I buy Alex a new cage and he won’t move in.
I had a feeling there would be a problem, but Janet made my worries seem ridiculous. So I bought the cage.
The idea was to buy Alex, my 18-month-old African Grey parrot, a new cage. This would be one I could leave outside so he could spend nice days outdoors without me having to wheel his cage in and out. Moving the cage is a royal pain in the butt, and I only do it when it’s time to hose it out. A second cage would make life easier and get Alex some fresh air while I was at work.
Janet and I took Mike’s pickup down to Phoenix to Bird Expo West (or some similar name), a one-day bird show where we were sure to find great bird deals. Janet’s significant other, Steve, has a scarlet macaw named Calypso. He’s a monstrously huge bird with a beak large enough to break bones and a scream loud enough to wake the dead. While Alex may chew on toilet paper rolls and small pieces of wood, Calypso can tear through two-by-fours. Janet was looking for something to keep him occupied so he’d stop chewing the blinds.
The show was very big and very good. There was a little of everything: toys, food, cages, and birds for sale. The place was filled with bird noise, as if we were walking through an aviary. At one point, Janet missed a cell phone call because she never heard the phone ring over the din.
We bought toys. I didn’t buy many — I think I spent about $15 total. They were all brightly colored wood and wicker toys. Small toys that Alex could chew up within a few days each. They were cheap and would last Alex about two months. Janet bought bigger toys that she carried around in heavy bags. She also bought a few smaller toys for her Budgie, who’d lost his partner over the summer.
There were all kinds of cages, from the smallest carry box for a finch to huge, walk-in aviaries. And the prices on cages were incredible. Cages that would cost $500 in PetSmart were $200 or less. At my top budget price of $200, there was plenty to choose from. Including the corner cage with the rounded front.
Take a moment to imagine this. Alex lives in a rectangular cage in the corner of my dining room/kitchen. The cage is about 26″ deep and about 34″ wide. Add to that about 4″ on each side for the “seed catchers” that do a so-so job of keeping dropped food and toys from falling on the floor. As a result, a big corner of my kitchen is taken up by Alex’s living space.
I’d seen corner cages before, but had never seen one quite as spacious as the one at the show. (Mind you, there were other less spacious ones there, too.) This one would give Alex all the room he needed to live quite comfortably. Best of all, its two flat sides, which would be tucked into the corner, measured only 26″ wide. With the rounded front, the cage would take up much less space than Alex’s current cage. It was even green, almost the same color as the cage he already had, which matched my kitchen.
It all makes sense, right? Buy the corner cage, move Alex into it, and use his current cage for outdoors.
But there was a little voice inside my head that told me it wasn’t such a good idea. You see, Alex likes his cage. He likes to hang out in it. He likes to climb all over it — even upside down from its roof. Sometimes, in the morning, I can’t get him to come out. He spends the day in there, and he sleeps in there. It’s his room, his personal space.
I told this to Janet and she looked at me like I was nuts. He’ll get used to it, she told me. He got used to the one he’s in, didn’t he?
She was right — or at least she sounded right to me. So I bought the cage.
You know what comes next. I brought the cage home and wheeled it into the kitchen to show Alex. He was on top of his cage, just hanging around, and when he saw the new cage, he took a dive to the floor. He was shaking like a leaf when I showed him the new cage. He jumped off my hand several times. Over the next two days, every time I brought him close to the cage, he’d climb on my shoulder so he could be as far away from it as possible. Any time I’d try to get him to step onto the cage, he’d dive onto the floor. Obviously, not only did he dislike the cage, he was terrified of it.
Well the cage is installed in the opposite corner of the dining area, where Alex can look at it all day. I’ve installed some perches and toys in it. I lined the top with paper — not an easy task, given the quarter circle shape. And I keep trying to get Alex to take an interest in it.
The sad part is, I bought the cage to save room in my kitchen, and so far, I’ve just lost more space.