Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Lump, the Parrot, and the Very Black Cat

Quicksilver the African Grey Parrot was bored. Not only was he bored, he was tired and out of sorts. A tired bored out of sorts parrot is much the same as an overtired two year old human. They fret. They fuss. They just can't find a way to get comfortable and therefore fall asleep which is what they really need to feel better.

In a parrot, or at least in this parrot, his fussing isn't whimpering and wiggling, it consists first of saying he wants up insistently, frequently and loudly. Okay we can do that, but wanting up to go where is the problem. None of the places are satisfying. Now remember satisfaction isn't going to be anything besides sleeping but he doesn't know that and he'll want to attempt all his different perches, ferried by the human to see if it helps. It doesn't. The human will eventually tire of being the ferry boat, put him on a perch, give him a toy, make sure he has food and water and then with determination attempt to go do whatever it was the human was attempting to get done in the first place. Still unsatisfied, the parrot graduates to making all the noises that ordinarily bring humans in a household in at a hustle ---dinging like the timer on the oven, the ping of the microwave, but best of all when all else fails there is the maddening beep of the smoke alarm which with duration increases in volume and pitch. I begin to understand how the Red-tail Hawk parents might feel about the incessant begging of eyasses anytime their little ones lay eyes on them even when their crops are stuffed full. One can't win.

Eventually the human, not being fooled by any of these, but driven a bit round the bend by the beeping, will arrive exasperated and say,"What do you want?" Silver will then get frantic eyed, listen to the human's question, begin beeping some more while playing the pathetic card. What is the pathetic card? Bringing his wings an inch from his body and doing bitty little begging flaps like a chick.

This doesn't happen frequently but yesterday evening was a dandy. When finally put into his cage in a vain attempt to get him to nod off, instead of mumbling to himself while standing on his perch when getting ready to sleep, he climbed round and round the cage on the bars while running his beak across said bars, much in the way that prisoners created a racket by swiping their tin cups across their bars in old movies. He'd worked himself into an anxiety attack. And he was quickly giving me one.

Okay, okay! I went in, got him out of his cage, went into the dining room which was dark, though the open patio curtains allowed some illumination from the park lights, put him on his perch, and was turning around when I realized that Pyewacket, the cat, was making strange little mrrp, mrrp, noises with her face plastered against the glass. Hmmm. AND Silver had suddenly clammed up and was staring fixedly through the glass himself.

What was I to do? I went to the glass and peered out too. Wow, there is a big lump a few feet from the door by the glider that wasn't there earlier. Gosh. I flip the back light switch.

The lump continues his business. It isn't Fluffy the opossum this time it's a chunky raccoon who doesn't seem a bit fazed by the sudden illumination.

I'd dumped the Nutri-berri remnants, a seed and fruit parrot food, out of Silver's bowls for the birds earlier in the day, and raccoon seems to be finding them delicious
Raccoon has begun vigorously digging in the snow and is chewing something which seems to stick in his teeth periodically which must be dislodged by a paw.
Pyewackit now having backup from a human and a parrot, begins mrrp-ing much more loudly.

Raccoon is finally disturbed but instead of taking off, takes the offensive and heads for the glass. Whoa! Pye scrunches down a little but holds her ground.
Oh my! It's Rocky Raccoon. Complete with a split ear and irregular "fingers". We stare at him and he stares at us. Either feeling we've been properly menaced or that we're harmless--

...he turns around and goes back to chewing. Pyewackit has decided to stop mrrp-ing, take a low profile, and stare at him sideways.

Silver on the other hand has become, very very still--and blessedly quiet. He is giving me a "You see that, right?" look.

Then a change of posture which says, "No really, I think that something absolutely must be done." But still not a sound.

Rocky being otherwise occupied, Pye sits back up. Silver turns his head to keep one eye on me to check for my reaction and one eye on Rocky. Not having watched much Raccoon behavior, in Silver's mind Rocky's behavior is likely a big mystery and he truly does bear watching. But Silver has to keep one eye on me as well, because he will take his cue as how to feel about and react to Rocky from me. Pywackit doesn't even get a glance. Every bird knows that you can't trust cats for that sort of thing at all.

Rocky has switched food excavation areas. More eating, and mock washing motions even though there isn't any water right there.

More digging.

More chewing. Rocky seems to have been in a relatively recent fight. He has two areas on his rump where the hair is missing. Raccoons are known to have interactions with coyotes, domestic dogs, and sometimes other raccoons.

I'm not sure why, but Rocky suddenly takes notice again. Silver says, "Wanna go cage" sort of under his breathe.
Whatever the issue, Rocky begins walking further towards the far side of the yard. Silver repeats a little louder, "Wanna go cage!"
And wonder of wonder, Silver really does want to go to his cage. He immediately settles in, says, "Brush your teeth" to me, sends a couple kiss noises my way, and his eyelids almost immediately begin to close.
Now if Rocky could only be trained to appear whenever Silver is having trouble going to sleep...
Donegal Browne

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