According to My Bird, Working Is for Losers

I have the incredible fortune to work from home. It may not pay much, but at least I can safely earn a teensy income from the relative safety of my house.

My work setup is fairly simple. I have a plastic desk (a foldout straight from a crowded Costco aisle) placed against the kitchen counter, with a decent office chair that’s a hand-me-down from my mother’s kinder classroom. My laptop takes center stage, while a decrepit desktop rests on the corner of the desk. The desktop computer is ancient enough that it does not recognize 5GHz wifi networks, but I use it for basic search engine stuff and to play background music while I work.

This cobbled-together work station was created to give me the ultimate focus while I write/edit/proofread. Granted, the fact that I’m so close to the kitchen often spurs me to get up for more cups of coffee than I should, but that’s the only distraction, I swear.

Well, it would be the only distraction, if Froley didn’t seem to disagree with the very concept of work.

Every morning, I roll out of bed, brush my teeth, and wash my face. (By “wash my face,” I mean splash some water on it and then shake it dry like a dog.)

I gather any notebooks or spare sheets of paper I might need for work, boot up my computers, and hunker down for about an hour or two.

Froley’s wake-up time is at 9 am, so at that point, I take a small break to greet my beloved birb with joyous whistles and endearing terms. I remove his polar bear bedtime blanket from his bedtime cage, rush him to his normal cage for his gigantic morning poop, and then let him have free reign of the airspace.

On a good day, Froley uses his out-time to take a second nap on my office chair, on my thigh, or on my desk itself. He’ll fluff up and start beak grinding, letting me type away to my heart’s content.

Unfortunately, more often than not, Froley is not content with merely chillaxing by my side.

No, he must have all attention on him, and anything that gets in the way of that is an abomination.

He bites at my keyboard, determined that my computer will no longer have an Escape key. He demands cuddles, nipping my fingertips or wrists until I stop what I’m doing to give him head scritches. He’ll decide that it’s the perfect time to try shattering glass and start screaming/chirping at the top of his lungs. Or he’ll hop onto my knuckles as I’m carefully trying to edit an article and start masturbating on them.

At times like these, it is impossible to work with Froley around. I have to stop whatever I’m working on, pick him up, and place him (gently) back in his cage.

Froley can’t seem to understand that I need a job to give him seeds.

The Sound of Froley

Froley in Front of a Mirror

I have spent years getting to know my bird. As time has gone by, I have learned to read Froley’s emotions and intentions more easily than I can read another person’s. (It’s kind of sad, now that I think about it, but oh well, what can you do?)

It’s amazing how quickly you can forget how amazing it is to have a pet. Here you are, two entirely separate species, but you can communicate with each other just fine. It is more staggering than we admit on a daily basis.

As a bird, one of the main ways that Froley communicates is through his voice. He makes a variety of sounds that I have learned to interpret. It’s scary how much more attuned to him I am than to other birds. I’ve seen countless videos of cockatiels online, and I can distinguish between Froley and those other plebeian birds any day of the week.

So today’s post is going to be dedicated to all the delightful noises my darling Froley utters.

His Morning Shriek: If I decide to sleep in longer than Froley deems acceptable, he will begin to chirp loudly. He sleeps in his Bedtime Cage, which is kept in a separate room from his regular cage at night. As such, Froley chirps extra piercingly so that he can be sure I hear him.

His Babbling: Cockatiels can do a pretty good job of mimicking human speech. They are not as proficient at it as an African Grey, but they can sound more or less intelligible. Froley can say a few words himself, and they are the words he hears most often. When he’s feeling especially proud of himself, he will garble out, “Who’s a pretty bird? Froley is a pretty bird.”

His Pretty Whistles: When he is feeling exuberant, Froley can whistle as sweetly and as victoriously as one of those cartoon birds in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Also, if he wants to be let out of his cage, he will whistle desperate sweet nothings in the hopes you will feel sorry for him.

His Don’t-Leave-Me Chirps: Froley is a needy bird, and he hates to be left behind. His definition of being “left behind” includes me stepping out of the room for a quick second.

His Injustice Squawks: Sometimes I have to do things for Froley’s own good, even if he doesn’t see it that way. For example, I have to scoop him up like a baseball so that he can get used to getting held in case of an emergency trip to the vet. He does not appreciate my efforts to prepare him for the worst, and when he’s displeased, he will squawk at me.

His Beak Grinding: Any bird owner worth their salt (and who owns the kind of bird who does this) knows what beak grinding is. It’s a scritchy-scratchy sound that your bird will make when he or she is utterly content. This sound will usually emit from your bird right before they’re about to take a nap. A lot of bird owners think that beak grinding sounds like nails on a chalkboard, but I’ve grown to become quite fond of it. Actually, I’ve kind of had to become fond of it because Froley likes to take naps on my shoulder.

His I’m-A-Snake Hiss: Froley can hiss like a snake when he is severely pissed. I think it is an instinctive behavior born of trying to camouflage his fear. If Froley were to ever bite someone, he would hiss right before he did it.

His Cute Clicks: In the morning, when he’s in front of a mirror, or when I’ve come home after a day of being out, Froley will greet me with the most adorable clicks as he paces back and forth in his cage. As soon as I let him out, he will hop right in front of my face and start clicking to my nose. I click back at him using my tongue to tap against the back of my front teeth. He seems to like that.

His Purrs: Yes, Froley purrs. When he does his Cute Clicks, he’ll intersperse a few purrs among them too. It’s more like a trill, I suppose. Honestly, I don’t know how to describe this noise. Oh god, and I call myself a writer? I’m failing right now.

His Chuffles: I call Froley’s erratic breathing when he masturbates a chuffle. He sounds out of breath, but the noise is not so deep or throaty to be called a breath. And “chuffles” just sounds cuter, doesn’t it?

His Cheeps: When everything is right with the world (according to Froley), he occasionally lets out a soft cheep to let me know he’s alive and well and to check out how I’m doing. These cheeps are not as frantic as his chirps or as drawn-out as his whistles. They’re quieter and shorter. They’re one of the more common noises I’ll hear from him on a day-to-day basis, but that does not stop me from appreciating them.

Any bird owner will tell you that a bird is a very vocal creature, More than a dog or a cat, a bird relies on its different noises to let its fellow flock members know what’s the haps. I’m 99.99% certain Froley considers me a part of his flock, so learning his vocalizations has been instrumental to me in figuring out what he wants and how he is feeling. If you’re thinking about getting a bird, I highly recommend preparing yourself and your ears for quite the adventure.

If you want to see more of me and Froley, feel free to follow me on Instagram right here.