On occasion, I look around and realize that for the most part, my entire current existence revolves around my Greys. I schedule my flying around them. I have friends that are pretty much on call to look after them when I am out of town.

If my birds are in a rotten mood, so am I. If they are grumpy or loud, there I am. I get upset when they don’t finish their dinner. And I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time sweeping, vacuuming, spot-cleaning poop and changing papers in the bottom of their cages. I have to think about keeping newspapers in stock. I don’t have newspaper delivery so I’m always on the lookout for local community newspapers which fit conveniently.


My screened-in porch door is broken due to yet another wind storm. (This replacement will be my 6th…) I’m on the fifth floor and located on the south side of the building with no other large building around to break the windstorms. Not unlike flagpole-sitting, the wind up here can get fierce. This time it’s worse because not only is the door screwed up, the frame is shot. Consequently, the screen door takes a beating and when that happens, the parrots can’t go outside. Bummer.

To be honest, I get tired of it occasionally. I don’t want to get up every day having to face what they feel like dishing out that morning. They aren’t bad parrots. They are actually wonderful. But it is relentless. It never changes. It’s not bad every day. And some days are simply wonderful. But there’s no going back to the days when I would wake up knowing I could do anything I wanted without ever a thought of, “But wait. What about…?”


When people think about getting a parrot, I wish people would think about that. There’s no going back. You can’t undo what you have taken on. Yes, I suppose many people do, which certainly explains the existence of Phoenix Landing, Best Friends Parrot Garden, and many other adoption organizations.

What I don’t understand is how anyone could look at a parrot and not understand what a massive undertaking it is. They have a set of pliers on their face, they can fly, they molt tons of feathers and they can scream like a banshee. They throw their food, poop every 15 minutes or so, and their feet appear to have been the model for the dinosaur action figure in your kid’s toy box. Now you and I can look at that and think, “What’s not to love?” We get it.

But other people? Their first question is, “Does it talk?” And I hate the “It” word, by the way.


Not to worry. I have no intention of finding new homes for them any time soon. I love my Greys dearly. They are my family and I am so close to them. It’s not about that. It’s really not even about them. It’s about the mess they leave in their wake. And speaking of messes, I entertained the thought of having children for about fifteen minutes in my entire life. I don’t know why, I just never thought that having children would be particularly fulfilling. Or fun. Or satisfying. And besides, it’s not really an original idea.


Charlie seemed quite interested in hanging with me at the Parrot Garden at Best Friends.

While I realize many people have kids every day, it was just never something I was particularly interested in. I think it was partly due to the fact that when I was growing up, it was simply a case of, “It’s just what you do.”

Umm…don’t tell me that. I never really was interested in doing what everyone else was doing. There’s no original thinking in that. I wonder how many of my high school  classmates would go back and change the course of their life if they could? Would they wait a little longer to get married? Would they put off having their children for a while?


And of course, I was one of those people that viewed the “Everybody’s doing it.” thought train with one of derision.  And the way I looked at it, it appeared to me that they decided to have kids for lack of anything better to do. While this is probably not the case with millions of people, I got that feeling from many of the people I went to school with.

Nope. Not for me. I had to choose a tougher lifestyle. And I think a lot of us would probably admit that, parrots are indeed a tad rougher in the overall scheme of things. You know: They don’t move out. They don’t grow up. They will always depend on you.

I don’t regret making the decision to get Parker. I really don’t. If anything, I wish I had gotten into having birds in my life earlier. It might have been a lot more difficult for me, but that doesn’t change the way I feel.  And overall, I’m quite happy. Thoughtful, but happy.


I think one of the reasons I have remained happy with them is the balance I have created between being a human being and being a human being with parrots. I care about my Greys very much, but I have set a balance in my life where they have their own relationships and friends with other people. In other words, as far as they are concerned, it’s not all about me. And you have no idea how great that feels! I love it when I come home from a trip to find Parker playing with Nan, Pepper on the arm of the couch next to her and Nyla sitting on Bill’s shoe getting a head scratch. I am ignored. I love it! Seeing that simply screams “Success!” to me.

I have done it: They have their own life. And that was an important goal for me because as far as I’m concerned, it’s about them, not about me.