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Dear Parrots magazine,

Flying with a nonagenarian

My African Grey, Molly, comes to me from across the room when I say, "Come here", and wave a peanut.  Not all the time, by any manner of means, and never outside the room, refusing to fly through its doorway except on rare occasions where I am in the kitchen, when she flies in to check on what's for din-dins.  She can give me a look on these occasions speaking volumes, "Dolt! I come for the peanut not because of the blah-blah whatever coming from your beak."

Last month I took her out on my shoulder onto the first floor landing of the block of flats where I live.  I had been encouraged in this adventure by the fact she seemed to stay rooted to my shoulder whenever I exited my flat and sat on a nearby chair overlooking our big garden. This time I walked with her some way along the landing. Long John Silver did it, why not medium height Trevor?

Woe.  Molly took off.  Over the balcony rail and over a magnificent Silver Spruce, and out of sight.  Last seen flying downwards!

I was at university with John Landy, an early four minute miler.  He would have been so proud of me, almost emulating his feat along the landing and down two flights of stairs.  As I shall be ninety next year I arrived in the garden a trifle out of breath.

But directly in front of me, legs spread defiantly, Molly was treading the lawn, as if it was the carpet she shreds, to piercing shrieks (in a manly way) from me most mornings.

Bending down I commanded, "Step up," and in no time she re-occupied my shoulder.  There's an old saying amongst us parrot-fanciers, "A fool and his parrot are soon parted."  Did I manacle her? Legcuffs? Rope her helpless? Tap her on the sconce to render her quiescent for the journey back home?  Naught so sensible.

I made for the lift with Molly unbound, like the mindless senile old fool that I am.  Throwing me a contemptuous glance, she's very good with the contempts, Molly took off again, this time flying upwards.  And landed on the first floor balcony rail across the garden, directly opposite our flat.

The Legend of the Flying Nonagenarian actually began that very day you know?  Little kids are riveted in their beds as Pa recites the story of a wrinkled ancient, beard flying behind like a white flag, haring up two flights of stairs, along thirty metre corridors forming three sides of a square, then falling dead at the feet of a contemptuous, uncaring psittacine.

"What's a psittacine, Pa?" and the educational evening wends on. "It's a bird what's keen on sitting, our Kevin."

This particular time I did not fall dead at etc. etc.  Made courageous by exhaustion I circled Molly's neck with two fingers, held her indignantly vibrating body close and presently regained the flat.  I gave her a right old talking to, I can tell you.

My question is, is there anyone out there who can teach me to let a parrot fly away from me and return on command to my shoulder?  Or at least, teach me to get a harness on her without actually holding her over the gas stove until she sees reason?

Hm, given myself an idea there.

Trevor - by email



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