It was not my intention for my diary excerpts to focus so tightly on any single period. But I find this one consistently interesting. More on Dogen and me getting to know one another. And a surprise on the last day, the 21st.

6/17/95 Saturday

Mandela and Bo on the East Balcony

Dogen is not at all hostile toward me. Understands when I touch his beak what’s happening. If he’s trembling it’s barely perceptible and I’ll accept that as no trembling. Room temp. 70 degrees. He’s going outside today.

I check again, he is trembling. He’s still going out–at least for a while. I’ll keep an eye on him.

A few minutes later he appears to have stopped trembling, and I’m sure the room couldn’t have really warmed up any. So maybe it’s his adjustment.

He was trying to do something from the curtains that I knew would end up with him falling. So I put my hands under to catch him. Success. He wasn’t upset. But he did want down from my hand.

I’ve been taking some liberties and getting bit for it. But the good news is that the bites aren’t nearly as hard as they were before.

I caught him when he fell again and even “held” him for a bit. No bites. A minute or so later he was walking past my resting hand and at different times gave me three perfunctory bites. Not one of them hurt even the slightest bit. It’s 9:20 and some of the flock is here—so he’s restless.

Went down to feed my guests. Eric, Erica, Marlon, Connor and Catherine. Catherine stayed on the lines. Connor let me stroke his beak some.

Catherine biting at Connor when he comes near.

It’s about 10:20. He hasn’t eaten, won’t go in the cage, and he’s really trembling. He’s lost some balance too–it seems. He had trouble scratching his head standing on one leg which he’d been doing.

Some of the flock came around a little after 11:30. Chomsky and Catherine are definitely both sick. Both have trouble landing. I’ve put Dogen out on the east balcony. I’ve got to at least try it.

He’s very active, climbing around the cage. I think he’s trembling a little.

A bit later I came out and he was perched and sunning himself (it’s partly cloudy, a little cool). Not trembling. Now he’s under the newspapers.

I’m starting to feel a little trapped here by the birds. My responsibility to Dogen. My worry about the other birds getting sick. The time I have to put into the flock. The mess of the fire escapes that I have to clean. The sweeping. Their dependence on me.

Dogen seems fine psychologically, he’s not trembling, but I think he’s lost some balance today. Today is a bit of setback, I believe.

He likes the stem of the kale best, the rib, the central rib. More than the leaf.

A strange little feeding a bit after 2:00. Seven birds showed up: Eric, two unknown bowl birds, Bo, Scrapper, Marlon, and Jones. A lot of position taking going on among them. Scrapper, who I’ve often assumed to be Marlon’s father, especially pursuing Marlon’s ass. At one point Bo was out in the deodar cedar sending out alarms. The curious thing was that Dogen was silent throughout, even though he was on the nearby balcony. I went to see why–buried under his papers. He did call out when they left.

Got a closer look at Sam’s (as I shall call him) beak. [He was a bird who just recently had severely damaged his beak somehow.] He bashed it up worse than I thought.

Catherine remote this afternoon. Connor has a funny distance, too. But he doesn’t seem sick.

They know the ravens are harmless, but they always check out anything that soars.

Catherine is having great difficulty landing on the fire escape. How much longer can she survive? What about Connor?

I got to feed Catherine. She came to the fire escape with Mandela and some others. They all left when the damn ocean liner blew its horn.

Dogen is less interested in the flock today. It’s as if he’s getting to like his present situation.

Damn, I don’t want Catherine to die.

I was able to feed her again around 5:00 pm.

It is amusing at times—the birds outside are calling back and forth to one another and occasionally I’ll hear a squawk coming from inside the house. (Dogen.)

I made that bouncing head motion they make when they’re preparing to regurgitate, and then put my mouth down on Mandela’s beak. I swear she opened up to receive.

Dogen finished the day in real good shape. Put him to bed at 7:30.

6/18/95 Sunday

I got him up earlier. 6:40 or so. I have him down in the dining room and he’s hiding under his papers, so I don’t know if he’s trembling. Seems like he’s not.

This is the time that they should start laying eggs. As usual the flock has splintered at this time of year into smaller groupings so that I can’t get a good count. Who’s laying? Who’s sick? Who’s dead?

7:30 I put him on the balcony. It rained last night. It’s partly cloudy now, and the air is moist. Low 60s. He’s not trembling. But he is under his papers.

8:20 We’re down at 243 Greenwich. [The cottage in the documentary film, which I don’t live in regularly at the moment. Most of the action here takes place in the main house.] It’s sunny and 70 degrees inside. I rest while he explores. He’s already hit the big window once. But lightly.

He hears some conures outside. He’s active and wants out. They’ve found him! He’s in the side window. Someone flew really close by. Someone else is watching from a line. Someone landed briefly in the sill. I’m almost positive that it was Bo. I recognize his cere. It’s larger than most. They finally leave. But he’s getting a lot of flight exercise in.

I was lying on the futon and he climbed on me twice when I happened to be in his walking path. He also fell once and bumped into my hand and bit it. But it was more like he just touched it with his open beak. Not a real bite at all.

My relationship with Connor isn’t very good right now. He’s somewhat suspicious of me or something. I went up to the main house because Connor and Catherine had arrived. Only he came over.

Dogen didn’t return to his cage to eat until 11:40. First meal of the day. He’s mostly been sitting on the ropes.

Around 1:50 Chomsky was on the lines, obviously ill. Connor and Catherine were around, and Bo and Mandela were mating repeatedly on the lines. Finally Chomsky came up on the cup. I tried to stick him inside my coat, but he screamed and struggled and got free which set up a whole bunch of more screaming from the others and they all left. We’ll see the long term effects. I blew it!

It’s been a good day for Dogen. No trembling even in the cooler temps of 243. [The cottage.] It’s 69 degrees. Around 3:00. He’s flown some, mostly he sits on the ropes, occasionally going to the cage to eat.

About 3:30 and I’m looking at him and I realize he’s still wobbly. I don’t know. Release him anyway? Keep him until I’m sure he’s alright?

Around 4:00 the same group that was here when I tried to grab Chomsky returned. The only one treating me differently was Chomsky himself. He did come to the fire escape and got near me, but panicked when I offered him a seed. If I’m to get him, he’ll have to grow weaker first.

Dogen marched and plopped upon my chest a couple times again as I lay on the futon. It’s about 4:15 and I’ve brought him back to the main house.

Chomsky back on the cup.

It’s around 5:15. I’d put Dogen out on the balcony, but a little too long I guess. He’s trembling. Excited, too. (The flock.)

I saw another pair (earlier) making love out on the lines.

6/19/95 Monday

I’m off to a job. No trembling. Burrowed under the papers.

Got home around 1:40. Chomsky around and doing worse. Only wanted to eat from the bowl. Connor strange, but totally coordinated. Catherine won’t leave the trees. Sam was at the bowl–none the worse for wear. Dogen is fine, happy to be down at 243 as he is at the moment.

Dogen stood on one leg to do a stretch.

This has been a chaotic day. I was out trying to feed some birds–but they were very skittish. I think it was the paper bag that I had out with me to hopefully put Chomsky in.

Sam came over to eat from my hand. (The small sunflower seeds are not wildly popular.) The hole in his beak has dried out well. They are all skittish today.

I have Dogen out on the front deck right now to get some sun. He likes that.

He was standing by his water dish which I reached in to clean out and he gave me the lightest most perfunctory of bites. We’ve come a long way! That used to scare me.

It’s 5:15 and he’s wobbly. Tired? From flying down at the cottage?

I see a pair of conures mating. Sam and Babe it turns out.

Around 6:30 for no particular reason I freed him in the bedroom. Three birds, who I’m rather certain were Jones, Mozart and Mendelssohn were in the area. They all started calling back and forth. Dogen was especially loud. They came near the window to the upper fire escape. They’re gone now and Dogen is fine.

Very sweet thing: I was trying to lure him down with seeds. (He was sitting in the light box.) I held out a handful of seeds wondering whether he’d land on my wrist. He flew toward me, hovered, thought about it, then landed on the bed. (My bed) From there he proceeded to the cage. I put some seeds in the dish, he climbed in. Everything went smoothly.

Dogen did something extraordinarily funny. He burrowed underneath the papers, headed to the fold and started digging furiously, pressing up against the fold. It was like he was running in place. He had his wings spread out (apparently) while he was doing this.

I never saw Catherine even try to come to the fire escape today. Connor came to the fire escape, sat at my feet at one point today, but refused to eat. He’s acting funny.

Chomsky was on my hand with Mandela at one point.

At night Dogen seems to know exactly what I’m doing as soon as I start to draw closed the curtains.

He has the facts down about windows and mirrors in the bedroom. He’s still confused about the big front window in the studio.

6/20/95 Tuesday

I wake Dogen at 6:30. It’s a beautiful day. It’s going to be a warm one. I put him out on the east balcony. 66 degrees at 7:00.

Connor by at 6:45 to eat; no sign of Catherine.

I got home and he was excited to see me. He’d been burrowed under the papers. Brought him to 243 immediately. He sits now on the ropes. Made an appt. with a vet today.

He’s eating the sour apple (a little) that I got from Joyce’s tree. Ate some orange too.

Around 3:15 I went up to feed a good size chunk of the flock. No blue crowns. Chomsky ate from the cup and I fed him by hand as he sat on a ladder strut. He’s still going to have to deteriorate further before I could grab him. Sam ate from my hand again. Mandela let me scratch a bit of her head just above the cere. Not happily however.

4:15 Catherine still alive. Lethargic and won’t come to the fire escape. She sits at the top of the juniper tree.

When I was carrying Dogen back up to the house in his cage, at one point he clung to the bars with just his beak and started to flap his wings strongly, lifting his body slightly while he hung there.

At bed time he was up on the curtain rod. I pulled the curtains shut, sat near the cage announcing that it was time to go to bed and asking him sweetly to get in the cage while I pointed at it. No dice. Eventually I put on the gloves. I made the chase light and whenever he was in any way pointed toward the cage I backed off. There was a sort of stand-off as he sat on the rug finally. I moved toward him and he flew to the top of the cage. I asked him sweetly and from a distance to get in the cage. He thought about it for a long time and finally did so. Minimum of fuss. Lots of praise.

6/21/95 Wednesday

Flock fly-by at 5:44. They stopped on the lines; I counted 14.

I woke Dogen up at 6:30. He was eager hearing me coming up the stairs. I put him out on the east balcony. Connor and Catherine showed up at 6:50. Only Connor came to eat, Catherine again having trouble landing on the juniper. While eating Connor became aware of Dogen’s squawking. He eventually flew over to the balcony and started screaming his head off. At one point he flew onto Dogen’s cage. Concerned. He left when I came too close.

Connor came back later and climbed onto the cage once again. Then he went to the railing and I came out on the balcony. He started doing his loudest shriek. Glaring at me, shaming me seemingly. Again I came too close and he left.

I brought Dogen to the studio around 7:45.

Just when I think nothing new can happen. Some kind of conure–perhaps a mitred–has shown up with the flock. He’s quite aggressive. Wild caught. Someone’s pet. He took a few seeds from my hand. Preferred the bowl. I knew he was different even from a distance. And I could hear a different call.

I’ve been seeing Scrapper, but not Scrapperella lately. I assume she’s sitting on eggs.

1 Comment

  1. I find the getting to know the personalities, likes and dislikes of members of a flock extremely fortunate in the co-evolution of man and parrot that will continue for the betterment of both species, I hope

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