Monday, January 06, 2014

Prey

Keeping a bird, a small bird, is not like keeping a dog. I only know about dogs. With an allergy to cat hair, we never really had cats, so while I recognise some of the behaviours of cats, it's dogs I understand.

Dogs have teeth and claws and the ability to rip you open if they feel it is necessary. Most of the time it isn't. Most of the time dogs love you like no one else will. They think you're The Best Thing that has EVER happened. The best.

Birds, budgies, aren't that. They eat seeds and grain. Their defence is flight. They are prey the way dogs, cats, and indeed we humans cannot fathom. It isn't an eat or be eaten choice for them. It's simple: be eaten.

So the rapport built with a bird is slow to grow and requires patience and repetition. What you're earning in that little featherbrain is trust. Consider their size, and yours. It's entirely possible they don't recognise your hands and your face as belonging to the same entity. And you come blustering into their world and clutch at them with your big hands and they are so very small and delicate. With hot little feet, claws that curl around your finger. Soft, so soft belly feathers on the back of your hand. A heart beating out a tarantella and a beady little bird eye wide and fixed upon you.

You could break this bird with a finger. The bird knows it.

Months of patience, and repetition, and work.

And yesterday, Poppy didn't just let me scratch her cheek, she encouraged it.