Rock'n Cockatoo

Every interaction creates communication.

Rock'n Cockatoo

Rocky, being a 'too, can scream loud enough to be heard on the far side of the field across the road from our house. For you country folk, that's about four acres away. So, when one is in the house with him and he's screaming, one's ears bleed and one's nerves jangle.

His Royal Too-Ness insists on going to bed at dark most nights, which means that we are still up for a while, sometimes quite a while, after he has retired. His cage is in the living room, with us and the TV and the dogs. Lately, after he has told us it's bedtime and I have obediently tucked him in and covered his cage, he starts shrieking that earsplitting squawk meant to be heard by cockatoos in the rain forests (and I would bet they CAN hear him!). Nothing will stop the screaming. I go stand by him and talk to him and he'll give me that patented, wide-eyed, open beak “Gosh, Mom, there you are!” look and sometimes even say “I wuv oooooh!” but the second I back away


A few nights ago, I kept him up a little late in the hopes he would be ready to settle down by the time I tucked him in, and he was testy and hard to get along with because he wanted to go to bed, so I rocked him. Like a baby. He laid his head against my chest and I stroked his head and crooned to him and rocked and rocked until I saw those blue eyelids getting heavy. Then I put him in his cage and crooned a few minutes more. I covered him up and … silence. He got a snack and a drink and settled right down.

Okay, I thought, besides the fact that who ever heard of rocking a parrot to sleep, this is clearly an anomaly. I kept him up late, he's extra tired, that's why he settled down. Though keeping him up late never worked before.

The next night, I tried it again. Rocked him before I put him in his cage. Again, silence. He settled right down.

We don't have an actual rocking chair in the living room for fear of pinching dog or bird toes and tails, so I had to do that swaying back and forth thing that women seem to be born knowing how to do, even women like me who don't have kids. And it works on Rocky. Last night it worked again. I am amazed. You never see this advice on any parrot forum. Or at least, I never have. They say: Complete darkness! Put them to bed in another room! Turn off the TV! Use sign language to communicate so you don't disturb the parrots!

None of those things works with Rocky. He has screamed to the point the poor dogs hide as far away as they can get and Jack will huddle in the corner as if he's done something really, really bad and refuse to look me in the eye. I suppose he feels somewhat responsible since when we leave we usually tell Jack he's in charge. Maybe he thinks he's in charge all the time.

I don't know where the idea came from to rock Rocky, other than instinct. I was giving him his bedtime snuggle and just started to sway, and he often makes these little grunting and cooing sounds when I snuggle him. He was doing that, and then he stopped, so I looked down and he was half asleep. Eureka! I found it! The answer! I often jokingly call him “Rockatoo,” a play on “cockatoo,” among his many other nicknames, and now it's what we do. We rock a 'too.

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