I have got a parrot. He's no replacement for my dog of almost
fifteen years, Zoe. I still can't talk about Zoe. I miss her to a
degree which is downright unhealthy. But the parrot is a
consolation. He's a funny little guy. He has some mental problems,
some hostility problems, but all parrots do. Parrots also live for
seventy years, so I can safely assume he'll have to be left to
someone in my will, as long as I keep him out of drafts. He is a
seven month old Red-Lored Amazon Parrot named Lucky. He hasn't
bitten me, too often, so I think he likes me. His is large and
green, with a red forehead and yellow cheeks. His wings have red
and yellow bands at the bottom. He came with a large cage and we
are keeping him in the dining room in front of the heater, because
he needs temperatures between seventy and eighty Farenheit. Parrots
are supposed to have the intelligence of a three year old and the
emotional development of a two year old. The latter, I can believe.
He eats and eats. I'm afraid we might be overfeeding him but bribery
seems to be the way to his heart. I may end up with an eight hundred
pound parrot riding around on my shoulder. The first day I worked
after getting him, I pictured coming home to a warm welcome from my
new pet, but he squawked and climbed down the back, around the side,
and up the front of the cage to get away from me and to huddle by my
Mom, (who HAD fed him all day). He was like, "Who is this person?
I've never seen her before! Help! Police!" But maybe it was the
vitamin factory smell of work. I took a shower and gave him a sugary
parrot treat and won his affection back. The blueberry scented
shampoo seems to have a good effect on him too. From now on I can
only use fruit flavored shampoos. He likes to chew on my hair as I
play with his toes.
I may have to sue my mother for alienation of parrot affection, as
she looks after him all day. On the other hand, morning is his best
time for staging a huge screaming tantrum while racing back and
forth on his perch, if someone doesn't carry him around on their
shoulder, so perhaps I'm as glad not to be there. He spends most of
the day outside his cage. Lucky's 'little' emotional explosions
sound like three non-synchonized fire alarms going off as a squadron
of F-15 fighter jets just happen to simultaneously fly, low, over
the house. But if you ignore him, and the hearing damage involved,
he eventually gives it up and changes to barking like a poodle. (His
old owner had a poodle...) He doesn't talk yet but we're working on
it. He can wolf whistle but he usually saves that for moments of
deep contemplation. Like when he sat for five minutes on my shoulder
watching the cats outside the window eating their Friskies on the
back porch. Then he gave this low, thoughtful wolf whistle
like, "Look at them things..." Intelligent, I don't know, but he
DOES think hard.
Mom tried to put wax paper on top of his cage, which is his outside
play gym area, with food, water and a perch, to keep it clean, but
he immediately began chewing on it and trying to pull it out, so she
went to remove one sheet. He instantly ran over to attack the other
sheet and skidded across it because it was so slippery. When Mom
laughed at him he gave her his shocked and offended parrot look.
(Parrots are very big on meaningful looks...) Then he went into his
screaming tantrum thing, but that was the only spell for the day, so
I guess that's pretty restrained behavior for a high-strung parrot.
He's eating seeds, oranges, apples, cantalope, broccoli, carrots,
crackers, cauliflower and buttered toast with scrambled eggs so far;
but only a little bit at a time. Oh, and peanuts. And ham
casserole. And lots of other stuff...
(I was cooking the other night and he was riding on my shoulder and
I went to get cloves out of the spice cupboard. He saw all those
nice smelling little jars and bottles and began running his tongue
over them and trying to open them with his beak and claws. When I
closed the cupboard it was major tantrum time... Just like a two
year old in the grocery store candy section.)
Anyway, we got him a parrot stand so he can sit in other rooms. He
flies out into the kitchen. Though with his trimmed wing feathers,
he just barely skims the top of the counter on the way. Hope he
doesn't crash into it someday. He has crashed into a few walls, and
one day he disappeared entirely and we crawled around on the floor
searching for him under chairs and couches, (it was two minutes til
eight am and I was bound to be late for work), when by his whistles
we found him sitting up on the curtain rod. Some altitude. He
actually prefers not to fly, but to hang off the corner of his
cagetop, in a psychological game of chicken, as it were; flapping
his wings threatingly, "I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna fly over there.
Any second now. See, I'm flapping my wings. I'm gonna fly right
over there. Where you guys are. Okay, I'm going now..." Usually
someone breaks down and goes over to carry him into the kitchen.
It's a pitiful display. I've ordered a parrot leash, so he can go
outside with me. Only in daytime though. A warm summer rain is a
good chance to give your parrot a natural bath, just like they'd get
in the jungle, but you shouldn't take them out at night due to the
danger of contracting West Nile Virus from mosquitos. Zoe, (I'm
always comparing Zoe the imcomparable to poor little Lucky, the
noisesome...), Zoe used always to have to go out for a little walk
at night, back when she could still walk, and we'd look at the stars
Lucky is supposed to be cage trained, potty-wise, but we've had a
few incidents. I suspect he'll be moving upstairs when the weather
warms up. He's simple to care for. Every day he has a shower in
the sink, scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, two green
vegetables and one miscellaneous colored vegetable, fresh water, and
every other day I dump his old parrot food, (mixed seeds and little
fruit shaped biscuits), and wash his bowls. Oh, and one serving of
pesticide free fresh fruit a day. And I remove and clean the top
and bottom trays in his cage. Then on Saturday I take the whole
cage outside and scrub it. Plus, parrots reportedly require three
hours of playtime daily with a human being or they'll go insane.
There are actually mental institutions specially designated for mad
parrots... But he's really not too much work.
I'm trying to teach him to say, "I'm Lucky, the dog", just to freak
P.S. Lucky likes to ride on your shoulder, but actually he prefers
if you hunch forward, Quasimodo like, as you walk, for his personal
comfort. Also if he's on your shoulder at bathtime, or bedtime,
(bedtime, we get locked in the cage...), he runs from one shoulder
to the other, or up and down your spine, as you, his MASTER, vainly
hold out a straight, slightly chewed on, first finger and
command, "up, UP, UP!, UP, Honey! up... little sweetpea...?"
Eventually he gives in. I AM in control here, you know.
P.S. II. I have researched a bit and pirates actually didn't,
largely, have parrots. Although a bad-tempered, sharp-beaked parrot
on the shoulder would have explained all those eyepatches. But a
sailing ship would just be to drafty for these delicate avians...
This rumour all started from Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure
Island". Long John Silver had one, beside the also traditional
wooden leg. I'll have to read that book again and see if I can pick
up any parrot tips.
P.P.S. Lucky has all the attributes necessary to prove himself a
vastly superior sort of pet. He likes to cuddle up at night with me
as I watch the long lawyerly arguement scenes of "Law And Order". I
wrap him in my hands and he tucks his head under my chin. His lot
in life is a continual search for the warmth and tropical ease of
his native lands. Poor little baby.
P.S. Number Four: Sorry to go on so.