Old World Aviaries
The lighter side
edited by Scott Lewis
This is contributed by Garry J. Wallen, president of the Alaska Bird Club.
Parrots have long been refining their selection of activities that drive humans nuts! The following half-dozen activities are involved in 90 percent of the cases of Human-Avian Insanity Reaction Syndrome, or HAIRS:
- The Great Toe Hunt: where a bird, large or small, chases human feet
with the ferocity of a pit bull on crack. This is an impressive activity when
performed by a bird that can assume maximum fluffage, such as a Moluccan
Cockatoo, but generates more avian humor and human embarrassment, if performed
by a parrotlet or budgie. Humans seem to have an instinctive need to protect
their toes and perform interesting dances and vocalizations in an effort
to avoid a painful beaking.
- The Garbage Tornado: where wings are flapped to produce maximum air movement while holding tightly to a perch. The result is a whirlwind of detritus from the bottom of the cage. This is an activity usually launched just after the appearance of the Vacuum of Death and frequently results in the Dance of Major Frustration on the part of the human victim.
- The Fountain Of Poop: a disgusting activity, reserved for those special moments when guests are admiring the “pretty bird.” The trigger for this activity is usually a phrase like “Are they messy?” followed by an answer in the negative. Within seconds, a fecal presentation is made that makes the great African termite mounds pale in comparison. Some special options, exercised at the discretion of the avian involved, can include pooping for distance, special aromatic overtones, and saving the presentation until placed on the arm of the enquiring guest. The probability of an occurrence of the latter option is directly proportional to the cost of the clothing or the importance of the guest.
- The Word: a favorite game also played in the presence of guests. A
word or phrase of startling vulgarity, the suggestion of a barely-possible
physical act, or the imitation of an embarrassing human body noise is presented
in the presence of a guest. The vocalization is usually something never heard
before the time of utterance and may involve a word, phrase, or sound NEVER
heard in the household previously (parrots share these special items in an
unknown and mysterious way). This maximizes the embarrassment of the human
host because no amount of incredulity or statements like “Pastor Smith, I don't
know WHERE he learned that word!” can erase the damage done.
- The Hypersonic Scream: All birds, regardless of size or temperament,
have the ability to create a high-pitched scream, screech, or cry that can
be tuned to the nervous system of their human victims. Utterance of this sound
can result in any or all of the following in a human: hair loss, spontaneous
projectile vomiting, loss of bladder or bowel control, sudden urge to perform
unspeakable acts of violence, and the desire to view episodes of Baywatch.
The sound has been described variously as “a cat being attacked with a belt
sander,” “a banshee being attacked with a belt sander,” and “a belt sander
being attacked by a radial arm saw and an F-15.” In some cases, neighbors have
interpreted the sound as that of a human being dismembered with a Taco Bell “spork” and
have called the authorities.
- The Remodeling: an activity involving a bird, a beak, and expensive
household woodwork, carpet, flooring, paneling, drywall, or furnishings. In
some cases, fecal material is used to change the complexion of furniture. In
other cases, the beak is used to turn expensive household building and flooring
materials into compost. The brilliance of this activity is that, though is
creates great anger in the human victim, it also creates a greater sense of
guilt which makes the human think that the damage was “all MY fault. If I had
only locked the cage. If I had only given my bird more toys. Oh, he must be
*so* bored and it's all MY FAULT.”
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