Racket had gotten out of his cage. Nothing unusual about that, except that usually when I let him loose, I’d make sure to put away anything I cared about to avoid having Racket destroy it. It was  futile but I felt obliged to try.

Racket, as his name implied, was a charming, noisy Sulpher-Crested Cockatoo. He was the perfect example of why cockatoo owners invented stainless steel perches. Racket could reduce anything made of hardwood to splinters in seconds. He had gone to work on the sofa not long ago … not the upholstery. I think the upholstery wasn’t a sufficient challenge for him. He had gone all out to redo the carved wood frame, perhaps with the intent of correcting the original artist’s errors.

The arm of the sofa nearest his cage was a pile of wood chips and splinters. No evidence of the original design remained. Having completed his work on the sofa, he had refocused his efforts towards acquiring wisdom. He began ingesting the Encyclopedia Britannica, one volume at a time. At this time, he was about half-way through the project. I could see that he’d had a busy morning and had consumed two more volumes.

There wasn’t much I could do about it. I had no where else to put the books. The flat was tiny and there was no storage space. Racket couldn’t spend all his time in a cage. Parrots need freedom, at least an hour or two a day. They are smart birds. They need to interact with the world, with us, to explore and have fun. Racket was doing what Cockatoos do for fun: tearing apart everything on which he could lay his beak.

I wasn’t sure who’d let him out that morning. Probably one of the kids. But he couldn’t stay out all day. I had to go to work and no sane parrot owner would leave their bird loose, unsupervised with no one at home. Or at least no one sane would leave this parrot unsupervised.

I shuddered at the thought of how much damage he could do given an entire day to wreak havoc. It was time to put him back into his house.

“Come on, sweetie,” I cooed. “Time to go home. Mommy’s got to go to work.”

“CAWWWWWWW! SQUAWK!! ACK-ACK-ACK!” (No M’am, I have other plans) he said. Ah those melodious tones.

He was a tame bird, bad habits notwithstanding and would stand on my hand, nibble on my ears. So far he hadn’t taken it into his head to remove my ears, though he had tried to rip an earring out.  But tame and obedient are in no way synonymous. He knew I wanted him back in his cage and he clearly didn’t want to go there. I needed a proper bribe or he could easily elude me for hours.

“Come along, baby,” I continued, sotto voce. “Mommy needs to get going and we don’t have all day to hunt wild birdies.”

I offered him my arm and teased him with a piece of watermelon in my other hand. He was ever so fond of fruit. Finally, after trying his birdy best to get the fruit without having to climb up on the arm, he gave in and climbed aboard. Quick as a wink, he was back in his cage, a squishy piece of red fruit dangling from his beak.

I pondered how much worse this would have been if I not have been able to get him in hand and instead, had been left with two just like him safely hidden in a bush. It boggled my mind.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all plus a big helping of cynicism.

9 thoughts on “BIRDS AND BUSHES”

  1. Naomi used to have a Corella, they have the same wicked beak. When I house sat for her if she was away I would put leather gardening gloves on before I put my hand in the cage. This particular bird was very old and some previous owner had injured him so he couldn’t fly, he came to Naomi via a boyfriend. She ditched the guy eventually but kept the bird. Due to quarantine regulations she wasn’t able to bring him to Tasmania so he had to be given away and he passed away not long after she left. She still feels badly about that.
    I often used to see Sulphur Crested Cockatoos in the wild, not so much in Geeveston but nearer to Hobart there are a lot. Here we have the black ones which are also handsome birds with loud, screechy voices. Naomi says they get a lot of them in Oatlands when the weather is bad on the coast.


  2. A heart-warming well told tale – and a warning to us all not to get pets which aren’t meant to be house trained…. made me think of a dear friend in France who got herself landed with a substantial parrot who decided one day that SHE was his next owner…. For far over 10yrs now a HUGE bird palace is sitting in the (luckily substantial) living room and everybody has to ensure that the parrot is safely in his home before anybody leaves the house or opens the doors to outside when he’s flying free….. I never was a great fan of pet birds, probably because my first husband had one (a small one) who picked food from his lips and shat everywhere. I’m at peace with them now though, just rather have a more substantial pet friend.
    Thanks for sharing that funny (not for you) and well told experience.


    1. He was a great bird, but incredibly destructive He became extremely tame when I gave him to a friend who had a way with birds He used to sit on th table and join the family for dinner He liked mashed potatoes.


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