Why I Drove 800 Miles To Rescue An African Ringneck

Why I Drove 800 Miles To Rescue An African Ringneck

Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman

My morning was going quite well.

Dr. Johansen called with the lab results and my A1c was down to 5.9 from 7.4 in January.

I attribute that to Catherine’s deployment of our keto lifestyle diet.

Then I discovered a sizable bank error and had not been able to get straight answers over the phone from customer service.

I was about to get dressed and leave for the main branch of the bank to talk to the dunderheads when the phone rang.

It was Catherine.

Editor’s note: No conversation ends well when it begins with:

“I need to talk to you about something”.

A friend and customer of ours called to say an elderly woman who had seven birds was hospitalized due to a grave illness. 

On Tuesday she was admitted, but did not make it home Wednesday. .

She had not made arrangements to rehome the birds after her death and they had to be rescued quickly.

One of the birds was a male African ringneck, very tame, we were told.

A species Catherine had been wanting especially since Peaches our Senegal parrot will have nothing to do with her.

She had ringnecks for 20 years.

She had two when I met her.

Hey Mitch “How did you know it was a male ringneck”?

About 20% of parrots are sexually dimorphic meaning that you can determine the sex by some coloration difference between male and female.

Male ringnecks have the ring.

Females do not.

Ringnecks are not born with a ring, according to Catherine who hand-fed Sunshine, her lutino Indian ringneck, the red ring started out as a single feather at around 11 months and took about 18 months to fully develop.

Other obvious examples of sexually dimorphic parrots are Eclectus parrots, males are green, and females are red.

Most male budgies will have a blue cere at about 6 months.

Females will have anything from white, brown, pink, or purple ceres depending on their maturity.


male and female gang gang cockatoo parrots


Male gang gang cockatoos have a red feathered head (above)

Catherine went on to say “the only problem is, the bird is in Columbus, Ohio, seven hours away by car“.

“When I get back from the bank, I’ll help with some cleanup work back at the shop and leave for Columbus” I said without hesitation.

Our contact person there is Karrie Nottingham, someone that we know and love.

She would be driving in from Philly to oversee the rehoming of seven birds.

I’d be meeting her that Wednesday night.

I’d brought a travel cage, bird food, and snacks, lots of bottled water – stay tuned.

male african ringneck


Editor’s note: the time stamp (of not a juvenile bird) on the featured image is 01/05/14.

The ring is full at the time the picture was taken.

We know he was at the very least 18 months old in the depiction.

Making Keto no younger than six today (we now think he’s around 15 – perfect for us seniors)

Per Catherine

It is green and a boy and tame.

Yes, you need a carrier and it does come with a cage.

Editors note: (I’m bringing tools and tie-downs – bird cages don’t fly off the top of a car or truck due to lack of wind resistance)

I didn’t even know its name yet.

I broke the gravitational pull of Chicago at about 2:30 PM CST.

The drive according to WAZE was 394 miles.

The bird was in a town about 20 miles east of Columbus.

Terrestrial travel was uneventful.

There were no grocery stores to stock up on deli meats and cheese so I would stop at a McDonald’s and get a double quarter pounder with cheese, then toss the buns away (KETO).

You can’t eat a breadless sandwich while driving (easily) so I ate on the hood of my car in the McDonald’s parking lot.

Later I tried 2 Arby’s without buns while using horsey sauce while driving.

Catherine was the first one to notice how sticky the steering wheel was – (yuck, sorry).

I arrived at the woman’s apartment at about 10:30 PM EST.

Karrie’s van was in the driveway of the small multi-family two-story building and she came out when I called by phone.

Once inside I learned the home was 2 stories, small, cluttered but fairly neat.

Our ringneck was in his cage on a table.

Karrie had been there since 3 o’clock EST.

[videopress u0VxgUyo]

She arranged for the rehoming of two cockatiels and two Quakers earlier.

Two now homeless small conures, cinnamon green cheeks, maybe, would travel to Pennsylvania with her.

She would see that a new caring human would be arranged.

Karrie also produces  OHPA bird fairs so the task won’t be hard.

In the final moments of our meeting, I learned from Karrie, that this was a rental property.

The deceased woman left no will nor any instructions on how to dispose of any property, including her 7 birds.

Rather than waiting for the morning with the potential of animal control or some other agency showing up possibly precluding this bird rescue, the problem needed resolution, long before sunup.

I had brought a travel cage, tie-downs if we inherited a large cage, not knowing the kind of cage the bird was in, food, treats and so forth.

Editor’s note: if you remove the tray, birdcages offer almost zero wind resistance on top of a vehicle.

Before the internet era of knock-down-end-user-assembly-bird cages, you needed a pickup, trailer, or flat roof vehicle with tie-downs to get a good-sized birdcage home. 

Babu came with a small cage that easily fit into the Windy City Parrotmobile (2005 Ford Escape) along with a box of food and toys that Karrie assembled.

She (Karrie) who has 10 male cockatoos of various species was definitely affected by the ringnecks verbosity.

He had been babbling endlessly for at least five hours, something she warned me about.

Editor’s note: jumping around the story here

Once we arrived home and the new bird was confronted with me, Catherine, and Peaches while sitting in his cage resting on a cocktail table and us on the sofa peering at him, he went on a bit of a verbal tirade.

As a 20-year veteran companion of Indian ringnecks, she said the 5 hours of incessant speech was nervous talk as in “where are all my friends going” and “where’s mom,” 700 times.

Kerrie and I wanted to get back on the road headed for home so we shook hands while she headed back East, I headed West.

The two of us (me and the bird) checked into Motel 6.

I cracked open a Blue Moon from the 6 pack I had purchased earlier in the evening.

A place that sells gasoline to encourage driving and sells alcohol to encourage fun.

Jacked from way too many coffees and diet Cokes I kept surfing up and down the channels of Motel 6 television with a whole lot of nothing to watch.

I knew I needed sleep.

Finally with the TV off sleep still did not come.

I found myself listening to what sounded like

– and this is the title to my next book – 

“the whistling mumbling midget in my motel room“.

For the next six hours.

Catherine had a doctor’s appointment, I had things to do so we hooked up back at the apartment around 6 PM CST.

During the time she was gone I did some rearranging.

Moved an air-conditioner, and an end table. some plants and make room for “the new addition”.

In this picture the current cage is to become his “camper cage” is on top of his new cage which we built for the budgies but thought it was too small for the 6 of them.


Ring neck parrots o;d cage on top of soon to be new bird cage

This “happened” to be in our living room. <- another sign you are crazy bird people.


Quite frankly much like Peaches who had a different name when she came into our life, we did not care for the name given to our new bird, Babu.

Hence from this day forward, the green bird occupying a corner window area in our apartment shall be known as “Keto” yes that’s as in diet, it’s not some fancy Asian name.

Editor’s note: our other 7 birds have food-themed names

  • Peaches
  • Bacon
  • Eggs
  • Toast
  • Jam
  • Biscuit
  • Gravy

Budgies (rescue) added 9/15/18

  • Chicken
  • Waffles
  • Bagel


For now, we intend to handle Keto separately from Peaches and the Breakfast Club.

6 budgies - the breakfast club @ windy city parrot - Bacon, Eggs, Toast, jam, biscuit, gravy

Moving forward, we set down ground rules and have begun to develop a strategy.

Catherine will be the primary caregiver to Keto so he bonds with her.

She will change food, and water and tidy up the cage.

Catherine will tend to Keto’s needs and I will tend to the other seven birds.

I’ll continue to take care of the day-to-day maintenance like vacuuming and cleaning.

My approach to Keto will be general indifference (good luck with that) allowing Catherine to create a broader imprint allowing the two of them to hopefully bond.

I’m not naïve enough to believe this is a surefire plan because as humans we don’t choose the bonds, our birds do.

We’d like to see Keto out of the cage and will probably do this tomorrow.

I’m told Keto’s flighted but had a past wing injury so we will make some determinations once we see him try to fly.

Even though Peaches is a Senegal and Keto is a ringneck, they are indigenous to the same continent,  Africa, we will not take any chance of situations that could create aggressive behavior for Peaches.

Thus for the bird’s safety, only one bird of the two can be out of the cage at the same time in the same room.

Earlier, before Catherine came home, Peaches buzzed the new birds cage, skimming my head and then returning to her home perch.

She was clearly sending a message.

Along with beginning to integrate Keto with our family we will spend this weekend at home with Keto’s new cage and assembling the other cage, a Prevue F050 which is: 37″ L x 22 1/8″ D x 60″ H for the budgies.

We have a busy weekend ahead.

your zygodactyl footnote

– what did this ringneck rescue cost?

ice and 6 pack of diet coke $ 5.04
gas $ 41.29
McDonalds (Dbl 1/4 pounder w/ cheese – no bun) $ 7.12
arbys (2 roast beef – no buns) $ 7.18
pilot (coffee) $ 1.89
beer (6 pack blue moon – drank 2-1/2) $ 10.74
motel 6 $ 70.54
waffle house (no toast no potatoes) $ 13.74
gas $ 31.28
Mcdonald’s (lge salad w/ grilled chicken) $ 5.34
$ 194.16

not bad

Editors Note:

What we’ve learned about Keto (Babu) through forensic Facebooking

“he was a rehome that a friend wanted me to take.

I resisted for months and finally, after my darling Beanie died, I said yes. He’s about 8 plus years. Afraid of hands but VERY slowly getting him used to them”. 1/24/2011


“That’s funny, Babu doesn’t like any other birds. He was quite mean to them until one day Olive (GCC) got into his cage and terrorized him. Since then he leaves everyone alone”. 2014


Victoria Booth (redhead in background with Babu Nov 9 2012

My aide, Laura, and I did something interesting this afternoon, we took some of our birds
to a center that has some MRDD clientele.

They were so happy to see the birds and although I didn’t feel well and my hair was a mess (no make-up, either!), I was glad I did it.

They really enjoyed them.

This pic (above), is Scott holding
Babu is with me in the background.

Facebook November 9, 2012

“Babu is tame. He will readily step up and come out of the cage. he will sit with me and plaster kisses on me. But if I raise my hand towards him, he freaks. I think at some point somewhere someone must have hurt him. He is such a GOOD boy, too.”

head shot African RingneckKeto (Babu) – picture taken 1/24/11 (from Facebook)
Making him going on 15 years old in 2018

Editors note: Keto’s age bodes well for us, we’re in our sixties and did not want a real young bird.

Victoria and Babu (no date found)

We got very lucky on lots of levels.

Next up

Cagescaping and cage placement for a ringneck.

Ringnecks are in a similar category to cockatiel’s and macaws, they are longtail birds.

A 12-inch bird with a long tail (African ringneck) is going to need a different cage arrangement than an 7-inch long bird with a short tail (Senegal parrot).

Stay tuned.

Editors Note: A reader wrote the following.

Mitch and Catherine, I was online friends with Victoria.

I remember when she got Babu.

She called him her sweet Babu.

Yes, she died this week. Just a few days ago.

I am glad Babu is going to you, I hope her other babies go to equally good homes.

I will miss Victoria’s cheerful smile and pleasant demeanor.

Give him hugs and scritches from me and my flock.


Here’s a question that came in recently concerning the death of pet bird owners in general

I was wondering what instructions should I leave in case of my death……I am not married nor do I have family near to me closest relative is in California I live in Virginia.

My Peso is a very tame Yellow Nape Amazon I rescued him from a [shopping] Mall pet store.

He has such a great temperament, and never throws food…although he knows how to get your attention if you forget to feed him what you’re eating.

Thanks, Laurie


Dear Laurie

Here is a Blog post-Mitch wrote on the topic.

Your parrot may outlive you – What’s your plan?

Yes, death is a topic no one wants to think about but it can happen at any time.

If we live alone and don’t have daily contact with others it can possibly result in a lengthy wait before our passing is discovered and our pets are rescued.

Making plans with a neighbor, friend, or even a circle of friends to make contact daily is worth doing so.

Having a will with specific instructions for the care of your bird is essential.

Do you belong to a local bird club?

If so, that may be a topic to discuss and perhaps put together a ring of fellow bird lovers to check in on one another daily.

This also could lead to other opportunities for pet care when you are away, feeling ill or need to take a trip.

The circle of friends/contacts also doesn’t have to be pet-related.

Just some people who want to be checked on daily as well as check on others.

Everyone can take turns making the daily calls.

A Facebook check-up will work if everyone in the group is typically on Facebook daily.

I hope this helps.



Any questions?  –  reach out here.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Blue moon? Tasty, but is it keto? Just thought I would needle you a little……

  2. Congratulations and good luck with your new little friend! Great job by Karrie getting all the birds adopted out.

  3. Awww! Thank you for rescuing Babu! I “knew” Victoria – she was in an email group I’m in for Quakers. (I love the group, and have remained in it, even though my Quaker passed away in 2012). I’ve chatted with Victoria via email in the past, and was so sad to hear of her passing. Great news about one of her babies being adopted. Thanks for all you do!!!

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