Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Life With ‘Da Boids’

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Sophie, a female Solomon Islands Eclectus parrot, Eclectus roratus solomonensis,
who looks just like my own Elektra.

Image: Courtesy of Denise and Dave Bell/Eclectus House.

I am playing host to a surprise house guest (human), so my birds have been exhibiting all sorts of unusual behaviors these past couple days. Elektra, who is a four-year-old female Solomon Islands Eclectus parrot, Eclectus roratus solomonensis, is characteristically reserved and even a bit stoic (dare I say “unflappable”?), so I thought she was not particularly concerned about this person’s sudden appearance.


Yesterday, after my houseguest left to go running in the park, Elektra disappeared. She was standing on the top of her cage when I turned my back for perhaps one minute, and when I turned around again, she was gone, just like that.

“Elektra?” I said as I looked in all her usual hiding places. “Elektra?”

I paused, listening. Silence greeted me. Even my other birds, who are usually so chatty by day, were silent and watchful.

Elektra was nowhere to be found. I began to worry that she had slipped out of my apartment behind my guest, and was in the hallway of my building, patiently waiting for me to find her and bring her back home again. I peeked into the hallway, but she was nowhere to be found. I closed the door again, really worried now.

“ELEKTRA?!” I yelled. “Where are you?”

I looked everywhere and then I began looking everywhere again, as if I might have (somehow) overlooked her or perhaps she might have hidden herself away in a crack between the moulding and the floor.

Big, fat snowflakes made lazy spirals outside my kitchen window and I imagined that Elektra had somehow gotten out-of-doors and was being eaten by a desperately hungry feral housecat. Panic gripped me now, my heart beating wildly. I was certain that she was dead, her crimson body embedded in a sparkling white snowbank (nevermind that there were not any snowbanks at that moment for her to embed herself into).

What to do? Where had she gone? What would my life be like without her? That last thought was too horrible to contemplate.

Then I saw her. She strolled slowly and casually across the wooden floors in my bedroom, pigeon-toed, dust and lint clinging to the tips of her primaries. She had hidden under my futon.

“Elektra!” I practically screamed. Forgetting that she prefers not to be manhandled, I grabbed her and wrapped my arms around her and covered her with kisses.

“Oh, you horrible little brat!” I cooed at her. “How could you do such a thing to me? You almost killed me, you brat!”

I let her climb onto the top of her cage so she could recover her dignity. She closed her eyes halfway as she puffed her feathers out in pleasure, so that she resembled a big furry scarlet-and-royal-blue globe. She looked immensely pleased with herself. Smug, in fact.


  1. #1 John McKay
    December 5, 2007

    I have cats. They don’t need shennanigans to put me in my place; they do it with posture.

  2. #2 Roseanna
    December 5, 2007

    I HAD to send you this one…such a cutey story!!!! You know I love these babies!!!!

    Love you!!

  3. #3 Library Diva
    December 5, 2007

    My white cat pulled this once. I thought she’d snuck out of the intern housing I was living in. I spent the whole afternoon looking for her, the images in my mind getting more and more horrific: Molly hit by a car, Molly eaten by a fox, Molly drowned in the pool at Marian Fathers across the street, Molly chewed up by some of the heavy equipment at the construction site next door. The superintendent’s wife saw me outside with the dish of cat food and my straw hat and asked what I was doing. I burst into tears and told her the story. She told me to go back up to my apartment, get a drink of water, and then come back down and she’d help me look. Molly met me at the door, the little brat!

  4. #4 JHS
    December 8, 2007

    Thanks for contributing this article to this week’s Carnival of Family Life, hosted at the so-called me on Monday, December 10, 2007! We have many other wonderful entries, so stop by and read a few!

    Interested in hosting the Carnival? The schedule is posted at Colloquium.

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