Let me introduce you to Jolly, my Cherry-Head Conure. He is a 13″-long (including his tail) feathered bundle of joy. This vocal, fun-loving creature became part of our family as a new hatchling which I hand-fed and raised. Cherry Head, or Red-Masked Conures (Aratinga erythogenys) are native to southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru. They are endangered in their natural habitat, mostly because of slash and burn agricultural practices which are decimating their nesting and feeding sites. There is a well-known feral population of Cherry-Heads in the United States, in San Francisco. That breeding group of these lovely, raucous birds has been documented in the film “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” by Judy Irving. There are also feral breeding populations in several other locations in California, in Florida and in Spain. The San Francisco wild population reportedly came from a group of Cherry-Heads that were accidentally released when the shipping crate they were in was dropped and broken at the port. In 1994 the wild population in Ecuador and Peru was reclassified from a species of least concern to a species of near threatened. Like all of his species, Jolly loves toys and enjoys solving puzzles that promise a food treat. On many days, this loveable creature can be found standing in a corner with a round ball balanced on his head, eyes half closed, happily clucking. These birds pick up words and phrases quite easily, and Jolly has proven quite adept at learning and using them appropriately. When the granddaughters are too noisy, he’ll holler “Stop It.” When he sees my husband in the yard or cage area he’ll call out “Cap,” which is what the kids call their grandfather. When he wants out of his cage, Jolly says “Jolly wants out, Jolly wants out now!” “Good golly Miss Jolly” is one of my favorite of his calls. He always greets me with a big birdy “Hello” and a wolf whistle when we meet in the morning. What a jolly way to start the day. Jolly has three other aviary mates, a Green-Cheek conure named Cricket, a Half-Moon Conure named Pickles, and an Indian Ring-neck named Eubie. I also hand-raised each of them from hatchlings. Together we have lots of jolly times together!