Good Morning! (It doesn’t really matter what time it is when you read this, because as long as there is any form of light — sun, lamp, candle, computer screen — it’s automatically morning to a bird.) Want to know what makes each one of my mornings equally annoying and amazing?
Yup, you guessed it. The screech in the above video. This is daily. This happens every. single. morning. I try to be as quiet as possible while I get ready for my morning classes — I catch the 7:20a 2B bus to get to campus — in order to appease my roommates, who are generally still asleep. (One of which works overnight and will be just going to sleep as Baby begins his shenanigans.) No matter how silently I creep around to get ready, the bird is ready and waiting to greet me. I whistle quietly sometimes by their cages in order to encourage a softer song — but it doesn’t always work. Even if he spends hours practicing the Final Fantasy Victory Fanfare that I taught him, sometimes, he is just plain loud. So, sometimes said night-shift-working roommate complains of bird noises. Sometimes I feel horrible, but it seems we’re all getting used to his reality.
This song he sings is not in malice, no. Baby really is singing the song of his people. He is greeting me when he hears me awake and about. Sometimes, if nobody is moving around the house first thing in the morning, he’ll still sing right to the sun as She rises. All he wants is to let everyone know how happy and content he is, generally speaking. What we, as humans and companion parrot keepers fail to realize is that these parrots are still WILD birds — even if we have them commonly as pets, they are not very many generations removed from their wild ancestors. Cockatiels — Nymphicus hollandicus — are native to Australia. Imagine for a second Australia. Now think of Oswego-Basically-Canada, New York. Wouldn’t you sing to the Sun too?
Just like your average college student watching their favorite television shows, the bird has his favorite YouTube episodes. More like a preschooler, actually, because this is how he learns to speak and sing. He can mimic people well, actually, and knows how to say and use a few words his previous owner taught him, as well as one phrase I taught him inadvertently, “Birdie Bedtime.” I originally used that phrase first as a signal to teach my parakeets to settle down when they lived in the dorms with me. After a while of repeating the phrase, the birds began to find places to roost before I covered them, signaled by hearing and understanding the phrase. (That’s not to say there weren’t occasional squabbles over the ‘best perches’ on which to roost. Sigh.) Baby has since equated this to “NOPE.” (He uses BIRDIE BEDTIME! In a way that sounds enunciated, to me, like a swear word.) He doesn’t particularly care for bedtime. He enjoys company and being out of the cage way more. Can’t blame him, though. I just wish I got a guaranteed 10 hours of sleep a night, minimum. Shenanigans start at birdie bedtime, too, often at a decibel higher than actually necessary. Basically, the bird is like a child. He’s enjoying whatever it is he’s occupying his time with, and when time runs out? All he wants is FIVE MORE MINUTES!!! (Whining included.)
All craziness aside, my favorite thing that my birds do, when they finally settle down, is sing softly into their feathers. I wish I could get a picture, but I almost never can bring myself to disturb them. They tuck their beaks back under their wing as they roost. The parakeets especially are wicked adorable, singing their video-game-esque trills and whistles with their eyes too heavy to keep open. But Baby? He’ll speak Human, or say words he knows. He’ll keep only one eye open and tilt his head a little before asking, “Whatcha doin’?” beak tucked back into feathers. However, if I answer him — and he does expect an answer — he’ll take the interaction as granting him 5 more minutes before birdie bedtime, and think of more ways to chatter and interact. He always does. And no matter how loud he is, or how many “days off” he has woken me up at the actual crack of dawn — that will always be freakin’ adorable. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.