Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Unfairness of Parrots

As I've mentioned before, we have several parrots.  One of our birds is definitely special-needs, and due to past past abuse, is completely blind.  This particular bird, Moonie, can be extremely difficult to handle, especially when she is scared.

But as difficult as she can be, and as profoundly as she has been abused, she's still managed to keep her absolutely huge loving heart.

She loves me, and she loves my wife.

But best of all, she adores our pet sitter.

I'm happy that Moonie loves our sitter, because we do have to leave the birds from time to time.  Since Moonie is so challenged, I would feel really bad if we had to leave her with someone she didn't care about or trust.  She's been betrayed by humans in the worst way, robbed of her sight, and yet she still manages to find some love and trust for certain people.

Our pet sitter is also our friend.  When she comes to visit, Moonie cries for her to come pick her up.  When our friend obliges, Moonie responds by purring happily, preening, and giving gentle beak kisses.  It's quite adorable to watch, and I love seeing that Moonie will do that to someone besides me.

I know that if anything terrible were to happen to me and FosterEema, Moonie would have a safe and loving home.

Recently, our friend/sitter dropped by the house for a social visit.  Like always, Moonie was quickly on her shoulder expressing her undying affection as only she can do.

Danielle, upon witnessing Moonie's avian exuberance, complained, "That's not fair! She never does that to me!"

And it's true, Moonie never cuddles and kisses with Danielle in the same way that she does with me or our sitter.  Moonie's relationship with Danielle could be best described as "difficult," and it's clear the bird mostly just tolerates her attention on good days, and fears and despises her on bad ones.  Moonie is capable of delivering some pretty ugly bites when scared, and Danielle has received more than her fare share of pinches, nips and even a few bites, because of the way she approaches the bird.

Parrots, unlike dogs and cats, aren't really pre-programmed to automatically like people.  Each bird has its own personality, and when cultivating a relationship with a parrot, one has to remember that one has to make themselves likeable to the avian brain.

Jumping up and down, throwing temper tantrums, and screaming are not ways to make friends with a parrot.  A dog or a cat might quickly forget that a kid had a rage, but parrots are a lot like elephants because they have a very long memory.  Even Chicken, who is absolutely our most forgiving bird, has at best an uneasy relationship with Danielle because she is so unpredictable.

It was hard trying to explain to Danielle just why the birds don't respond to her in the way that they respond to other people.  For Danielle to understand why the birds don't like her, she would have to recognize and take responsibility for some of her undesirable behaviors.  She needs to understand that with parrots, she can't be hyper one minute and calm the next, and expect that the birds are going to trust her.  She can't scream at them one minute and then want to make kissy faces the next, and have them respond positively.

It makes me sad that my kid can't enjoy the kind of relationship we have with our birds.

But then again, it makes me sad that she can't have the kind of relationship we'd like to have with her.


  1. It seems Danielle may feel a lot like Moonie due to her past abuses. It may be harder for her to find the big loving place in her heart or too scary to open it up again to anyone else. While it won't change the hurt feelings, pain, and anger any of you feel, it may help to think about hoe you choose to approach Moonie when you a dealing with Danielle pinches, nips, and bites.

  2. It's so hard with our kids to explain why others don't want to be around them. You don't want to hurt their self-esteem, but at the same time, they need to know they can't treat other people that way.

    My kids have been avoiding/ shunning my oldest daughter because she is an emotionally unstable basketcase. She gets mad at them and wants them to be punished for being mean to her. I admit, sometimes they can say inappropriate things to her, but they're young kids and I can't expect them to just take her issues and handle her like adults have to.

    Recently I told her that while the family loves her, they don't like her right now. It was probably too harsh, but I'm tired of sacrificing everyone else and forcing them to pretend they want to be around her. She's in RTC right now, and the kids are enjoying this time with her away. I still feel guilty about feeling the same way.



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