We have two birds, Augustus, a Quaker parrot of about 22 years and Mister Squeaky, a Green-Cheeked Conure of about six years. Mister Squeaky was named by his original owners and I have often dropped the Mister part. I don’t think Squeaky is quite at the age or stage where he should be called Mister.
Each bird has his own cage. Yes, they are both males since neither has laid an egg although Squeaky has laid every item on top of and inside his cage. He also lays his cage itself, top and inside. Even in the middle of the night you can hear him going-at-it inside his cage. For sure, he is an amazing bird. He is the horniest creature I have ever run across. You can read an article titled “The Four-Hour Erection” on this web site about Squeaky’s sexual proclivities.
These birds are at war. It is not a biting, bloody, rip-into-their-feathery-bodies’ war. It is a property war of attrition; who can gain the most of the other bird’s territory in a day.
Here’s how it goes. Their cages are next to each other. Both birds are out of their cages most of the time. Every other day we put a bath on top of Squeaky’s cage which he uses with delight. He looks somewhat like a drenched ragamuffin when finished with his ablutions. But Augustus, who used to bathe in his French-white CorningWare “tub” in the kitchen, has recently decided that he would take over Squeaky’s bath and CorningWare be damned.
Now we know Augustus has done this because he is a monstrous pooper and leaves his “calling cards” (oh, yes, multiple poops) in Squeaky’s bath water. Squeaky leaves no poop at all.
We used to call Augustus the stealth pooper but there is nothing stealth about him. Everything in the house – chairs, tables, drain-board next to the sink, bed, bathroom, books – in short, everything everywhere in the house is an occasion for him to let it rip, including your shoulder (which usually drips down your back) and on top of your head.
Augustus befouls Squeaky’s bath and he takes his precious time about it. Squeaky might bathe for a couple of minutes but Augustus can be in there up to 10 or 15 minutes. As he does his dirties, he eyes Squeaky. “Take that you little runt!” his expression says. (Even though a parrot’s face never changes, it does. Oh, yes it does. In some mystical way, you know exactly what that face is saying.)
When Squeaky sees the poop floating in his bath’s water, does he get upset? “Hey, you miserable senior citizen, do your dumping somewhere else!” No. Instead, he jumps right onto Augustus’ cage, climbs down the bars, goes inside and eats Augustus’ food. Now, we feed both birds the exact same diet. What’s in Augustus’ cage is also in Squeaky’s cage.
Yesterday each bird was in the other bird’s cage devouring his opponent’s food.
Augustus’ cage is somewhat taller than Squeaky’s. Parrots tend to prefer being at the topmost area of the cage – which I guess is a substitute for a tree – and we felt that since Augustus was the far more senior bird that he should have the taller cage and the advantages that height affords.
Now on top of each of their cages are toys and perches. When Squeaky sees Augustus heading back to home base, Squeaky will swiftly climb to the top of Augustus’ cage and take prime position on the perch. Augustus comes over, eyes Squeaky and gets on the perch too. Thankfully the perch is long enough to accommodate the both of them.
But here is the rub. The perch arcs in the middle and that is the highest point on top of the cage. Augustus slowly moves to that point which is where Squeaky at first sits. Squeaky is smaller than Augustus and he slowly moves from that spot.
Squeaky does not give up his hunt for the higher position. He just flies up to the top of the curtains and takes position there. Augustus is not interested in going way up there, not at his advanced age, anyway. After a bath and a meal and getting Squeaky to move, the poor old guy is tired; he then climbs down his cage and goes inside for one of his many daily naps. While he naps, Squeaky comes down and resumes the prime position on top of Augustus’ perch.
This war continues all day. Who will win it? I think because of Augustus’ age, Squeaky has the advantage, but old Augustus will keep fighting to the very end—of the afternoon, that is. Until bedtime. Then without realizing it Augustus adopts the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll think about it tomorrow. For tomorrow is another day.”
Frank’s latest books are Confessions of a Wayward Catholic; I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps, and I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack. Available from Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.