Today was a magnificent day in Bird Land!! Finally!!
You know how after you have a baby you put in soooo much work and effort, and they are just unable to appreciate it? You wait and wait and wait for that first non-gas smile. That first non-poopin laugh. Once you get that, you are golden! You can go another 48 hours without sleep or soap just from that gesture.
Today was kinda sorta like that. I’ve been at the bird place for just a little over a month. I go twice a week, I get lunged at, pooped on, screamed at, (by the birds) conned, chased (yes, actually chased!) dive bombed, and whacked. All of it with not too much expectation. If they don’t know you, they don’t trust you, and if they don’t trust you, you just get bit… for the most part.
Today, however, was different. Today my cup runneth over. And I say that only because I couldn’t have taken much more or my anxiety and flop sweat would have been through the roof. My standard issue stalker, Moseley the Hyacinth, was ready and willing to leap onto me, of course. This, while completely awesome, is daunting. He’s a big bird. The biggest, actually. Hyacinth macaws are the biggest of all the macaws weighing in around 4lbs on average. The weight isn’t the issue with them, it’s the beak. The big black pointy honker. Moseley has this
annoying endearing habit of demanding to be on my shoulder. Not my forearm or hand, but my shoulder. You know, gnawing distance from ears, nose, lips, cheek, eyeballs.
I am not without fear of having an appendage ripped, bitten, taken. I am just of more awe and amazement at when it doesn’t, I suppose.
Last week he and I worked out a method of getting him off of me. This was always the problem. If a macaw does not want off, how do you eject him from your shoulder? If you offer a hand to “step up”, it will just get bit as I found out the second time he was on me. Not pleasant. He didn’t break the skin, but it was like having my hand shut in a door. The squeeze and pressure are what are especially jolting.
Anyway, I lure him down with, what else, food! A small crock on the trough next to the perch, and voila! Ousted bird and freedom!
So today was the second day this method worked, and it’s given me hope for the future. It’s nearly heart-breaking to see a bird offering his foot to ‘step up’ and begging when you cannot oblige. He does this thing where he leans forward and gets his wings ready and kind of shakes them like he’s going to take off and fly for me. Ignoring this bird is like refusing to pick up a cherub-faced toddler.
So I did that today. Another bird named Big Bird got on me. She wanted nothing to do with getting pet, but ‘allowed me’ to be a perch for a few minutes before I put her down. The adrenaline of this is nothing to scoff at. For me adrenaline equals anxiety, usually. I never realize i’m actually holding my breath until i’m bird-free.
After finishing in building 1, I went to building 2 where 2 li’l guys are out on perches 24/7. One had an unfortunate accident with a macaw who took his top beak off, and the other …. well i’m not sure why he’s there. Maybe just a companion situation. Both are amazons of varying types. The beaked one has always been kinda cool to me. Not openly asking for attention, but will pipe up with a , “Hi Joey!” and once let me scratch him. The beakless one just cat calls over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.
I was taking a break – unusual for that place – and mid-conversation with some other volunteers looked over and saw Joey on the perch closest to me all fluffed up. I offered a sleeve-covered hand and Bam, he stepped up.
When a bird steps up on you the first time it’s kind of funny. You both have a moment of “Now what?”. I waited a minute or two and then tried to pet his head. He obliged, fluffed up, cocked his head, and let me scratch him all over his head and neck.
Totally cool! We got some pics for proof.
Next up I went into the flight room. The huge open warehouse-sized aviary where 150 – 200 macaws roam/fly/chicken dance freely all over the place. Last week one bit me while I was handing out cookies. Zero appreciation !!
In The Flight , there’s a blue and gold belly bare macaw named Molly. Her specialty is dive bombing the humans. Not only is she spot on accurate, but she accentuates the thrill with a shrill scream right next to your ear.
She likes to come in from the back so you have no idea what has literally just hit you.
She’s done this nearly every week since I started. The volunteer who trained me says she likes me… i was apprehensive, to say the least, about believing this.
Today I had sleeves on, so I felt invincible! (stupidly, because in all honesty a macaw bite would hurt just as much through a thing- cotton sleeve than on bare skin)
I offered my arm, and up she stepped!
She looked at me with her little black iris and started doing the love bob. When birds rrrrrreally like you, they try and regurgitate their latest meal to share with you. It’s disgusting. Endearing, but disgusting. “Like Toothless and Hiccup!” my kids say. Yes. No less appetizing, though.
After a few minutes, she let me scratch her head. This bird that had for weeks instilled fear and dread in me was now perched on my arm enjoying feathery scratches and pets.
Where else does this happen in a normal life? !
To put a cherry on the whole thing, she then danced on me. She danced and danced and when I said, “What a good bird!” she shook her head side to side as if to say, “Nope.”
(I was unable to insert the video here 😦 You’ll just have to follow me on Instagram to see it! @glamourSAHMer )
She has changed my mind completely and thoroughly. She’s one of the faves now. … but I do not for one second expect such treatment next week.
Birds are fickle fickle creatures. Wear the wrong color, change your hair, gain a limp, and all bets are off. I’m just happy it went so well today, I kept all my flesh, and I got to dance with a macaw.