• Martha Iserman

Cockatoos and You- Revenge of the Georges

This one's personal folks.

These mofos are currently eating our house. You heard that right. They're eating our house. At this moment as I type this at my computer in my studio there is one making threatening eye contact as he slowly leans down and picks chunks of wood from the back patio with his beak. His name is George. Well... they're all named George...

My first Australian meme!

Let me start over.

Cockatoos are beautiful parrots that belong to the family Cacatuidae. For our purposes here, I will be talking mostly about the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, which lives around our house.

They also have some pretty sick moves.

When we first moved in we were delighted to see them on our front porch, displaying their yellow crests and head-bopping across the railing to get our attention. One, in particular, was very friendly and would approach our front windows every time he saw us in the living room. We named him George.

And it looks like George's friend in the background is in the process of being raptured...

That is the problem though, George had friends. Lots and lots of friends. Since I'm lazy I named them all George, but there are a lot of Georges in the hills around our house. And since they're a pretty smart species of parrot, they figured out that we didn't know not to feed them.

Party at the American's house!

So we slowed down with feeding them and tried to go back to living peacefully. This caused the Georges to start getting a little more aggressive.

Me trying to read and have a nice glass of wine on the front patio. Immediately after this George tried to bite my toe.

They started calling all their George friends to have them meet up at our place for happy hour. You can hear them squawking across the valley as they circle our home.

The Flight of the Valkyries would fit nicely here

And when we continued refusing to feed them, they decided to get a little pushy. They'd start eating the wood on our front porch. They'd hang upside down from the awning above our front door and squawk at us while we ate dinner. They'd ruin Netflix and Chill time by knocking on our living room window.

"I know you see me b*tch!"- George

So this is our life now. I'm being held hostage by a flock of Georges because we gave them a few handfuls of seeds last November. They know our schedule, they know our habits, they know our ambitions and our deepest secrets. I wake up in the morning to George staring in the bedroom window. If this is the last blog post I write, blame the Georges. These videos will serve as evidence of the Great George Attack of 2020.

So here are a few fun facts about the birds that will murder me.

-They are super smart (so you know this murder will be first degree aka premeditated).

-Apparently Australians know not to feed them because they get pissed when you stop and will eat your house (it's almost like we should have known better?). There have been many attempts at stopping them, like installing bird spikes on buildings, but the cheeky parrots can usually figure out how to pull them off and throw them onto the ground in victory. They're known to grab food off of BBQs and even sandwiches out of people's hands.

Are you gonna finish that drink?

-They live a long time. When healthy they can live for more than 70 years! Since they're also a popular pet, it's important to know about their long life-span before you adopt one.

But again, can't beat the dance moves

-If you do decide to get a cockatoo, understand that they need tons of social time with you. They're sometimes called "velcro" birds because they need at least 2 hours a day of one on one time. It's a major long-term commitment to own one and they do get emotionally attached so understand that giving them up can cause some bird trauma. This can lead to stress side effects like feather plucking.

Side Note: There is an Instagram for a cockatoo named FeFe who was rescued after being abandoned and plucking out her feathers. She is super attached to her owner and the cutest little nugget so if you're into cute animal Instas, she's a great follow.

-They are very very loud. Crazy loud. Scary loud. A flock of angry velociraptors in the sky loud. You can hear their calls for miles.

- They bite. They have a "U" shaped grove in their bottom jaw that allows them to clamp down extra hard (called a "three-way bite"). I've been nipped before, but not too badly.

"Did I do that...!?!"

- One relatable fact is that they have a tendency towards quick weight gain. Eating houses would have been the first clue...

-Their crest is a form of body language and emoting for the cockatoo. It can show curiosity, aggression, friendliness, attraction, playfulness etc.

This one's clearly hung over

It may seem like I hate these Sulpher crested bastards, but our relationship has grown into one of wary respect. The Georges are worthy adversaries, and I respect their refusal to take no for an answer when it comes to snacks.

One more Australian Animal to go! Stay tuned for the crocodile!

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