Some of the following is true and some isn’t but it will seem familiar to many Parrot carers.
How to Stuff a Parrot for Christmas lunch
Ingredients: Hot coffee, One turkey, green beans, chestnut stuffing, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, hot rolls, mincemeat pie and whipped cream.
Get up early and first drink strong coffee; it's going to be a long day. I’ve told my three visiting kids and Wal, husband to have a long lie in or go for a walk. I’ll do it all on my own. It’s lonely in the kitchen so why don't I bring the three pet birds in from the bird room (where they’re supposed to live) to keep me company.
Bring in birds and dispose them around the kitchen to watch what’s happening. Artha and Casper, the Greys, are investigating a monkey nut. Artha and Casper are older now and understand ‘Get off.’ Benni, the Blue and Gold Macaw, is two years old. He can understand more than he lets on. This will be a doddle.
Remove Casper from kitchen counter and return him to perch. The stuffing was prepared last night. Take it out of the fridge, remove Artha from edge of stuffing bowl and return her to perch. Place the stuffed turkey in the roasting pan on the kitchen counter, and remove Artha from edge of pan and return her to perch. Have another cup of coffee - might steady my nerves.
Artha and Casper start to squabble. Artha has taken the nut and flown to the ceiling rope. Benni is sitting on his swing. He has a faraway look in his eye. Can’t be anything serious. Casper has stuck his head like a vulture into turkey cavity. Wipe his head feathers, return him to perch, and re-stuff turkey.
Prepare cranberry sauce, discard berries (accidentally?) flung to the floor by whom? Cannot have been Benni because his wings dislodge so much air you feel the breeze as he passes.
Peel a kilo of potatoes, remove Artha from edge of potato bowl from which she is drinking and return her to perch. Brew another pot of coffee and while it’s brewing, clean up the torn filter. Pry coffee bean from Casper’s beak. Have another cup of coffee and remove Casper from kitchen counter and return him to perch.
When time comes to serve the meal, I place roasted turkey on a large platter, and cover beak marks with strategically placed sprigs of parsley. Put mashed potatoes into serving bowl, rewhip at last minute to conceal beak marks and claw prints. No one had touched the runner beans.
Put rolls in raffia basket, remove Benni from side of basket and return him to perch. I let him keep the roll in his beak (wholemeal anyway). Remove beaked rolls, serve what's left. Set a stick of butter out on the counter to soften -- think better and return it to the refrigerator.
Wipe down counter to remove mashed potato claw tracks. Remove Artha from kitchen counter and return her to perch. Cut the mince pie into serving slices. Wipe whipped cream off Artha’s beak and place large dollops of remaining whipped cream on pie slices.
Whole slices are then served to guests, beaked-out portions reserved for me and Wal. Place two Greys and Benni inside cage and lock door. Call Wal and family in from the sitting room.
‘Hope you weren’t too bored on your own,’ Wal asks.
‘You’re never bored with a Parrot, I reply.
While we’re eating the meal, we hear loud whistles and calls from locked cage, ‘Want some.’
We Parrot owners are masochists because:
We adopt pets that refuse to sleep past sun up, who scream at the top of their lungs when they are happy and scream at the top of their lungs when they are unhappy. They have tin openers in front of their faces and learn to speak English so that they can argue with us.
Some useful axioms
There is no such thing as a small Conure - just Macaws that have not had a growth spurt yet.
Remember when you come to my house that my birds live here; you are just a guest.
Parrotonoia – fear that the Parrot is up to no good.
Silence is golden unless you own a Parrot then silence is highly suspicious.
Telephone rings. I pick up: ‘Who’s calling?’
Artha on my shoulder complains: ‘Who is it? Who is it?’
Caller, ‘Can I speak to Wal?’
Me: ‘He isn’t in, who is calling, please?’
Artha: Who is it? (Mad laugh) Who is it?
Caller: ‘I can hear him in the background.’
Me: ‘Well, he isn’t here. It’s the Parrot.’
Caller hangs up. (I’m not the only person to whom this has happened.)
I believe, although it is controversial, that mixed species can get along. My friend Alison has a Staffie called Rex and an Amazon called Moreton. The washing machine broke down. It was still under guarantee.
She called the company. They arranged the visit for Monday. She is a doctor’s receptionist. She left the key under the mat and a note for the repair man. You can talk to Rex but on no account speak to the Parrot. Make yourself a cup of tea if you want
The repair man arrived and set to work. The ferocious looking dog stationed herself on the mat and did not move a muscle. The repair took twice was long as Jim had estimated. It wasn’t helped by the Parrot’s squawks, shrieks and singing over and over the first two lines of Old Macdonald had a farm ….
Finally, exasperated, Jim turned to the cage and yelled, ‘Shut up, you noisy, ugly bird.’ (He used a worse word than noisy.)
‘Go get him Rex,’ said Moreton.
Out and about in Colchester - our home town
In pet shop: assistant to customer: “You want to buy a quiet Parrot? Sorry, why didn’t you say so? Hurry up, the toy shop closes in half an hour.”
A pedestrian sees Artha on my shoulder and asks, “Is it real?” I always want to reply but I’m too polite: “Oh, good. You can see him too. I thought that I was the only one.”
My Parrots have answered some of your frequent questions.
No. You cannot expect me to clear up after myself.
No. I prefer your cake to that broccoli
No. I will not be quiet. I enjoy noise; your headache is no concern of mine.
No. You may not sleep after dawn. Sunrise is the correct time to wake up.
Yes. I did have to learn THAT word.
Yes. Entropy IS my middle name.
Yes. I prefer chewing furniture to silly plastic toys.
Ten reasons for biting you
1. You changed your hair, your glasses or your nail polish
2. You wore a hat of a funny colour
3. You touched my cage without permission
4. You tried to fill the food bowl
5. You moved too fast so were obviously a monster
6. You looked at me funny
7. You have a mole that needs removing
8. You asked for step up with the wrong hand
9. You asked me to go to bed which is NOT acceptable
10. You kissed that horrible person while I was on your shoulder
Find out more about the reasons for biting here.
Ten reasons why non-Parrot friends call me weird
1. Tropical fruits on my shopping list are for the birds.
2. The play stand cost more than my winter coat.
3. The bird room has the best view in the house.
4. I bake more birdie bread than cakes for the family.
5. I buy newspapers more as cage liners than to follow current news.
6. My children are adults, so why are there jars of baby food in the larder?
7. How can I think a featherless baby Parrot is cute when it is hideous?
8. No insurance policy will pay for chewed up furniture.
9. I won’t weed out the dandelions because the Parrots love them.
In answer to my critics.... the insurance company DID pay when Casper chewed up my hearing aid.
How house rules get adapted
1. The birds live in the aviary or bird room but not in the house rooms
(Adaptation) OK, birds are allowed in certain rooms.
(Adaptation) OK, birds are allowed in all the rooms.
2. Birds in rooms are only allowed on designated perches.
(Adaptation)OK, birds are allowed on certain pieces of furniture.
(Adaptation) OK Birds are allowed on any furniture.
3. Birds are not allowed on the bed.
(Adaptation)OK birds are allowed on the bed by invitation only.
(Adaptation) OK birds are allowed on the bed.
4. Dot and Wal must ask permission to sleep in the bed. (This rule never got adapted.)
The Parrot’s Prayer
Our feathers which are glorious
Parrot be my name
My mess is done
My human come
To clean poop, bring food and scratch me
Give us this day our nuts and fruit
And skip the boring pellets you deem necessary
And also bring toys so we may leave your curtains alone
And lead us not into the veterinary office
But release us from cages
For yours is the kingdom
That I will chew and destroy for the next seventy years
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