchronising her favourite craps for my cleanest, brightest and newest shirts. I sometimes get through three t-shirts a day thanks to her. Biased I am, but God created a grand design with these creatures. On bad days, her sweet nature and beautiful colours are enough to put a bit of faith back into the world, while political leaders are hell-bent on destroying it.

You know, Frida comes as a bit of a compromise. I love cats. My wife hates cats, though her tune on about those furry felines quickly changed when we had a rat problem a couple of months ago. But there is no way we could adopt a cat now we have Frida. Having death staring up at her all hours of the day is unfair on any creature. For a large bulk of day, Frida spends it on top of her cage, on my shoulder or scurrying the garden, chirping and mimicking her mum and dad (Pamela and I). She takes after Pamela more so. My in-laws often tease Pamela by telling her she has someone of the same squawking ability and tone to chat with now. But seriously, Frida has picked up on many more Pamela’isms than Nick’isms, whether it be whistles, cat calls or curses. In the first few days, Frida was calling Cusuuu very loud, which is what Pamela calls me when she wants help, attention or chocolate. Another time she gave a high-pitched salt-in-the-wound whistle, perfectly pitched and timed, when Pamela was taking the piss out of me about something. But my favourite, and the most incriminating to Pamela, was when Frida started screeching out tu madre (your mother) or tu abuela (your grandma). They are used as a last resort curse; typical Pamela’isms. But what was funniest was how and when Frida used it. On the morning of Honduran Women’s Day, I approached Frida with a tiny piece of orange.

Me: Hello, Frida. Would you like some food?

Frida: Tu madre.

She then spat out the orange and fluttered to the other side on top of her cage.

Frida 1-0 Nick

She is usually more cheerful than that. I grew up with budgies. They never really had moods. They were either friendly or not. With more intelligent parrots though, one has to be very careful, especially if you have them on your shoulder. They can cause damage if they want to. Buttons and shirt collars have been victims of Frida’s gnawing. Though, apart from a few teething problems at the start and before bedtime when I put her inside her cage, Frida is usually well-behaved and sociable clambering over hands and shoulders and scalps, giving people a slightly sore Indian head massage with her talons. Sometimes it’s her requesting the massage, flirtingly tilting her head and inviting you to rub her head and neck. Her feathers fluff up, she closes her eyes in bliss and her head bends almost until her beak in nudging the perch. She looks almost ridiculous, but very naïve if she were out in the wild. She often growls like a dog a little when I hold my hand out to her, but she usually changes her mind and decides she wants to hop on. However, if she is in a bad mood, she can usually be brought back round with a shower and/or food. Food is on her mind a lot actually. As far as she’s concerned, my food is hers and her food is hers. I’m just a straggler in her flock and she will literally steal food out of my mouth if she can’t pilfer it out of my hand. It’s hilarious to watch, especially for Pamela, who also steals food off my plate. 

Apparently Amazonas are prone is obesity. The problem is Frida, like her mum and dad, has quite a few weaknesses for certain food stuffs. Porridge with water, toast with peanut butter or marge (she scrapes off the peanut butter or marge), rice, green beans, refried beans, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, cucumbers, apples, mashed potato, guavas, pasta, bananas (banana and peel), cornflakes, and last, but no means least, sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds to her is like our chocolate, our McDonalds. So nice, yet so fattening. Raisins, coffee and tea are her cocaine. She gets a berserk look in her eye and she grinds her beak more crazed than per usual. This leaves a white powder on my shoulder which my wife says dandruff. I give her cuttlefish but she ignores it. She prefers harder things to test her beak. Or sometimes more tender, like my ear-lobe.

Next post, I will look at clipping wings, how we saved her from a restaurant and many more funny little habits she has that fulfil her very big personality. 

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About Nicholas Rogers

I am an English journalist/copywriter living in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and I have been here since 2011. I originally came to work with Casa Alianza, which supports street kids and vulnerable youths. I then stayed on, after meeting Pamela Cruz Lozano, who calls me her adopted Catracho. I work freelance journalism and I have my own translation business. Why did I come here? For the challenge, to open my mind and get out of my comfort zone. I love literature and I've written a book with street kids. I write novels, short stories and poetry, all of which you will find on this blog, as well as a lot of information about Honduras. View all posts by Nicholas Rogers

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