Or maybe you will. I’d never befriended a cockatoo before.
On a slight departure from “adventures in a box on wheels in America,” we flew to Australia to visit family. I never imagined an apartment balcony in the suburbs would provide wildlife encounters. The cockatoos were initially cocktail time visitors, smelling the snacks and gate crashing our party, until one of them spotted me for the sucker I am and came to visit for morning coffee as well. He didn’t care for the previously offered corn chips but took one from my hand, laid it at his feet, backed away from it and looked at me as though I’d given him a piece of cardboard. I found a vege chip for him. He took it politely, put it down, backed away again and looked at me plaintively. I had just insulted him.
Running out of options and not wishing to completely empty our hosts store cupboard, I chanced a few extravagantly priced walnuts. They hit the spot with this now picky bird. One at a time, he took them from my fingers, ate each one delicately as though savoring a truffle. Each walnut was prized and eaten thoughtfully, an exercise in mindful eating, something I’ve never been able to master.
At the Sydney Royal Botanic Garden the ibis practiced gang techniques and pressured tourists into paying protection tidbits. They would circle tables at the cafe and stare, getting closer and closer. Quite large birds, eyeballs nearly at table height, they intimidated a group of English people into sharing their tea cakes. When the group left the table the ibis swooped, whisking crockery aside to look for crumbs while smashing plates on the patio slabs. Those of us with stronger wills against rogue birds were greatly entertained as we finished every last morsel of our own food.
The second sitting at the tea table didn’t last long as the long-suffering waitress shooed off the ibis with her dustpan and brush.
Back at the balcony Coop the cockatoo showed up twice a day until the nuts ran out.
Cockatoo or cockatiel? Do you know the difference? I believe Coop was a cockatoo with a beak strong enough to smash Brazil nuts. He gently nipped my index finger to show displeasure with my offering of inferior hors d’oeuvres but I could have lost a finger. Or several!