Staying in Contact with Mother

Baby Parrot

Baby Cherry-headed Conure

I still get called in every now and then to deal with the parrots. This morning someone telephoned to say that he had a parrot in a bush outside his front door, that it had been there for several hours without moving. He lived just up the street, so I put aside work on the book and headed over with a towel and a small travel cage that I use for emergencies. I was expecting to find a sick adult, or maybe a bird that had crashed into a window. To my surprise, it was a brand new baby. I’d never seen one out of the nest earlier than August 31st, and usually I didn’t start seeing them until early September. So this one was at least nine days ahead of schedule. Parrots rarely go so low to the ground, so he had to have been in some kind of trouble. When I walked toward him, he bolted away to a nearby bush. I heard parrots in some trees call out and he responded. The parents! The baby then flew up to a tall poplar where they were waiting for him. He looked a little weak and sloppy, but he made it. He’s in safe hands now. My hunch is that he fledged a little too soon, or else he’d been trying to keep up with his parents before he was ready to. At first after fledging (taking their first flight) the babies take only short flights and stay in a tree for most of the day waiting for the parents to come back and feed them. I always love seeing the babies. They look so fresh and innocent looking with their big baby eyes.

On another nature note, I belong to something called the South End Rowing Club, which Judy got me into. It’s not what its name might make it seem. It’s at the north end of the city and caters mostly to swimmers, but does have rowers and handball players, too. It’s a blue collar club—not a fancy white collar one. The building is real old and located right on the beach of a cove in San Francisco called Aquatic Park. Most people stick to the cove for their swims, but there are some intrepid swimmers who venture out into the bay itself, swimming Alcatraz and beyond. Judy’s one of those. After sticking to the safety of the cove for thirteen years, I’m about to do my first out-of-cove swim. I’ll be doing a 1.2 mile swim out in the bay along the shoreline from something called Coghlan Beach back to the cove. I’ll be doing it on a flood tide, so it should be relatively easy—like a log being washed along by the tide. I’ve been training for several weeks, and it’s done a lot to take my mind off my book frustrations. (Things are getting better in that department, by the way.) The swim is Sunday morning. Wish me luck.


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6 Responses to “Staying in Contact with Mother”

  1. Jean-Luc Picard Says:

    I just brought home a 2-month old budgie about a month ago. I taught him to talk contextually, recall, etc. He knew everything to being a companion parrot besides potty training. Then the in-flight collision happened in the bathroom while I was cleaning his cage…no one had taught me to maintain the birds body temperature after a concussion, or that its digestive tract would shut down from shock…I didn’t have a budgie by morning. Last words were ‘good night’. I was hoping that he was still young enough to brush it off…It’s now been hard to get out of bed knowing I basically killed my bird. Anyways, it’s nice to see that the ‘feral’ genetic stock is faring better with less around the city.

  2. Lynn Duvall Says:

    Hi Mark – loved seeing the goofy-looking, big-eyed baby and reading your perfect description of those eyes. I see a tiny bit of slyness, too. Looks to me a little like an old-time Catskills comedian (say Henny Youngman) ready to crack a joke. (Oops, just got the feeling that I inadvertently quoted you, from the movie.)

    The native babies I fed, watered and cleaned after meals for eight years at the regional wildlife rescue center all wore those crazy Einstein-style down wigs and, coupled with their bulging eyes, they looked goofy in a different, maybe more Harpo Marx way. Which makes me wonder:

    Is goofiness some sort of species specific evolutionary defense mechanism? Human babies are certainly experts at it. (Note to self: Ponder this sometime.) I wonder how the rapidly changing climate is affecting the parrot flocks. Do you think that may part of the reason this one fledged early?

    I DO wish you best of luck on your ambitious swim. A five-day a week swimmer for years, until I developed fibromyalgia, I always loved the weightless, magical feeling of being immersed in water and feeling arms, legs and head all working in harmony fairly effortlessly to move the entire body thru the water with effortless grace. Not even having swum is as good as swimming.

    Let us know how you do and tell Judy how inspiring and amazing it is to read about someone I sort of almost know a little bit swimming to Alcatraz.

    Looking forward,

  3. Glenn I Says:

    glad you’re still available for parrot house calls.

    I recommend your book & movie at the library in Berkeley.

    happy swimming!

  4. joe Says:

    1.2 miles swimming? dude,you must be getting’ in some kinda shape! if not to mention buff,you should post a picture! glad to hear things going better on the book,plus,i got something to stoke you (guaranteed!) before your swim! check it out:

    best of luck,may the tide rise to meet you!

  5. TZ Says:

    Veni. Natavi. Vici. Be the fish.

  6. Aurelle Says:

    Lovely photo! Thanks for being there for the parrots … and for sharing this little one’s adventure. Sending good thoughts for a safe and successful swim!

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