Saturday, June 12, 2010

Adventures with Parrots

Dr. Steve and Nancy, missionaries who live on the University Campus in Haut Limbe, have a few pets that they absolutely love. These include a cat, 3 parakeets, 2 love birds, and most importantly, 2 parrots who they raised since they were babies. Everyone around here knows that Nancy loves these parrots very much. They are quite beautiful birds, but they do have a bit of an attitude and like to bite people sometimes – so not everyone is as fond of the birds as she.

Anyways, when Dr. Steve and Nancy are away sometimes, Shauna and I have house/bird sat for them. We know how many times to feed each of the birds and change their water. The parrots have a cage that they stay in that we bring into the house every evening for the night. A lot of times when they bring the parrots in for the night, they will let them out of the cage to crawl around abit (their wings are normally clipped so they can’t fly). Nancy has no problem putting them back into the cage before bed by simply saying “step up” and they climb onto her hand and she puts them in the cage. Now, when Shauna and I attempt to put them back in the cage for the night it’s quite a different story. We don’t let them step up onto our hands (because they have a tendency to bite), we use a prop for them to step on to. We usually try to sweet talk them and tell them how much Nancy loves them as we ask them to “step up” onto the prop. This can process can take up to 20 or 30 minutes for us and includes much laughter and frustration for both of us.

Currently, Steve and Nancy are in the States for vacation. While Shauna and I are not staying at the house this time, we still have a key to go over and use the internet in their living room. There are some other people looking after the birds. Thursday morning at about 8:30 I walked over to their house to start my morning work. As I walked up to the door, the birds had already been put outside for the day – this is normal. What wasn’t normal was that both of the birds were climbing around outside the cage. I took my computer to put it inside and see if anyone was in the house – no one there. So I grabbed the prop to try to get them to climb on and put them back in the cage. Amazingly, they cooperated and I got them back in the cage and closed the cage door tightly. I was puzzled by how they were able to escape, but I went inside to start my work.

After about 10 minutes, I looked out the window and noticed that one of the parrots was outside of the cage. I go to investigate and see that the cage door is closed again – how in the world did they open the door and then close it again. I tried again to use the prop to lure the disobeying parrot inside, but it was not working so well and Mrs. Cat was sitting not far away.

I decided it was time to bring reinforcements, so I walked over to Laurie’s house – the next yard over. She knows the birds well and is helping look after them. I told her the situation and she comes and helps me get the bird inside the cage and we bring the cage inside the house for the day. She tells me that the night before, the parrots had gotten out as well and one had flown up into a tree and one of the groundskeepers had to come and climb the tree to rescue it. The poor groundskeeper never climbs trees, but did it for Nancy because he knows just how much she loves them.

So I continue on in my work and after awhile I leave the house (all locked up with the parrots safely inside their cage) to go to the clinic for about a half hour. When I return, one of the parrots is out again! I coax it back into the cage and then look for something to tie the door closed with. I finally find an elastic band, tie the door and it works for the rest of the day. I think that the problem is solved.

Yesterday morning, Shauna and I both go over to their house in the morning and again a parrot is outside the cage! We are puzzled because the elastic is still tied holding the door closed! We do see that the bottom of the cage has a tray that slides out that is a bit loose so maybe the parrots worked together to push it out to escape. Who knows? We get the parrot back in the cage and in the house and give them a very stern talking too!

I never thought that I would have so many conversations with parrots in my life! Oh the joys of living in Haiti!


Rose :) said...

Ha ha. Love the story....mostly cuz I can picture you guys try to sweet talk those birds into their cage. Smart birds working together to get out and keeping everyone on their toes. You forgot to mention how incredibly noisy those birds can be. My goodness. Made me jump every time!!!

jenny said...

That's a great story! Parrots are really smart, too, so they probably were scheming with each other as to how to get out of the cage!