I met Harley's Mom and her friend at the airport on Friday, where we found a spot in the middle of everything and brought Harley out of his travel cage and sat him on my knee. In the middle of the airport. Out on my knee. Let me repeat that. In the middle of an airport. Out. On. My. Knee. This was to prove to me that Harley was a much better, calmer traveler than I was, and that he'd handle going through security just fine. It was a remarkable experience — at least, I thought so. Harley just sat on my knee, looking around, as if nothing amazing at all were going on.
He was both bigger and smaller than I remembered.
He got lots of stares from admiring passers-by. Most people walked by slowly, watching him the whole time. But two children, both under five years old, crept up slowly toward the travel cage, trying to peer inside. Finally their mother pointed up to my knee, and the older child did a double take that would have put him on America's Funniest Home Videos if there had been a movie camera around. There was
a camera phone, so if those pics (of Harley! not the kid) come out, I'll post them.
We visited just long enough for Harley to learn and practice making a new sound: a very piercing beep from a security machine. We'll see if he keeps that one in his repertoire.
After a quick introduction to putting Harley in the travel cage (move quickly and watch his toes), I checked in at the counter, and got ready to go through security. It wasn't too crowded, and there were two lines, so I picked the one closest to where Harley's Mom was watching (ready to leap over the barrier and pummel the TSA employees if the bird needed saving), and warned everybody that I had a live bird. I put my shoes and few belongings into a grey bin, and then I don't remember anything except Harley's Mom making sure we were both walking through the metal detector and not an X-ray machine, Harley's Mom advising me to hold him closer to my body, holding Harley's toes, and putting him carefully back into his box.
I think the Transportation Security Administration people all admired him, and asked me what kind of bird he was, and I think I even managed to reply coherently, and one of the TSA people helped me make sure I had the cage closed correctly before I walked away, they were all very nice, and I remembered to gather my shoes and other things, and wave goodbye to Harley's Mom. And then I spent about two hours in the airport, talking to myself
Harley the whole time.
(As I stood in line to get on the plane, a fellow asked me what kind of animal was in the box. He guessed it was a ferret. I told him it was a bird, "the complete opposite of a ferret." Not to be mean to ferrets, of course. Back in Detroit another man asked me if I had a tarantula in the box. Who are
these people, and what kinds of pets do they have?)
Luckily there was an empty seat next to me on the airplane, so I was able to bend down every few minutes to talk to Harley. The man in the next seat over very wisely pretended to sleep the whole time. (No, he was actually very friendly, and only pretended to sleep some of the time.) Harley was very quiet during the trip, although I don't think anyone would have noticed if he made noise, since there was an unhappy infant behind me.
Trip over, Bruce met us as we walked out of the airport, and we drove home.
Where Harley almost immediately established his dominance by climbing to the very top of his cage.
Harley has been remarkably content at times. About three hours after arriving here, Harley was resting on Bruce's knee, one foot tucked up, and grinding his beak. Remarkable! He's been eating and drinking and pooping and playing and even making a bit of noise. He's introduced us to pinning — some varieties of parrots can make their pupils get bigger and smaller and bigger again when they're excited about something. The best thing was pizza sauce, although scrambled egg, apples, pears, and preening Bruce's beard also rated pinning eyes.
You read that right: Harley preened Bruce's beard his first night here.
So yes, Bruce is winning. He even got to give Harley scritches last night — only his second night here! Harley's Mom was amazed! (Yeah, don't worry. Bruce is still commuting to DC three or four days a week, so I'll win eventually. Bwa ha ha!)
But bedtime is hard. I'm sure that's when Harley feels the most vulnerable and alone. He's used to sleeping in a room with other birds, and with the Finsters in the office in as close as we can get to quarantine, all he has to keep him company are the noises from the light timers, refrigerator, and the occasional neighbor. He's ended up going to bed very late for him (although his time has changed by an hour), and it's taken several tries to finally settle him down, no matter how many choruses of "Rock a Bye Harley" we sing. The worst was last night, when he dozed a little hanging on the wall UPSIDEDOWN!
But we got two new perches today and changed his cage a bit. He preened for quite a while on one of them, so hopefully he'll settle down there a little more quickly tonight. And we have a lot of time to figure it all out.
And he's already taught Bruce how to eat toast:
Close-up of Harley on the cage