Parrots — any parrots — are absolute tricksters at the core of their being. Even the most cute and gentle budgie in the world will be a weirdo at heart, waiting for a way to outsmart the primate who dared keep them in cages. I speak from experience.
On Tuesday afternoons, 12:30p until 3:30p give or take, I have an apprenticeship I should be present at downtown at The Fey Dragon. Here’s a bit of back story. The birds have a bedtime between 9:30p and 10:30p on any given day in order to let them sleep until between 9:30a – 10:30a, thus keeping them more quiet for my roommate who works overnights. It was at about 11:30 that I started changing out the food and water for both cages. For the cockatiels, I try to use the food-dish doors on the side of their cage, because I am vaguely aware that at least one of them is a master escape artist. I figure he would be less likely to get out of the side door. However, I have been proven wrong in this assumption before. Really. But I always assume the best anyway.
So, Tuesday. Time is ticking down, and there is Baby, perched on the empty food dish holder as I bring their breakfast out of the kitchen. He steps aside onto a perch as I open the door to put the dishes in — but in the blink of an eye, he squishes his oddly shaped avian body out of a 3 inch rectangular door space, and flies away into the kitchen.
Damn it, not again…
I lock up the door, and Dapple, unfazed, eats breakfast and makes her usual mess. I grab a spare perch and begin the process of retrieving this bird before I have to leave the house. I mean, it’s as if I never let the birds out at all! Completely irrational and untrue.
In my kitchen, there is a console-esque shelf thing (articulate, I know) with a bunch of hooks for pots and pans above the range. I don’t consider myself a short person, but to reach where Baby had perched was…impossible at best. Usually, just nudging him with the spare plastic perch would get him flying. But not today, oh no. He sat there, not giving a crap. He wouldn’t move — absolutely refused. In fact, during the process, as if to mock me, he started preening his tail feathers.
It was 12:09 when I finally got him back in the cage. Or rather, he decided he was done being a terror, and flew back on his own. I was late to my apprenticeship by almost 15 minutes. And yet — I should’ve known better.
Here’s a few things I learned from this experience, which is not altogether different from any of the other times my miniscule escape artist made a performance:
1. Parrots think they can outsmart Humans. It’s probably our job not to let them, but come on — we’re only human.
2. A bird cares not at all about your “schedule.” Your time is their time. Your everything is also theirs. Best get used to it.
3. I should remember to let down my decorative net whilst feeding the birds to keep them from flying into the kitchen. I never do.
4. This sort of gallivanting is great fun for birds — they love to explore things and cause a general ruckus. They’ll stay quieter afterwards, trust them.
5. You can’t scold (read: withhold fruitloops from) a bird that’s literally flying all over the house. They don’t care. They’re perpetual toddlers.
6. Think of ways to outsmart the bird before you have to. You’ll forget them in the moment, because, again — you’re only human.
Believe it or not, us awkward bird people are frequently made a fool of by our avian companions. Every single day of the year is really April fools’ day. And well. We are the fools. Or so it appears.