Relationships according to cockatiels Pablo and Lola
Pablo and Lola
It was the summer of 2011 that two little feathered critters needed a home. A friend of mine insisted I take them in due to the lonesomeness of my lifestyle and bare décor of my apartment. After much apprehension, I welcomed them into my solitary world. At the time, I could barely make ends meet and the thought of looking after two other beings terrified and intimidated me. Nonetheless, it was the start of an interesting learning experience in not only bird care but also relationships.
Enter Pablo and Lola; two adult cockatiels whose exact age is unknown. Pablo is a white Lutino male and Lola is a grey and white female. Pablo arrived with an eye condition for which he needed prescribed eye drops once to twice a day. Opening their cage to handle him was a bit of a challenge as he was, and still is, very skittish and untamed. Once Pablo was in my grasp, his mate, Lola, would screech is a loud-pitched desperation as in almost saying, “Unhand my man!” After putting the drops in his irritated eyes and placing him back in the cage, the noise session by Lola ceased. She shook her feathers in relief as Pablo scooted over by her on the perch. It was there and then that it was obvious to me that they are very much bonded. However, sometimes I questioned such bond after observing some of their behaviors throughout the day.
There were times that they were preening each other after one placed his or her little head down for the other to touch. Sometimes, Lola would be rough with Pablo in her pecking of his crest. A loud and sharp chirp by him followed by a few steps back from her made it obvious that she lacked tact when making sure he was taken care of.
After cleaning their consumed seed husks and refilling their meal seeds for the first time, more of their relationship dynamic became obvious to me. Because of them being two birds cohabiting in a cage, having multiple feeders was something I needed to do for their fair and harmonious eating. At least that is what I thought at the time after arranging their living space. Filling two seed trays, it was my assumption they would each take on an individual feeder and have at it. Pablo was the first one to descend from his high perching place to eat. He favored the one attached to the cage door which had a little vanity mirror. Not long after he started to crack open seeds, Lola laser-beamed him with her beady eyes. She had the choice of using the other feeder on the side, but opted and insisted on the one Pablo had already occupied. As typical of these birds, she climbed down using her beak as a third foot to control her stability. Too indulged in the meal, Pablo was unaware of Lola’s sneak attack upon him and a rudely-executed beak to his back interrupted his feast. He retreats climbing upwards in the same manner Lola had made her way downwards. The look on his face was seemingly nonchalant at the abrupt gesture by his mate. Not many minutes later, he continues to eat by targeting the other feeder that Lola should have used in the first place. Was Lola rude in her behavior and treatment of Pablo? Most couples are very giving and sacrificing to one another when it comes to eating and other things, no? Or, was Pablo just agreeing to a forced chivalry by giving up his feeding location of choice?
As the daylight dwindled, these two knew when bedtime was approaching. I was curious to see how they handle each other at bedtime. Sitting together on the highest perch stick in the cage, it was my guess that their quiet demeanor meant they were going to peacefully retire for the evening. They both just stared at me in return for my fixed gaze upon them. Approaching the cage to observe some more; Lola began to hiss at me in dislike. It is my guess to not blame her for I am not keen on the idea of someone watching me trying to sleep either. Pablo, in an apparent attempt to defend his lady’s honor, joins in on the hissing. Ha, probably identical to a husband getting up to see if someone is breaking in as they sleep. As soon as he sent out his attack my way, Lola turned to her side and began to peck at him because he was too close to her on the perch. Being surprised by this, I stepped back and away from their metal dwelling so as to diffuse the battle of the beaks. While it did cease for a few minutes, it commenced once more. It concerned me that they could have poked their eyes out, so I misted them with a water spray bottle. Once they assimilated wet chickens, they cooled off and I covered their cage to send them off to birdie La-La Land.
Almost a year later, these two have replayed the above scenarios every single day that I have been living with them. Despite the friction, they stand up for one another every time I handle one in an effort to tame them. I open the cage door to allow them exploration of my home and when one of them flies out and is not in sight of the other, the S.O.S. yelping begins. Such stops when one bird is back in view of the other. Sometimes I have seen them display relieved acts of affection only to engage in a beak fight minutes after or vice-versa.
The conclusion is that these birds, like humans, are able to disagree, fight and be inconsiderate when sharing food, but at the end of the day they have themselves against their owner, me, who just loves to handle them too much for their own comfort. Needless to say, I love them and cannot imagine my daily home life without their couple oddities.