Words from an Imperfect Parrot Parent – Kwai the Quaker
by Lisa Bolstad
Kwai won’t let me preen the prickles on his head. He looks like a ratty little porcupine, but he doesn’t care – nobody is going to touch the white quills on his head and neck. It bugs me. I have visions of scooping him up in one hand and holding him tight while I preen all those prickles. I can’t do that, however. Luke, the trainer on MDPR’s team, might find out and then there would be hell to pay. I would surely get a lecture on proper training and positive reinforcement.
Kwai is an enormous wad of attitude packaged into a little blue Quaker Parrot body. He came to me from Colorado Parrot Rescue and, according to the paperwork, was given up because he bites and chews clothing. The paperwork didn’t mention his other unique tendencies. He lands on heads and then uses people’s hair as a bungee cord in order to drop down and gnaw on eye glasses, earrings, nose rings and the occasional nostril. He guards the door to his food bowl like a wolverine guarding its lair. He will tolerate me taking and replacing his bowl, but will pop out like some nasty, beaked jack-in-the-box if someone else tries to feed him. He doesn’t really like anybody other than me, yet he will land on anyone’s head or shoulder just to terrorize them. If he’s not bungee-jumping off heads, he’s chattering in someone’s ear just to watch them panic. He’s a miniature, powder-blue terrorist.
A while back my husband was sleeping on the couch in front of the television. He’s a firefighter and had worked three 24 hour shifts in a row. He was exhausted. Kwai was flying about the house as I cleaned. He usually will play on top of his cage, on one of the play stands, or in the window sill in the front room. This day he was just flying loops around the house and having a grand time. It wasn’t until I heard my husband shouting that I realized he wasn’t soaring through the rooms anymore.
“LISA! #$&$@$@$&!!!!!! Come get this $*@)$^@$ bird!!!!!” I hurried down to the family room to find Jeff with his arm over his face and Kwai sitting on his chest. Apparently, while Jeff was dozing Kwai landed on him and began pulling his eyebrows out.
“I don’t know why you’re so upset,” I snapped, stepping Kwai up onto my hand. “You needed your eyebrows done anyway.”
I heard some mumbled words behind me, but I ignored them. Kwai is just misunderstood. Okay, so maybe he pokes holes in clothing, chews a finger once in a while, or screams, “WHAT’S A PIG SAY????” over and over during the best part of a movie. But, let’s face it: it feels good to bite on fabric and fingers. And it really is important to know what a pig says.
One of the most common phrases I hear in my house is, “LISA (MOM), come get this @(&$)(@&)$& bird!” When he isn’t chewing holes in the leather couch, he’s ravaging a loaf of bread on the counter. When he isn’t shrieking, “You’re a GOOD GOOD boy, Kwai!” while someone is on the phone, he’s flinging pellets across the room, pinching people, or pooping on someone’s clean shirt. He won’t let anyone, even me, touch his head so he looks like a sea urchin. He climbs into the middle of plates during dinner and helps himself. He chews up books and important papers.
He’s completely adorable and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why anyone would give him up. I call him my little bluebird of happiness and when everyone else in the house groans and rolls their eyes, I just whisper in Kwai’s ear, “Don’t you listen to them. You’re a good, good boy, Kwai.”
He replies, “What’s a chicken say?”