When I come downstairs in the morning I open Crow’s cage without even looking. I’m normally half asleep as Crow is waking me up more and more early these days.
She hops straight out and keeps herself busy for the rest of the day. I take the blanket from Parrot’s cage, tell him, “Good morning”, in as cheery a voice as I can muster. When you sound happy or excited, parrots are far more likely to repeat what you say. So far Parrot does not greet me first thing in the morning, perhaps he also thinks that Crow is too much of an early bird.
I stagger through to the living room, trying to avoid tripping over the dogs who are awake and ecstatic to see me after a whole night, clip their leads on and take them and a ball out for their morning’s ablutions. Fortunately I am surrounded by fields so the young dog can race around like a lunatic burning up all the energy he has stored through the night, while the old lad and myself follow at a more sedate pace.
The young dog carries the ball, and when he feels he has had enough dashing about aimlessly, he brings the ball, drops it and looks at me expectantly.
I have one of those plastic launchers and throw the ball as far as I can, he races after it and the old dog trots after him. Sam has the enthusiasm and usually gets the ball, sometimes before it lands; but occasionally he dashes off before the ball has left the launcher, and as my aim is not the best he often ends up in the wrong part of the field.
Fly may be old and crippled with arthritis these days, but he isn’t stupid. He is likely to get the ball at this stage while Sam is looking at me questioningly from across the field. If Fly gets to it first, Sam has had it as Fly does not give it up.
By the time we get back to the house, I have woken up somewhat. The dogs get a small treat, as does Crow who hops over and waits with them. If Fly is not fast enough in taking his treat, then Crow will jump up and steal it from under his nose. Since I expect this to happen, I hold the smaller treat out first, then Fly gets the larger one while Crow scuttles off with her booty.
Now I open the door for Parrot who steps onto my hand and offers me a kiss. If I am stupid enough to fall for this, then he will bite my nose quick as a flash when my face is close enough. Then he’ll cackle at me. He caught me recently this way, and I told him, “You’re a monster, a horrible monster!” to which he promptly replied, “No, you’re a monster.”
Breakfast time and Parrot comes with me into the kitchen while I make myself a coffee. If it’s cold I make porridge for the birds and myself. Both birds get added vitamins and calcium in their porridge and sometime I just add it to the pan and eat porridge myself which is full of birdie vitamins. It’s easier than adding it to individual bowls, and Parrot is suspicious if my food is not exactly the same as his. If I don’t make porridge, then Parrot gets sprouted seeds, sprinkled with his calcium, while Crow gets Parrot pellets which are already enriched with vitamins. I feed these to Crow by hand. She loves them but refuses to eat them from a bowl.
After everyone has eaten, Parrot gets down to the serious business of the day, which involves looking for things to destroy. I spend a good deal of time making him toys from chewable and shreddable materials. As I move from one room to another, I ask Parrot to come with me. He used to refuse, but now will fly to my hand as he knows that he will get a tiny piece of peanut, his favourite treat; as a reward for following me around the house. He is not allowed peanuts in any other situation.
If I leave Parrot unattended in a different room, he will wait for a short while for me to come back, and if I don’t he will go somewhere he knows that he is not allowed and do something I would prefer him not to do.
I was in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago, and he flew to the top of the Welsh dresser in the parlour, and after clearing his throat once or twice and getting no response, he picked up my Beloved’s drill bits and dropped them on the dog. I went in to remove Parrot and rescue the dog, and the little feathered pest picked up another drill bit, deliberately dropped it then looked me in the eye and said, “Oops”.
Crow meanwhile, is entertaining herself. If I’m standing at the cooker, she will stand looking up and tugging at the hem of my jeans to remind me of her presence in case I have any morsels which need removing. Sam sits a little way behind her watching every move I make too, not wishing to be left out. He knows that if Crow is given something, then he will receive a piece, too. Both bird and dog have learned that if they chase and try to steal from each other, then there will be no treats handed out. This keeps them quiet.
Crow’s beak is prone to getting overgrown, her upper mandible tends to hook slightly over the lower, so I have brought bricks into the house and piled them up in corners. Crows beaks are hooked at the end, but hers grows excessively. The bricks give her somewhere to hide her treasures and the constant poking in between them keeps her beak trimmed. It won’t win me any awards in “Homes and Gardens”, but I try to pretend to visitors that it is a zany, new décor.
This does not, of course; stop Crow from discovering or making new hiding places. Much of the wall which is Crow height, is covered with perspex to protect it, as she loves excavating. Today while I was attempting to stop Parrot from shredding Beloved’s correspondence -which I cannot persuade him to lock away from avian pests – Crow was quietly poking the tiles loose from the hearth in the parlour. I didn’t realise until I heard the rattling and found her trying to hide one of the tiles under the carpet.
The biggest part of me is sad that Crow cannot fly, the more practical part counts my blessings as nothing would ever be safe if she could go where she wanted to.
Around three in the afternoon, both birds have a quiet time. Parrot will nap on the top of his cage, Crow will nap on the strut underneath her favourite chair. You can tell it’s her favourite by all the beak marks. Sometimes she will hop onto the dog’s bed and sit quietly beside Sam, her friend; which always makes me feel gooey inside.
At teatime I lock both birds in their cages so that the dogs and humans can eat in peace. Later I will let them both out.
Both birds tend to want affection and cuddles after tea. Parrot comes over and twists his head upside down so that I can rub the feathers on his head, and cheeks. If I have a hot drink, Parrot is in ecstasy if I use the warm cup to rub his head, Crow will tug at my hem while I’m sitting down and I reach down and scratch the top of her head. Often she will hold my finger in her beak while I reach with another finger to rub her head.
Parrot goes to bed finally about 9 o’clock. I cover his cage with his blanket, he hangs upside down while I tell him goodnight and give him a little treat, then retreats to the back of his cage and goes to sleep. Crow mooches around until I lift her into her cage around 10:30. Occasionally she will go and stand underneath her cage and ask to be put to bed, but this is rare. More likely I will have to corner her and pick her up while she snaps at my hand.
I then give the dogs a final walk and head off to bed myself.