Published Nov 1, 2006

Okay, so it’s Fall Back time; we all get an extra hour of sleep Sunday morning, and now we get to enjoy the cold, still dark that comes in winter evenings. Well, we could if we didn’t live in Southern California. But I digress. Birds, now, birds know nothing of these Daylight Savings Time changes. All they do know is that sometimes they’re tired and testy, and sometimes they’re ready to eat breakfast and get the day started.

That means that Daylight Savings Time gives me two hard weeks a year. Every spring, Junior gets woken up early and put to bed early; in revenge, he spends a good hour climbing around his cage, stomping around and clanging on the metal bars every evening until he gets used to the new schedule. In the fall, like now, he’s ready to get up early in the morning — it’s the same clanging and stomping, just now waking me up in the morning, not keeping me up at night — and then he’s cranky throughout the whole late evening.

It’s important to understand that an Umbrella Cockatoo is, basically, a two-year-old, and, like any other two-year-old, misbehaves when overtired. It starts with relentlessly adorable beahvior at about 10pm (his usual bedtime is 11:30, or 10:30 given the Daylight Savings change). He’ll start talking sweetly and quietly, saying “pretty white bird” and making kissing noises, but he won’t cuddle; he’ll walk to the far side of his tree-shaped perch in the middle of the living room and flirt from there.

About a half hour later he’ll start making his complaining noise — a grating groan from the back of his throat — and, if he has any energy left, he’ll lean forward, extend his wings slightly, and bounce up and down — typical begging behavior. Of course, he’s not begging for anything in specific, just to somehow be relieved of his worries. If I pick him up and try to take him to his cage, he’ll resist getting in and climb onto my shoulder. If I pick him up and try to sit with him on my lap, he’ll look at me with suspicion-filled, slitted eyes, then nibble on everything within reach. I like my stuff and don’t need little triangular beak-shaped holes in it. Well, in the it what doesn’t have little triangular beak-shaped holes in it already.

And whatever he does, he’ll sit there and say “good bird!” every few minutes until it’s bedtime, asking for reassurance that he is, in fact, a good bird. And he is, a sweet and good bird, and, in another week, he’ll even be a pleasant bird, sitting on my lap, wanting kisses and scratchies, and falling asleep nestled under my arm, until he finally goes into his cage, is covered with a blanket, and goes to bed, sleeping soundly until he comes out in the morning ready to kiss and cuddle. Now that’s the life a Cockatoo understands, not this time change thing.