“Squeaks, you look so focused on nibbling and fluffing and scratching,” said Momanita, my hootman.
“And it’s amazing that I AM focused! Who writes this early in the morning? Who can THINK before dawn.”
I slid my beak over my flight feather and tucked it in place. It’s really a NON flight feather since I can’t fly. I broke my wing and it didn’t heal right.
To other hootmans this sounded like squeals and whistles, but not to Momanita. She MOSTLY understood cockatiel speak. I MOSTLY understood hootman talk.
“The early, quiet hours and you inspire me!”
“The early hours WERE quiet until you started yammering about inspiration. You’re noisier than those red-winged blackbirds at the feeder.”
Somehow, I helped Momanita write. Every time she wrote, she carried me upstairs, set my writing nest on her desk, and talked to me.
“It looks like preening brings you great joy.”
Mostly it brings me clean feathers, I thought. “What brings me great joy is millet!”
I climbed to the writing nest roof.
“Sometimes what looks ordinary is really extraordinary,” my hootman said. “That’s what I’ll write about!”
“Or write about how sometimes what is ordinary is really just ordinary.”
Being an inspiration is exhausting.
“I’ll Google ‘preening.’ That’s a good start.” Momanita tapped the keyboard.
There she goes with Google again! One time she read cockatiels liked being misted. Not THIS cockatiel. I dodged the spray bottle for weeks before she got the hint.
“Preening is how birds groom. It removes dirt and bacteria and keeps you healthy.”
“See, it’s like when hootmans take a bath- absolutely ordinary.”
Except I have a preen gland by my tail that’s like a pocket. It has waxy oil. Spreading the oil on my feathers keeps them soft.
Cockatiels are efficient birds!
“Preening puts feathers back in place. That helps keep you warm.”
“See, it’s like when hootmans use a blanket to keep warm – absolutely ordinary.”
Except feathers have tiny barbs that fit together and lock in our heat. We don’t have to carry around a blanket.
Cockatiels are well designed birds.
“Sometimes birds will preen to calm themselves when there’s trouble.” Momanita said. “The pause helps them cope.”
See, it’s like when hootmans pause to think through problems and solve them – absolutely ordinary.
Except lately I haven’t seen hootmans solving many problems.
Cockatiels are problem solving birds. We can teach you Hootmans a thing or two.
“So, what looks like nibbling and fluffing and scratching to me,” said Momanita. “Is you cleaning your feathers, keeping warm, and calming down. That’s extraordinary.”
I thought about my feathers and preen gland and my personality. Momanita was right. Sometimes preening is more than just preening.
Cockatiels ARE extraordinary.
Momanita extended her finger. I nibbled it before climbing on.
“And my preening is showing you I’m happy you’re my hootman. I’d be HAPPIER if millet was in my food cup.”
I’m not sure she got what I said because Momanita MOSTLY understood cockatiel speak and I MOSTLY understood hootman talk.