The first “big” parrot to join the household, Max greatly resents any additions to our feathered kingdom.
Max joined the house in February of 1994, just after the big Northridge earthquake. He was just about weaned and sweet as a button. I fell in love with him instantly at the bird store, and visited him every day while I waited for a tax refund so I could buy him. I was so broke at the time, but I didn’t care. Max became the royal prince of the household, which he shared with my one other pet at the time, a lutino parakeet named Sylvester (who ended up being a hen and had many beautiful babies!). Soon other birds began to join the household, much to Maxwell’s horror and consternation. He tried many methods to rid the house of these unwanted pests: he chased Baxter the lovebird right out of the house (he squeezed under a security door), he damaged a parakeet’s beak, and he split the mandible of a lovebird. He was quite clever at finding ways to get to the other birds. He is now strictly “quarantined” from all other birds and his cage is placed at a safe distance from other cages. His clever, diabolical nature means I cannot let my guard down for one second. I must be vigilant at all times. He can’t come out if any other birds are out because all it takes is a moment’s inattention….you get the picture.
As evil and wicked as this Poicephalus parrot might sound, he is a doll to me. He will lie on his back in my hand for as long as I want him to. He purrs and clicks adoringly. He likes to fluffup and become the “big vicious bird” when I go to get him from the cage; all he really wants is a few strokes on the neck and to go “up, up.” He meows like our neighbor’s cat and takes great delight in tricking people into thinking a cat is in the room. Once a little girl heard him meow and said, “You silly bird, you’re not a cat.” Max broke into cackling laughter in response. Laughing is probably Max’s favorite sound to imitate. Sometimes if people in a group are joking around, he’ll laugh even before they do, as if he knows what has been said is funny.
Most loved things: neck strokes, being on my shoulder, unshelled pinenuts (whoop!whoop!), pasta, walks around the neighborhood, being sung to (Max is a bird, he’s a very special bird, he’s a very special bird, Max is a bird he’s a very special bird and a very special bird is he, from his scaley little feet to his shiny sharp beak a Senegal bird is he… Okay, so owning birds makes a person ridiculous!!!!), playing “The Tail Thief”, rides in the car (he goes bonkers with joy!).
Most hated things: all other parrots, especially the dreaded lovebirds (even attacks my poster of lovebirds), telephone (cannot be on me when I’m on the phone or he’ll attack my ear), hats or other headgear (goes nuts when my neighbor hennas her hair and walks by with bag on head), the paparazzi (hee hee, hence the stunned expression in the photo), the teenaged girl who cleans the cages (I’m gonna GET YOU!!! Leave my sh*t alone!!), the monstrously evil lawnmower, playing “The Tail Thief” when he’s in a contemplative, serious mood.
The perils of crossing Max: About four years ago I got a roommate because Los Angeles rents have gotten out of control and I need to live in a house with the parrots rather than an apartment. Max tortured Millie for about a year with horrid screeches whenever she walked by his cage – she nicknamed him “Rat Rat” – which he seems to like because he has a perverse nature. The name has stuck. Eventually he came to really adore Millie – well, until she took off for the summer for a few months. He resented her absence and has made her pay for it ever since.
He really gives it to her when she takes out the big garbage cans – he hates those garbage cans and lets everyone in the neighborhood know it – especially my poor roommate. Hey, it’s only for a few minutes. Thank goodness.
WHO ARE THE SILVER HAMMERS? Ironically they are the lovebirds Max presides over. He would like to get a silver hammer and bang, bang it down upon their heads. Parrots relish irony. Snicker, snicker.