African grey on hand


by Bob Kennedy

       The sun came up on the most beautiful day I had seen in quite some time. The temperature was in the low 60s, the sun was bright, and the air was so clean you would have thought that the industrial revolution had never occurred and that coal had never been discovered either. I opened the blinds and woke the chickens (well, not really chickens, but I like to think of them that way anyway) and stepped out into that glorious day to fill the bird feeders and clean up the mess from yesterday’s visitors to the feeders.

   When I returned to let the guys out of their cages for the day, Opus CAG started singing “Old McOpus had a farm, e-i-e-i-o” and both TAG Bingo and him started quacking like ducks and started laughing maniacally. Of course, I couldn’t resist and told them how much I loved them and Opus decided that he wanted to cuddle. Now, this may not seem unusual to most of you, but Opus only cuddles, normally, when something has saddened me almost to the point of despair. Otherwise his loving consists of talking and trying (often successfully) to outwit me. Of course, I couldn’t resist cuddling with him on that perfect morning. He lowered his head for skritches and allowed me to pet him and kiss his “feathered butt,” one of the very few things he lets me do daily without getting bummed out with me. Then he started asking “Can I have a kiss?” Well, of course, he can always have a kiss, that goes without saying.

   So, I leaned over to kiss him, and quick as greased lightning, I had a very hard beak firmly clamped on my nose. Have you ever been standing around with a pound of parrot hanging from your nose?

   I don’t recommend it; especially when that parrot is swinging wildly as though he had discovered a new and more fun sort of boing. While I know better than to add to a bird’s sense of happy excitement by making a fuss over something as common and simple as a beak clamp, all my training and all the behavioral advice I’ve given over the years were trapped somewhere inside the red cloud of incredible pain blotting out my brain. Only the flight or fight response was operational at the time and there was no fight possible. I mean, I’m 6-03, 220 pounds and this one pound parrot was beating me up quite efficiently.

   Fortunately, my wife was working from home that day, and she ran to the rescue. She was finally able to detach the (the now laughing hysterically) Opus from my proboscis.  Bingo (Bingalo) was also having a laughing jag going herself. As she was putting him back in his cage, Opus uttered the immortal words “Oh crap!”

   My wife was kind enough to leave the room before she broke down laughing. That’s one of the reasons I love her so. (my nose has healed just fine)




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