23 January 2010

Progress Amid Chaos

The cupboards around the dorm were bare this morning, which meant a trip to the farmer's market was in order to restock. For the birds, we now have: apples, pears, starfruit, bananas, and sweet potato. I tend to follow my own nose when it comes to shopping for the feather brains (who, incidentally, lack a sense of smell) as the Flock Advisers will be sharing in their windfall of produce. Bunny Balls was not forgotten, 3 heads of Romaine came home for him.

With the pleasant foraging behind me, I decided to get caught up on some chores. I got the play tree that I bought last weekend disinfected and ready for use. While Cher tested it out for the rest of the flock, I moved on to cleaning and disinfecting the dorm itself. This resulted in little, besides the breaking of some recent Ms. Flock Adviser acquisitions: two of four cocktail glasses, and a depression glass relish tray. All were bought at an antique store...so yes, irreplaceable.

With my hopes of being industrious dashed, I turned my focus to more mellow endeavors. For an Ancient Literature class, I began a contemplative reading of The Birds by Aristophanes (irony, or fate?). Also I had hoped to work on my relationship with Sprite today, and work on some experimental training I've been doing with Coconut for a few days. For Sprite, I gathered up all of the unwanted phone books laying around the community. We have found that he loves to methodically dismantle magazines, so I figured some phone book mutilation would suit him just fine. I also pulled out the spray bottle to give him a bath. He's funny about bathing; sometimes he jumps right in, other times he has zero interest at all. Today's bath time started out a little lethargic, but when I made him move around to follow the shower he showed some life. By the time the bottle ran empty, he was on top of his cage with wings spread mumbling what I can only surmise was an excited proclamation.

Coconut's training has consisted of bridge conditioning. What I am teaching him is to associate the word "okay" with that ultimate birdy goodness: millet. The first session took about twenty minutes for him to calm down enough to eat. Having human attention focused on him is something he doesn't experience often, but much progress was made today. When I put my hand in his cage with the millet spray he behaved as if he knew the drill (which is exactly the goal). After "okay"ing his millet binge for a minute or two, I introduced the next phase: target training. The little guy is way too edgy to just shove the target stick into his world, so I just let him get some millet from the same hand that I held the target stick in. It took some time, but he eventually tolerated the presence of the target stick enough to get his beak on some of that delectable millet. It's basically just crack-addict psychology. Coconut may have the demeanor of a Red Bull-charged flea, but he'd chew right through the Advantage spot if a dog's neck were made of millet.

On the parrot-front, this was a successful day at the Feather Dorm. The glass shards have been swept up, and Ms. Flock Adviser has accepted my apologies for breaking her antiques. I am appreciative of that. It isn't often that the Flock Advisers are more destructive than the birds. Then again, Kenobie is roaming the pad right now. Don't hand out a Destructor of the Day award just yet.

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