After a week of living with Harley, I can say with no small amount of confidence that if I were to take him through airport security now, we would both have a much easier time of it. I'm much more used to his size and weight, more familiar with the way he balances on my hand, more accustomed to spending time with a big, grey bird. He's still better at it all than I am — I am still in awe that this near stranger to me will "step up" on command (except for the few times I get it wrong). Gotta say that his Mom
former Mom did a wonderful job of socializing this bird.
Despite this growing confidence, I would not want to take him anywhere near an airport right now, for fear the visit would reinforce his apparent joy in making the sound of the airport security beep. Bruce has spent a lot of time in airports lately, so was able to identify it immediately: a metal detector that's found a belt buckle, loose change, or something equally dangerous and terrifying.
The metal detector noise is loud, high and piercing — and quite startling when it's in your living room. The other day Harley started making the airport beep, and another beep that we couldn't identify. Loud, but a bit lower on the musical scale, with a nasal tone; this one isn't so piercing, and in fact I like it. I call it a "boop." "BEEP! BEEP! BOOP!
" Let's just say, Harley might be a little more likely to forget the security beep if the boop didn't make me laugh every time I hear it.
So far, no neighbors have complained about the noise, but Harley can be quite loud. On a couple of occasions, when he's made very loud, obnoxious noises I've tried to distract him by making less annoying noises with him. This has been relatively successful — at least, when I don't start laughing at him. He can whistle (I can't, but I try), he hisses, he clucks his tongue, he makes kiss noises, he says "What'cha doin'" (although not very clearly), "no" (to which I always reply "yes"), and one day, distinctly and completely out of context, he said "you're welcome." He also says "are you ready for bed" when it's bedtime, in a voice that hardly sounds human, much less like his former Mom.
Apart from his capacity for being louder, and his ability to chew up thicker paper products, Harley's size makes a big difference in how I can handle him.
Peanut was so tiny I had to be very gentle with him, or I'd knock him right over. In comparison, Harley is quite solid and sturdy. I notice this most when I get to give him scritches.
IN YOUR FACE, BRUCE!
Yes, night number one Harley preened Bruce's beard, night two Bruce got to give Harley scritches, but night number three (with Bruce out of town) I got to give Harley the Most Scritches Ever. He was sitting on the back of the couch when I reached up to bring him back down to my knee. But instead, Harley twisted his head around, asking for scritches. He rested his beak on the couch for stability, and I started gently ruffling his feathers. But as time went on, he leaned into my fingers, and it soon became clear that some spots need rubs, not gentle touches. In fact, there is nothing gentle about scritching the crown of his skull, or around his nostrils. It's an amazing experience.