It’s that time again: time for a holiday with Dylan a.k.a. “Parrot-sitting”. It is Day 3 and we are settling into a workable routine that suits us both – well, me, anyway. This African Grey Parrot is now seventeen years old, and he usually comes to my home when his owner goes on a holiday with her entire family. This year I am staying at his house. Well, he may not be a “he” but I need a pronoun and “it” is not appropriate. Nor is “she’ because if ‘he’ were a ‘she’, he’d be nicer to me!
His latest party piece is to creep across the floor to nip my ankles, hooking his powerful beak into my trouser hem or the top of my shoe. Now I can’t have that. Quite apart from the holes in my clothes, there is a strong probability that I will step back onto him.The damage to him would most likely be fatal – I am one heavy lady. Worse still it’s the potential damage to ME if he makes me fall.
So why is he on the floor? Well, his owner gives Dylan great deal of freedom outside his cage, so I compromise by allowing him out at breakfast time.
First we do breakfast. I prepare the table and place my bowl of cereal on the plastic protector alongside a bowl of titbits for Dylan. Then I open his cage door and he flies over. Parrots are very sociable and graze in flocks on the forest floor, so he loves to eat when he sees me eating. When I was finished this morning, I put him on the floor to continue wandering about. His owner allows him to perch on the kitchen door, where he will stay for hours happily observing all the goings-on. However, I will never succeed in reaching him down from the top of the door. Yes, I know that I could always do what the owner does and stand on a stool but descending from a stool while balancing an angry parrot on my hand is a recipe for disaster. While tidying up in the kitchen, I placed Dylan on the back of one of the children’s chairs to keep him out of mischief. He got bored and flew down to wander over to The Sideboard. A piece of woodwork just right for shredding along the bottom edge. That parrot is so crafty: he creeps closer and closer keeping one eye on me. Then just before he strikes he says, “Stop!” And if I quickly scold back, “stop!” he retreats, looks shameful then repeats the procedure. Eventually he needs to be returned to his cage. If I place my left hand over his head I can command, “Up, Dylan! Up!” and he’ll step right onto my other hand which I am holding close to him. No, not today! He ducked and scuttled beneath the dining table table, out of reach. I had to retreat to the kitchen so that his curiosity made him leave his sanctuary to follow me into the kitchen. There I was successful in picking him up and returning him to his cage