‘Sushi is all I need’: A student’s life with an ESA bird


Lacey Harmon, a sophomore studying horticulture, finds comfort in Sushi, her green-cheeked conure. Sushi is an emotional support animal who helps Harmon on her bad days.

Sushi has a pineapple mutation, which means his feathers are lighter shades of yellow and orange.

When asked why she chose a bird, Harmon said she knew at a young age that she wanted a one.

“I swear I was born loving birds; I have loved them my whole life,” Harmon said. “When I was a little girl I wanted to be a bird photographer.”

The photography passion faded, but her love of birds continued until she eventually got her own when she moved to BYU-Idaho.

Sushi bobs his head if he likes you, and he repeats the phrase, “hi, Sushi,” on good days. He even has a few tricks, but Sushi didn’t come this good-natured.

“Not all birds are nice,” Harmon said. “It takes a lot of work to get them to this point.”

But apparently, not everyone is fond of Sushi when they first meet him.

“Most people like him — not everybody does,” Harmon said. “It’s not that they don’t like him; it’s that they are afraid of birds.”

Harmon mentioned the importance of always asking to touch or play with an emotional support animal before reaching out to pet them.

“He does bite but not very often,” she said. “He tries to bite nails or wedding rings because they are shiny.”


Harmon said birds can live up to 30 years, and she could still have Sushi when she is 45 years old.

“He is not a pet; he is my best friend,” Harmon said.

Harmon said she needs to have Sushi around, and he goes with her to school when she is feeling uncomfortable.

“Some people really connect with dogs or cats, but for me, Sushi is all I need,” Harmon said.