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Sunday, November 30, 2003

Karen and I spent the afternoon at Greyhaven. While Karen bustled about her chores, I read up on the sanctuary and the birds residing there.

Greyhaven does not allow the birds to reproduce. As many of the birds were in pairs, I asked how the volunteers prevent this. First, they don't provide any nesting material. Nevertheless some birds persist in laying eggs; when this happens a volunteer will poke a hole in either end of the egg and give it a good shake, then return it to the nest. If the volunteer simply removed the egg, the bird would lay another.

The most distinctive bird at Greyhaven is Spook. His head and wings has green feathers while the majority of his body is as naked as a supermarket chicken. In fact, every time I looked at him he reminded me of the twenty chickens I plucked a few months ago. He looked, not exactly yummy, but disturbingly edible. There is just something about a chicken that has just died and has been de-feathered only moments ago...that's the look that Spook had.

Spook is a permanent resident of the sanctuary because this was a choice on the previous parrot submission form. Currently, Greyhaven insists that all birds be placed in permanent homes outside the sanctuary.

We had two visitors today, a young couple. They looked at each bird, making their way to the back of the room where I was reading. I didn't pay attention to what they talked about. When they left Karen turned to me and I began asking her questions.

From the door we heard a panicked "excuse me." It was the girl and Spook was on her head. She wanted to leave but the parrot was stuck firmly to her scalp.

I suggested that Spook really liked that girl. No, said Karen. Spook really likes men. Since the man went out first, Spook probably thought he could hitch a ride on the girl to get to his man.

Later, when Jonesy came with our lunch, Spook resettled on Jonesy's leather jacket. When Jonesy began to demonstrate his new bagpipes Spook was completely enamoured. There was no removing him from the shoulders of this enticing specimen of manhood who made the bizarre new sounds. We tried putting a towel over Jonesy's shoulders to protect the leather jacket, but Spook attacked the towel. After a struggle, Jonesy was freed and went to practice his bagpipes in the car. Spook threw his toys around, then attacked his bell. He retired to his box to sulk.

Sean suddenly was on my shoulder (last picture on the bottom, Sean is on the left). I felt piratey. He watched each forkful going to my mouth. He walked down my arm to the hand holding the fork.

"Alright, Sean, you want to eat some salad?" Sean took a delicate bite out of everything and spat it out. He rummaged through the bowl sampling everything. Then he tried one of the cucumbers in Karen's salad. He liked the dressing and licked it off the cucumber. Shameless bird!

If I were to have any of the birds, a dozen or so budgies would be the birds for me. I walked into the budgie enclosure and all the birds instantly hushed.

When one walks into any of the enclosures the most important thing is to step gingerly and always look under your feet. Two birds hid under the paper at the bottom and were crushed to death. Another lovebird slipped under the foot of a crouching volunteer and when she got up she inadvertently crushed the little bird. It did not die instantly.

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