You are probably familiar with the internet meme where a series of photos shows how the public views something, how your boss views the same thing, how your friends see it, and so on. Well, it’s pretty obvious that the parrots and other birds in my house see things very differently than I do.
Cleaning: How I see it – I am preventing disease, making the house look good, improving the smell of the bird environs, and adding a little order to my life. How the parrots see it – You’re stealing my cache of extra food! You’re stealing my nice toys and giving me icky new ones! You’ve let in the Horrible Sucking Monster from Another Dimension! That’s not a broom, it’s a very stiff snake!
Moving to a new cage: How I see it – Your old cage was too small for you, now you can flap your wings and have more toys and be quieter. And you no longer have to share the cage with that obnoxious conure you don’t like. How the parrots see it – What did I do wrong that you have to punish me? What are all these scary things hanging from the top of this prison? Where’s my best friend, the obnoxious conure? I’m agoraphobic! (Note: How doves see it – What?)
Food, mine: How I see it – Here’s a taste, see if you like it and I will give more if you do. No, you can’t have that, it’s not good for you. No, you don’t like that, it will make you a Past Parrot! How the parrots see it – What is this horrible-smelling stuff you put in my bowl? I must throw it out. Yuck! Wait. Wait a minute. I do like that. This is yummy. Give me more. More! MORE MORE MORE!!! Do not hide your coffee/chocolate bar/avacado from me, I must have it.
Food, theirs: How I see it – I have lovingly prepared the best seed mix, the freshest pellets, and the healthiest fresh greens and fruits for you. I have put it on a cardboard tray so you can chew that up when you finish the food. How the parrots see it – What is this horrible-smelling stuff you put in my bowl? I must throw it to the bottom of the cage. Yuck! Wait. Wait a minute. I do like that. This is yummy. Give me more. More! MORE MORE MORE!!!
New toys: How I see it – I don’t want you to be bored, so I created/bought this special rope and wood and leather and hidden seeds in paper bags toy for you! It will give you hours of fun and keep you from screaming/feather picking/any bad behavior. (Note: Bad is ultimately subjective) How the parrots see it – You’re trying to kill me, aren’t you? This is a hangman’s noose, with scary blocks of wood and paper things. I don’t want it in my cage! I won’t go to that side of my cage until you remove the horror! Fine, hang it on the outside of the cage, but I won’t come out now. Ever. Even if you take the toy away. You have insulted me.
Friends coming over: How I see it – I want my birds to be well socialized, so I will bring them out and hope my friends don’t mind. Pass the birds around, feed them vegetables, they love those. Aren’t they the best pet/companion ever? How the parrots see it – Strangers! Murderers! Put me down! Mommy! Daddy! Help! I never eat those vegetables. Let me poop on your nice clothes. Okay, I’ll sit on your shoulder if I can eat your jewelry. Oops, sorry I broke your necklace. I’ll fly around the house to show you how sorry I am. How some of my friends see it – Let’s not go back there unless she promises to keep the damn birds in their cages! This sweater/necklace/watch is a family heirloom.
Bath time: How I see it – Healthy skin and feathers require occasional bathing, so I am breaking my back to give you bowls of fresh, clean water. Tomorrow I’ll dump them all out. If I have any energy left, I might fill them up again and put them back. If you don’t use the bowl, I’m coming around with the spray bottle! How the parrots see it – Thanks for the water, but my usual water tube isn’t empty or dirty. I guess I’ll just poop in it, then soak my pellets. Okay, now I’ll splash in it and get the birds in the next cage wet. This is fun. (Note: The water spray bottle is received with polar opposites in my flock. Cockatiels love it, I can spray until my hand falls off, and they would still want more. Conures aren’t thrilled. Budgies and love birds would rather have wet leaves to roll in. The Grays and the Amazon like it but will bite the nozzle given half a chance.)
There are many more situations where the flock and I have different opinions, like scary things outside, and why we have to go away and leave them alone for any length of time, and why we get up so early and go to bed so soon. These are the enjoyable mysteries of living with birds.