Saturday, October 03, 2009

"I Bite"


Macheath wasn't for sale. He was the meanest, most misanthropic creature in the pet shop. Even the love bird who'd been half blinded by a mean customer (who sprayed cleaning fluid in his face) was more trusting.
I met Macheath the summer I worked there. Both his cage and his play perch were marked with "I bite!" signs. He "only" a Severe Macaw- about half the size of the more common ones. That didn't stop him from attacking anyone foolish enough get too close. Even the owner of the shop couldn't handle him.
Macheath was cute. And curious. His favorate game was watching me sweep around his pearch. As soon as I put down the broom he'd swing his beak through his dish and scatter more food for me to sweep. Was he trying to be funny? Trying to help? Was he trying to make sure I'd stick around?
I talked to him each day and he gradually let me get closer. I knew better than to put my finger near his head. Years earlier another macaw showed me why this was a bad idea. Then one day he rolled his head forward and puffed out his feathers. That's bird language for "You're my friend. Scratch my head please." I couldn't believe it. The mean bird who hated everyone was letting me pet him!

5 comments:

stray said...

gosh he sounds like some people we've encountered....

Sally said...

aww, sweet bad parrot stories really get me, having owned two.

Anonymous said...

I wonder who the other macaw was that showed you petting him was a bad idea...??

Cari

Linda said...

Sweet. (Of course he would grow to trust you; it doesn't surprise me at all.)

Namowal said...

stray,
You've encountered people who bite?
(Just kidding).

Sally (and stray),
It's too bad that for years parrot training involved asserting dominance ("show him who's boss") or restraining the bird "until he calms down." At best this annoys the bird, at worst it terrifies him. Not good ways to make friends.

Cari,
Who was this macaw? She's a red one..! :)

Linda,
Thanks. I've been trying the same techniques on Tosca (my cranky cockatiel). He seems friendlier, but I haven't been granted petting privileges yet.