Friday, March 09, 2007

This post is for the BIRDS...
Hot times a-brewin' at the Parakeet Ranch!

My parakeets are dysfunctional and co-dependent. They've gotta be. Assuming that Parakeets are actually capable of having any kind of conscious behavior pattern to begin with. Bonnie and Clyde are their names, and in Bonnie's case, the name truly fits. I put a little tray in the cage, filled with gravel, (which birds eat for digestive purposes)...and she began throwing gravel all over the cage floor, after which she uprooted the tray from its mounting on the cage bars. And...after each gravel toss, she would look right at me. "I dare ya to do something about it", she must have been thinking (if birds can think), "I double-dog dare ya!!!" And in a moment of frustration, I picked up a magazine, whacking the side of the cage, and I actually found myself yelling at a dumb bird, "don't DO that!!! WHY do you DO that???" And, in an instant, I became my parents. So who is dumber, a bird who can't think, or a bird owner who yells at birds, expecting them to appreciate him? Now I know how I made my Dad feel. Time after time after time after relentless time. And, I'm not yelling at them anymore. They're just dumb birds, after all. And evidently, I'm not that much higher in the food chain myself.

Little Clyde is Bonnie's ultra-neurotic partner. Hey, if you had to live with Bonnie, you'd be neurotic too. Clyde is constantly cajoling, whispering, softly chirping, loudly singing, squawking and screeching, flying from perch to perch, and pecking at Bonnie for attention. And oftentimes his pecking has resulted in Bonnie giving him a good poke-smack to the chest, sending him to the cage floor. And he gets up, flies to the nearest perch and begins the whole sordid routine all over again. Chirp, squawk, whistle, shriek, BAM!!! On the cage floor again. Meantime, Bonnie thinks she owns all of the food I put in the cage. For BOTH of them. I put two of everything, on opposite sides of the cage, figuring Bonnie can't be everywhere all the time. Clyde will eat on one side of the cage. Bonnie will come over and chase him away from the food. Clyde goes to where Bonnie WAS, to eat there. She comes over and chases him away again. Then Clyde gets mad, squawks loudly, and flies higgle-piggledy from perch to perch, squawking some more and poking at Bonnie some more. So when Bonnie is eating, Clyde will approach her, gently chirping as if to say, "can I have a bite, please?" and she ignores him. So he taps her on the shoulder and chirps a little more loudly, "c'mon, I'm STARVING here", but to no avail as Bonnie buries her head deeper in the seed dish. Finally he SQUAWKS and pokes her harder, and BAM!!! There goes Clyde to the cage floor again.

So Clyde gets up from the cage floor, jumps up to the nearest perch, smooths out his feathers, and goes back over to where Bonnie is eating. He then jumps up on the cage wall above her, wanting to eat what she's eating. Maybe he just wants to DO something with her, for he really does love her. And she ignores him. And then, there'll be times when all of a sudden, both 'keets are suspiciously silent. And there they are, preening each others' feathers, paying close attention to the head feathers (well, it's hard for a bird to scratch itself there), and they go thru a "kissing" activity. It's how parakeets show love. They regurgitate food and mouth-pass it to the other. It's a bird thing. And it all smacks of co-dependency to me, but what do I know? Much comment has been made as of late, concerning the role of the Male in TV commercials. Basically, the know-everything guy is made to look like a horse's patoot because the female knows more, and then he just goes back and sleeps on the couch while everyone snickers at how stupid Dad is. It's certainly that way in this Parakeet relationship. (Again, if Parakeets are smart enough to even KNOW if they're in a relationship.) I have given up trying to train them. It can't be done. They'd been together two years before I got them. So they're set in their ways. Plus, birds are harder to train if they're with another bird, especially if that other bird is like Bonnie. And maybe both of them think of me as such: "Well, we've sure got that big overgrown blob of humanity wrapped around our beaks!" (Assuming, again, that birds can think. The jury's still out on that one.)

This is not an actual photo of my parakeets, but the one with white wings looks like Bonnie, and the other one closely resembles Clyde. And don't let those benign bird-expressions fool you. They are obviously plotting how they're going to one day take over the world.

So, I feed 'em, I enjoy 'em when they're singing, and I resignedly fix whatever mayhem they have caused inside the cage. "They are what they are", after all. And Bonnie will preen herself for hours (that must be a woman thing), and all the while, Clyde will whistle, chirp, and even get into it by bobbing his head up and down while singing to whatever's playing on the radio that I leave on for them. I clean their cage and replenish their food and buy them parakeet toys whenever I go to the store. Maybe I'M the one who's co-dependent. And, as far as I know, pet shops don't refer pet owners to any parakeet-counseling programs. Maybe I should get a bird with "stripes" (are there any?) and it could serve as 'referee', sending Bonnie and Clyde to opposite corners of the cage whenever things get wild. It's worth a shot.

A habit I've changed: When I'm in a restaurant and I'm reading a paper, I now take the paper home with me, to line the bird cage with. A good thing to do with bad news!


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