This is Jessica’s cockatiel, Pilot.
Pilot is a female. Female cockatiels are very stubborn. They are not as friendly or easy to train as males. Jess knew this, but Pilot’s soft, pretty colors won in the end. Even though the pet store said she was hand-raised, it took Jess about six weeks to get her hand tame. When she got frustrated, I used this analogy to demonstrate Pilot’s position:
You are being kept in a small but comfortable room, and every so often a zombie walks in offering you Cheez-Its. The zombie isn’t doing anything threatening: it’s just standing there waiting for you to take the crackers. But it’s a zombie! Zombies are scary! You really want Cheez-Its, but you have to get near the scary zombie and take them from its hand. The zombie walks in and quietly offers you Cheez-Its several times a day. Man, those Cheez-Its look tasty, but hello! It’s a frickin’ ZOMBIE!
My story went on and on, but it did the trick, and I kid you not the next day Pilot let Jess hold her. Now, Jess can give her kisses and scratch her neck (which birds loooove), but Pilot will only tolerate the rest of us. We can hold her, but if we try any funny business like a skritch she hisses.
A few days ago I put Pilot on the table where I was working on my laptop so that she could peck around and explore, which tends to make her happy.
I was scrolling up and down pages with my mouse wheel. From the corner of my eye I noticed that Pilot was awfully still.
She was sitting in front of my mouse with her head down, asking for a skritch!
I realized my finger on the mouse wheel made the same motion as scratching her little neck. Zombie or not, when you need a skritch you need a skritch.
I grabbed the camera and held it left-handed, practically wrapping my arm around the thing trying to get a picture. Jess wasn’t going to believe this. I needed proof.
I lifted just one finger off the mouse and stretched it over to her little head.
If I stopped, she’d peck my finger just enough to get my attention, and put her head back down.
She’d twist and turn just like a cat, making sure I got all the itchy spots. Even on her face, which was very brave.
Alas, it only lasted a day. I am back to being ignored and hissed at, which is fine with me. Less clean-up. But for one sunny afternoon, I was a bird’s best friend.