Thursday, June 11, 2009

Feathered Soap Opera

I have three parrots. They, along with the rabbit and the humans, have formed their own, mismatched little flock. I don't think they've really accepted the hamster. The drama that occurs in this little flock is incredible from day to day, and I really think it could appear as an award-winning daytime drama.
But first, some background!

We started with Loki, the cockatiel (see above), and a few years later we brought in Bailey, the hyperactive lovebird. Loki loved us completely. Bailey did not, but he was quite interested in Loki, who wanted nothing to do with another bird (ew, birds, humans are so much more civilized!). We had a little triangle going on for about a year. Bailey loved Loki who loved us who loved both of them, though Bailey did not love us back. The two ignored each other, although Bailey would occasionally chase Loki around the room in a misguided campaign of love.
The dominance issue was a weird one. I was head of the flock, but I expected them to establish some kind of second in command. They never really did. Bailey was the more dominant one - he's excellent at pushing people and birds around. He was, and is, however, completely in love with Loki, and he tended to let her get away with whatever she wanted.

About a year and half later, we brought in yet another bird (Loki still hasn't forgiven us). This was Tchaikovsky, the conure. Tchai was...not very good at interacting with other birds. He didn't know how. He was very earnest in his attempts to meet them, but he somehow managed to offend Bailey to no end. After their first meeting, during which Bailey firmly gave him a preening (grooming) to put him in his place (seen below), our tyrannical lovebird has not tolerated his presence. Bailey now took over the dominant position, although really it's more like Bailey's the boss, Loki's the boss' girlfriend, and Tchai is the new guy everybody wants to kick out.

We had assumed that perhaps Loki and Tchai, the two human-obsessed birds, would team up against Bailey. In typical parrot fashion, they proved us totally wrong. Loki and Bailey united against the newcomer. They now come as a pair. Loki still can't stand Bailey. She uses him as protection, because she has a baseless fear of Tchai, who wouldn't know how to pick a fight if he tried. Bailey, who is completely smitten with Loki now, is content to follow her around, occasionally doing a mating dance, and once in a while getting to preen her, which is the happiest moment of his day. We tell him he's rather pathetic, but he doesn't seem to care.

What a touching scene..........or not. Note: Loki doesn't actually attack Bailey, she doesn't have the guts. She just throws a big hissy fit and occasionally puts her wings in the air to show how tough she is. We are rarely impressed.

Tchai, meanwhile, is perfectly content to attach himself to the humans, who are much more willing to scratch his head. He's mostly given up trying to make friends with the older two, although he still occasionally tries to preen Loki. This of course sends her into a panic, and her bigfooted little boyfriend rushes to her rescue. It's no wonder Tchai's given up.

So let's review! We have:
* Unrequited love
* Action (in the AIR)
* Damsels in distress
* Big bosses
* Lots of noise (did I mention that? That's an integral part of the show.)
I think that is the formula for an award-winning soap opera right there!
Honestly, sometimes it's worth it to just sit back and watch your pets, because they are, besides being loving, loyal companions, excellent entertainment. Also, it's always good to know where everyone stands in your 'flock' (and trust me, if you have a bird, in their mind the whole household is part of the flock). Understanding flock dynamics means that you are understanding the bird's relationships with everyone else, and you can't go wrong with that!

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