So, You Want a Parrot?

          Living with modern dinosaurs, every morning starts with the same damn broom. Sweep seed, cardboard, and feathers up from around the cage; flip fabulous Freedom Buffet to stop plastic popping beaks from driving keeper and neighbors insane at 7:00 A.M. (best to let the neighbors walk); and sort cardboard from recent chew and destroy for recycle bin. Every other day, I roll off about 4 feet of butcher paper and replace in front of cage. Once a week, I have the precious joy to wipe down entire cage with eco-bird-friendly solution, dust bird dander, and scrub dried grapes, dried green and white poop with wipes and fingernails. I clean the grate every morning, but at the end of the week it always needs additional bending and scrapping. (Note: before continuing, remember to wash hands.)

          Before I remove the cage cover, Apollo and Caliban are hanging on sides in the cage whistling, barking, meowing, or roaring like a human roaring like a lion, so I‘ll know it’s time to get up and eat. They greet me with enthusiastic head bobs. Yes, yes, I know; you are very hungry; you only ate last night. If I sleep too late or take too long, Apollo will stare me down with an evil eye and bang his beak on the dish covers, but Caliban prefers short shrill repetitive, jungle level claxon whistles, much like an eagle or hawk, but a foot or less from my ears.

          In the every morning joy, Apollo and Caliban are up, and I must fulfill their needs, like two year olds that are infant-terrible for 60 years. I don’t want them to eat the neighbors, and at least, I can cage them and not spend time behind similar bars. I hand each of them a peanut, but that doesn’t mean they will eat it. They like to play a game on me; they will drop the treat and still feign interest. I pick it up, and repeat a couple more times. Sometimes before I uncover them, before I sweep, if I find peanut pieces on the butcher paper, Caliban is on the bottom of the cage, just out of site, repeating huh, yum, mmm. How does he know? I hand him the pieces through the bars at the bottom of the cover. It’s rare, but if I feed Caliban more than two or three nuggets, Apollo is next to him making the same noise, and pushing his beak through the bars.

          I collect their dishes and fill them with chow in the middle, and in the side dishes, grapes, fresh corn on the cob, red or green jalapeños, carrots, and broccoli or green beans or something new.

          So what’s your point? Living with a parrot is a damn dirty difficult job; so don’t adopt one unless you are willing to get poop under your fingernails from time to time or on the carpet, on you work shirt, your hair, or where ever is convenient; and a parrot can not keep enough feathers in corners, on book shelves, under and on chairs, chaises or sofas, in your sock drawer, and on occasion, in your drink.

          Don’t buy the first one you meet, because would you marry the first person you held hands with in elementary school? Marriages may only last a night, but a parrot is totally dependent on you for care and affection; think slow, long, and hard, and then, take two weeks to be sure. Although they will return love a hundred fold, loyal for 15 to 150 years, if you are not up to it, have doubts, or don’t have the time–at least 3 to 4 hours a day, every day, all 365 for as long as they live or as long as you live–then don’t. Indifference and neglect will drive modern dinosaurs insane. They will scream erratically at drum breaking decibels, pluck out all their feathers, bite off their toes, or bite off your fingers and ear lobes (a vicious cockatoo bite is like a 250 lb. man standing on your finger with an ice skate). After serious neglect, a parrot may never be a normal again, like if you were locked up in isolation for several years and could not interact with anyone, not because you can’t, but because they don’t speak your language and will never understand you or your needs. Neglected derelict parrots are impossible to place in a new home.

          Captive modern dinosaurs don’t choose their lifelong companion; so don’t let your vanity turn into cruelty.

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