Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Solo bottling

I don't have any pictures to accompany this story since it took place yesterday while I was at work. Thomas got to leave work early, so decided to bottle some beer that was ready to go. This is something that's easier to do with two people. He could have waited a couple of hours until I got home, or we could have done it this weekend. Instead, he did it himself, and chaos ensued.

I knew something had happened when I walked in the kitchen and only Calypso was out with Thomas. The rest of the parrots were in their cages. I was then informed that Thomas and Max were not speaking to each other right now. Then I got the whole story.

As I've mentioned before, Thomas is more of a soft touch than I am. He feels guilty when he's home and the parrots are in their cages. While I try to have the parrots out as much as possible when I'm home, I realize there are circumstances under which it's easier for everyone if the parrots are caged. This would have been one of those circumstances.

He kept Daphne caged (due to her smaller size and the potential for a disastrous bird-on-bird incident to occur) but let everyone else out. Of course, everyone quickly migrated into the kitchen where he was brewing, as they wanted to be part of the action. As he was assembling his bottling supplies, Beeps started attacking him, so Beeps had to go in his cage. (Add beer bottling to the list of things that sets of a flying attack by this caique).

Thomas then got into bottling and reached a point in the process that required his constant presence. He was siphoning beer from the bucket into the bottles and couldn't stop because he'd have to set the hose on an unsterilized surface, which would add a lot of extra work and time for him.

Max noticed this weakness and pounced. She flew to the top of the fridge, where she is not allowed to be. She'll usually listen to the "Off!" command; however, she wasn't listening this time. Instead, she started strutting around the top of the fridge while saying, "good girl!" Thomas repeatedly told her she was not acting like a good girl and she needed to get down. She strutted some more. So he started throwing my chapstick tubes to get her off! He made sure he wouldn't hit her, but still. (I was not happy about this when he was telling me the story, and he has promised not to do it again.) She finally got off, but was angry that he was throwing chapsticks at her (understandably so).

So, she started buzzing Thomas as he was bottling, flying low and pushing off of his head. When this didn't provoke a reaction, she started buzzing Calypso! This is very strange, as the two of them generally get along. But she'd found a way to get a reaction since Calypso started freaking out and Thomas told her to go to her stand. Instead she just buzzed him some more!

Thomas claims that on one of these buzzes, he put his hand up and plucked her out of the air. Then, he set his bottling stuff down and went to put her in her cage. Of course she was squawking and unhappy with her undignified treatment. Stella came to her rescue by buzzing Thomas, and then Rocky flew over, grabbed on to Thomas's arm and attacked him. They really do protect their own!

The result was that Max, Stella, and Rocky all got put in their cages, Thomas had to resterilize his bottling equipment, and finished the process with only the quiet and well-behaved Calypso as a witness.

I came home shortly after this had gone on -- he had just finished capping the last bottle -- to find an upset husband, chapstick tubes all over the kitchen, and angry parrots.

After we put the bottles away and everyone had calmed down, we let the parrots out, Thomas gave everyone a nut, and peace was restored. Thomas and Max are speaking again.

So, Thomas and I had a big discussion about this incident. He knows that I'm a big fan of setting the environment up for success. Knowing the personalities of our parrots, it is not reasonable to expect that he could bottle for 30-45 minutes without having to physically intervene, especially if the parrots (read: Max) know that he is otherwise occupied. He should have caged everyone before starting or waited for me to come home since the role I play in bottling allows me to stop and easily restart. (I keep him company during most of it and then put caps on the bottles.)

We also started discussing about how the parrots behave much better when both of us are there than they do for either one of us individually. I'm not sure if having an extra human there evens the field a bit, or if they act out when their whole flock isn't together -- who knows!

In any case, no lasting harm was done and hopefully Thomas has a plan in place to prevent anything like this from happening again on his watch.

And it's incidents like this that make me think we're at our parrot limit.


Best in Flock said...

That was too funny! I love how they all conspired to cause havoc!! Of course I support 100% the idea of "setting them up for success" but your birds are too funny and that was a great story ... and you (the humans) have a great sense of humor about the chaos. It sounds like you have an awesome flock dynamic.

Mary said...

I hesitated to post this because he threw chapstick tubes at her and then plucked her out of the air! Definitely not things that people should do with their own parrots.

But it was so funny when he was recounting this and I knew no lasting damage would be done to his relationships with the parrots.

We are really lucky with the flock dynamic we have!