This post is inspired by a comment by DoodleBird the other day. She wrote: "I love reading about your flock. I sure wonder what it would be like to have more than one bird...CRAZY! (love the regurgitation story)"
Which, of course, made me think. As always, thanks for the compliment :)
Shannon wrote, "I have four birds and I don't think I could handle more than that without compromising the quality of their lives. I wouldn't have sufficient time to give them all the attention they need, some needing more than others."
I completely agree. And to be honest, there are many days when I believe that we have too many parrots. With one or two birds, it's possible to be a family that owns parrots. When that number inches up towards six, as in our case, the reverse seems to happen. The parrots own us. Pretty much every decision we make revolves around them.
For example, for years we couldn't take a vacation because we didn't have anyone trustworthy to watch them. With one or two, we could have boarded them with my parents. That's just not possible with six. Now, since we do have a wonderful bird sitter, we are taking as many vacations as possible. We don't know how long we'll have her (we may move, she may move, unanticipated life events, etc.) so we have to take advantage now!
With one or two, we could take them along with us when we go for overnight visits with my parents (they live about an hour away). With six, that's impossible, so we don't stay overnight.
The other main area where this comes up is in my daily life, especially when I'm home alone with the parrots. Of our 6, 2 are what I'd consider low maintenance (Daphne and Calypso), 1 is medium maintenance (Beeps), 2 are high maintenance (Max and Stella) and 1 is off-the-charts-extremely high maintenance (Rocky, of course).
When Thomas is home, he provides the vast majority of the attention needed by Rocky and as needed with the others, especially Beeps. Each of us tries to spend at least a few minutes of quality time with every parrot every day. When Thomas is not home, Rocky demands attention from me, which takes away from the time I have for the others.
Not to sound whiny, but with so many parrots requiring so much attention, that doesn't leave us a lot of time to ourselves. It's difficult to read or knit around them because Beeps flies over and wants to play with my book or yarn. Or Stella will fly over and nudge me with her beak until I acquiesce and pet her head. Or Max flies to the stairs (where she knows she's not allowed) and starts calling, "Hello! Come here! Up! Up!" Or Rocky starts screaming, for no apparent reason, and breaks my concentration. Or Rocky climbs up on the couch and fake attacks my leg (protected by a blanket or likely to be an actual attack). Or Stella climbs on the lizard tank and I have to get her off before she gets any closer to the couch and risks burning herself on their lights. Or Rocky climbs on Daphne's cage to provoke a reaction and I have to remove him. I could go on and on... Before I know it, I've spent 10 minutes on the same page, with little comprehension due to the interruptions. Or I've lost stitches in my scarf by setting it down mid-row to rescue someone. And I think I've mentioned the time when Rocky bit through the cord on Thomas's video game controller at the worst possible moment (he now has a wireless).
This is what my life will be like for the next 50 years. They don't grow up, move out of the house, and visit only occasionally. They never leave (just like Bob Wiley in What About Bob?)
Of course, as I've mentioned many times before, these parrots are all here to stay. I love them all and know they're about as happy as captive parrots can be. To be quite honest, I can't imagine our lives without the parrots. We got Max when I was 23; she's known me pretty much all of my adult life. Thomas and I had been married less than a year when we bought her. We'll grow old together. But would she be happier if she were the only parrot in our lives? Quite possibly. There are times where I think she enjoys the ambient company of the parrots (they rarely physically interact -- only an occasional tussle that is quickly broken up). But there are other times when her jealousy surfaces and I wonder if we shortchanged her by making her share our attention with so many others?
As I mentioned yesterday, there are 5 greys up for adoption at the rescue where I volunteer, with another one possibly being surrendered this weekend. I'm going to have to stay strong and not bring any of them home, no matter how much it causes my heart to break. I must be fair to the parrots already in my home.
Sorry it seems like I've been a little down lately. I'll have more upbeat posts in the future! It's just been a rough few weeks due to the demands of Thomas's job (he had to spend 25% of his nights at the hospital in December but only 16% in January), my job, my volunteering (not parrot-related), the holiday, etc. And then having all of those greys surrendered has made me a bit melancholy.