Allow me to explain this. As you might know, I, along with half the population of the United States am rather active on Facebook. And I don’t cheat at it either by posting Tweets from Twitter as my status. I have found it to be tremendously satisfying because FB has allowed me to get out some really good information about good parrot care and and nutrition as well as attempting to get people to lighten up a bit about their birds. So it has turned out to be a rather nicely melded and synergistic relationship between “Parrot Nation” and Facebook. Not long ago I got a private email on FB from Jenni. Jenni has birds, reads my blog, reads my column and BT features and that’s really all I know about her other than she is very sweet and very good with her birds. A few years ago I wrote an essay that has been making the rounds and simply refuses to die, which is a good thing I guess. It was one of the first things I wrote about birds and to be honest, it’s not a bad “stand alone” piece. It got picked up by Marcia Jud Kwarsick who has a very fine African Grey named Einstein. Marcia writes a blog about Einstein and she wrote to me asking if she could publish my essay titled, “What’s the Point?” As things manage to happen, Jenni was at Marcia’s blog, and read my essay. About ten times. As a result, Jenni emailed me with this and it was so damned good, I asked Jenni if I could post it here. She agreed and so here it is. It’s simply wonderful!
I read and re-read (probably about 10 times now) your “What’s the Point” essay on Einstein’s page. Like you, I find myself talking more people OUT of getting a bird, especially at work. One gal said she wanted to get a parrot, but she didn’t know if her kids would take care of it–the same kids who wouldn’t take care of a cat. Another co-worker just wanted an animal who could talk… Uhhh no. So I talked to him about the hours I spend cleaning my house, or trying to keep wood bits from toys from under my feet, and I told him about how I have been “out with friends” after work precisely 3 times since our household grew to 4 parrots, back in October. I don’t like to leave all 4 alone with my husband for very because that’s not fair to him. If I go out to my mom’s place (about 2 hours away in Northwestern Nebraska) I end up bringing at least 2 of them with me.
I think the next time I meet someone who wants birds because “they are cool” I shall invite them over after work for a two hour retreat. The advertising writes itself! “Come on over when the house is a mess (breakfast mix dried on the wall like cement, toy parts and pony beads scattered all over) and the birds are raucous from being in the bird room while we are at work. Without the benefit of earplugs (we have 3 conures after all), one lucky individual will get to experience the joy of being pooped on without benefit of warning, the yelling while the Sund chop is warming in the microwave, the joy of catching the kitten and shutting her away in another room, and the newly updated wardrobe that includes new air holes! While they try to prevent the sun conure from climbing down their shirt and the green cheek from picking up and dumping her food dish to watch it fall, the lucky person will want to wear steel toed shoes home from work as the blue crowned conure chases toes and will render even the toughest leather shoes as sandals. Want to go barefoot? Did the African grey just bite your toes? Yeah, she’ll do that. Care to eat? As long as you don’t mind the green cheek conure flying to you for a sample or the African grey shaking your whole plate for some food while whining for a bite, sure! Go ahead and try to eat. Going to the restroom? Grab a parrot and go. Don’t even bother trying to talk to anyone else as you will constantly be interrupted. Don’t forget: this is an ENRICHING EXPERIENCE that will change your life forever, so e-mail now to reserve your night at the Parker house! If I don’t reply, it’s because the green cheek ran off with some keys from my laptop again.”
Now, don’t get me wrong: I LOVE my birds. I have more patience than I ever thought I ever would and I eat a lot healthier, and I have saved oodles of money making my own bird toys. I work at a place that manufactures and packages medications, such as Excedrin and SlowFe. From the cardboard rolls that the film and/or foil come on to the lubrication on the machine, EVERYTHING is food grade. I dumpster dive here all the time, especially the cardboard rolls, which can be cut into rings the size of birdie bagels. Your ideas have inspired me to look at trash as not just trash, but with feelings of “What could I do with this?” I rescued some phone books a few weeks ago, and they are totally gone now thanks to the birds.
Most of the people I have warned against birds didn’t take cost into account. I think I read this somewhere: if you purchase a bird from a breeder, prepare to spend one to one-and-a-half times that amount on a cage, and about half the amount the bird cost on startup toys and food. I warn people that parrots need about as much interaction time as a human child, and that most birds reach an emotional and cognitive age of about two-three years old (in human years) and live 25+ years with proper treatment. I ask if they are prepared to live with a 2-3 year old for a few decades. I have even offered to let a few of them “birdsit” for the weekend: one coworker in particular would make an excellent bird person, I think. She knows small birds as a friend of hers has a lovebird. I offered to let her watch the sun conure for a whole weekend, after the two of them meet a few times.
If said co-worker ever takes me up on my offer, maybe it will give me a whole weekend to look for my missing laptop keys. 😀
Take care and have a great day!!