We’ve been babysitting two parrots now for about a month. Pepper is an older parrot, about 50 or so. I guess she’s had a rough life. Trust doesn’t come easy. Before she came to live with us for the next couple of years, Meka had to go over to her friend’s house many times so Pepper would get used to her. Even so, it took a bit before the parrot would let her get near. After a month, however, Meka and Pepper are like two peas in a pod. Pepper cries when she’s not there. And when Meka is there, Pepper wants to sit on her shoulder. As for Daniel and me, Pepper is okay that we exist. She doesn’t fluff out like she used to and she’s started to mumble along with me when I talk. However, she doesn’t like me to get too close. She won’t accept food from me and she doesn’t want me to touch her.
I was downstairs in the family room watching television. I had my customary Diet Pepsi and I had just popped some kettle corn in the microwave. Meka came down with Pepper on her shoulder to watch something we’d recorded. I was surprised Pepper was so calm. I was only a foot or so away. However, it wasn’t like I was making any threatening moves. She eyed me, but didn’t freak out. To be honest, I kind of forgot she was there until I felt something brushing my back. Meka told me not to turn around quickly. Pepper had stepped off Meka’s shoulder and was walking along the back of the couch towards me.
“Hold your hand out flat,” she said. I held my hand out like we were going to shake. Pepper cocked her head and made a few gibbering noises. I didn’t get bit. I took that as a good sign. She climbed up the back of my shirt and stood on my shoulder. Pepper was heavier than she looked. She pushed through my hair and I ducked forward so she could walk onto the other shoulder. Meka smiled.
“I think she’s warming up to you,” she said. I shook my head – slightly, as not to upset the bird. I’m no Marlon Perkins, but as she stepped off my left shoulder and started strolling down my bicep, it dawned on me what she really wanted. And it wasn’t my affection. Sure enough, Pepper stopped on my elbow. I was resting it on the side of the couch. She looked around a bit, got a good hold on my shirt with her claws (which are sharp, by the way) and plunged her head into my bowl of popcorn.