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Christmas in May

Parrots are smart. They need plenty of stimulation or their mental health will suffer. Parrots are difficult enough to live with when they’re mentally healthy; you definitely don’t want to push them over the edge. So parrot toys are a necessity. And, since many good parrot toys will quickly be reduced to piles of rubble in the bottom of the cage, you have to replenish your stock regularly.

I spent my income tax refund on bird toys this year. When the box finally arrived, I lugged it into the bird room, tore it open, and started unpacking all the new toys and showing them to the birds. Everybody was out of their houses at the time, flying around.

There were foot toys and hanging toys and shredding toys and chewing toys and toys that make noise and toys to climb on and toys to eat and foraging toys. There were toys to hang in cages and toys to hang from the ceiling. There were toys for lovebirds and toys for Amazons and toys for African Greys. There were toys that will make great toys for the bunny after the birds are finished with them.

I put new toys in everybody’s houses, and stashed the rest in the toy-rotation closet.

Simon got six new things in his house right away: a new perch, a nice big hanging toy, three foot toys and a ball that makes 10 different noises.

It was like Christmas in May. I was so excited.

But in my excitement I forgot that African Greys are not like little kids on Christmas morning. They’re the opposite.

A new perch? Alarming. A ball that makes noises? Scary. A whole bunch of new toys all at once? Terrifying.

Even though African Greys are very smart, they somehow believe that a 3-inch ball that makes 10 different noises must contain 10 different predators.

Simon wouldn’t go into his house. Not until I removed the new perch, the big hanging toy, the three foot toys, and the predator ball. Even then, he wouldn’t go into his house. I had to put peanuts and sunflower seeds in his house and be very patient and reassring over a long period of time.

That was two weeks ago. He’s just now starting to get back to normal, not startling at the slightest noise. (Or at least not more than usual…birds tend to be that way by nature.)

Kazoo, the Amazon, recoils from new food, but she’ll hop onto a new perch or object without a second thought. Simon will dive headfirst into a bowl of unfamiliar food, but he’ll sometimes avoid a new object for weeks.

kazoobp1One of the new items I purchased is a parrot backpack. Kazoo climbs right in and we travel all over the place with her on my back. She looks out the windows and talks to strangers and makes new friends. Simon, on the other hand, after two weeks of daily “getting acquainted sessions” has gotten as far as peering tentatively into the backpack from the outside, beaking the zipper, and reaching in to grab a peanut from the treat bowl. I’m optimistic he’ll be ready to go outside for a walk by the time the snow flies.

6 comments to Christmas in May

  • Okay – that backpack has to be the coolest thing ever!

  • mudmama

    It seems bird psychology is a lot like autism spectrum psychology :-)

  • Daphne

    Our cockatoo would recoil and not come near if one of us had a mark of some kind on our hand. Clearly we must have been imposters to be avoided!

    Also I had my hair styled straight at the hairdresser one day, and the cockatoo wouldn’t come near me until I washed it and had it styled as normal (puffier and messier).

    Love the knapsack, what a great idea.

    Glad to have you back — hope you are feeling much better.

  • I have an innate fear of birds, especially bigger birds. I have no memory of being attacked by a bird and as far as I know, birds have never hurt me in any way (well, except for the seagull who shat upon my head).

    But, I love how you take care of your birds and how they each have individual personalities and you honor that. That backpack is brilliant. It must help you strike up dozens of conversations.

  • I like birds a lot, and would love to have that backpack! Unfortunately, I’d never be able to have a bird in it, because the hubster’s allergic to feathers. So good to see you posting again, and glad you are getting a handle on your health.

  • Vittorio Flaviano

    I love birds as well, especially birds!