Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Polly Wants to be Alone
It took me over a year to figure out which animal (baby? woman-in-distress? rabid bobcat?) was shrieking to high heavens on our back street on late afternoons. As it turns out, we've got parrots--the brilliant Cherry Head kind--in the neighborhood. Despite their brilliant coloring, they can hide quite well in all the greenery we've got here. They have a noisy rivalry with the crows that can really get out of hand. When I spotted my first full flock, I was surprised at how awkwardly they fly. They are flappy and nervous. You can imagine them saying, "Whoa, gotta hurry up and get to the tree before we fall out of the sky!"
They're interesting to watch close up, and since I've written THE AVIARY, a book about mystical talking birds, I wanted to see how they interact. They are quite affectionate, actually. They groom each other and sit with heads resting on each other's shoulders. I love their bow-legged pirate walk. A few weeks ago, when they perched in a low-growing olive tree, I stood below them and said in my best Polly-want-a-cracker voice, "Hello? Hello?" A hunk of bark fell an narrowly missed me. I tried again. A branch grazed my nose! And then I saw the Cherry Head furiously biting on a tree limb for more ammunition. They were throwing stuff at me! I had to laugh.
Since these birds are offspring of former pets, I'm imagining they are rather proud of themselves having overthrown their keepers and are happy back out in the wild. We humans can just bug off.
Photo by Jef Poskanzer