Now that summer is here, I try to put the birds out in the garden daily to catch the sunshine, or at least the uv which they need. This is necessary for their health.
If they are in the garden, I either pretend to be gardening, sit with them or if I am in the house I have the front door open so that I can keep an eye on them. I live in a very rural area. Surrounded by fields and with only a single track road going past the house, people going past are often on foot or horseback and everyone is fascinated by the parrots.
They sit in their cages, ignoring their toys and looking very small; unlike in the house where they fly around freely, their personalities making them seem much larger than they actually are. They rarely speak outside as they don’t talk to strangers, but they will whistle to each other, the wild birds and to me.
When folk stop, the first thing they ask is, “Do they talk?”
“Oh yes,” I always reply; “I can’t get them to shut up normally”. I get dubious looks at this, as they look at Parrot and Darling sitting quietly. I then compound the apparent falsehood by boasting how clever these two mute, motionless birds are. The disbelieving glances sometimes stimulate me into trying to persuade Parrot and Darling to prove me right; by trying to persuade them to perform some action which they fall over themselves to show me in private, inside.
“Look at this” I say desperately, ‘Watch Darling dance.”
Darling seems to love dancing in the house. I click my fingers and sing to her, anything will do; she isn’t fussy. She bobs her head up and down, makes clicking noises and dances along sideways, fluffing up her feathers and occasionally waving a foot. Parrot may or may not sing along too; “Do do do do do”.
Outside with people watching however, Darling looks at me as though I’m insane. What, do tricks? Am I mad?
To encourage her I start to dance among the brussels sprouts, singing along and clicking my fingers. “Ooh ooh ooh, I want to be like you ooh ooh”. Parrot looks at me interestedly, Darling turns her back on me and my neighbours look at me pityingly while their grandchildren snigger.
The riders and walkers continue up the road and once they are out of sight,the birds will climb around in the summer sun and mutter under their breath at me.
It is exactly the same in the house, if visitors come. I talk far too much to people about how wonderful the birds are. Like any proud parent I cannot wait to let people know what wonderful thing any one of the birds has done recently.
Crow particularly fascinates people. She constantly amazes me with her intelligence, sense of humour and affectionate personality. Anyone who turns up here nearly always wants to meet her.
Unfortunately she is very shy with people she does not know – which is almost everybody – and runs away to another part of the house if people call. If she does peek around the corner of the room to say hello, she will disappear pretty quickly if a camera is pointed in her direction. A friend of mine who called in having travelled from Aberdeen; managed to actually see her but upon producing a camera only managed to get a lot of shots of her back end disappearing from the room. I’m pretty sure that she was teasing him as she kept coming back in and looking at him, only to run out when he tried time and again to photograph her.