Boy and Bird
Charming, eye-catching and intelligent Fri plays basketball, goes for coffee and is the talk of town, chirps Helen Flanagan.
Remember Captain Flint, the most famous pirate parrot who features in Treasure Island and sits upon the shoulder of Long John Silver? These days grabbing attention and looking for a photo opportunity, it is Cameron Burton’s Fri, an affectionate and strikingly coloured Eclectus Parrot.
Growing up in Noosa the family pet was a dog, but Cameron had other ideas, more a menagerie of exotics: Hermit crabs, mice, fish and more until finally birds took his fancy. First a rescued Rainbow Lorikeet, a Cockatiel and then a breather when school finished and university began, with no pets in the equation. Not for long.
Cameron read up on birds, visited a sanctuary in far North Queensland and instantly fell in love with the curiosity and colouration of the Eclectus parrot.
“I decided it would work best with my lifestyle,” enthuses the 24-year-old, who works behind the bar at Mountain Creek Tavern and will complete a Masters degree in sleep and respiratory science, at USC in 2022.
“I first looked at re-homing or rescuing, before finding a breeder in the Glasshouse Mountains, where a 15-week-old chick was ready for a forever home.
“The breeder gave me packs of his favourite snacks so we could bond and adjust to his new home. The packs included unsalted French Fries and for the first few days the parrot would dig, aka beak, it through the treat container bypassing all the other treats like nuts and dried fruits; hence my new best friend was named ‘Fri’.”
Cameron said Fri was very clever, sometimes too smart, so he started trick training with clicker and touch, paving the way for more intense tricks.
“He waves, spins, puts his wings up, shakes along; will fetch and also play basketball with a miniature basketball hoop and ball. He talks when he feels like it but is sometimes shy. Some of his favourite words and phrases are ‘whatcha doing, peekaboo, let’s go, come here, are you OK, hi, hello, bye and night-night or goodnight’, when I am putting him to bed or if he is sleepy.
“We go out as much as possible especially to Mooloolaba and grab a coffee, maybe a walk on the boardwalk or a little flying practice. He is happy to pose on a stranger’s arm for a photo, is not keen on kids but does demand attention especially when he is hungry and wants treats.”
Back at home after a big day out, Fri tucks into his food and depending on the time of day will have a shower, a laze in the sun, a tinker with myriad toys and jibber away to himself until it is finally time to shake a tail feather and call it a night.
Who’s a pretty (and clever) boy then?