Sometimes, when the air is cool and the sun is low on the horizon,
I take Rita outside with me to spray water on the plants in the pergola.
She likes to sit in this corner on this particular chair.
The opposite corner is virtually identical with the same plants,
but when I put her on that chair once, she flew to the floor
and waddled over to her chair.
Sometimes, parrots have preferences just as humans do.
I began taking Rita outside when she was very young.
She loved being in the trees while I worked in the Secret Garden.
Of course, her flight feathers are clipped.
(Never take a fully-flighted bird outside without a harness.)
As I was spraying the plants, I forgot about Rita and accidentally sprayed her
with the force set for plants … not for parrots.
She was offended and flew down onto the floor.
Then she glared at me and waddled off under a Sago Palm nearby.
Parrots are not puppies.
They are never truly domesticated.
Parrots can, and often do, decide to become our companions.
Although they adjust to life indoors with us,
we must remember that it is never by choice.
And it is only on their terms with mutual respect.
I had failed to respect her.
When she was certain that I’d turned off the water,
she emerged from the safety of the palm.
She is always happy when I lift her up into the trees.
She spreads her wings, stretches to her full height, and explores the tree
snapping off any new twigs in her path.
There is a magical transformation in Rita’s demeanor and body language when she enters the trees.
As if she has gone home again. She is confident and assured and strangely alert.
Her eyes constantly darting from place to place,
the pupils dilating and pinning with excitement and anticipation.
One has only to see a parrot sitting among tree leaves
to understand where they belong.
When Rita is ready to go indoors, she is eager to come to me for the ride.
When she is not ready, she protests
in what would appear to be full-attack mode.
If I didn’t know her, I would believe the show.
While Rita was enjoying herself in the Wax Myrtle tree,
I decided the time was right to introduce Cheeky to the Garden.
We would begin with a trip to the safety of the pergola.
Since he had learned to trust me, I felt it was safe to trust him.
I set him in a Staghorn Fern basket and stepped away.
Sure enough, he stood there for only a few seconds before he began to explore.
I was a bit surprised that he chose to climb onto the base leaf of the fern.
But, he seemed confident enough so I continued to encourage him.
He watched me and listened.
Within a couple of minutes he began to explore
with such enthusiasm that his obvious joy made me laugh.
He alternated between investigating and looking back at me as if he wondered what was so funny!
I have no idea whether Staghorn Ferns are poisonous for parrots,
but I allowed him to “feel” the texture before I called him to come down from the leaf.
I will research before I allow him to play there again.
When he climbed down from the leaf and began to look at the bromeliads on the floor below,
I decided it was time to end his frolic in the pergola for the day.
It is far better to correct a mistake before the parrot has made it.
Rita and Cheeky enjoyed their time in the Garden.
And so did I.
NOTE: If you would like to read about how I am training the baby, let me know.
If you are interested, I will occasionally post our progress. I don’t want
to bore you with photographs of Parrot Kindergarten… 😉