Female normal cockatiel eating birdie cones from a blue bowel.

Living With Parrots

Living With Parrots

I'm a systems gal. I like and feel best when inside systems and routines. Clockwork. Every action has a reaction and it better be on schedule. Because my schedule is comforting, and my schedule allows me to get massive amounts of work done every day. I have scheduling written out for January 2024. Modifiable of course, but nevertheless, there it is.

Winston, a system loving male cockatiel, modified his schedule, and through the snowball effect, modified mine. My schedule clearly states: 8:15 am "Move Aviary outside". That includes the cockatiels inside the aviary. That's the idea. The aviary and all those inside the aviary go to their bonsai tree encircled shaded spot on the covered deck, at 8:15 am. This is an important step for Action Item 8:30 am; "Bring macaws downstairs". I can't very well execute 8:30 am until 8:15 am is completed.

Why? Because Snickers, male scarlet and Two Hands Full, has a schedule. His schedule clearly states Action Item 9:00 am; "Open the aviary door and let cockatiels out". Which leads to Action Item 9:10 am; "Steal cockatiel stuff". Which invariably leads to Butters' Action Item 9:12 am; "Get inside cockatiel cage, remove perches". Because blue and gold macaws need a job.

Cockatiels make things up as they go. They are loose cannons. You never know what they are going to do until they decide what they are doing. And when you have a flock of cockatiels, nothing but chaos gets accomplished.

At 8:10 am this morning Winston took opportunity to jump over my hand as I removed their water bowl and escape into the bird room. The flood of remaining cockatiels is denied that same result. There I am bowl in hand, looking at poop in their water bowl, three cockatiels screeching injustice and one male cockatiel at the highest point of a tree stand proudly proclaiming his new schedule with a single screech. FREEDOM! RELEASE THE HORDE

I've got things to do. I have two Macaws and an Indian Ringneck upstairs letting me know they are pretty much ready to get on with their day and their schedule. Those three are like clockwork. I know what they are going to do and have created My Schedule to compromise with theirs. Very symbiotic. Chaos is chaos when there are no negotiated terms. Winston.

There is only one avenue to take, and that's let the remaining cockatiels convince Winston he has to come back. You cannot negotiate with a free choosing cockatiel. You have to let the flock work it out. So 8:17 am, I replace the dirty water bowl with clean water and replace it in the aviary. Meantime three very insistent cockatiels continue their calls to Winston. Winston is foraging through all the available food bowls. Winston is not listening.

I go back to my computer to work for 5 minutes. It's time to let those 4 reboot their communication. Winston needs to see he may be out, but he is now not part of the flock. He is alone. All fun and games until you can't stand being alone. And for a flocking cockatiel that's about 15 minutes. Particularly when you girlfriend is in there, and not out foraging.

There's a pattern to unscheduled flock calling. Loud, chaotic, and demanding is the start. No point in visiting the room yet, no one is paying attention to each other. I go upstairs to execute Action Item 8:30 am early. But plan on delaying bringing anyone down until 8:45 am. I built in a 15-minute Contingency Window for each Action Item. Because you have to count on a parrot not cooperating every 15 minutes.

I let Snickers, Kirby, and Butters out of their bedroom roost cages. We do our morning thing together and Kirby beats wings downstairs immediately. His buddy is out! He has no idea how, but he's going to get down there to see what's up! That leaves Butters, Snickers, and me and one problem. It's 8:30 am, their Action Item isn't being executed on time. I get the Eyes of Disdain.

Whatever. I have a hidden emergency Action Item; "Stack towels and pillows on the bed". Snickers and Butters totally forget their Action Item and plow the bed.

I go back downstairs listening to the negotiations between Stella and Winston. They are talking now. She's adamant. He's telling her to wait a minute. Going into the bird room now would reset their negotiations. I have 10 minutes left in the Contingency Window. I'll wait another five. Back and forth they talk. But the space time between calls is lengthening. Stella is standing firm. Winston is pouting, about to acquiesce to her demands. He always does.

I hear a flurry of small wings. Winston flew back to the aviary. Stella and Winston negotiate. Not yet, almost time for me to step in, but not yet. I hear Butters and Snickers playing upstairs. I do not hear chomping of wood or wall. That's good.

Winston comes flying into the office, executes a fly over only experienced in football stadiums during Super Bowl events, and then goes back to the aviary. Stella calls. Winston calls. That's my que. We can all still get schedules back on track! There is still time!

I walk into the bird room and ask, "Winston, are you done cowboying? You ready to go in now?" He steps up and waits for me to open the door to put him back in the aviary. I close the door. Stella chews him out for leaving in the first place.

I find Kirby foraging in a macaw cage. I close the door to keep him safe. I roll the aviary outside and position it for the day. Back inside I open the macaw cage for Kirby. He's still eating and doesn't care to move. Upstairs I find Butters and Snickers are in a silly game of tug of war with a towel. They run over towels to fly onto my head and forearm and downstairs we go.

Action Item 8:30 executed at 8:45. Not bad. Not on time, but not bad.

Triumphantly I turn around to walk into my office to find a dog staring at me with such a pathetic sadness, it surely isn't real. He's just guilting me. Action Item 8:35; "Let dog out." was completely overlooked.

I blame Winston. Dogs don't blame anybody.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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