I share a room with two parrots. They aren’t mine. Sometimes, the fact that they don’t belong to me makes me sad. Most of the time, though, I’m fully resolved to never, ever, EVER buy a bird.
Case in point: I’ve owned dogs all my life. My family’s always had at least four. Currently, at quite a tender age, I own three (with a hedgehog on the way!). In my entire life, I’ve never been bitten by a dog.
Three weeks with these parrots, and I’ve been bitten every day. I don’t even carry these guys around, and I definitely don’t stick my fingers in their cage. I don’t do anything to encourage them. In fact, I don’t need to; when it comes to biting, they are very proactive. When they’re let out of their cages (something I never do, in the interest of my own wellbeing) they fly, hop, or sidle on over, and bite.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen an African Grey Parrot. Compared to, say, giant macaws, I guess they’re not huge, but that’s not saying much. Their beaks have a wicked, barbed-looking curve.
I’ve taken to wearing sweatshirts. Luckily, it’s still quite cold where I am. It doesn’t stop the pain, but they manage not to hook the barb in. Usually.
One of the parrots also hates me. I’ve been told he hates everybody but his person (which is sad, because actually, he technically has two people). Even when I’m feeding him, he lunges forward. We have found a sort of compromise, though. As long as I give him a square of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, he doesn’t make a go for my fingers. So it kind of works out. He gets a sugary treat that likely isn’t good for him, and my skin remains relatively intact.
Now that we’ve gone through the bad, here’s the good.
I don’t just mean the “Polly want a cracker” variety (although they do ask for crackers often.) I can hold conversations with these birds. The conversations are really weird…but they’re conversations. Also, at the moment, I am starved for conversation. I would go so far as to say I’m lonely. So, neurotic or not, I talk to the birds.
They are very, very partial to food. Our funniest convos center around potatoes (which can mean roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, french fries, and chips) or “crapples” (which can mean apples, crackers, crappy food or, literally, crap, as in “No crapple? Then I’m gonna take a crapple. I’m a bad boy.”)
They also like to butt in. Whenever I’m phoning or Skyping, they like to join in. If I complain about anything, one bird invariably advises, “Well, don’t bitch about it.” Sometimes they’ll say, “Oh, will you shut up?!” (They’ll say that to each other, which is pretty funny.) They also like to argue. And they’ll squawk and whistly and make screamy sounds and shriek “BAD!” (this is true) if I try to watch “Say Yes to the Dress.” They single-handedly make the viewing experience impossible. Thus, I no longer have that particular viewing experience. (Which is, to be honest, a good, good thing.)
They also have distinct personalities. I know that all animals do. Even the ones you wouldn’t expect to do, and you will notice if you pay attention. The more talkative one is kind of grumpy but craves interaction. He’s got a sense of humor, and he knows it. He actually laughs at himself all the time. The one that hates me is very demanding, and free-spirited. He’s always figuring out how to open his cage (which is bizarre–it has this bolt you have to press and slide from the outside. I don’t get it) and he’s constantly trying to make a break for it. I still don’t know why he hates me, but maybe it’s because I have the means to get out (well…I have the means to take a walk, anyway. “Getting out” and “escaping” are impossible for me right now) and most of the time, I stay in the house. Or at least in view of the windows. He probably doesn’t understand it.
Anyway, the parrots are pretty cool. I don’t like the bites at all. But they’re the only living beings on earth that can tell me to stop bitching and to shut up and elicit a laugh rather than an infuriated scream. Also, I can’t even complain about exotic pets. In about three weeks, I’m going to be picking up my baby cinnacot hedgehog, whom I have already named Hans. (Well, my brother named him when he got tired of me dithering madly. But Hans fits. You know, like the fairy tale, “Hans Hedgehog?” Heeeeeeeeeee! Anyway. My brother is the one who wanted a hedgehog first. I wanted a sugar glider, til I realized some have a penchant for peeling the skin off your arms. Not to mention the fact that the cages cost upward of $600. Even with spines (that aren’t really spines, just hardened hairs) hedgehogs are safer. And more bumbly. I love things that bumble about =}) hedgehogs are safer. And they’re easier to care for. Also, they’re sturdier. This is a good thing, because when I go to visit my brother after picking up Hans, he’s going to be handled a lot. My brother is very gentle with animals, but he does handle them a lot. This would make a sugar glider mad, but hedgehogs acclimate better. Besides, my brother has mad skills, and he’ll make that hedgehog the friendliest, most sociable, easygoing hedgehog on the face of the earth. Seriously, this kid tames feral cats. All the animals we’ve raised from babyhood happily drape across your shoulders as you’re walking. They also follow you. And like to cuddle up to your face. I’m telling you, my brother is amazing.)
Anyway, the point is, I love the parrots. I’m just never going to own one.