“So, what do you think about a parrot?” asked Meka one afternoon. I’ve never had a parrot, but it was getting close to dinner time. I figured they would be gamey. That’s not what she meant. Her friend from school has a pet parrot. He’s finishing up his classes at community college and off to study at a four year school. He’ll be in a dorm, so no parrots allowed. “It would be good for Daniel,” she added. I was going to point out I was never exposed to a parrot in my childhood and look how I turned out…
So last weekend, Akane the parrot joined our household. She’s about nine inches tall, gray with a red tail. She came complete with a cage the size of a small refrigerator, a pile of newspaper and several types of gourmet parrot food and snacks. I found out parrots are social animals. They need a lot of interaction with the people in the house or they will get depressed. We didn’t want a depressed bird on our hands; I don’t know if I can even imagine that. So, her cage up has been set up in the family room between the couch and the television.
Despite our best intentions, Akane has been pretty freaked out since she arrived. It probably didn’t help she was driven here in a cardboard cat carrier. I don’t think we made a very good first impression; Meka had a box of Stove Top stuffing out on the kitchen countertop (‘That was for the chicken!’ I can almost hear her yell, exasperated). Meka’s tried to make friends with Akane. She’s absorbing all the parrot advice she can find on the Internet. However, like we found out with our fish, the “parrot experts” tend to suggest things that are either impossible, improbable or completely contradict other experts.
I’ve tried to give Akane some time and space, so she gets used to me. I haven’t stuck my finger in her cage, though I was told she likes being scratched behind her head. I say “Hello” and “Pretty Bird” and other parrotish things. So far, no response. She eyes me and fluffs out a bit; “ruffled feathers” apparently meaning more than a common catchphrase.
Daniel seems to have a pretty good touch when it comes to parrots. Maybe this is good for him. He offers Akane peanuts and he talks to her. Akane has replied a couple of times. She said something like “Hello” and once I think she might have said “Dude”. While she doesn’t imitate too many words right now, she does imitate other things. She meows like a cat (Meka’s friend had several cats) and she also does a perfect imitation of the “push to talk” chirp from a Nextel phone. Last night, me, Daniel and the bird all sat and watched the Olympics together. Daniel and I sat on the couch. Akane doesn’t want to leave her cage, but she did come off the side of her cage and sat in her food dish. She accepted a peanut from Daniel and imitated the air horn from the basketball arena and that weird buzz that kicks off the swimming events. It was an entertaining evening, probably the first of many with Akane over the next two years.