Over 2 years ago I bought Buddy, a light green conure at a pet store. It was my birthday and I was thinking a lot about suicide. Bought Buddy on impulse. No more thoughts of suicide. Had someone to care for. Last February I bought Max as a companion for Buddy. Much anxiety about the 2 of them getting along. They did, they do. Most of the time. A few weeks before getting Max I got the largest cage I could find from Amazon. 5 feet long! Buddy watched me assemble it at the time and was visibly excited. I believe in giving birds space in the house. I hate seeing birds or any animals confined in tight spaces. EMPATHY. No I would not like to be in a small room all the time.
When I am home, I let the birds fly free. Most of the time. Early on, Max decided that the human was good for rides. WHOOPEE! Bumpity bumpity bumpity. When Buddy was the sole bird here, SHE never went down the hall to where the bathroom and bedrooms are in my mobile home. One day I was sitting on the toilet and I heard a WHOOSH! Of wings and tiny daggers stabbing me in the top of my head.
Yeah Max had decided to follow me and sit on my head and commit suicide by deadly human gas. He made it a habit of following me down that hall. Next day I attached a bird bungie to a towel rack so he could look in the mirror and attack that OTHER bird he saw. Soon Buddy learned to follow Max. Buddy has never been friendly to me. A bit imperious. Oh human! How nice of me to be here for you to feed me. When Buddy and I were a couple, she would fly down and drink my coffee and beer. Hilarious to see her drunk. Flying was fine, landings were funny. When I got Max he would do as Buddy did. At times I would have 2 birds on the rim of a glass of beer fighting over the glass of beer! I have to be careful what they share with me. When I was drinking and eating junk foods (very clean diet as of this writing) I had to watch what I shared with them. Caution. No chocolate, sweets or salty foods. The birds have a habit of following me and watching me when I am eating or cooking something. For example today I cooked a giant pot of soup. Enough to last a week. Buddy and Max kept trying to sample what was near the cutting board. Ok kids here have some cooked beans, rice and lentils. They like it. I was surprised that Buddy likes eggs and some meats. I have imagined they were terrified when I have cooked some birds in the oven. I warn them…. BE GOOD OR ELSE! Every couple weeks I make very rich high fiber pancakes. Enough for 2 weeks. The kids (birds) have a habit of landing on top of my iMac screen and wait for a bit of pancake. It I tear off pieces and hand it to them. The cakes have bird friendly foods such as quinoa, blue berries and chia seeds. They do not so much EAT them as chew it apart. I have a very powerful hand vacuum cleaner near my desk. 😉 This is where I eat. I give them things like sunflower seeds and even yogurt. That was a shock to me one day when Buddy went after my yogurt. Since then ok fine. No harm so far. I had a dog long ago and that dog would be there at every meal. Same with these birds. Birds are sneakier than any dog. Ah the things I yell (then laugh about!) when they try to eat my food when I turn away. Max is a little monster: He has not figured out that my hands are part of ME. To him they are those things to fight and attack! I will be sitting here writing and feel a sharp pain. Look down and there is Max staring defiantly at my fingers. Yeah… going to kill that many headed monster one of these days! Fine Max, bite all you want and summer my screams.
Since I have been laid-off from work I am hyper aware of how WE all interact. I have forbidden areas.I put plastic sheeting and wood in some places to keep the birds out. As I write this, the little bastards are in the kitchen having a weird conversation on the microwave oven. I don’t get it. I ask them often what the thing is about that black box.I suspect it is because it is the food preparation area. I hear bumping noise over there. Max is trying to open a cupboard. They are constantly curious and I applaud them that. More humans should be that way.
I often refer to my birds as, “my kids” – because they ARE like very small children to me. Curious and trying to go places I do not want them to go. GET AWAY FROM THAT ELECTRICAL OUTLET MAX! Buddy flies away and max just looks angry. Defiant. Fuck you Max! Max will then fly onto my shoulder and be cool then maybe go for revenge and try to put a notch in my ear. One of my worst fears is my kids will go into a place where I cannot rescue them. Such as the furnace area. When they fly down THAT way I try to herd them to a safe place. Hey you kids! Go to the bathroom!
One Sided Dialogues
A moment ago I got up from the desk and had a one way dialogue with the birds. I was looking up at them where they were perched on a large coat and hat rack I had made. Cross shaped with a bench. Buddy used-to try to perch on the hooks so I just converted it to another of several playgrounds. Bird toys hanging from it with perches. They had been flying back and forth to the microwave and I had had it! ENOUGH! I stood there and warned them that one more time… and in the cage they go! They gave me their full attention not caring. No idea what I was saying until they did it again and I walked toward them saying… “CAGE” over and over. Buddy figured that one out a while ago. It’s a bizarre game we play. They show their independence and defiance by squawking and flying around a bit then Buddy flies into the cage and Max probably gives me a few bird “fuck you’s” and enters the cage and they both bitch me out. I sit here chuckling. I love it. I love how spirited they are!
I wonder if (and hope they do not!) my neighbors here me yelling, “NO!” at the birds telling them not to go here or there. I probably sound totally insane by yelling at them. Threatening them. Pleading and begging. Most of all LAUGHING! I laugh at how I sound. I laugh at my one sided dialogues. How insane it must sound. My cursing at them then thinking: “Oh shit! Careful what you say they may learn those bad words and shout them back!” I have lively conversations with the birds. I IMAGINE them talking back to me. I will say something and then try to imagine what a MAX or BUDDY bird voice would sound like. It is amusing to myself. I live alone but with the birds I do not play alone. Let me contradict myself here: I do not live alone. I have 2 room mates. They are my little sanity saviors despite how insane I must sound to an outsider as I talk to them. I think of how things would be NOW if I did not have my kids to care for. Talk to and yell at. So much to THEM is about PLAY. Something humans need to do more of. YES I swing at the birds to move them off something but I make DAMN SURE I AM A FEW WING BEATS BEHIND THEM! They know I will not hurt them. When they are very defiant double teaming me, chase them with a broom to get them into the cage! There are 2 women living across the street from me. We mutually ignore each other. I suspect they have seen the crazy bird man walking around with a broom chasing his birds. Fortunately the Bird Cops have not come to my door about bird abuse. My kids have a good life. I have tree branches in and outside their cage. I give them all kinds of food and they do not get fat BECAUSE I let them fly free.
The stupidest things people have asked me about my birds is, “Do you let your birds outside to fly?” And a variation on that of, “why don’t you let your birds outside to play?” Sometimes stupidity amazes me.
Yeah I clean up after them. OFTEN. I tell people that everyone needs a hobby and my hobby is cleaning up bird shit. I have it down to a very efficient routine. No emotion most of the time. A lot of HUMOR. Such as when Max shits on me. I have found that my birds are like humans often are: They need to take a BIG SHIT in the morning to start the day off. Example: Sitting here at the computer reading the news. Buddy and or Max will perch atop the computer and eat something. Often they will cut loose and OH MY GOD HOW COULD SUCH A SMALL CREATURE SHIT SO MUCH! It is funny to see them strain and wiggle and cut loose. I have papers on the desk and will use toilet paper to wipe it off. They have an interesting NO SHIT HERE policy with some places where they perch. Such as my draperies . I will often watch them to see if they are going to do their wiggle as strain. Yesterday I spent 2 hours cleaning their cage and replacing papers under their cage. People sometimes ask me if I can smell bird shit. ONLY if there Is a lot of it. I often replace the papers on the floor. If bird were meat eaters they would stink a lot. The thing to do is not let it collect.
I am grateful for my children. I feel we saved each other. Someone told me that Conure birds live a long time. In that case, I need to live a long time to care for them. 🙂