Help! I've Been Kidnapped by a Gang of Parrots!
by Tina Blue
December 18, 2000
I love animals. In fact, I love a lot more animals than I could possibly adopt, so I make a habit of visiting a nearby pet store to enjoy the company of creatures of many sorts.
One animal that I find particularly appealing is the parrot. It's not just that they are gorgeous, though they certainly are that, but they are also incredibly intelligent and have such charming, quirky personalities. But parrots are expensive, and they also require an environment and a type of care that I am not in a position to provide, so instead I just hang out with the parrots at the pet store.
A friend of mine once had a beautiful red parrot that used to play with her kitten. Instead of flying, the bird would chase after the kitten on foot, calling, "Come here, you little ba*tard!" The kitten would wait for the bird to get quite close, then spring into the air over his head and go racing off in the other direction.
At the pet store I frequent, there is a cockatoo that loves to play with clips in my hair. Normally I don't wear clips, but once I had pulled just my top hair back with one, and he had so much fun working it out that from then on I would always wear a clip whenever I visited him at the store.
One evening several weeks ago, a friend and I went to play with the parrots. My cockatoo buddy was sitting on the top edge (which would be about waist-high to me) at the far side of the Plexiglas parrot enclosure, with his back to us. I took the opportunity to admire the other two parrots before he came over to claim me and my hairclip.
One parrot, an African Gray, flapped his way up to the edge on the far side of the enclosure, also with his back to us. Neither he nor the cockatoo realized we were there. A green Amazon then tried to flap up to sit next to him, but his wings must have been recently clipped, because his efforts were futile. After several frustrating attempts to reach the edge, he gave up and turned in our direction.
Spotting me, he began to walk toward me across the bottom of the enclosure. As soon as he noticed me, his demeanor changed. Cocking his head to one side, he eyed me pointedly and lifted his right leg, muttering the whole time. After a moment he waddled forward a few steps, still eyeing me with his head cocked to one side. He stopped again and raised his leg for a moment before continuing toward me.
By the time he reached my side, his muttering had gotten louder. He was repeatedly lifting that one leg and obviously trying to persuade me to give him a lift up. I put my hand down and allowed him to climb aboard. I put him on the edge and stood there to have a chat with him.
But he'd evidently changed his mind about sitting on the edge like that, because he began to mutter at me again and to raise that same leg. "Okay, fella," I said, "come on up." I offered him my hand, and he immediately worked his way up my arm to my shoulder. I have very long hair, and parrots love to play with it. This guy acted as if he'd finally reached the Promised Land, flinging my hair every which way, burying his head in it, and then peeping out at my friend Michael, who was getting a big kick out of the performance.
The African Gray hadn't missed any of this, and he was clearly provoked by the Amazon's coup. He quickly sidled his way around to us and began to make obvious "Pick-me-up-too!" gestures. I offered him my other hand, and in an instant he had taken possession of my left shoulder and the hair on that side of my head.
That did it. My cockatoo pal, who considers my hair his hair, scooted over to us and asked to come up, too. I lifted him, and he hurried up to my right shoulder and started to crowd the Amazon, who scootched as far as he could onto the area at the base of my neck.
By this time I was beginning to feel as though the traffic had gotten a bit out of hand, so I tried to coax the African Gray back onto the wall of the enclosure. But he wasn't having any of that. Instead, he also moved part-way around to the base of my neck. It looked like the beginning of a turf-war, with me as the turf, so I asked Michael to start unloading parrots.
He coaxed the African Gray and the cockatoo back into the enclosure, putting them down quickly because they obviously had designs on him, as well. But the Amazon was no fool. He'd seen what had happened to the others once they'd accepted Michael's offer of a ride, so every time Michael reached for him, he scurried away--up one arm, across my shoulder and back, down the other arm, and then back in the opposite direction.
It took a couple of minutes for me to figure out that Michael was on the bird's side, not mine. He wasn't really trying to get him off me--he was amusing himself by encouraging the parrot to use me as a jogging track.
Meanwhile, the other two had hopped up to the edge of the enclosure and were signaling their eagerness to get in on the game. I had to insist that the Amazon be removed and replaced in the enclosure. Besides, it had been long enough that it was practically a miracle that he hadn't pooped on me yet.
When I mentioned that particular danger, Michael moved quickly to rescue me. Otherwise, who knows? He might have let them keep me.