Naked Little Bird Wears A Sock To Keep Her Warm
"She's so happy it's crazy."
Rhea is pretty much like any other lovebird except for one minor detail - she doesn't have a single feather covering her body.
According to her mom, Isabella Eisenmann, that doesn't stop Rhea, who is 2 years old, from being the most joyful (and vocal) bird on the block.
Eisenmann, who lives in Boston, Massachusetts, first learned about Rhea from her veterinarian. Rhea's former owner decided to move and wasn't going to take the bird with her, leaving Rhea in need of a new, permanent home.
"I'm an animal lover and I've had every type of pet imaginable," Eisenmann told The Dodo. "I've had birds all my life." While Eisenmann thought Rhea was beautiful for who she was, many other people did not.
Eisenmann said she initially read upsetting Facebook comments about Rhea when her photo was first shared by Rhea's veterinary clinic. "People wrote terrible comments, saying, like, 'Kill that bird, she shouldn't be alive,'" Eisenmann said. "It was so sad."
As a baby, Rhea caught psittacine beak and feather disease, a type of virus, from another bird she used to live with at her old home. Symptoms of the disease include permanent feather loss, an overgrown or abnormal beak and secondary infections as a result of a weak immune system.
Eisenmann's veterinarian believed she would be a great potential parent for Rhea and placed her on a waiting list, since four other individuals showed interest in adopting her. A month and a half later, she was chosen to be Rhea's new mom. The lovebird has been living with Eisenmann for a little over a month now and it's been quite the adjustment period for Rhea's new big sister - a 15-year-old Yorkie named Nickie.
"It's an interesting relationship," Eisenmann said. "It's getting better with time. My dog's been an only child all of her life so she's not used to having a 'stranger' here. But they're getting along better now. Rhea is, interestingly enough, getting used to her too. She tries to bite her when Nickie gets too close. They're both just really jealous and overprotective about me, it's funny."
In addition to being a full-time nudist, Rhea loves sitting on people's shoulders and hanging out anywhere in the house but in her cage - she's a social butterfly who thrives on attention, and she makes sure to gets lots of it.
"She sings all day," Eisenmann said. "My neighbors aren't too happy about that. She's really loud, but she's so happy it's crazy."
The only challenge that comes with caring for Rhea is keeping her warm, Eisenmann said - which is why the lovebird has heat lamps and, more recently, a small sweater made from a sock, to stave off any chills.
There's no known cure for the disease and there's a possibility Rhea's symptoms can grow worse over time, but for now, Rhea is loving life with her new family - the very same family who took one look at her and saw something uniquely special.
Keep up with Rhea's adventures on Instagram.
Watch Rhea sing one of her lovely songs: