22 November 2010

Kenobi's Vay-Kay

On Friday I loaded Kenobi into the back of the car for his trip the west coast, his longest car ride since we brought him home for the first time almost two years ago. He got to travel in the comfort of his normal cage, litter box and big pile of hay included, unlike the birds who have special travel carriers. With the bubble glass of the hatchback over this head, Bunny-Balls got a window seat view across the state.

The trip over was fine, he slept most of the time. It was funny to hear him munching on hay-snacks every so often as he'd awake for a few minutes. With his cage right behind my seat I could hear all of his little sounds that normally go unnoticed as we tower above him around the house. His perturbed little grunts were loud and clear as he slid across his cage through corners and thumped into the side. By the time we made it to the highway he learned to ride in his litter box, which is clipped to the side of the cage, to stay locked in place.

I don't know what was going through the little guy's head as I carried him out the door of the apartment to load him in the car, but I'm pretty sure he thought he was being abandoned when I stopped for a quick break at a rest area two hours into the drive. As I walked back to the car I could see him through the back-glass standing on his hind legs sniffing the air. He followed me with his eyes until I opened the car door, and then started biting his cage-bars like he does in the morning when he's ready to come out. I wanted to grab an information brochure from the kiosk for him to nibble on, but they were all soggy from a recent rain.

Kenobi was greeted by Ms. Flock Advisor very warmly. He hopped his circles around her and then explored his new domain. The carpet in her new apartment is shaggier than what he's used, so we had to offer a lot of distractions to keep his mind off of grazing on the grass-like floors.

This is the most exposure Sprite has ever had to Kenobi, and he was very uneasy about having a bunny under his cage. When Sprite lived on the east coast he was in our bedroom. Kenobi was not allowed in the bedroom, so Sprite only saw him through the doorway and when he was out in the living room on his stand. He reacted to Kenobi by displaying an array of territorial behaviors and postures that we don't normally see from him. He paraded on the top of his cage with his tail feathers wide, showing the bright red and deep blue hues, and his head feathers doing their best impression of a crest. At one point he spread his wings out wide, which is something I don't remember seeing him do before in a territorial scenario. All of this visual display was accompanied by a stream of robot sounds, clicks, and grunts coming from his throat. As impressive as it was, Kenobi didn't take any notice and just went about his business of chowing on dropped peanut shells and fruity pellets. He also went ahead and claimed some toys that Sprite had carelessly dropped.

Lennon and Kenobi rekindled their feud. They are still in a battle for the attention of Ms. Flock Advisor. Lennon seems a little less-apt to fly away as before. When Kenobi gets too close, Lennon's crest goes up and he spreads his wings as wide as they will go, and repeats "Hi good-bird" until Kenobi yields. Kenobi doesn't really yield so much as get sidetracked, as bunnies do, but Lennon is still happy to keep his perch on Ms. Flock Advisor. The two can agree on one thing though, Grape Nuts.

Back on the east coast, Coconut is doing very well with his target training. He targeted outside the cage for the first time last week. This was a major step for him. He is still showing a lot of eagerness for his sessions and has great attention. Even when he fails, he comes right back to try it again. It is so good to see him thinking through how to achieve his rewards. If I can get him a little more used to the presence of the camera, I will get a video up of one of his sessions.

Cher said her one phrase again last week, which makes a total of about four times that I have ever heard it. This is a constant argument between me and Ms. Flock Advisor as she does not believe that Cher is actually saying, "Stop it!" She says I am hearing things and that Cher just grunts. I think it is an exact mimic, and quite fitting that the most difficult bird we have would learn such a phrase. The first time I heard it she was biting the neck of my shirt. I kept saying, "Cher, Stop it!" Finally, I went to grab her to get her off of me when she wouldn't stop, and I would swear it was a recording of my own voice that came out when she said, "Stop it!" for the first time. Trouble is, she hardly ever says it. I am yet to find a good trigger, but Ms. Flock Advisor has been present now at least two times when she's said it but still thinks it is just unintelligible grunting. I'll keep working at it, I just wish she would pick up something else to say. Normal birds say, "Hello."

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