How one parrot handled an unwanted love affair
Kiwi loved Paco. Paco didn't love Kiwi. What's a parrot to do?
Love can be complicated, even in the parrot world.
For a few years, I pet sat for a delightful trio of parrots - Paco, Kiwi, and Oliver. Each had fantastic personalities and I slowly developed relationships with each of them.
Each morning and evening I'd go to their house and into their dedicated bird room. Each had their own big cage and was allowed to go in and out of their cages. They never, to my knowledge, left their bird room.
Kiwi, a smaller and older parrot, was a pretty green girl with handicapped feet. The story goes that she was found in the woods with frostbite on her toes, rescued, and at some point came to live with this family. If she were a human, I think she'd wear a fancy hat like the ladies down south have been known to do and would be moody.
Paco, a beautiful boy seemingly in the prime of his life, was intelligent and somewhat wary of anyone besides his own human, but we got along fine once he realized I was coming by to feed him and clean his cage. He avoided physical contact with me but was kind.
Oliver, an African gray with a potty mouth and a keen eye for observation was the most interactive of all with me. One time, in the evening, when I was having difficulty closing the Venetian blinds near his cage Oliver sent forth a mouthful of very inappropriate language, but it was language that actually fit my frustration with the blinds. You know what I mean, language that is often expressed in cartoons with these symbols: #*&##!
So, Kiwi was hopelessly in love with Paco. Paco wasn't interested - ever. Kiwi would often try and "visit" Paco in his cage and sometimes I'd get to the house and Kiwi was in Paco's cage and Paco was either in, or on top of, Kiwi's cage. Poor guy, he'd try all sorts of things to sway her advances. Kiwi was very persevering. Good ol' Oliver would sit in his cage and watch this frequent soap opera.
One morning, the first pet visit of a weekend's worth of visits, I entered the bird room to find a mystery. Oliver was in his cage quietly watching me as if to say "I wonder if she is going to figure this one out!". Kiwi was in Paco's cage eagerly awaiting his return. Paco, usually in Kiwi's cage in situations like this, was not there. Paco was nowhere in the room.
I called for Paco, no answer. I slowly walked around the house and eventually found him pouting under the dining room table, apparently as far away as he could get from Kiwi's affections! He looked stressed. Since this was the first pet sitting visit of the weekend, who knows how long he was under the table - it might have been since the night before when his humans left.
Given that I knew he didn't like physical contact with me, and respecting the power of a parrot's beak, I decided to go really slowly with this situation. Before I could get him back in his cage, I had to get Kiwi back in hers. So I told Paco I'd be back and returned to the bird room.
Kiwi was happy as a clam waiting for her heartthrob to return to his cage. Poor girl, she had a bad crush on him. She would usually only let me touch her if I went slowly and respecting her handicapped feet, I slowly and gently retrieved her and put her in her cage, closed and latched her door.
Then it was back to my pal Paco. I sat on the floor near the dining table and talked softly to him for a few minutes. He was obviously listening and after a few minutes his body language calmed down and he started to relax.
I told him that we needed to get him back into his cage and that I put Kiwi back in her cage and shut her door. I slowly moved towards him and much to my surprise, he walked over to me. I put out my hand/fingers, and he tentatively stepped up. Before lifting my hand, I let him get comfortable. Then I stood up and held my arm close to my chest and before he had any change of mind, I started walking slowly with him down the hall.
Once back to the bird room, Paco immediately wanted to know where his jilted love interest was and he seemed quite satisfied to see her in seclusion! Kiwi, on the other hand, got big googly eyes at him and fluffed herself up with excitement.
Paco was so excited to be back in his cage that he almost jumped in. Phew! Oliver cackled quietly, proud of my ability to solve this problem.
Once all my ducks were in a row - or, my parrots were in their cages - I proceeded with cage clean up, vacuuming, and getting their breakfasts.
Kiwi was hopelessly in love, Paco was hopelessly NOT in love. Oliver had his morning entertainment satisfied.
A lesson for all was learned here - don't push love on anyone who is not interested because nothing good can come of it, except causing drama and giving entertainment to those around you!
* In next week's post I'll tell you how these three birds ended up in a whole page and a half article with me, complete with photos, in my local newspaper!