Parrot Care Is Actually Quite Time-ConsumingCommentary • Opinion • ISSUE 39•39 • Oct 8, 2003 By Capt. Crimson Bannister, Pirate Capt. Crimson Bannister Pirate Ahoy thar, mateys! I see ye be gazin' upon me parrot Isabelle. Quite a keen fair lass, she be! Aye, but mark well me words: Thar be quite a lot o' work in carin' for a likely creature as she. Why, some scurvy swabs think a bowl o' seed an' a friendly shoulder be enough to please a bird from Gibraltar to Macao, but that be a d—n sight from truthful, I assure ye. What ho—I espy a calm driftin' in from the nor'-nor'-east—strike the mizzensail, me tars, an' lay-to as I tell ye what ye need to keep yer parrot a healthy an' happy crewmate. Firstly, stock yer ship's hold with a handsome cargo o' pellets. Be ye one o' those who think seed the best diet for a bird? Heave to, ye poxy dog! Seed be high in fat an' low in nutrition. An' don't give her salt or cow's milk or foods high in sugar. Wean a bird on this witches' brew an' ye be consignin' it to Davy Jones' locker before the poor bastard's time. Yer bird needs fresh water, as well. The briny blue won't do—find ye a gran' solid bowl, barnacle-free, an' treated with pitch, mayhaps, so it won't leak—an' replace it twice daily with clean drink. To fill the bowl with bilge is a crime o' the darkest dye, an' I'll give no quarter to avian abuse upon me brig: Any blackguards caught in the act shall have the ears lanced from their very heads an' parboiled before their eyes! Ye also must supply yer parrot with a great deal o' provisions. If ye be in doubt as to where to procure this kit, thar be many pet-supply stores throughout the torrid zone an' parts north. In Port-Royal, thar be a bloody fine pet-supply store. Likewise, in Nantucket, an' I hear tell thar be a right bounty o' stores with many convenient locations on Long Islan'. When yer bird cannot perch upon yer shoulder, ye will need a fine sturdy cage. Mind that the bars be not so far apart that she can slip through or can lodge her feathar'd head 'twixt 'em. An' don't ye be usin' a san'paper perch, lest ye wish yerself clapped in irons an' sharin' yer grog with the hold-rats! Yer parrot needs a natural branch perch so as to not have irritated feet, me salts. Provide a goodly calcium an' mineral supplement an' treat her to a cuttlebone, as it helps to keep her beak from growin' too long. Or, ye can let her play with Cookie's wooden spoon, or such-like simple fare, an' through this amusement the beak shall be trimmed. If yer bird be pluckin' out her plumage, why, shiver me timbers, that could mean she be beset with a pox! Examine her for parasites, fungus, or signs o' skin irritation or infection. An' bathe yer bird once a fortnight. 'Tis important for healthy skin an' feathers. The creature may protest, but ye need to be firm. If the parrot ceases not in her pluckin', drop anchor an' visit yer veterinarian. Ye likewise need to be keepin' yer parrot's nails trimmed. But let this serve as a warnin': Ye must be careful not to cut 'em too short, especially if yer parrot be but a fledglin'. Birds be usin' their claws for climbin', now, an' cuttin' 'em too short can lead to falls. An' no bird shall go overboard on me watch. Wing-clippin' be the most important aspect to parrot-groomin'. Ye don't want to have the rascal flyin' around the ship starboard to port, prow to stern, an' back. But don't be tryin' this for yer own self. Espy that passel o' skulls danglin' on tenterhooks from the bowsprit? 'Tis the remnants o' lowly crimps what tried to do their own wing-clippin'. So grievous were the results, I had those d—nable rogues keel-hauled, lashed to the gunwhales, an' blown to bloody bits by cannon-shot, then their heads cut loose from what remained an' strung up thusly. Aye, swabs, 'tis best to have the wings clipped by an experienced professional upon dockin' in port. Parrots be sociable creatures, an' chances are, as yer bird sails the seven seas imbibin' o' the bracin' salt air, she will miss her old flock back in Africy. It rends this old buccaneer's heart to think upon such matters, but 'tis proof ye need to hold fast to yer bird an' provide her love an' companionship. A spry, talkative sort is a parrot, an' a keen scholar, as well. Knew ye, mateys, 'tis in the throat, not the mouth, that the parrot be makin' the words she speak? Aye, a fun fact, indeed! Ye can teach her to say words like "jolly-boat" an' "square-riggin'" an' "ahrrrrr!" Or instruct her in the riding o' a small bicycle. Mind, also, that the parrot be a spirited squab, an' ye must forbear her caprice. If she nip yer hand, or yer hook as the case may be, resist the impulse to flense her to meat with yer cutlass, or even to growl "Avast!" Nay, punishment only sets her mind against ye, so do yer level best to ignore the rascal an' scold her not. Long ago, me swabbies, I consecrated me life to the devil so that I might swash an' buckle fearlessly as a high-seas desperado. To this day, the British Navy deman's me head with a bounty o' one pound per hair. The life o' a pirate be nasty, brutish, an' short, so it be for that reason that ye should provide some means for the parrot's well-bein' after ye have departed this dismal realm. For ye see, parrots can live upwards o' fourscore years, an' can survive many a privateer. Arrange for yer parrot to be entrusted to an obligin' caretaker, or contact yer home port's humane society for assistance. See ye, then, the importance o' proper parrot care? A parrot requires a d—ned goodly lot o' preparation, foresight, an' what the lan'lubbers call "TLC." Aye, 'tis time-consumin', indeed, but worth its weight in booty. An', should ye ever have a question about the parrot-raisin', fail not to flag me down to ask. It be what Capt. Bannister be here for, ye poxy salt. Now, dampen those pipes an' rouse yerselves from the poop deck, ye scurvy layabouts, an' weigh anchor! Me yarn be spun, an' thar's work to be done! For tomorrow we dock at Port-Au-Prince, a city whose bounteous treasure be ripe for the plunder. Why, I hear tell the governor's daughter has the richest dowry in all the Indies! Also, Isabelle be due for her five-year check-up.