Aside from the obvious work of feeding and keeping cages clean, one of the most challenging aspects of living with companion parrots is finding ways to keep them busy. A bored bird is an unhappy bird, and an unhappy bird often will resort to undesirable behaviors such as screaming, biting or feather destruction.
This is difficult enough with a parrot who can see, but it’s even more challenging for a blind bird. How do you entertain her?
You do the obvious. You take her to Home Depot.
Despite the fact that Luna is often afraid of strangers who get in her personal space, she loves to go bye-bye. This isn’t your everyday love, either, this is l-o-v-e, love. The other day, we had to run an errand to pick up some supplies, and as we headed out the door, we asked her if she wanted to be moved to another perch.
No response. That means no in Luna talk.
Then, just as a lark, since it was an unseasonably beautiful day, I asked, “Do you want to go bye-bye?”
Luna’s head popped up as if someone had shocked her in the tail. “Rrrrp!” she growled. That means yes in Luna talk. She scrambled off her perch onto my hand.
We climbed in the car, and drove a few blocks to Home Depot. We could have walked, it was such a nice day, but we didn’t want to have to carry all our purchases home.
Now I’m not sure if this is true in all areas, but our Home Depot doesn’t seem to care if people bring their well-behaved pets shopping. We weren’t the only people there with companion animals, though we were the only ones with a bird. We saw a variety of fluffy dogs stuffed in handbags, and one particularly pampered pooch was sitting on a white satin pillow inside a shopping cart.
I kid you not. A white satin pillow.
When I saw the woman I couldn’t hold back. “I guess it’s bring your pets to Home Depot Day,” I remarked.
She looked at me for a second, puzzled. Then she saw Luna on my shoulder. “I guess you are right!” she laughed.
Luna loved Home Depot. I could tell, because the entire time we were there, she purred like a noisy cat. I don’t know if this behavior is unique to macaws in general, Severe Macaws in particular, or just one of Luna’s odd little quirks, but it’s certainly endearing.
Before we went inside, we walked around in the garden department. We stopped by all the different flowers, looking for the ones that had the most scent. Although some people say that parrots don’t have much of a sense of smell, I am pretty sure that Luna uses hers to the fullest. As we walked around, I kept up a running commentary. If I could smell something, I’d tell her what it was. We wandered around outside in the sun, sniffing plants.
I’m sure the nearby shoppers thought I was crazy. I remember an elderly gentleman looking at me as if he wasn’t sure which one of us had lost our marbles. Was it me because I was talking to a bird, or was it him for imagining me carrying on a conversation with a bird?
Luna purred the entire time, except when we had to pass through the section with rather stinky garden chemicals. I think she could smell them, and didn’t much care for the odor. I didn’t much like it either, so I increased my pace and quickly walked through. When we reached the other, better-smelling side, she resumed her happy noise. When we went up to the check-out, I explained the sounds she was hearing. I didn’t want the price scanner to alarm her, so I explained we were going through the check-out to pay for our stuff. The checker smiled as we went through.
In fact, all of the staff smiled indulgently as we walked the aisles with Luna. Nobody seemed to care that I had a walking, talking pooping machine on my shoulder.
Of course she was very good. She didn’t poop anywhere. She’s usually pretty good about giving me warning when we are indoors and she needs to let one go. Once, we took her to our local office supply store and she suddenly had to go. Halfway through our rounds in the store, she started giving me hard nibbles on the face.
That was my clue to run. I abandoned my cart and made a beeline for the door. I got her off my shoulder and was heading for a garbage can, when she let a really big poop go. It splattered all over the blacktop parking lot. The splat mark was probably 18 inches across.
When I headed back in the store, the manager (who knows us) asked me what the mad dash was all about.
“Luna had to go to the bathroom,” I explained.
The manager was quite pleased that she hadn’t made the mess in her store. If she had, I would have cleaned it up, of course. When we go out with the birds, we always bring along some paper towels.
As we were leaving Home Depot, we gathered a bit of a crowd. Some kids came by and looked at the bird. I warned them not to touch her, as I didn’t want someone to be bitten. Luna was in a pretty good mood, and probably wouldn’t have chomped on anyone, but I didn’t want to chance spoiling what had so far been a fun outing.
After we left, we stopped by our CPA’s office to pick up our taxes. Luna was being good, but I stayed on the tile part of the floor, “just in case.” When we finished, we headed for home, and I had a happy macaw. She had fun going bye bye, we got our errands done, and everybody was happy.
Enriching a bird’s life doesn’t have to be complicated, time consuming, or expensive. Sometimes, a simple trip bye-bye is more than enough to keep a bird entertained.