In recent years, accounts dedicated to animals that become superstars on social networks have grown. When scrolling on your phone, it’s rare the day when you don’t see videos of cute cats or fashionista dogs in your feed, right? However, there are already thousands of Portuguese owners of exotic animals, mainly birds, who are also starting to create pages on social networks.
One of these examples is the psychologist from Oeiras, Vanessa Luz Clara, 36 years old, responsible for one of the most famous birds in Portugal: Oli. It is a marianinha – the name by which the species is popular in Brazil, its country of origin –, also known as “palhaço dos pargaios” due to its fun and playful personality. In the space of a year and a half, Oli gained over ten thousand followers on Instagram.
“This breed is known in Brazil as the clown bird, because they are always playing. She’s practically a dog with wings. I ended up buying it but realized very quickly that I didn’t know anything about birds. What I knew is what you hear is generalized information that has been out of date for years. And so the Instagram page was born. In the same way that I don’t know everything, there will be lots of owners who don’t know either. What I learned so far, I passed on to Instagram, along with her daily jokes”, explains the person in charge.
The truth is that very little is known about birds in general, especially exotic species. Oli, for example, assumes herself as a female based on the knowledge of the breeder, however, the two sexes are so similar that it is very difficult to make a distinction. Furthermore, the premise that birds should be fed on seeds is completely wrong. The species should consume mostly vegetables and fruits. When the diet is balanced, the animal lives much longer and becomes more sociable.
“What I learned right away was about food. At the time of the Discoveries, birds had to survive travel, so they were fed by seeds. This false premise ended up being, but it is not, at all, true. They also eat seeds and nuts, especially in winter, but that’s not what they eat. Based on that, they live less and are difficult to handle. My race, especially in the wild, eats nectars, petals and fruit”, explains the psychologist.
He adds: “For example, while wild animals have a hormonal phase that starts in spring — they detect that with the time shift. Automatically changes behavior slightly. If you give her more nuts at that point, she will remain the same bird as ever. If you insist on fats that aren’t so good for you, I’ll start getting bitten”.
However, how did Vanessa arrive at all this information? Keeping in touch with Brazilian specialists in birds and by reading scientific articles. By respecting this advice, she not only has a better relationship with Oli, but also protects the species that is on the verge of extinction due to deforestation in the Amazon.
Since he introduced the bird into his life, after just wanting another lollipop to keep the one he already had company, everything has improved. This species keeps a lot of company, just like a dog, and is quite intelligent.
“All birds that have a curved beak are extremely intelligent. Many people don’t even know that a well-trained parakeet can speak up to 200 words. In terms of work, this species gives practically none. In terms of noise, it is also important to take this into account when purchasing a bird. Oli, for example, doesn’t scream. But if you want to scream, you can hear it all over the block,” she explains.
Regarding the relationship that the bird developed with the Oeirense’s dog, it started out as jealousy but quickly turned into a friendship.
Apparently, Vanessa’s dog doesn’t wear a leash, but a scarf, and it’s this accessory that Oli uses to hitch rides around the house. When there is less light, afraid of hitting the walls, Oli whistles for the dog and he goes to get her. On the contrary, the relationship is also beneficial. If the bigeye points his nose at some Tupperware that is on the table, she opens the box and gives him the food.
Over time, the parrot has also shown to have a personality of its own. “And as the years go by, it gets more creased”, adds Vanessa. She is playful, stubborn, friendly and loves to be pampered.
“When I get home and don’t see her right away, instead of saying ‘hello’ she says ‘too’ over and over again. She also says kiss, but what she likes to do most is imitating sounds like the doorbell, WhatsApp messages and the oven alarm. I turned off the oven thinking that the food was ready and everything was still raw. At the end of the day, when the sun starts to disappear, it keeps calling for me. He also has a fascination with yellow and everything that is of that color, he wants to steal”.
It is these characteristics that resulted in an Instagram page with more than ten thousand followers, many of them abroad. His reels — small videos that can contain music or a montage of images — have already reached followers in the four corners of the world. These fans are truly loyal and when the psychologist doesn’t post any within three days, she receives messages asking if everything is ok.
When Vanessa created the account on the social network, she realized that there are owners who have kept their parrots closed in cages for three decades, for example. Since meeting Oli, many have asked for help introducing the birds into their daily routine.
In other situations, the Oeirense advised a free flight course. “They already know how to fly, but teaching them how to return home or how to run away from predators is very important. I have a house in the Algarve and, as it has a lot of space, it flies freely. However, when he gets into trouble, he calls my dog, because he knows that other birds don’t get in his way”, she recalls in conversation with NiO.
In the end, when asked about some advice she could share, the Oeirense starts by remembering that it is necessary to take into account the bird you are going to get and its characteristics. That is: whether it makes noise or not, the age or the amount of changes that need to be made in the house.
Then it is essential to have a large cage. Also, buy a backpack, even if it’s to take the bird to the vet. Lastly, invest time in Internet research to find expert testimonials.