Bongo, The Amazon Parrot


Poor Bongo was plucked from her nest somewhere in Central America and sold into the U.S. pet trade.  While on sale in Minnesota, she developed severe eye problems and limited vision. Since she could no longer be sold, the pet store donated her to the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.  I persuaded the University to give her to me during senior year.  She has been my constant companion ever since and has lived in New York, Ohio, Minnesota and Arizona.   

Bongo likes women and hates men.  This flows from her experience at the University.  The technician who cared for her was female.  A male veterinarian toweled her for examinations, drew blood and performed other medical work on her.  I left veterinary college almost twenty years ago.  Yet to this day, if a man approaches her cage, she flares her wings and opens her beak in warning.  She bites hard if given the chance (my husband will attest).  In addition to her gender preference, Bongo also has a hierarchy for hair color.  She is cautious around blonds, likes brunettes and loves redheads.  In fact, women with red hair are often treated to a full-blown display of tail fanning and vocalizations such as “hello bird” and “Bongo good bird” followed by a wolf whistle.

Living with parrots is not for everyone.  Sometimes they are quiet and cuddly while other times they make a mess, scream and bite.  Please do your homework before purchasing a parrot.  I liken it to living with a two year old human who never grows up.    


Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.