My Parrot’s feverish brow

In the medical report, I forgot to mention that Marceline, the parrot, has been falling off his perch, literally, not the way. most of us are these days. [By the way, he has a woman’s name — the star of Rosenkavalier, which we had seen at The Met about 30 years ago, the night before he flew into our Manhattan apartment from the streets of NYC, and we just knew he was a “woman of the world”. We had decided he was a female; his colors were so modulated, and we thought, as you birdwatchers know better, that all females in the ornithological world were dim copies of their male spouses. In fact, after we bought “her” a male companion, and “he” preceded to give that poor guy a fatal heart attack, again literally — did you know birds have circulatory systems much like humans? — we checked his DNA, and found, of course, that she was a he.]
Back to his unfortunate acrobatics: Aki came to the rescue with a sponge mat at the bottom of the cage — so he would bounce. But he ate that up. So now Aki crumples a big pile of papers on the floor of his cage, [to catch the you-know-what but] about a foot deep so he can’t hurt himself when he takes a dive. He doesn’t like that much because it takes him a while to get out of the Washington-style paper jungle, shake his feathers, and get back his dignity on a perch, and as a consummate aesthete,  he thinks it ruins the esthetics of his otherwise pretty snazzy, big white cage with all its bowls and doors and windows.
Actually, we just diagnosed the problem. He somehow ripped two of the nails off one foot so he can’t hang on to perches or maneuver as well around the cage in his usual whimsical way. Aki has just re-engineered the perches, taking off the guck where the bark has gone, so he can waddle around better. His flying is almost exclusively used to take a sudden dive, literally, at the hand that feeds him in the morning — if you are not alert. We are told Senegalese are noted for their ill-tempered behavior, but also for their intellect — and when we have eye contact with him, he does seem to listen rather intently, with those beady little black orbs.
Recently, since we moved here about a year ago and he can see those poor miserable buddies of his race through a big baywindow scrounging for their food and drink, he has become somewhat tame. He obviously has decided we are parrots, too, and since I am told they are very collegiate, he eats whenever we eat at a nearby table, even if we are just having afternoon coffee and cheese and crackers or when we have a midnight snack, he joins us with his separate dishes for nuts, fruit, water and the hottest dried Mexican peppers we can find [that don’t come from China!].
Still, he says we haven’t been taking good enough care of him, nor keeping the conversation going. [He used to have long ones with Kawai-chan, the cat, you will pardon the express, his bosom friend.]
As a naturalized Afro-American [he is a Senegalese, you know, and claims not to be an illegal immigrant although he won’t show us his papers], he has threatened us with going at least to the Black Caucus with his complaints — if not higher up in the electoral system what with special entree, he thinks. I have told him he had better hurry up because the present incumbent is vacating next year. But he says he doesn’t believe that, but then birds of a feather and all that. Parrot, you said? Yeah, I had the same thought.

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