It happens to the best of us. It happens to the best of us doing the best we can every day. Accidents will happen. It can not be avoided. Sooner or later no matter our efforts accidents happen. And by definition, fault it not to be laid out, nor judgments made. Accidents are opportunities to learn and modify for future efforts in avoidance. Which isn't to say you won't have an accident again.
I want to make this clear. Accidents happen and the best we can do is learn from them and others accidents without judgements or fault hurling. I need to repeat that because somewhere along the way in companion parrot advocacy (I'll say about the time social media was birthed) companion parrot accidents became something to hide, a shameful thing that only happens to "others", or a moment in time that breeds judgment and finger pointing. Which leads to shame and hiding truths that others need to hear about because they have their own accidents hidden away and lessons to share. You see, we are not helping each other or our companions with any of these human actions.
I'm not afraid of accidents. I'm not ashamed of mine, because accidents happen when people are busy trying. The only people who don't have accidents, small or large, are those not trying a thing. Failure and accidents are cousins. Forward motion sets moments into action and certainly that leads to Chaos Theory. And accidents.
Saturday evening my husband and I went out to dinner. We came home just before dusk. Happy, full and feeling a bit confident in our lives. We were full of energy when our flock was winding down their energy. We came in with big hellos that were too fast and not personal enough to equalize our birds and ourselves. My husband went upstairs to change, I let Kirby and the cockatiels out of their cages for their evening of flight without macaws. And I went upstairs. Alas, Snickers and Butters were charged up and not quite done with cage hellos. Snickers specifically was overstimulated knowing he would have to wait yet longer for his Dad. And so I listened to four cockatiels and one IRN fly freely around 1800 square feet of airspace while going upstairs. I make this clear for one reason. This was the lesson in the coming accident. We overstimulated and failed to equalize our flock before leaving them to finish our human transitioning. Specifically, we left the most sensitive to stimulation (Snickers) and failed to equalize him. That was the human in the room's mistake. I take responsibility for that mistake.
I was happily finishing my bird wardrobe swap when we heard the outcry. It was a cockatiel. It was not good. I ran downstairs as fast as I could to find out the what, why and who. It was Benny, our 3 year old male. He had lighted on top of Snickers' cage (as he has done 1000 times before) but with Snickers overstimulated and frustrated with the extended wait for Dad, Snickers took a bite on Benny's right foot. The result is not good. Here lies the next lesson in our journey of my accident; Benny and Louie literally hatched under the watchful and vulture like stare of a macaw. Their first site was a big blue chicken looking down at them with interest. Benny and Louie have no fear of macaws whatsoever. Stella and Winston, too, have little fear. They watched Butters and Snickers grow up. It's a balanced act of acknowledgment and territorial agreements that has held true and easy for years now. Even now, I stand confident in our mixed flock and rules. Because the lesson isn't not mixing the birds, the lesson is how very important it is for the human in the room to pay close attention to what our communication is bringing into and leaving with the flock. WE polluted the balance in the room. NOT THE BIRDS.
Benny is good. Benny is at home, in his hospital cage with a ball bandage on his foot. He did loose one toe. He does have a challenge with his foot as far as needing the skin to attach back to the foot pad correctly. He, I and our wonderful Vet are on top of this like icing on a cupcake. We are scheduled to visit Doctor on Saturday for a bandage change and checkup for healing and pain management.
Benny is more annoyed with being physically separated from Louie than anything else. He has taken all his meds with verve, he is eating and drinking like a Viking, and he is sitting in the corner of his hospital cage that is butted up next to the cockatiel flight cage. Because you see, Louie is sitting on the other side close as possible singing and chatting with him. He is his hospital visitor. And visiting hours are 24/7. They are chirping so loud upstairs, Kirby is answering them from downstairs. All is well and I am fully confident he will heal. So is his Doctor.
Here is another lesson I learned, and for a confident Mom like me, it was one I needed to hear straight from the Doctor's mouth to my ear. When there is a bite, they need pain meds. When there is broken skin, they need antibiotics and pain meds. Immediately. That's a nugget that will stick. You see, after the incident on Saturday night I immediately gathered up Benny, cleaned his foot with antiseptic (the bleeding was nominal) and put him and Louie in the Hospital Cage upstairs to calm each other. I couldn't quite yet tell the damage. And after raising two human children it takes alot to rattle my cage. No pun intended. The next morning Benny and Louie were eating, singing and drinking. Benny of course was comforting his foot by standing one foot up. But he wasn't chewing on it, nor pulling on it at all. There was no blood anywhere. I thought a day of quiet rest would be best. Because I am a confident Mom. Benny saw his Doctor on Tues. And that's when Benny's Doctor taught me the lesson of parrot triage she would prefer I start practicing. Immediately.
My husband asked me Tuesday, after the doctor appointment, if I would change my stance on our mixed flock. My answer is no. They have always been together, they share moments and routines. They look to each others calls and habits to define the flock's health. This has always been a truth. What I will change though is how we affect them as a whole. And I will check to see all parties are relaxed and equalized before moving to the next familiar routine. You see, I didn't do that part. It is on me. As I went upstairs Saturday night I had the lightest whisper in my thoughts. A quiet voice of concern in my head. "Snickers sure is getting loud. He's not happy." It said. I should have stopped, turned around and visited Snickers to equalize him, and make sure the cockatiels were in their own normal routine and flight patterns. I didn't do any of that. And I do that every other night. At 5:15pm. Every. Night.
It happens, and it generally happens because of the human in the room. This lifestyle, it is not complicated, but it is demanding. This lifestyle requires the human to be honestly self aware and flock aware at all times. You autopilot this stuff, and somebody will have an accident. Bites from parrots, or accidents like Benny's all have the same epicenter. Ground Zero is the human in the room.
Here's one last truth found inside my Benny Accident. Companion Parrots inside a flock governed with love, calm and empathy are amazingly resilient and downright tough. Like a son, who skateboarded his way to a broken wrist because he didn't wear the safety gear you bought. He healed up nicely. And continually reminds me how I made him wait 24 hours to see a doctor because I didn't think he hurt himself that bad because I am a confident Mom like that under pressure.
It's time we stop judging and start sharing truths and lessons. None of us get all of this right all the time. Anyone that says they are is hiding their truths. Which is sad. Because our sincere truths will make all the difference for companion parrots.