Monday, February 12, 2007

A Potential New Friend

Pretty much as long as I can remember I’ve never been much of a fan of birds. Its not really that I “dislike” them, I just don’t prefer to have anything to do with them. They are cool to watch from afar – especially when flying. But as for having a bird for a pet? Or even touching one? Nah, not for me. Funny that now I sort of live/work with an African Gray Parrot. A super smart, talkative and sometimes hard headed parrot. “Baby” is supposedly Joseph’s parrot but since Joe has gone off to college, Gidget is his caretaker now. No one else really pays him any attention. My first few visits to the ranch gave me a good picture of Baby and his personality. He is excellent at mimicking things and if he comes across one that’s particularly hard he’ll work on it til he gets it right. Lately its been the baby monitor when it goes out of range. It beeps – he’s been working on just the right tone. He can mimic Andy’s cell phone and the house phone very well – to the point sometimes I have to check to be sure. He mimics voices very well and he talks to the dogs regularly. Whenever someone walks in the door he says “Come on In” and whenever we send the dogs outside he says “OUT”. Throughout the day he chatters constantly. When I first came out to the ranch I didn’t believe Gidget when she told me I’d get used to it and wouldn’t hear him much. Now I know its true. He’s background noise. He can get very loud and annoying and I’ll just tell him to hush. Sometimes he says “no” back to me. Sometimes he says the funniest things, or he’ll try to mimic something he heard on tv but he gets it all garbled. Anyway, I haven’t really had a lot to do with him other than occasionally talking to him, or playing the game of “I can make this sound, can you?” back and forth. He whistles, I whistle back; He whistles differently, I copy it and so forth. Until finally he does something he knows I can’t possibly do and I say “fine you win”. But as for touching him? No thanks. A few times in the past he’s gotten off his cage and walked around on the floor where he instantly becomes bait for the dogs if he gets too close. If I was by myself, I did whatever I could to shoo him back to his cage but never actually attempted to pick him up. Gidget usually had to come and he would “step up” on her hand and go back to his cage. Tonight, I was baby-sitting while Andy and Gidget went on a date and at one point I got up to go get a drink and lo and behold, there was Baby by the staircase, walking around. The funny thing is I didn’t even hesitate. I knew what I had to do – he was about a foot away from Woodrow, Gidget’s blue healer mix. He was about to be a late night snack. So I knelt down to Baby and started talking to him, stuck out my finger (Like I’ve seen Gidget do) and said “Baby, step up”. He looked at my finger, stuck out one claw and then released. This went on a few times and he was inching closer to Woodrow. So I repositioned myself between the bird and Woodrow and tried again – SUCCESS! He stepped up with both feet onto my hand (ouch, those claws are sharp!!!) and he didn’t even bite me! I carried him back to his cage and told him good boy. I was so proud! I didn’t even freak out! When Gidget got home I told her that Baby and I were finally friends – she laughed and said “I hate to tell you, but you’re not in with Baby until he’s drawn blood”. Great. So I have that to look forward to!


At 3:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story reminds me of Beeker. We adopted her away after Natalie came- it was just too much. Beeker could say a few words and was good company while I was in college. I miss her now!



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