Feathered Frenzy

Halloween Hijinks

We live in the woods, so we don’t get trick-or-treaters. Despite the spooky ‘vibe’ of Halloween, it turns out that people don’t really want to take an adventure down our driveway to find out what lay on the other ends of the trees. It’s just as well. Zack bit a princess twelve years ago when we were in a neighborhood. He had moral objections to trick-or-treating. The kids wanted to pet him, he thought they were mooches, and he didn’t understand why they screamed when they fed him their fingers because he should get a treat, too. It was a bad situation. Halloween has been less dramatic since we moved to family land in 2008.

Of course, that means we’ve had to find other ways to celebrate the holiday. Fall arrives in South Carolina in October, which means we can sit on the porch and enjoy a relief from the heat and humidity of five months of summer in the southeast. It’s a joy to finally get to sit outside and enjoy nature in the fall, which is the most beautiful season of the year. Zack and Bubbles enjoy the sunshine, blue skies, colorful leaves, and random chatter with their “wild bird” neighbors in the trees surrounding our house. The shorter days also mean that we have to retreat indoors to occupy ourselves with other endeavors once evening falls.

This is usually DVDs or Netflix; specifically, horror movies. I’m not a fan of horror movies like I was in my teens, but I still like some of the older ones. It seems that they amuse Zack and Bubbles as well, albeit in different ways. Zack is fond of Michael Myers on the Halloween movies, and likes to say “hey!” whenever he sees Mikey lurking in the background with a huge knife. You aren’t sneaking up on this parrot! Who cares how Michael Myers keeps coming back to life? Who cares why people have to make a sandwich with a machete and leave it lying on the cabinet with the back door open, so Mikey can grab it? And boy, does he cackle when Dr. Loomis says “it’s Michael Myers.

He’s come to Haddonfield to kill.” (I laugh at that too. The way Dr. Loomis delivers his dialogue is so dramatic that it’s hilarious). Plus, Zack knows that mask means one thing: if the guy with the knife is here now, it means that Santa Clause comes next! Zack knows the signs. Perhaps he figures Michael Myers comes first to thin out the “naughty” list and save Santa some work. At least he knows how to have fun with horror movies with me.

Zack and I agree that Michael Myers has a pretty good chance of terrorizing more victims thanks to modern technology. Mickey himself may be nearing 70 years old, but they’ll never see him coming with their faces stuck in their phones! Human ignorance is silly, fun, and makes for great amusement for us – mostly because it means better holidays are coming soon!

Bubbles isn’t as patient with human foibles and doesn’t understand how silly humans get in these silly situations in the first place. She’s amazed at the domino effect of bad decisions leading to bad circumstances, which leads to more bad decisions and bad circumstances, until the villain bests them and the hero finally stumbles upon some dumb luck to save the day. I said from the day we adopted her that she’s a smart cookie, and she proved this when I got the old horror movie “Tourist Trap” for my husband last year. It’s a movie about a group of teens whose car breaks down, and they get stuck waiting for a repair at a creepy old man’s shop off a remote highway. Poor Bubbles squawked at those kids through the entire movie. Why would you take out the spare tire to make room for luggage? Why would you go anywhere with a guy that has overalls and a creepy look in his eye – especially if his name is Mr. Slausen? Why would you sit in a place full of creepy screaming mannequins with moving heads? Why is everybody leaving doors and windows open? What’s wrong with these people? They don’t even have cell phones to stick their faces in, but they still get in trouble. There’s no excuse for this!

By the final chase scene, Bubbles had enough of their ignorance and admonished them to “step up” while crunching up popcorn. They got themselves into this mess and now they’d better run, because this wasn’t leading to a happy ending. The closing scene elicited a growl as she retreated to her happy hut. I had to explain that good sense and wise decision making don’t make for entertaining horror movies. Bubbles rewarded me with that “you’re a moron” look that every parakeet seems to have mastered.

It’s interesting how Zack and Bubbles have fun with Halloween. It may seem simple with porch time, popcorn, and movies, but no princesses get hurt in the process, it’s cheaper than buying candy, we’re entertained, and we all have a great time.

Happy Halloween and enjoy fall!

Design Problems

I have poor spatial skills. I often joke that I would get lost leaving my driveway if I didn’t have to go to work five days a week. Most people think I’m exaggerating until they make the mistake of asking me for directions. GPS is a necessity of modern life for those of us who are spatially challenged. Unfortunately, it can’t help me with organizing cages, which is a challenge I face every time I get Zack and Bubbles new perches or toys, as I did recently.

Don’t get me wrong. Cages are much better than they were in the mid-1980’s when I got Samson, my first parakeet. They’re built efficiently with ease of cleaning, function, and bird comfort in mind. They’re also bigger, to provide more space for stretching out those wings to play, exercise, or laze around and beak grind while watching TV. You’d think the modern design would make finding places for those various perches and toys easier.

Instead, it’s just enough rope to hang myself.

I suppose it would help if I admitted that I don’t know what I’m doing and got out the trusty tape measure, but this is little comfort to the spatially-challenged, especially when you’re ordering those goodies online. I had a shock a few weeks ago when I ordered yellow mid-size perches, and multi-colored perch ladders. They looked perfect for Zack and Bubbles. The perches promoted toe and beak filing, and the ladders were bendable, colorful, and fun. Wow, I thought. They’re going to be surprised to find this explosion of fun and color in their cages!

I was the one surprised when I opened the package. The perches were neon green sticks thick enough for an eagle to perch on. I was convinced that my pals at Amazon must have confused “conure” with “condor” and sent the wrong thing, but I logged back on and found that this was, indeed, what they considered “mid-size.” I fiddled and fumbled for a while until the perches drooped on the cage bars and convinced me that it was time to log on and print out that return label for the UPS drop box on my way to work the next morning.

The ladder was another adventure. It wasn’t long enough to stretch across their cage horizontally or vertically like I hoped, and not as stretchy as promoted. I twisted, turned, and mumbled about needing a master’s degree in architecture before Rick (my patient husband) pointed out a way that we could wrap it to fit from the back bars to the side bars. A bit more huffing and mumbling, and I had them satisfactory. Bubbles rewarded me with a growl and ignored it, but Zack vindicated me by immediately checking it out and proceeding to chew a red and yellow block to toothpicks. Mission accomplished. Halfway, at least.

The moral of the story is that sometimes, you have to learn to work around your limitations. I’ll always be spatially challenged, but the fact is that bird perches and toys wear out (if your birds don’t destroy them, first), so cage design will be a constant challenge for me. The secret is to be patient with myself, and realize that a degree of trial and error will be necessary to navigate the rough design terrain.

And maybe, one day, I’ll finally learn that the size estimate function in my brain doesn’t exist, and get out that darn tape measure.

The Doctors Are In

The welcome home screams invited me into the offices of Doctors Zack and Bubbles, ready to begin their official duties as listeners and comforters of human sorrows after a hard day at work.

“What am I going to do?” I asked, as I plopped in my recliner. “The phones won’t stop ringing. The emails are constant. The mail weeps with the death of a forest every day. The computers crash, the copiers and scanners jam, and the people! It’s questions, complaints, problems, and misdirected calls all day long. How can I do this until retirement?”

Zack recommended a preening and snuggling session. He thoroughly preened my face, and moved on to my fluffy bathrobe after that. Once I was adequately groomed, he snuggled against my neck until my husband got home, requesting his own bird-therapy session.

Bubbles took a different approach. It was dinner time, and this talented lady worked it into her strategy. She ate part of my burrito, breaking open a hole that dripped sauce on the table. Then she stole the straw to my water, and ran across the kitchen table to offer it to Zack. When he declined with a polite sun conure “no,” she dropped the straw on the floor, ran back to me, pecked my elbow, and chattered at me cheerfully, ending with an admonition to “step up.” Then she pecked at the nacho crumbs until it was obvious that her piggy-parents had consumed all of them, and retreated to the playgym to chase Zack again. Obviously, she decided the cure to my problems was to shift my focus, specifically to her. And, to “step up” until retirement, because I have birds to house and feed.

Perhaps they aren’t doctors, but parrots are great at comforting us on tough days.

Whether you’re stressed out, anxious, depressed, or in a “blah” mood, birds have a way of perking you up. Their empathetic nature means they detect our moods, and their desire to make us happy means they’re great companions to lower your blood pressure on days when you’re ready to either hit the roof, or sink into the floor on days when you can’t get going. I can always count on comfort from my “dynamic duo,” whether it’s Zack sweetness, or Bubbles’ more spunky style.

The converse is true as well, as parrots can also be your biggest cheerleader. Zack and Bubbles are always up for a good celebration, whether it’s finishing a novel, getting through another busy season at work, or just a Friday after 5. They cheer us on with their screams of encouragement, and let us know we can do it with vigorous head bobs and cheerful chatter. And what better way to take care of that pizza crust than to let your parrots crunch it up on the floor? If anything, a parrot celebration adds to human joy and justifies the ownership of many mops and brooms. I’m considering a Roomba for my next big home purchase. Perhaps I should ask Morty for his perspective on that. Morty’s better than Alexa, Siri, and Google, all put together!

On good days and bad days, birds can be our best friends and therapists. No wonder we bond with them so closely. Our feathered friends are the best at comfort in bad times, sharing enthusiasm in the good times, and providing a calm, secure presence in all times. The doctor is always in when you have parrots. People may let you down, but birds don’t. You just have to learn how to speak beak to tap into their unlimited power!
And roll those pennies for a Roomba, with Morty’s blessing!

Bird Games

Sharing a home with birds means you create games in daily life. Birds in the wild spend most of their time and energy foraging for food. Our feathered friends don’t have to do that since “human servants” provide for all of their needs, so what’s a bird to do with that pent up energy?

They play and make up games! As flock members, it’s our duty to keep them entertained, and I’m sure we do in a number of ways. Here are a few games that Zack and Bubbles have created to keep us amused (and on our toes):

Bombs Away. The object is to see who can drop food or poop on the floor first after the human sweeps or mops the floor. Extra points available depending on the splatter radius.

Boogie Bird. Put on some lively music and see which bird – or human – boogies the best. Disco or techno music is a good choice for this game. This is a good game when your birds need to burn some energy.

Bowl Bath. When your bird attempts to squeeze their entire body in their water dish, and then glower at you because they’re wet. It’s a common game, and I still haven’t figured out why they do it. I’ve had 7 birds, and all of them did this except Oliver, the budgie we had in 2010-2014.

Catch Me If You Can. When your bird steals food (or another object), and you chase them to retrieve it. Extra points available if they get a few bites and drop it on the floor before you catch them. Another variation on this game is when you try to take their picture, and they run out of the frame, leaving you with a picture of a feathery blur or an empty spot.

Not Me. This is when you hear a squabble or a strange noise, and you return to see all of your feathered friends giving you the wide-eyed innocent look. Extra points available if there’s no evidence of the cause of the noise they made.

Outscream the Screamer. The object is for your birds to test who is the loudest in the house. A vacuum cleaner, music, a loud noise on the television, or attempting to have a telephone conversation, usually initiates this game.

Peek-a-Bird. A variation on “Peek-a-Boo,” this is when you sneak up on an unsuspecting bird and surprise them with a “Peek-a-Bird!” This game is especially fun when they’re relaxed and don’t expect you to do anything. Your birds may also play this with you by peeking around corners, through holes they chew in cage covers, or by hiding behind objects and  charging you when you look for them.  Pillows and blankets are favorite “hiding places” for that variation.

Sneaky Snacking. This is when you eat an entire snack in the pantry so you don’t have to share it with your birds.  This game is played when you desire a snack that isn’t “bird friendly.” Crunching must be minimized when playing this game.

The Song Game. Having birds makes you want to sing! “You Are My Sunshine” is a staple with sun conures, but other songs can be “made” appropriate for your birds’ entertainment. For example, “Bob Your Head” (modified from “Barbara Ann”) is a favorite in our home, or you can make up your own songs. Parrots can join in the fun with their own chattering and mimicking, which makes it a great game. I’ve seen wonderful videos of parrots chanting along with their owners. Get creative!

Snuggle Bug. This is when your bird burrows against you to snuggle. They usually like to do this when you wear a robe or other soft clothes, if you have a blanket, or if you’re sitting in a cloth chair. This relaxing game is usually a “wind down” before bedtime.

Life with companion parrots is full of games, and these are just a few examples of how we have fun in everyday life. What kinds of games do you play with your birds? Leave a comment and let me know how life is fun with your feathered friends!

Welcome to Feathered Frenzy!

Hello from “famously hot” Columbia, South Carolina! I’m Sherri Moorer, and I’m the proud “mommy” of two birds: Zack (sun conure) and Bubbles (Monks Parakeet, also called a Quaker). I’ve had birds since my 10th birthday, when I begged my parents to get me a parakeet after taking care of one for a friend while they visited family out of state. This wasn’t easy in a home with a mother and brother who were cat lovers, but we managed to negotiate having a cat and three parakeets for a period of time. I’ve had seven birds in my lifetime: four parakeets, two sun conures, and a Quaker.

In addition to being a bird “mommy,” I work full time as a program assistant in professional licensing, and am also an indie author writing science fiction, mystery, and inspirational non-fiction. In short, I type a lot, and sweep and vacuum a lot of bird mess! But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in psychology in 1997, and married my college sweetheart in 1998. In addition to birds, we’re also nerds who love Star Wars, Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and Lord of the Rings.

Feathered Frenzy is a page where I’ll blog about life with birds. I’ll share antecedents, stories, and tips on bonding with your “feathered friends” and making your home a happy roost for family and friends. This is a place to explore how life with birds is truly unique.

I look forward to “seeing” you every month at The Roost!

One thought on “Feathered Frenzy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s