This is a continuation of the last set of entries. I’m enjoying reading again about my first days with Smith (Dogen).

Catherine (Connor’s mate in the early days) on the bowl with some Cherry heads

6/3/95 Saturday

I covered him up completely last night and left him alone until around 7:00 am. I put the heat lamp on immediately. His head hangs extremely, but his eyes are bright, he’s up on the top perch, and willing to go eat on his own. Still “grinding” his beak. [Sign of contentment in a parrot.] I have to keep him quiet. He’s not trembling. Seems to have no difficulty breathing.

Around 8:30 I moved him up to the bedroom again–with the heat lamp. While I was cleaning out his cage he totally surprised me by leaping out of his opened door. I assumed he was much too lethargic to do something I like that. I had to grab him with my bare hand. He screamed and opened up a new hole in my finger!

I must remember: he’s a wild bird.

Checking in on him at 11:10 I found him lying on the bottom of the cage again. Turned the lamp off for a while.

1:30 He’s on the cage floor. He seems to be tired of the lamp. Eyes still clear.

Grace is liberal about letting me stroke her breast.

As sick as Smith is, his eyes are still clear, bright and untroubled.

Jones has been staying away pretty much, preferring to eat at the bowl.

Connor has very little sense of play (if any); he’s a very serious bird.

As weak as Smith is, when he hears the flock he picks himself up and climbs to the top of the cage. No screaming, though.

Stella not around today. Plenty of Mandela, Chomsky and Bo. A lot of birds didn’t show up today. No Murphy, no Eric…

Jones came to my wrist for a while.

Every time I think he’s heading into his death throes, he perks up and climbs around the cage or something. He was lying on the floor when I put him to bed around 7:00 pm. Checked in on him later and he was on the top perch.

6/4/95 Sunday

Got him up around 7:20. He’s incredibly better. He was perched, top perch, and holding his head up. Trembling some, the room had cooled. Very feisty, trying to bite, climbing around the cage. I’m hopeful again.

He’s better–but he’s still sick. It seems that after a period of activity he gets a bit drained and his head sags again. Maybe.

It’s a beautiful sunny day (unusually). I took him out on the balcony, but he gets too excited. I took him back to the bedroom.

Violet [Blue’s scrub jay mate] is taking peanuts from my hand at last. Haven’t seen Blue much at all lately. Plenty of Violet. Haven’t seen Blue at all today. (It’s only 9:00 am.) [Terry had warned me a few days earlier about letting Blue come into the studio since that would expose him to the cats.]

I forgot to mention that on Thursday June 1 I was walking down the Filbert Steps and saw the flock in the apple tree eating the little sour apples. They seem to like unripe fruit.

Catherine has grown shy of me. I think it’s because they’re in smaller groups. But no, she’s come to me on her own a few times in the past. I put the bowl out for just the two of them so that she’ll be sure to eat.

Around 10:30 I’m trying to install a cuttle bone when he leaps out of the cage and flies around the room some (bedroom). At one point he was climbing up an electrical cord to a lamp on a dresser type area. He bashed into the mirror once. I got him back in the cage without too much difficulty. When I offered him make-up SF seeds he took them, but tried to bite me each time.

He’s a little drained or bewildered from his latest escapade.

Wild little thing! Bit me some more–some hard ones– while I was installing his new dishes. No blood.

I was out feeding Mandela, Bo, Chomsky, Gibson, Mozart and Mendelssohn. Still no Stella. They are so afraid of my hands and fingers when they’re being used for anything other than feeding. I can kiss, but not touch.

Smith is still wobbly, but so much better. Even his face is cleaner. I’m thinking about releasing him when he’s ready and then putting an end to this project.

Murphy not with Marlon. Dead? Sitting on eggs? I saw a bowl couple regurgitating/feeding. Moments later, copulating. The one that I assumed to be the male was indeed.

I was down behind Helen’s [Helen had the apartment above my studio on the Greenwich Steps] right under the fire escape when I heard Connor. I looked straight up and there he was. He cocked his head sideways to focus one eye ball on me. Three stories up. I went to feed him and at one point that wonderful experience of not a bird in sight, but the loquat tree erupting in a chorus of screams.

There was just Gibson and Connor on the bowl. Connor got tough and chased Gibson off.

Sonny and Lucia are currently rather afraid of me.

No sign of Stella, Murphy or Blue today.

Around 6:50 pm I went in to check on Smith—he was back on the bottom of the cage, head hanging to the side—although not as bad as he’s been. I think he’s tired at the end of the day and this is his reaction. Bedtime is 7:00 pm.

6/5/95 Monday

Due to the demands of the day I wake him up a bit early: 6:50 am. He’s perched, top perch, and gets immediately active. Still woozy. When I reach into the cage to clean things I have to accept bites on the arm. I shout “no!”. They hurt and leave imprints, but I don’t think he’s biting me as hard as before. I talk to him before leaving; he sits listening. When he eats (and I’m feeding him a mixture of parrot seed mix, pellets, and dried fruit, and avicakes. He picks out the sunflower seeds first.

Moments after writing these last lines I went to hand feed him a few sunflower seeds and he tried to take my finger off. Fortunately I was prepared. I had to feed him through the bars. He’s still holding his head to the side.

He gets active whenever I enter the room.

I come home from a job and he’s been such a good bird! Tearing up the newspapers and eating his strange new foods. Still woozy, I think. But active and alert.

Feeding the flock I counted 25. (Including Smith) No sign of Stella. I assume she died. No sign of Murphy. Dead, stragglers, on eggs–the possibilities. No sign of Blue.

Now he’s chewing on his loquat branch. As I hoped.

Definitely still woozy.

The flock is outside screaming, but he’s not hyped up about it. He hears them (I even opened the window), but he doesn’t call out.

Now he’s resting on the bottom of the cage, head hung. Which means that he tired himself out.

A lot of hassling within the flock. Birds chasing each other away from the seeds. Marlon for some reason today a real whipping boy. Maybe it’s the lack of support from Murphy. Connor holding his ground on the floor against all comers. (I’m helping, too) On the seed cup [the cup filled with seeds that I hold in one hand] Bo is becoming a real regular, although Chomsky objects and they fight. Mandela fights, too. I’ve never seen Mandela lose, but I’ve never seen anyone really take it to him. For some reason.

I come back up and the newspapers are real wet. Why? He seems to have drunk a lot of water today. Maybe that’s it. The moisture is away from his water dish.

6/6/95 Tuesday

Flock flies by 5:48.

Bo joining Mandela and Chomsky [who are siblings] on the cup more and more. He still leaves when I reach in for seeds, but not so abruptly now. Stella is gone.

He’s not all that spunky this morning. Not really bad, just quiet. Maybe he has to wake up. He ignored my arm when it went in this time. Maybe he’s getting used to it.

A few minutes after writing the above he got active. Especially when I opened the bedroom curtains. I think he sees the sky and wants to fly. He spreads his wings and looks like he’s about to launch himself.

I took him to the studio. He got right out of the cage. Made it up to the ropes on the first try. He’s still wobbly. He spent most of his time on the ropes, did check out the window area—especially toward the end when he heard some of the flock. He’s starting to understand “glass”. At one point he seemed to be trembling slightly. Maybe the room is too cool. I had to chase him around the room quite a bit to catch him—his flying is better this time, his energy, too, I guess. After I got him back upstairs I offered him a seed to make up—and he gave me my worst bite ever. I’ve learned this time. Too bad, because he was letting me stroke his beak a bunch when he was on the ropes.

His shit seems to be wet.

He’s been generally quiet. No loud squawking.

Around 11:30 I find him sitting on the bottom of the cage, head straight forward, beak resting on the floor and he’s trembling. Putting the heat lamp back on.

Later on he’s fine. He eats his kale!

He has a new cage. And a new name now: Dogen. He bit me again!

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