Laura Doering and her cockatiel, Gracie.
In my flock, the cockatiel is the one I have to “obey” the most. Everything, it seems, is done on his terms. He’s either welcoming me with his happy-to-see-you perch dance, or he’s sitting low with his crest down, ready to unleash a cranky screech if I open his cage for a Step Up request.
Gracie is in many ways a temperamental ’tiel. Sometimes he’s so into doing his own thing, like banging on his mirror, that I can see why he wouldn’t want to be interrupted. But then there are times when he’s banging on his mirror, and I can pick him up and do a whistle duet with him. One moment he’ll love his cheek and behind-the-crest scratches and then, while in mid-scratch, he’s telling me off as only an annoyed ’tiel can.
Still, I find his protests endearing and, in a strange way, a bit of a compliment. After all, my little cockatiel isn’t afraid to tell me how he’s feeling or to give me “direction.” I respect his body language (except for the times when I must pick him up because he’s gone into a no-no area of the house), and I relish the moments when we can snuggle nose to beak. We’ve been together 14 years now, and rarely have I received a nip. I credit that to Gracie’s great communication skills.
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