By Charles Wade-Palmer

A couple who saved an exotic bird when he was a chick with a HAIR DRYER have revealed he’s so pampered he now has free rein of their home

Ernie the Sacred Ibis loves to watch television, send emails and pinch food off the plate of his owners who rescued him from the cold as an abandoned chick.


Vicky Courtney, 47, who looks after her partner’s several aviaries on their small holding, hand reared Ernie who spends evenings at home and flies wherever he pleases during the day.

Vicky said: “Ernie was unconscious when I found him as a chick last August so we blow dried him with a hairdryer and were rubbing him until he gained consciousness, I’ve hand reared him since.

“He normally explores for most of the day and just before dusk he’s at the back door waiting to come back in and watch TV with us.

“If my other half is drinking wine Ernie goes in for a sip and he even grabs cigarettes out my hand without even realising it’s lit.”


Ernie the exotic bird was hand-reared by Vicky who lives on a farm with over 100 birds with partner and equine chiropractor Mark Windsor near Oswestry, Shrops.

Unlike the dozens of other birds Vicky and Mark care for in their aviaries, sacred ibis Ernie gets free rein of the house which he can leave to go wherever he likes whenever he likes.

Vicky said: “We have a small holding of lots and lots of farm animals and birds which are my other half’s interest.

“We discovered three dead chicks in a nest and one that was unconscious, after he recovered I brought him up feeding him cat food.


“When he was old enough to go into the avery it was winter and because he was used to the warmth of the house he would’ve died out there in the cold.

“This is his life now and he wouldn’t be happy anywhere else. He has a large dog kennel in the house and when I come down in the morning he rings his bell for me to let him out.

“When I do he jumps on my shoulders until I give him breakfast and then he flies off. He always makes his way home. He’s not at all valuable but he has become one of the family.

“He was missing for a few days earlier this year which is very unlike him so we think someone may have trapped him somewhere but released him when they realised there was little profit to be had.”


Spoilt Ernie has grown to become as mischievous as he is greedy and given the chance will pester Vicky every evening and pinch what he can from her- edible or not.

Vicky gets so much attention from her unlikely companion that she is lucky not to have him clambering all over her and creating havoc in the same house as a dog and two cats.

Vicky said: “Ernie loves living in the house. He will sit on my lap watching television and is happy to sit on the sofa with our dog and two cats.

“He causes chaos inside the house hopping on my shoulders and pressing the keyboard with his beak sending emails from my computer, he loves it.


“Ernie likes to try anything that we’re eating if we’re eating it then he wants some.He rarely eats it but he plays with it.

“That’s a reason why we put him in his cage because other wise we get no peace because he steals stuff.

“The other day he did something to my screen which took me two hours to fix.

“We put him in his cage when we go up to bed.

“They’re very difficult to keep, his food is expensive and very vile. While he tries to eat and drink anything we’re having, his diet is mainly dead chicks which we order in frozen and I microwave for 20 seconds.

“He will only eat them once their heads are chopped off which I had to do with my eyes closed at the beginning.

“Now my mother won’t house sit for us anymore because of what she has to feed Ernie, she just can’t cope so we have to ask other people instead.”