About 99.9 per cent of you, my readers, have never met Archie. I became acquainted with Archie for only a very short time in a rather roundabout way. He came to live at my house for a couple of weeks, and during that time I became very fond of him.
He loved and demanded attention, yet he could be completely irritating with his annoying vocabulary. Archie didn’t talk much but when he did, his timing was such that he almost drove me bonkers.
Archie is a blue-fronted Amazon parrot, predominately green, with a yellow face that is smudged with a little snicker of blue – thus, his species ID. I was to learn about Archie through a relative of Archie’s owner whom I had known for most of my adult life. She had lived in a nursing home for several years but had passed away two years previously. The party in charge of Archie’s well-being had done a good job but felt that Archie needed more attention than what she and her family could give him.
Being known in the area as the local birdman, I was called to see if I could help. My answer to that was yes. So Archie and his rather large cage moved into my canary room where I thought he would be happy until I found a proper home for him. But Archie was not happy there; he needed and demanded more attention. So everybody who came to my door, got introduced to Archie. Most nearly all of whom he treated as strangers, but there were one or two that he showed signs of making up to, so I asked them to come back a time or two to get better acquainted.
As I spend most of my time on my computer turning out my fourth book, I have a sign on my back door that reads: “If no answer, open the door and call ‘Barrie.’” As it was close to Christmas and many books were selling; this happened many times, and this is where the problem evolved. Archie could mimic voices, both male and female, with a precision that could not be identified from where I sat, and he used that ploy often just to get my attention.
Often he would call again and again, in a voice he had previously heard. Of course I would jump, and on going to the door, would find nobody there. That happened so often that I, being from the old school, contemplated the placing of an axe and a chopping block in the bird room as a threatening deterrent.
But Archie could read minds just as well as he could mimic voices, so I aborted that idea. But on one occasion the inevitable happened. I had a relative drop in who had a rather sharp voice, that carried well, and she called “Barrie, Barrie” several times, but she hated birds, so refused to leave the kitchen to see Archie. And thereafter it happened.
About three or four days later, I was just slipping into my slippers at five o’clock in the morning, and I heard this unmistakable voice calling, “Barrie, Barrie, Barrie.” There was no hesitation in waiting for an answer, and it was repeated several times as I scrambled for sufficient clothing to cover what was socially unacceptable.
The thoughts that rampaged through my mind in those few early moments of morning were: Who has had an accident? Who died? Who is in the hospital? For God’s sake, calm down, I’m coming. I’m coming. As I stumbled through the darkness, reaching for the kitchen light switch, I all of a sudden realized that the door was locked at nighttimes and it could not be she who was calling. Nevertheless, I checked the door and found only a raccoon rummaging through my blue box just outside.
As the timer had not yet turned on the lights in the bird room, Archie, sitting in the dark, had heard the racket, and decided he should warn me as best he could. How could you get mad at a creature like that? Later in the day, I went out and bought him a bunch of treats specific to his liking.
Archie is now in a brand-new location, in a brand-new cage with exterior play area within a big, old, roomy country home. There are several in the family who love birds and are willing, ready and able to give him the attention he definitely needs. But I am going to miss Archie. Even though his memory contains the annoyance capable of bringing on a heart attack, I marvel at his wisdom and ability to think.
Goodbye, Archie. Please keep in touch.
Take care, ‘cause we care.