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Pyewacket rolls over—despite complete lack of DVDs

Eva Sargent | Jul 03, 2008


My two month foster period with Pyewacket is over, and of course I've been giving the future lots of thought.  I don't get to spend weekends away anymore, because he needs those fresh vegetables every morning.  And I'm pretty sick of sweeping up mesquite leaves and pods from his oh-so-natural playthings.  Who knew he'd be so much work? I've actually cut down on work trips out of town, but the few times I have had to go, I've had a hell of a time finding people who aren't afraid of him, and who can show up twice a day to feed and amuse him.  And I can't use my ceiling fans (in Tucson!) and so have had to crank up my air conditioning, which induces eco-guilt.  You can't imagine the time I've spent analyzing the ceiling fan issue.  A cat was a lot easier.  Hurumph. 

The problem is, I'm completely in love with Pyewacket. With his laughing, his bizarre mumblings, his repeating my name over and over, his sweetness and his many mysteries.  I could never give him up!  So I am no longer his foster buddy; I'm now his friend for life. 

You know that honeymoon period everyone talks about with parrots?  I've been waiting for that to come to a screeching halt, for the screaming or biting or whatever to start.  And it hasn't.  I'm no behavioral genius, I'm lucky.  For those of you who aren't so lucky, I've been discovering all kinds of resources to help.  Not surprisingly, many of them are connected in some way to WPT.  Have you checked out the Ask an Expert section?  You'll find amazingly impressive and experienced folks to answer your questions. I've been learning a lot just reading other people's questions, and their stories are sometimes fascinating.  I found out that Susan Friedman has an entire course on parrot behavior that you can sign up for, and while you are waiting for a class, you can try the ParrotBAS discussion group ( .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) which has "mini lessons" where you and your classmates learn to analyze behaviors objectively and figure out how to change them.  I've started the mini lessons, which I see as both preparation for the day Pyewacket turns into a little devil, and as some sort of karmic insurance against that happening (you know—if you've spent hours boarding up your house for a hurricane, it will make landfall 50 miles north of you). ParrotBAS also offers one on one help with your pesky parrot.  They assign someone to help you make a plan for modifying behavior, and this person will follow through with you until things are solved. Perhaps you all know about these resources, but I didn't. Of course if you're like me, you'll be tempted to buy DVDs from parrot "experts" on the internet. I'm a real sucker for programs and systems that seem very organized and complete - the idea that a box will come in the mail and have everything I need, and have it all laid out step by step, is enormously appealing. And spending real money might be the push some of us need to commit to working with our birds. But before you buy, think about this.  I googled the name of one of these costly self-proclaimed parrot gurus, and found him being lauded as the star student of a system for marketing things on the internet.  That's not to say there's anything wrong with marketing your product and doing it well, but it certainly caused me to pause and consider other ways to find information.

I started the above just to tell you what I've been thinking about recently as Pyewacket settles in, and I'll end with a Pyewacket update.  I've taught him to pretty reliably come to me and climb on my arm when I say "Here."  He was averse to the phrase "step up" for some reason, although he definitely understands it.  He still doesn't like to ride on my shoulder much, so the perch on wheels has become his taxi.  I roll it over to his tree and say "taxi" and he runs to climb aboard.  He knows that "tickle?" means he should lower his head if he wants to me to scratch him. He even said "tickle" once himself.  Alas, he hasn't shown any interest in "I'm Pyewacket. Meow" although he occasionally says "Pyewacket" in a sort of tentative way.  Twice he has rolled over and let me tickle his belly.  The hilarious part is that after just a few seconds he seems alarmed at his own willingness to do this, and hurriedly gets back up.  I even think he looks a little embarrassed.

But when a parrot lets you tickle his belly, even for a second, life is good.