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The thing is, if you’re going to keep birds – or any other creature in your house – it’ll work better if it’s stupid. Maybe not quite as stupid as Mr. Kiwi, but close.

L’il Sis had a pet parrotlet, which is essentially exactly the same as your average parrot just tiny. You could fit him in your pocket, and to be frank, he rather preferred that. He was a good wee soul, if fairly grouchy. And he was smart, too. Really smart. Too smart for his own good. And that of my parakeet Newton. They became fast friends (after the parrotlet had a few swipes at the parakeet) and followed each other around the house or apartment or really wherever they happened to be.

Now, the important thing to remember is the parrotlet is smart and the parakeet is… less so. They’d get up to all sorts of trouble. For reasons best known to themselves, when living with L’il Sis they were overcome with some kind of bird separation anxiety and thus whenever somebody went into the bathroom, they tried to squeeze under the door to join them. The parakeet rather enjoyed a shower so you could kind of see where he was going with that, the parrotlet less so, but still. The thing is, of course, that the parrotlet, being smaller and less rotund than the parakeet, could easily slip under the rather generous crack in the door. Parakeet got stuck each time. Couldn’t get his middle under you see. So you’d just see his foolish little head peaking through. I don’t think he’d even make the bad noise (some kind of squack and screw in one), but instead would just sit there, head stuck, patiently waiting until you sorted things out.

The parrotlet would also figure things out a whole lot quicker than you’d want him to, which often led to trouble. He knew exactly what the bag of walnuts sounded like when you were opening it, and would fly over and attack you, the bag and anything else that stood in his way. The parakeet was kind of the same when he figured out you were eating rice (his one and only true favourite food, and who can quibble with him?) but mostly he’d shuffle around the plate trying to reach and you were fine if you just propped your dinner up on a couple of plates. He’d still try and you’d have an amusing dinner show. Until you relented and gave him his own plate. The Mom was fond of doing this during dinner, which almost always resulted in her having bits of rice down her front. The parakeet wasn’t a very tidy eater.

My point in relating all these random bird stories is that you don’t want a smart pet. They lead the other ones astray. And they can be moody because they realise sometimes that you’re out having fun without them. Our pet cockatiel when we were kids is a case in point. Again, the bird loved L’il Sis (she is a bit of a bird whisperer) and when it came time to get ready and go to school each day, the cockatiel would dive bomb her, doing his best to make sure she wasn’t taken away. He was fine if the rest of us pissed off, in fact I think he’d probably have preferred that, but when L’il Sis went, that’s it, all bets were off. He spent a lot of school mornings living in the cupboard with the cups as I recall. It was a quick and easy way to sneak L’il Sis out of the house – and saved him the agony of having to watch.

Yes, you want your pets to be a bit stupid. Not too stupid, you want them to be fun after all, but you don’t want them figuring out how to say, unplug the tv and play with the electrical cords, as the parrotlet once did, with the parakeet following blindly along. It’s a miracle those two didn’t come to more harm more often.