More from this period of active change in May and June of 1995. My relationship with Dogen continues to improve. The mitred conure, Olive (at this point called Oliver, see photo), has shown up. She was a wild caught bird from South America who was a pet for some time. She will be the start of a strong strain of hybrids. Catherine, Connor’s blue crown mate, dies. Chomsky dies.

The Mitred Conure Olive (Oliver)

6/22/95 Thursday

6:20 Connor wants to be fed. While I’m feeding I hear the mitred coming in. He lands in the deodar cedar. Takes off toward Fisherman’s Wharf again when he sees two passing cherry heads heading that way. Did not see Catherine. (I saw her a little later. She came to the fire escape, but got scared. Her flying seems a little weaker. Maybe much weaker.)

Connor flew over to Dogen’s cage and stood on it. Dogen kept trying to bite his feet. Wherever Connor walked, Dogen climbed over and bit his feet.

The mitred has the flock in an uproar. He’s bigger and tougher than any of them. Eric is intimidated. Sonny seems the least bothered. The mitred, who I’ll tentatively call Oliver, pursues the other birds some. Again he ate from the bowl, not from my hand. Early morning. 8:20.

It’s “go to the vet” day. Dogen got used to the car. He even ended up doing ok in the towel as she held him. She thinks it may well be toxins. Or viral. But she strongly suspects toxins. No more ornicyclene necessary. He’s a little underweight. Toxins, for one thing, because Martha died at the same time last year. And that there are no other symptoms. Also the foot clutching that I’ve began to notice with Chomsky and Catherine when they stand on flat surfaces.

We’re down in the studio. Noon.

Around 4:00 a good number of birds showed up–including the mitred. Oliver has the flock in a real uproar. He came much nearer to me–right up to me. But I’m intimidated. Sonny is the only one who seems unintimidated by him. Oliver “side-steps” a lot. Chomsky getting weaker. It’s hard for him to land. He had to fly round and round and round before plopping onto the cup. I should set up to try to catch him tomorrow. I saw Scrapperella.

Bo and Mandela do it a lot!

The general situation with the flock is the usual summer one: fewer birds and they’re coming at random times, not staying long. There is little cohesiveness. It was like this last year. The largest group ever is around 14. Sometimes only pairs show up. Oliver is making things even less cohesive. The usual lines of authority are interrupted. I assume the ones that aren’t sitting on eggs are eating more out of trees.

I came home after doing some errands around 6:15 and found some birds wanting to eat–among them Oliver. As the day has worn on he’s obviously calmed down some. He was less aggressive and the other birds were less concerned with him. Especially Gibson. Oliver took some seeds from my hand, but not consistently. When I would try to feed him the flock would pull my hand away. Especially Scrapper from below. I’m thinking that Oliver may yet fit in.

I’m going to try not covering Dogen’s cage for a while and see what happens.

6/23/95 Friday

A surprise at 6:00 am. Oliver is on the fire escape and calling me to be fed. He’s alone right now, as if the flock ditched him. He ate quite a few seeds. As he calms down he seems like a much nicer bird than I thought. He gave me a tiny little nip when he’d had enough.

He’s out in the trees now putting out an occasional sea gull-like call.

Dogen ate a little cantaloupe.

Oliver discovered Dogen and the east balcony. Walked around a bit checking things out. He allowed me out onto it, and let me sit in the chair.

Oliver displays frequent alarm or fear. Everything must be new. Although he had to have been wild once.

I got the three letters off of Eric’s band a day or so ago: OAL.

Oliver hung around until 7:45. I think he’s hoping to find the flock. He keeps calling out.

Dogen did the “one sided stretch” on one leg like he’s supposed to.

Dogen likes cherries. He eats too many sunflower seeds. I may start to change his mix.

It’s 3:00 pm and I haven’t seen a single flock member today. Highly unusual.

3:15 I see two. They fly into the trees.

I blew it again with Chomsky. It was a half-hearted effort that startled the rest of the flock.

At one point while Mandela was on the cup, Oliver came up on it too, which made Mandela scoot.

Jones pulling on the threads (vigorously) of my jacket sleeve.

Oliver most nervous and nippy when the other birds are around.

It’s 4:30 and so far no sign of Connor and Catherine.

Oliver doesn’t seem to be trying to stay with the flock. He seems to be hanging out in this area. He keeps calling in that loud sea gull type voice of his. He was up on the top fire escape. He let me come right up to him even though he didn’t want to eat.

6:45 I receive a feeding visit from Oliver, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Gibson and Grace (who I’m beginning to suspect is male.)

No Connor or Catherine today.

6/24/95 Saturday

He slept burrowed all night long. So I’ll resume putting on the towels.

Oliver came by at 7:00 am. More timid today. Reluctant to eat from my hand.

Dogen likes ripe apricots. He hasn’t been very active, although he certainly seems healthy (I’m speaking generally). He mostly just perches, occasionally going to the cage to eat, then returning to the perch. I’m thinking of clipping his wings. He talks quietly. He still tries to bite me sometimes, but he’s improving. He lets me touch his beak with my nose. But I have to be careful. Sometimes he goes away when I approach. He’s careful when he’s in the cage, aware that I might close the door. He leaves the cage if he thinks I might, sometimes. He’s still a little wobbly and I’m wondering if it might be permanent damage. If he always trembles when he’s chilly at all and remains wobbly, he can’t ever be released.

I tried to get him to fly to my wrist for SF seeds (he’s out of them now). He came near twice, but wouldn’t do it. He chickened out, that is.

I was sitting in the studio armchair and set some SF seeds on my belly and he flew to me and ate them while standing on my lap. Later I put some on my chest and he walked up my stomach to get them. Later he landed on my ankle which was across my knee just to see if I had any when I didn’t.

Oliver was hanging around the fire escape most of the day. Whenever the urge hit I’d go out to feed him.

The flock has not been around hardly at all today. There were three on the fire escape while I was eating dinner. After I finished I went out to feed them and found them with their wings spread and panting like dogs.

It’s 5:30 and no sign of Connor again today.

The flock is obviously going through big changes. I would guess that today’s heat (90 plus degrees) would kill Chomsky and Catherine. What has happened to Connor? Few birds came around today and when they did I was busy and didn’t come out. So there are the dead, those sitting on eggs, and the arrival of Oliver. Dogen’s unique and uncertain situation. Big changes.

Dogen and I are spending the night in the studio. The house is too hot. He’s on his ropes. The high was 97 degrees.

6/25/95 Sunday

I heard a good chunk of the flock fly by at 5:46. He slept on his ropes all night long.

Around 6:00 a screaming cherry head and Oliver showed up. Dogen responded occasionally. I went up to feed Oliver. He’s still nervous. Oliver is quite long-tailed and not an enthusiastic climber.

Dogen is finally starting to show some conure curiosity and vivacity. He’s exploring the studio some. Particularly the area around the north window, but only briefly.

He hangs onto the side of the feeding cup, his body in the cage doorway in case I try to close it, so that he can make a quick escape. Intelligent.

He’s trying to fly through the window again.

I startled Dogen when I tried to stop him from eating some paint chips. He flew up and found the new higher rope I put up this morning.

He showed some interest in the lentils. Not a lot, but some. Of the defrosted veggies (corn, peas, carrots) he only liked the corn.

Another scorching day. 98 degrees.

I lay down on the futon and set some SF seeds on my bare chest. He flew down to eat them.

A few minutes later I was practicing a yoga position, the backward bend. I was in the extreme position when for some reason he flew down and landed on my chest. Very sweet.

Around 2:30 finally some of the flock came by. Mandela, Bo, Marlon, Gibson, Eric, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Oliver. Oliver aggressive and annoying. I had to bat him away. Marlon and Eric their usual selves. Mandela on the cup, but only briefly. Bo keeping his distance. Mozart and Mendelssohn stressed from the heat, not eating. Biting. They didn’t stay long at all. I set out a water dish which frightened all of them. I sort of struck Oliver at one point and he moved just a few inches.

Oliver, Eric, Marlon, Gibson, Mozart, and Mendelssohn returned after a bit. At one point Marlon, Gibson, Mozart and Mendelssohn were making me feed them by reaching up to the struts that hold up the top balcony. They eventually came down, but were pretty elusive. Eric actually came much closer to me than ever before. I was laying seeds on the ladder stairs for him. So he was eating right next to me, but always left when I put the seeds down. Something is making them act strange. Oliver? The heat? Flock changes? I think Oliver is a problem. Marlon is acting elusive, but I don’t think it’s me. Especially in his case. Time may tell.

3:45 Oliver plus Bo, Mandela, Scrapper, Jones, Sam, Babe plus two bowl birds that I don’t recognize. Everyone normal. It’s cooling down. I had the top of the dutch doors open and Oliver went and sat on the lower one, butt facing the kitchen. None of the other birds has ever done that. Not counting Oliver and Dogen that was 13 different birds. No sign of Connor and Catherine today. Third day.

Around 5:15 there are a trio of parrots flying around swiftly and exuberantly, round and round. Happy that it’s cooling down?

They came for another feeding in the early evening. Oliver is definitely a problem. He was kicking the other birds off of the bowl. I’m thinking again of trying to lure him into the cage. Not sure what I’d do then.

Later I went down to Walton Square [their roost spot at the time], but solved no mysteries. I was hoping to see Connor. Some parrots came in at 7:18. Oliver was one of them. They were pretty quiet, even when they began chasing each other around the trees. Where are Sonny and Lucia? Grace and Noah? Somebody has to be feeding the other. Why not come to me? Where is Connor? I assume that Chomsky and Catherine are dead. Guy and Doll? All sitting on eggs? But the male still has to collect the food. Why not come by? Connor didn’t seem sick. Is he dead, too? Did he leave the flock? Why not come to me for food?

6/26/95 Monday

Dogen was burrowed underneath the newspapers all night.

Dogen loves yogurt.

2:45. A feeding of 16 birds. No Oliver. Sonny and Grace were the two non-regulars who were here this time. By non-regulars I mean in the current summer scheme of things.

There have been several small flock feedings through the middle and late afternoon.

Around 5:15 Oliver showed up. Obviously very hungry. He chased Jones off my arm and took up residence there, nipping at my hand when he couldn’t find any more seeds. I scolded him for it, and he went over to the bowl. I’ve set the cage next to it, and hope to trap him.

Dogen flies to my lap when I sit in the chair in the studio. He’s looking to see if I have any seeds. For some reason he let me kiss the top of his head today.

I like to smell him.

He’s not afraid of the vacuum cleaner anymore.

He landed on my chest when I lay down on the futon–looking for seeds.

Helen [the woman who lived in the unit above the studio apartment] told me that this morning while I was at a cleaning job Oliver showed up at her kitchen window looking for food. She offered him peanuts which he rejected. She was working on giving him some apple when he flew away.

When it was time to bring Dogen back up to 60 Darrell I ended up having to chase him with the gloves. He ended up panting heavily. I don’t know if that’s normal after just two minutes or so…I caught him and talked gently to him, kissing his head and rubbing it with my lips. When I put him in the cage he was more spaced than scared or angry. No big problem in any case. He’s burrowed back under his papers.

I won’t mention Connor again unless he shows up.

I felt a kind of pathos or compassion for Dogen after our chase downstairs. It was the feeling of how fragile and vulnerable he is and living in an alien environment, separated from his friends. It would be a kind of real commitment to keep him. I could not even consider it unless it was clear that he could not be released. I want him to be free. I have to be certain, reasonably certain, that he would survive. That feeling I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph I believe I felt for Mandela too.

6/27/95 Tuesday

Dogen slept on the perch last night.

A group of eight around 3:00. Oliver, Eric, Mandela, Bo, Marlon, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Sonny.

A little later Grace, Jones, Gibson and a bowl bird.

More birds (12) at 4:45. Nobody unusual. Oliver was there. They’re deep into the wild blackberries. It’s all over their beaks.

Another hot and heavy chase to get him back in the cage. At one point he landed on the dish rack and got his toe stuck in between the tines of a fork. He’s ok. But this panting?

6/28/95 Wednesday

Oliver, Sonny and one of the bowl birds are getting along well.

I’m working with Dogen to tame him some and he is improving. I can touch his beak with my finger, rub my nose on it, kiss it, smell him and now hold my finger in front of his feet.

I went down to the studio around 3:15 and found him trembling slightly. Thermometer read 75. He was also a little less stable. Got him in the cage and brought him to the 60 D front deck to sit in the sun. I made him a new box yesterday which he is using of course.

Oliver is fitting into the flock better now. He’s being a bowl bird and coexisting with the other bowl birds. When the others call out to the incoming he calls out, too. When they rev up to leave, he revs up with them.

I’m getting more and more physical with Mandela. Kissing her constantly. Feet now, too. Silly.

Dogen loves apricots.

I figured it would happen at least once and it did: He got loose in the house. I was putting some kale in through the small door of the cage while it was on the dining room table. He jumped out. It was too soon after the flock’s departure, I think, and he was excited. He banged lightly into the dining room windows, then flew into the living room and went up to the highest sills. He knew that they were all glass. I ran upstairs, got a towel, and started chasing him around. He started crossing over to the “loft”. He was panting heavily. Suddenly I realized that he was near some open windows. I got them closed in time. I finally (back in the dining room) got the towel over him and Dogen back in the cage. He was panting and then started honk/sneezing. He crawled into his box. I offered him sunflower seeds which he took. Eventually I put my hand in the cage (before I had offered them through the bars) and, while he bit me lightly once, he didn’t seem to be furious. I gave him more seeds and he seems ok. Ironically it was only shortly before this happened that I had 95% decided to clip his wings. I will have to. He’s not joining the flock soon. It might be good to force him to walk more–to regenerate the nerves. No more scares. He can be more free in one sense. I can tame him.

6/29/95 Thursday

I counted 15 birds this morning (including Oliver I presume). It’s possible that there were more.

Dogen doesn’t seem angry with me. He was trembling slightly (perhaps) this morning. It’s foggy, cool and the window was open.

He’s down in the studio and he’s trembling some. But I’m disinclined to chase him. Hopefully the room will warm up soon.

11 bird contingent around 10:15. Oliver, Eric, Sonny, Gibson, Marlon, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Grace and two bowl birds. Sonny and Oliver in a slight tussle which Sonny dominated. Eric losing his fear of Oliver.

Dogen had a big adventure today. I took him to the car to get his wings clipped. The car wouldn’t start. I went home and called a cab. The cab took so long that I accepted the offer of a ride by Paula and Larry. Dogen tore open two holes in Jaimie’s finger during the procedure. Afterward he was fine. No reaction to all the bird sounds in the store. We took the bus home. He attracted a lot of attention of course. Back home he accepted his inability to fly. No big deal. I can see where he’ll be easier to tame. Approached me several times looking for seeds. Preferred perch: the top of the cage.

2:45  Eric, Marlon, Jones and two bowl birds. Eric approached me at one point to let me know he was out of seeds. (I’ve been leaving him piles on the ladder steps.) He still wants nothing to do with my hand. Marlon suddenly very aggressive, chasing other birds away. Nipped my finger. First time in a long time.

4:00  Jones, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Oliver, Gibson, Sam, Babe and one bowler. Gibson backed Oliver off at one point. Oliver finding his place within the flock. He was on the railing eating from the cup. I’m starting to like him again.

I was eating my dinner, sitting on the living room couch so as to keep an eye on him. He made his way over to where I was sitting and proceeded to share my meal with me: curried rice! He especially liked the onions. He ate a great deal.

It’s very strange. Almost a total change. A little bit after the last thing I wrote he crawled over to where I’m sitting to sit on my lap. He’s still a little leery of my hands. But he obviously wants my company.

He still tries to fly occasionally. He’s not obsessed with it, however. Even when he bites me willfully, it’s not hard like before.

6/30/95 Friday

13 birds this morning passing by. Oliver included.

I gave Dogen some scrambled tofu. Loves it.

Sonny and Eric here at 7:00.

New favorite perch–the window sill of the living room, big east window.

10:30 or so 13 birds. Among them: Marlon, Jones, Gibson, Bo, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Grace, Eric, Mandela, Sonny and Oliver.

1:45  Ten birds. Oliver, Marlon, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Gibson, Bo, Mandela, Eric, Sonny and ?

He wants to eat whatever I’m eating. I cooked up some kale for myself with soy and gomasio and put some of it on a bowl for him. He ignored it. But he saw that I was eating something and very eagerly made his way over to see what it was. I finished before he got here, put his in my bowl and he ate it for a long time, sitting on the bowl or my wrist.

5:10  Mandela, Mozart and Mendelssohn, Jones, Bo, Oliver, Sam, Babe, and a bowl bird. Very relaxed feeding, except for a brief period of contentiousness between Sam/Babe and Oliver. Sam came over at one point and very calmly ate from my hand.

Dogen sits for hours looking out the window. This is just an impression, but it seemed to me that tonight when I was going after him with the towel to put him back in the cage, he tried to tell me that it wasn’t necessary to wrap him all up. That he was willing to go just sitting on the towel. Which is what he did, but I’m not sure it wasn’t his wish.

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