Yesterday, a special kind of affection happened.
Here’s how it went.
I spend around 1-2 hours daily with Lisa’s two tiny budgies, who are currently living in her former bedroom at our Saginaw farmhouse. I’ve been bird-sitting for about two months, and have used the time to carefully study the way they operate. (Spending too little time with them risks their going feral. Birds that are simply housed and fed, but otherwise ignored by their tenders, might revert, so I’m careful to be around for a decent amount of time every day.)
Anyway, yesterday BB birdie and I exchanged squawks and brbrbrrs about inconsequential things as she sat on my finger, which I’d raised to eye level. These conversations can last up to fifteen minutes, and always leave me wondering just how many more sounds she can summon. Her repertoire is massive. It’s challenging to try to copy everything she says, when one has only 2 seconds to decide how best to do it. BB throws out long chains of lovely, or raucous, or impossibly sweet nothings. Then she’ll watch me closely, one eye at a time (birds’ eyes are set so that they must turn their heads to look more carefully at what interests them.)
“Well? Give it your best shot, human...”
If I get the ‘sound string’ approximately right, she’ll often give a little mum sound of approval. Her soft face connects with my mine. She’ll nuzzle my nose and lips with her beak, which makes me itch to stroke her gorgeous feathers gently with my other hand- Budgies, however, do not appreciate being touched. They’ve been known to die- of shock, fright, or rage- when, say, the vet’s gentle hand must encircle a tiny body to trim nails or file a too-long beak, or do a closer examination of an injury, or administer medicine using an eyedropper.
Nobody likes to be so helpless.
So I’ve stifled the urge. But, I do frequently brush against BB’s face- when she expressly permits such a liberty to happen. (She is an affectionate bird, within strict limits.) This beak-to-nose stuff can be risky. If I venture a sound she dislikes, she’ll peck my holding finger sharply, and do it so fast that I’m always caught out. The jab sends a tiny frisson of pain up my arm, motivating me to select more carefully the sorts of sounds that might please her.
Today, though, she was exceptionally cheerful, and so, went a step further with her seal of approval of my pathetic attempts to learn parrot-linguistics.
That little birdie leaned very close indeed, and licked the bridge of my nose. Over and over. Quickly. The whole experience lasted about five seconds. (Budgies do everything quickly.)
She was tasting me, as well as bestowing kisses, I reckon.
Such a unique imprimatur!