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What's grey and red and eats ears?

Oboe and Simon on the boing

In my experience, parrots are very well-behaved and sweet when you first get them. They don’t want to do anything that might upset you, because they don’t trust you. They don’t know what you’re capable of. So they sit quietly and observe you. For months.

If you’re smart, you’ll just be patient and gently work on building a trusting relationship with this parrot. If you’re not that smart, you’ll jump to the conclusion that parrots are WAY easier than all the parrot people would have you believe, and you’ll rush right out and acquire a second parrot, and maybe even a third.

Parrots give their trust in increments, especially older, re-homed parrots like Kazoo. At first they’re very watchful and they won’t let you touch them. But then one day, maybe a couple of months after you get her, you’ll be standing by her cage saying good night to her and telling her how much you love her, just like you do every night, and she will approach you and dip her head down and invite you to touch her head through the bars. And your heart will swell and you will think, “She trusts me.”

But trust is incremental, and she still only trusts you a little bit. Every few weeks, she will offer you a little more trust, and you will accept these gifts almost reverently.

The down side of this is that the more she trusts you, the more trouble she will get into, because she knows you won’t hurt her. She will become much more mobile, flying all over your house and eating it and generally wreaking havoc.

This morning I was sitting on the couch, drinking coffee. Kazoo, the Amazon, was sitting on the back of the couch, right behind my head. We like to sit quietly together first thing in the morning; it’s our tradition. Simon the Grey wanted to preen my hair, but he and Kazoo only get along from a distance. They can’t both sit behind my head, or they’ll squabble and one of them will fly away. (Neither one is a bully but they’re both scared of each other.)

So Simon inched his way over and grabbed a strand of my hair, lifting it way up in the air. Kazoo flew away, to the top of the bookcase. She’s not allowed up there, because she eats bookcases, so I went and retrieved her. I placed her on a boing (a spiral rope perch). She flew back to the bookcase. I retrieved her and put her in her cage, but with the door open. She flew back to the bookcase. I retrieved her and put her in her cage with the door locked. Time out.

Meanwhile, Oboe the lovebird had decided that his new favourite thing was to sit by the stack of artist trading cards on the bookcase, and drop them, one by one, onto the floor. I kept getting up to stop him, but he wouldn’t let me catch him. Every time I’d get up, he’d fly away and I’d sit back down, then he’d fly back and drop some more cards, and I’d get up, etcetera.

Simon, meanwhile, was happily working on my hair. He recently discovered I have ears when my hair was wet after a shower. My ears are usually hidden by my thick hair. Simon’s new favourite thing is my ears, now that he knows they exist. He roots through my hair until he finds my ear, and then he sits and nibbles it until I go insane. Normally I like ear nibbling, but Simon nibbles it hard enough to be almost painful, or at least irritating.

I adore these guys, even when they’re wrecking my house and biting my ears. Sometimes I think I’m crazy for having three of them, but I couldn’t part with any of them. What’s even crazier is I sometimes want a fourth…a male eclectus, preferably a rescue. But I’m not crazy enough to do that.

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