I have been watching films recently. Moving pictures aren’t really my thing, I prefer to read but if I run out of books and have time on my hands then I will borrow a dvd from my children and watch it. Sometimes I’ll even watch it all the way through.
My son prefers horror movies so that is what I have been watching recently; only the least gory, however.
I watched a couple over the last few evenings and was interested in the way that crows are used to provide atmosphere. You see one sitting on Brandon Lee’s shoulder in the film, “The Crow”, or sitting on a telegraph pole in a windy desert, looking sinister. You know the kind of thing I’m sure. The trouble is that when I see a crow, no matter the setting I see a small, black clown. What’s more, at present I see everything vaguely and blurred as Crow helped himself to my glasses yesterday and I have been unable to locate his hiding place. For once it isn’t the dog’s water bowl – the first place I looked, and they are too large to fit in one of the holes he has poked into the walls of the house. They could be anywhere.
Parrots, however; are never sinister as far as I’m aware. They are pirate’s stooges, and when I was a child, in my favourite stories about adventurous children; a very intelligent parrot helped his owner in many different ways. Parrots are jolly creatures and make you either laugh or leave you in awe at their talent for human speech.
Now I have no doubts as to the intelligence of parrots. However they are not the cute, cuddly mimics they are portrayed as. At any rate, Parrot isn’t, and neither are those parrots who live with friends. To be more accurate, they are cute and cuddly mimics, but they are so much more. For instance they are noisy, messy, destructive and jealous, and incredibly time consuming. They are also very, very intelligent and emotionally needy. If you do not provide the mental and emotional stimulation a parrot needs, he will become a very sad bird indeed. He will become withdrawn, possibly aggressive and is very likely to self mutilate. This tends to take the form of pulling out his own feathers and often enough he will actually eat away his own flesh in his unhappiness.
Parrot is very sweet and loving, in fact he usually comes over for affection in the evening when he is settling down in preparation for bedtime. He is so endearing then, asking for me to rub his head, twisting upside down so that I reach under his chin and around his cheeks. During these sessions he half closes his eyes with bliss.
Any other time of day though, approach at your own peril. I have learned to read his body language extremely well. He has his own agenda, and if you want to interrupt his parrotty doings, it is important that you distract him with something which looks equally fun. Or bribe him.
As with Crow, he spends most of his day loose although unlike Crow he is not allowed the run of the house. Whichever room I am using, I take him with me so that I can keep an eye on what he is up to. Those times he is caged for reasons of safety or just to give everyone else breathing space, he needs a supply of interesting toys and puzzles. I buy baby toys in charity shops and hide treats in crumpled paper inside cardboard boxes. These he shreds happily. Most of his toys are homemade, but they all have to be changed regularly to stop him from being bored.
He will accept lifts on my shoulder from one room to another, he gets rewarded for good behaviour, including not biting my ear or face when he is in transit. Once I have put him down and started pursuing my own business he can get on with playing with his toys.
Alas, his toys are not nearly so interesting as whatever I am doing. He flies between parrot perch and me, more often than not landing on my head for the fun of me shaking him loose of my hair. If I want to move him from somewhere he wants to be, as when, for instance; he has found and wants to dismantle a mobile phone or a camera; I have to stop what I am doing, calm my breathing right down and ask him to step onto my hand so that I can move him and put away the object of his desire. If I don’t take the time to slow my breathing and relax my muscles, this master of body language will lunge at and bite my hand rather than step onto it.
To say that he is destructive is an understatement that only another parrot owner will empathise with. I have to leave sacrificial objects around that he will find and destroy in order to protect more valuable belongings. If I am cooking, I will leave bits of vegetables for him to steal, it is the only time he will eat them and it distracts him from the food I am preparing.
Much of what he does is an effort to get my full attention. He wants me to play with him constantly and as I took him in with the full knowledge of his needs, I try to fulfil my side of the bargain and keep him amused. If I go to another room and leave him briefly, he will whistle and chatter loudly and I call back to him that I hear him and will be back shortly. He is a flock animal and to be left alone is very frightening for him.
His flock is very small, consisting of him, me, my partner, two dogs and a crow. His environment is so unlike the homeland in which he and his kind evolved it could as well be an alien planet. All of us, dogs, crow and humans would be dangerous predators in his natural environment and I try to keep that in mind. Fortunately, Parrot has taken all this in his small stride and accepts us for what we are. In fact all the members of the tribe accept each other which is truly wonderful. I keep an eye on interspecies teasing, but nobody seems to want to really upset anyone else.