Image by wherepineswhisper via Flickr
This is one of my old feathers.
Mom used to save them.
She said I was so pretty, and my feathers were so "sweet"--what a strange thing to say; you'd think it'd be the other way around, like sweet me, pretty feathers, but whatever--that she couldn't bear to throw them away. They don't keep well, though; they fade with time and get spotty. She figured that out eventually, so she doesn't save them any more.
I would not make a good hat, for which I and my tribe are eternally grateful.
When I first moved in with Mom and Dad, they made a big effort to help me stop plucking. They bought me a bigger cage. They put in lots of chewable, rippable, shreddable toys. They changed my diet. They put an additive in my water, an herbal thing to help calm me down a little. And it seemed to be working: The first summer, I had grown out all my chest feathers and was even getting some flight feathers! You can see from my profile pic at the top of this blog how good I was looking. Mom and Dad said they thought I'd be flying by the end of summer!
But then I started pulling again. I really don't know why. Sometimes I would sit up at night and pull dozens of little down feathers off my chest, and when Mom would get up in the morning, there would be a whole little cloud of them on the floor below my swing. I haven't done that in a long time. Whenever I get agitated, though, like if I'm hungry and want my food dish topped off, or if I'm on my cage and want to go into the kitchen, or if Dad leaves the room (he's my favorite!), or if I'm on my play perch and I want to go back to my cage, I'll gnaw on my wing feathers.
After a while, Mom kind of gave up. She figured it was a habit like nail-biting (which I also do) that has just got really ingrained, and that I'd either eventually stop, or I wouldn't. She's mounting another full-frontal assault now, though, because recently I've been looking the worst that I ever have. She says she's bound and determined--she uses that phrase a lot, although it seems kind of redundant to me--to help me grow my feathers back out this summer. They'd been feeding me other stuff, but she's transitioning me back to my Harrison's this week. She's re-ordering the sedative stuff, which you can also mist a bird with, and says she's going to mist me every day even if she has to chase me all over my cage to do it. And that could be quite the chase, seeing as it's a double-macaw, and I only want to be misted when I decide I want to be misted.
She also says she's going to try harder to shower me twice a week, although she doesn't have a lot of control over that. I'm choosy about when I'll take a shower, too, just like with the misting, but I enjoy them when I deign to let Mom take me in with her. Her showerhead died last week, so Dad bought us a new one that has a special Mist setting just for me and I'm actually looking forward to trying it out this weekend.
Finally, Mom's been talking to me about the whole thing. She's been trying to explain the advantages of full feathering. She's also been trying to address what she calls my existential anxiety (although I think the correct word really is angst, I haven't said anything to her about it: I know I dis her a lot, but I don't want to show off here). She keeps telling me this is my forever home, that I'm not going to have to move again when I'm 20, or ever.
She could be on to something there: Maybe that was worrying me a little bit. Maybe I did have the idea that you live with one flock for ten years, then move, then live with strange new people for ten years, move again, and so on. It was certainly an issue with Bane, and when Mom had that same talk with her, it seemed to help a lot. So I'm willing to have it as many times as it takes. Maybe it will help me, too.
Éminence Grise of the Wood household