Mondays are hard for most people. But they are especially hard for my four-year-old Goffins cockatoo, Nala.
I get it. My weekend routine is laid back and includes lots of periodic cuddles and the occasional pizza picnic on my bed, whereas Mondays involve her being ignored while I work.
The Monday through Friday routine used to be— before the Coronavirus pandemic— about 30 minutes of early morning cuddles, some free roaming time while I got dressed, then back in her cage to watch (listen to) Sesame Street until Hulu decided no one was watching.
I think that’s when she would take an afternoon nap, based on her behavior I see when I’m home.
Around 3 p.m. my teen daughter would come home and open her cage door so she could roam until I got home around 5. Then I’d cuddle her for about 30 minutes and bring her down to the kitchen while I cooked.
Then she came back up to my room and around 8, I returned to cuddle her, and watch some TV on my iPad in my room since she refuses to go to sleep without a person in the room.
I have only had Nala four months. And I don’t have experience with parrots/large birds. I barely have experience with budgies.
When I first brought her home, she plucked often. Of course the change was upsetting. She settled in and used plucking primarily as a way to get attention or express that she was overstimulated.
But on Mondays, she would strip her belly or legs and be standing in a pile of feathers. Luckily our routine has minimized that.
Now she occasionally plucks a feather— but it’s often a wing feather and she makes herself bleed. She did this yesterday and I blame myself. It was Monday. It’s a cold May, and I couldn’t get warm so I was in and out of the bedroom all day trying to find someplace to work.
Every time I tried to work with her on my shoulder, she would bite my ear (telling me that she knew I was distracted and not focused on her) so I would force her back to the “bird playground.”
And after work I rushed right out to go grocery shopping.
But like a good bird mom, I came home and rushed up the stairs to cuddle my Nala. My neighbor texted and wanted to go for a walk.
So, with Nala literally yelling at me, I went for a walk and picked up a pizza. (The new Pepperoni Cheeser! Cheeser! from Little Caesars). I thought I would apologize with a pizza picnic.
Nala had plucked a wing feather and was covered in blood. We had our pizza and I brought her down to her shower perch and gently bathed her. She seemed to enjoy that. Or maybe she recognized my remorse.
We then watched TV but she refused to cuddle. She would only sit on my shoulder and chatter. Literally giving me an earful.
So today I brought her with me to go make coffee. She loves coffee and is fascinated by the coffee machine.
As we were going downstairs, I don’t know if she lost her footing, or if my balance was off, or if something scared her… but she fell down the stairs.
I felt awful. But all Nala cared about was her morning coffee. She seems fine and is stealing the budgies food as we speak. But it’s sometimes very humbling to live with a bird.