Friday, September 17, 2010

A Parrot Maxim for the Day

Parrots who fly up into trees and won't return to the fist when called...

...end up having to wait in the car sometimes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


A globe of sunset...

...and half a moon.
Hi Folks,
Haven't had a major glitch with Blogger for awhile but have been having an intermittant one now for some time.
Hope to be back on a daily basis very soon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quicksilver the African Grey Flies Away--Sort Of

It started when I noticed that the Fleabane was starting to take over the Milkweed and the Wild Violets. Should go pull that. Silver saw I was putting on my shoes and sunhat, and began chanting, Wanna go outside. Wanna go outside!" Fine. His wings were clipped about a month and a half ago. There's a breeze but so far he's not been able to gain any altitude. I put him on my shoulder and head for the flower bed.

I grab a large Fleabane, give a tug, it won't come, I pull harder and it jerks out. Silver startled by the jerky movement, leaps off my shoulder flapping. I stand up and turn around expecting him to be on the ground maybe 10 or 20 feet away, having flown safely to the ground. Hmmm. Where'd he go?

I look all over the ground that's visible. No Silver.

Could he have gamboled off into the front yard in those few moments? I start to worry. I check the lawn in the front yard, behind the woodpile, and over the hedge. No Silver.

I check the ground between the fleabane and the walking track in the park.
No Silver.

Now I'm really worried.

I start calling his name. Nothing. The Spruce was just a few feet away when he took off from my shoulder. I crawl under the bottom boughs and look up with the boughs backlit. Still nothing. Now I'm coming a bit unglued. WHERE IS HE???

I check the Maple near the Fleabane.

And those near the garage, the whole time calling his name and walking around. Nothing. Okay what about a few of our call and response silly parrot numbers. I cluck like a chicken and then wait. His usual response to that is, "I'm poultry." Nothing.
I make a ticking sound with my tongue. Does he respond with I'm a clock? Not a chance.
Okay, that isn't working. I call to the sky, "Can you count? One, two, three, four, five, six?" Zip. The neighbors must think I'm barking mad.

Did he go AWOL, Over the hill, in order to attract and entertain the walkers on the track in the park? Nada.

I look at the back Spruce and into the neighbors tress. I can't see a thing. I decide to head to the front yard for another look. All the time watching for hawks. Yesterday, I saw a young Red-tail come out of the park with such a chubby ground squirrel that he was struggling to get any lift.
WAIT? Was that Silver whistling behind me? I whip around and start walking and calling his name in hopes he'll start calling mine. Nope.
I turn back and walk the other direction--is that another whistle? Ah, we seem to be playing Hot and Cold. He whistles when I start to go wrong.

I start heading for the back Spruce, then curve toward the garden. Sharp whistle. I curve back, walk past the Spruce and check the neighbor's maple. I hear, "Want cheese." Look up and there he is, peering down at me. The little jerk.

Oh man, he is really up there! He must have caught the breeze just right under his wings and then flapped like a maniac. "Silver want down?" I try hopefully. He chuckles merrily. I have an urge to throttle him.
A parrot that starts flying around outside tends to go into flight euphoria. They become so exuberant and are having such a great time, they just take off and often get lost as they've not paying a bit of attention as to where they've been going. I have to admit, if I suddenly found myself flying through the sky, I might very well suffer from it myself. Thank goodness he isn't truly flighted.
I head for the garage and the metal roofing ladder. I drag it out and extend it. I lean it against the tree and start climbing. I'm hoping that I'll get up there and either he'll come to me and step up or I can shimmy along the branch, get to him and he'll step up onto my hand.

"Here Sweetie, come here, want up?" He turns around and heads for the other end of the branch. Bird you are pushing your luck.

I start to scoot along the branch and he gambols even further in the opposite direction. I look down at the branch. Wait just a minute. This branch isn't looking all the healthy. I weigh maybe 96 pounds in clothes and shoes. Which isn't all that much for a grown human but I'm thinking it's a LOT for this branch.

I stop. He turns around. Stalemate. As you can see we're pretty high up and I'd hate to ride the branch to the ground from here.
Time for plan B, whatever that is.
What now? Crap. I need another person to spook him this direction with something so I can get him. Ah ha! I do happen to have my phone in my back pocket.

I wonder if my cousin Carol's grandson is out of school yet. Poor Carol, she's always getting the weirdest phone calls from me. I start punching numbers.
"Hello Carol. Is Cole with you?"
"Yes, we just stopped to pick up milk. Why?"

"Ah, well...I'm up in this tree..."
"You're up in a TREE???"
"Yes, up in a tree, Silver's up here too and I'm trying to get him down. Do you think that you guys could stop by on your way home for a few minutes and help me?"

Silver in the meantime is having a grand time in the tree comfortably preening his feathers. Pleased as pie with himself. He now has company, me, and life is wonderful.

Carol says it will be a few minutes and then they'll be over.
I look around. The view is pretty spectacular. A lovely breeze ruffles the leaves.
I was just thinking the other day that it had been forever since I climbed a tree. Climbing trees being one of my favorite pursuits in my salad days. It is pretty wonderful up here.
Come to think of it, without Silver, I might never have climbed a tree again in my life. Perhaps I should thank him instead of contemplating parroticide.
Photo by Carol Studebaker
Carol and Cole arrive. Silver stares cockily down at them.
Photo by Carol Studebaker
I ask Cole to go hunt around in the garage for something long to poke the branch behind Silver with in hopes of herding him my way. Cole heads for the garage and make another attempt at, "Silver up. Come on sweetie. Want up?"
I am up, you silly woman. I'm more up than I've been in a very long time.
He doesn't even look at me.
Photo by Carol Studebaker
He does a little more comfy preening. The stuff Cole can find in the garage is too short to get Silver's attention so we decide he'll take the ladder down, take it to the other end of the branch and see if he can menace Silver a little with it.

Photo by Carol Studebaker
Cole starts bobbling the ladder and lo and behold Silver starts coming toward my hand.

Photo by Carol Studebaker
Got 'em! I clamp my thumb down on the toes I'm holding, so he doesn't decide to hop off, and start scooting toward the spot where the ladder will reappear so we can get down.
Photo by Carol Studebaker
The ladder clangs against the tree. Silver startles, pulls one foot loose, I've still got two toes but he's flapping madly. Then he leans down and clamps down on my thumb with his beak. He's momentarily hysterical not mean. He's frightened and freaking out. I let go. He flies down to the ground, settles his feathers, and takes a deep breathe. He's fine but my thumb is bleeding.
Photo by Carol Studebaker
Cole foots the ladder for me and I take the slower than flying or falling method to the ground
Photo by Carol Studebaker
Silver steps onto my hand readily from the ground. I tell him how upset I was when I couldn't find him earlier. Ordinarily he'd say he was sorry about then but to tell you the truth, today-- I don't think he was paying all that much attention to me but rather was thinking very hard about how he might get himself (and me) back into a tree as soon as possible.
Donegal Browne
P.S. Back to young hawks and migration soon.