Depressed parrot who plucked out his own feathers after owner died finds new loving home in Aberdare

  • Jesse the parrot having his first bath in his new home (RSPCA pictures)

A parrot that was left so depressed after his owner died that he began plucking out his own feathers while refusing to talk has found a new loving home in Aberdare.

African grey parrot Jesse was taken in by the RSPCA team in Dorset, after the death of his owner.

It soon became clear to staff that he was struggling with grief and his sudden change in environment. Staff become especially worried after he started plucking out his own feathers.

Parrots - who learn to speak by hearing words and then mimicking them - often have large vocabularies.

But nine-year-old Jesse refused to speak, except for occasionally whispering 'goodbye'.

Hannah Hawkins from the RSPCA said she wondered if he was sick or had a skin issue that was making him uncomfortable but it soon became clear that it was grief and stress that was causing the plucking.

The RSPCA wanted to find a loving home for Jesse that could provide additional enrichment for him. Credit: RSPCA

She said, "We believe he'd been in the same home for his whole life and was much-loved so it's not surprising he was struggling after such a sudden change.

"He seemed lonely and depressed after such a loss."

The Dorset RSPCA staff do not usually see a large number of parrots so they wanted to get Jesse into a home environment as quickly as possible to ease his stress.

Dog behaviourist Rachel Leather, from Aberdare, got in touch and was deemed a perfect match before Jesse was relocated to his new home in February.

"The perfect opportunity"

Rachel, her family - and their two dogs and five cats - welcomed Jesse and he now has a large cage and free-flying time.

Rachel said she now cannot imagine how her family "ever existed without him".

She said, "I'd always wanted a parrot but I'm very conscious that birds should be birds, who can fly, and I never wanted to feed into the breeding of birds for captivity; it just doesn't sit right with me, ethically.

"I'd accepted the fact that I'd probably never have one unless it was possible to rehome a rescue parrot.

The RSPCA advises potential adopters they need to have the knowledge and the correct set-up for parrots before they can take one home Credit: RSPCA

"When I became aware of Jesse I was blown away; it felt like the perfect opportunity," Rachel added.

"He has settled in so well. Feather-plucking can be a difficult habit to break but he has some feather re-growth so that's a good sign.

"He's also started to play with his toys, interact with his foraging wall, and is even grinding his beak which is a signal of relaxation and contentment.

"The fact that he's talking is a really good sign. I was surprised at how chatty he became."

And as his confidence grows, Jesse has become more cheeky. Within 24 hours of being with Rachel, he started talking again.

"His personality is really coming out. He just makes us roar with laughter. He loves to make fart noises, make jokes and swear. His language is awful!" Rachel said.

"He says: 'Jesse's a good boy' and then occasionally replaces that with: 'Jesse's a good girl' and laughs!”

The parrot has learned that Rachel's partner calls her 'Babe' so shouts 'Babe' to get her attention.

"It's going to be a wonderful adventure"

Rachel said, "He even watches my partner play Playstation and laughs when his character has died.

"From a cognitive point of view it's really complex, he obviously has some sort of understanding of the game and how it works.

"As a behaviourist, it's absolutely fascinating and really has reignited my fascination with animal behaviour.

"I cannot wait to watch him grow in confidence and personality. We absolutely love him and it’s going to be a wonderful adventure with him joining the family!"

The RSPCA urges anyone thinking of owning a pet bird to consider adopting one of the many unwanted birds that are currently being cared for by the animal welfare charity.