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26 September 2013
Several years ago, a friend called me up and asked if I wanted a free bird. She knew that I was going to be moving into an apartment soon and only small pets were allowed. I had been thinking about getting a parakeet or something for a while. Anyway, she said, “My neighbor gave me this bird that they bought for their six-year-old daughter. But it just wasn’t working out. Do you want it?”
So, before I knew what hit me, I was in possession of a bright yellow, female parrotlet and cage. The first day, I took the bird home, my nephew, Benjamin, happened to be over. “What should I name this bird, Benjamin?” “Cora,” he replied without batting an eye in his four-year-old head. “Why Cora?” I asked. “Because Cora is beautiful.” I shrugged and dubbed her Cora. If he hadn’t come up with a name, I may have called her something much less poetic like Lemonhead or Tweetybird.
Now, I knew nothing about birds in general or parrotlets in particular. That first week or two of having Cora in my home was full of bit fingers and loud, angry chirping at me from her cage. I thought it might be time to do a little research on the little wretch. The thing was, she really seemed to enjoy having people around. I never had a problem getting her to step on my finger or sit on my shoulder. But her mood could change on a dime. So, I did what all good twenty-somethings have been trained to do—I Googled it. After clicking on the first link, these words met my eyes, “Less than six inches in length, be assured that parrotlets are true parrots, with all of the virtues and some of the vices.” Ooh. That didn’t sound good. I read on to discover that, “A parrotlet life span is believed to be around 15 to 20 years but no one knows for sure.” I did a quick mental calculation and realized that I could be stuck with this little yellow beast until I was forty. Oh, dear. What did I get myself into? Furthermore, my bird happens to be an American Yellow which is a classification of Pacific parrotlet. According to the article, “Most Pacifics have a well-deserved reputation for being feisty and bold. They are very much ‘a large parrot personality in a small parrot body.’ They are the most fearless of the parrotlets and can be very stubborn and strong-willed at times.” Well, a few things were starting to make sense.
My friends did not miss Cora’s naughty streak by pointing out that the Isrealite, Korah, was swallowed up by an earthquake after rebelling against the Lord. Did I, per chance, name Cora after him? Ha, ha. Very funny. Actually, I preferred to think she most likely resembled James Fenimore Cooper’s high-spirited, feisty heroine Cora Munro in The Last of the Mohicans. Admittedly, Cora Munro was much more sensible than Cora the bird.
In spite of her ornery personality, though, I was beginning to like having her around. She could be quite sweet and companionable. It was only when she suddenly turned waspish that I wanted to wring her little neck. So, I began the disciplinary process by flicking her beak with my thumb and finger every time she bit me. It was sort of an uphill process all the way—she’d bite me, I’d flick her beak, she’d fly off to her cage in a huff. Then she’d get sweet for a limited time only and we’d start the whole process all over again.
Now after a few years, the fruits of my labors are becoming more evident—the good qualities of parrotlets are showing up. She is very personable. She likes hanging around on my shoulder on my head, in my lap while I’m sitting at the computer typing up a blog post or story. At this very moment, she is walking from my left shoulder to my right shoulder, back again and down my arm. She’s quite acrobatic. When I come home from teaching or speaking or whatever, she chirps loudly from her cage until I come and get her out. Only when she’s sitting on my shoulder is she quiet. The long and short of it is, I shall be heartbroken at age forty.
So, tell me, what are your pet stories? Does anyone have a parrotlet?