Thursday, April 8, 2010
Bill and I love to spend these ravishingly warm spring mornings birding together. It's my favorite thing to do practically in the whole world. I try to imagine what life would be like if I were married to someone with only a passing interest in birds, someone who would respond to my shout of "Gnatcatcher in the prune hedge!" with "That's nice, honey..." instead of roaring up the stairs to see. I can't imagine it. I feel thankful to have a mate who loves so many of the same things I do: music, the outdoors, birds, writing, travel, (yardwork), bizarre humor. May we never lose sight of how rare that really is.
We were out on the deck this morning watching tree swallows circling overhead when we heard a crash from Charlie's private room, a glassed-in room off the studio. "Chuck's raisin' some hell in there!" I laughed, figuring he'd shoved a spray bottle of Glass Plus off his counter or something. He likes to keep his countertops clear. He's always up to something, rumbling around in there.
Bill being packed off to work with his lunch and a kiss, I turned to morning chores, going in to collect the bird dishes. I'm keeping a little female American goldfinch who I found under our feeder on March 16 with a broken hand, probably courtesy of our resident sharp-shinned hawk. She's all healed up now, as good as she'll get after I taped her wing so it would heal mostly straight. I knew when I saw the injury to that delicate hand joint that she'd never fly again. It's the same injury that kept Vanna, a Savannah sparrow, in my studio for 17 years. Because I'm not up for having another longterm boarder, Pippi goes to her forever home at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History tomorrow. (No, she's NOT going to be a specimen--she's going to live in a spacious outdoor aviary with other Ohio birds. How could you think that??)
Pippi was fine. She puts up with Charlie sitting on top of her cage and shredding her papers. They're friends, and he'll miss her when she leaves.
Charlie, on the other hand, was up to absolutely no good.
I've been using a lot of note cards lately to send thank-you notes to all the kind people who donated to the Zick Health Fund. Charlie thought he'd personalize them.
This is what a parrot in the house is good for. Practically good for nothing.
Over the course of the early morning, Charles had completely unloaded my cabinet.
Call it nest excavation behavior, slightly misdirected.
Oh, he was soooo proud of his handiwork, sputtering and squawking and hollering in glee.
What do you do with a macaw who's been so very, very bad? You ask him to step onto your hand, put him on his perch stand, kiss him with a very loud smack (which he imitates at the same time) on his soft warm cheek skin, tell him he's a horrible blight on your life, a veritable nest of vipers, and laugh. Then you kiss him again and get down and salvage what you can while he tries his best to poop on you from above.
What else can you do?
I trust that these last bunch of posts have shown that I am no Pollyanna; no, I don't always find the good in every situation, nor do I reliably bob back up smiling when life rains on me. But even though he destroyed a bunch of really nice note cards and some photos, Charlie did me a huge favor. Among the things in the box he unloaded was a check register that includes my first deposit on his purchase, made on December 27, 1988: $250. Ack. I'd thought I bought him in 1986. So we have at least two more years than I'd thought to enjoy him, and he turns 22 this summer. When I think about having paid $750 for that bird...sometimes I think the breeder should've paid ME to take him! Most of the time I think that. If you're thinking about buying a parrot, don't. Adopt one, rescue one, but don't feed the breeding industry by buying one.
Besides that fond memory of having scraped together $750 in three installments to pay for him, he alerted me to a forgotten stash of precious print photographs that need to be shared. Brace yourself for cuteness:
Concrete evidence that, as parrots go, Charlie is a very good parrot indeed. This is Miss Phoebe, circa 1998.
Charles and Phoebe were the best of friends before Liam arrived, when she needed a pet she could cuddle and love.
He taught her gentleness, even with his immense power. She is gentle to this day.
Don't miss the little bunny I've drawn on her hand...
Even I look at these photos and marvel, but they were that close. I couldn't get near Phoebe when she and Charlie were playing. She was all his.
And he is a good, good parrot, a very naughty one, but dear.