Today's Bizarro is brought to you by The Power of the Prominent Profile, by Richard Rostrum.
My wife and I foster a lot of rescued animals of a wide variety of species. We've had countless dogs and cats, many chickens and roosters, pigeons, lambs, goats, calves, a seagull and a raccoon. We keep these wayward critters in our apartment in Brooklyn for anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, until we can find them permanent homes where they will be cared for and not eaten. One such traveler on the underground railroad was an umbrella cockatoo.
He was the kind with the big headdress, like an Indian Chief in an old Hollywood movie. Since the original rescuer didn't know his name, we called him "Sitting Bull." There was much about Sitting Bull to love: he was beautiful, danced a little to most songs but like a tightly-wound teen on ecstasy to one particular Siouxsie and the Banshees' song, strutted around our apartment like he owned the place repeating the phrase "I love you," and sat on my shoulder as I worked.
Perhaps most notably, however, was that he was the only creature I've ever met who liked me more than he liked my wife. Normally, people merely tolerate me because my wife is so much fun to hang out with. But Sitting Bull–god love his dandered heart–thought I hung the moon. That was the good news. On the other side of the AP wire report was that he not just preferred me over my wife, he hated her with a passion. I honestly believe he wished her dead.
When he was perched on my shoulder watching me draw and she would approach, he would snap at her viciously. If she sat down in the same room as me to watch TV or read a magazine, he would methodically scuttle down the side of my chair and begin walking robotically across the floor toward her, repeating his mantra, "I love you," like a wind-up toy. Without giving away his intentions until the last possible second, as soon as he was within striking distance, he would lash out at her foot with a chomp that would shatter steel.
His beak was a formidable opponent, not one to be trifled with. Like a James Bond Villain's henchman, he could render a rigid piece of metal unrecognizable in minutes. He once got hold of one of those stiffly-coiled car keyrings, the sort you need a crowbar to wedge your key on or off of, and turned it into a dented, crinkled spiral in the blink of an eye.
Since he found my wife so objectionable, we considered finding him another foster home before she lost a finger or the end of her nose. The final straw was one afternoon when she brought me a sandwich at lunchtime, carefully tossing it onto my desk and ducking away quickly, before Sitting Bull could swipe at her with his tomahawk. From his usual post on my shoulder, he snapped at the air in her direction and missed, which frustrated him to he point that he turned to his other side and took a large chunk out of the first 3-dimensional object he could reach. Which was my ear.
Sitting Bull eventually found a home, but it bears noting that ideally, parrots do not belong in captivity. They are highly intelligent, most are captured in the wild and crated here cruelly, like slaves of old, and none like spending their life in a cage. As our species seems not to have noticed, millions of years of evolution has designed birds to fly. Taking that option away from them is as cruel as attaching a snorkel to a dog and forcing it to live in an aquarium.
If you're considering getting a bird of any kind, read up about them first. Then don't do it. Unless you're going to adopt one of the thousands of abandoned birds that people give up every year after they realize how expensive and difficult it is to keep a parrot, which may well live longer than they do.
If you want something pretty around the house that is easy to care for, this is a good alternative.