Is It Possible To “Normalise” A Bird Person’s House?


The: “What will happen if I swing this blind’s pole into the glass door?” expression.

I’m moving house. I’m staying in the same state but flipping over to the other side – so a few hours from where I am now. Suddenly I find myself preparing my existing house for “normal people” to rent. It has come as a little bit of a shock for me to take off my “bird person” glasses and try to look at my home objectively without thinking about birds. I found myself standing in my shower, looking at a window frame, hearing some imaginary normal person voice asking: “What kind of termite does THAT?” in a seriously horrified tone. It turns out that this moving thing might mean a bit more work than I had originally thought.


The thoughtfully personalised corner of my bathroom window frame.

It’s not that my birds are badly behaved or are flying around the house unsupervised. The damage here is minimal compared to what it could be. I’ve seen those photos of cockatoos peeping through the remains of a door and laughed. I know it doesn’t take long for a roving beak to do that kind of damage and so make sure they’re supervised. Fortunately, I find the chaos birds can create amusing rather than distressing and choose to live this way. I can’t imagine a life where I might find myself handing unchewed tax files to my accountant. (My accountant has the most amazingly expressive face.) Save me from the boredom of a life with “normal problems”! I LIKE chewed up tax files even if my accountant doesn’t.


Each year my accountant says: “Keep your birds away from your tax files!” 

A real estate agent’s camera however, is not quite so forgiving. So I’ve found myself cataloging and fixing an amazing array of small issues, while trying to prevent my flock from following along re-creating those issues behind me. It turns out it isn’t easy to convince a parrot that the corner of your bathroom’s window frame is not a good place to hook in a beak and swing, flapping your wings dry after a shower. Let alone convince multiple parrots that the clips that are meant to sit in the corners of your shower screen (presumably to stop the glass door banging shut and shattering) really shouldn’t be pulled off and hurled into the bath in order to make that super fun “pinging” noise.


Fid just pulled that little silver plug out of the corner of the shower door and threw it at me…

My main problem has been window-related. I’m not sure when it happened, but apparently I have developed an abnormal attitude to window dressings? To the extent that I forgot that curtains and blinds are even called “window dressings”. I forgot that the curtains and blinds are meant to exist for two main reasons. They apparently exist to block light and make a window look pretty? Well the value of natural lighting in a bird house means that it would never occur to me to try to block light out with curtains. As for a house looking pretty – well birds have their own aesthetic values and they have a way of personalizing things quickly teaching a human not to worry about “pretty” anymore. 


Blinds are an awesome window-crashing prevention device!

My windows have long been shielded by wooden venetian blinds that can be set to let a lot of light in. I have come to view those blinds as the “things that stop my birds from smashing into windows mid-flight”. If a bird does happen to fly at a window, it can safely catch the blind with its feet or beak and hang off it, then choosing a safer landing site. Well this attitude and the fact that wood and birds usually equals splinters, might give you some idea of just how “prettily dressed” my windows are. I’ve had to add: “buy cloth curtains” to my ever-growing expensive fix-it list.


It’s not like the birds chew on my furniture… Walking is enough.

Speaking of wood – isn’t it amazing how so many chairs have wooden backs or parts? I’ve found myself selling some furniture that I don’t plan to take with me. I’ve occasionally struggled to describe the condition of that furniture though because it looks like some weirdo who spends her evenings gnawing on the backs of chairs previously owned it. It turns out your birds don’t have to actively chew on stuff to damage it. Landing or sitting on it will do it easily enough.


Pomegranate swing? In my defence it was a lot of fun.

Which brings me to a new game: “What’s that stain?” Suddenly the weird splotches that won’t wash off the ceiling are a problem. The stain that used to say: “Remember that wonderful day when I had that great idea to turn a pomegranate into a swing?” suddenly raises suggestions about the possibility of a murder scene instead. Don’t get me started on the beetroot stains or the stains from the red-fleshed dragonfruit! It’s amazing how many fruits and vegetables contain juice with serious stains-like-blood dying ability. 


My vacuum cleaner loves getting bark out of carpet. (I wish!)

My quest for a decent vacuum cleaner continues. It’s not safe to walk on the carpet in my house with bare feet. When you have an army of stick and bark flinging monsters in the house – splinters that the vacuum might have missed are a constant hazard. Then there is the danger of stepping on a sharp stray nail or screw. Let’s face it, stick and bark flinging monsters have multiple abilities. Their tendency to turn into feathered screwdrivers, bent on dismantling anything nearby… My grandmother used to have a jar of odd buttons to use for mending while I have a jar of odd screws and nails instead. After all, bird people really don’t tend to wear items of clothes with buttons on them at home.


My elderly galah – his bark is worse than his bite.

Then there’s the smell. This varies and depends a lot on what foliage the birds have shredded in the last 24 hrs. A lot of the time it smells like I’ve drowned the house in Eucalyptus oil. Commonly it smells like you’ve climbed and got stuck in a lemon tree. No matter what though, if guests have even the most minor sinus infection – their nose is going to start running. Inevitably people start looking for tissues. I could actually see my real estate agent wondering just why a person would have a box of tissues conveniently located in 4 or 5 places around my main living area alone? Clearly I must have the flu and as his nose was running – could he already be affected my germs? Telling him what the tissues were really for would probably have just freaked him out more. 


I noticed the real estate agent surreptitiously counting my legs. You could just see her wondering why I’d have poles installed in my shower if I’m not disabled?

So I find myself “normalizing” my house and wondering just how other people do it? I will get there, but I find myself fixing things that I never expected to have to know how to fix. Items like: “Porcelain/Enamel repair kit” really do seem an odd thing to have to write on your shopping list. For the record, metal vases do not make a fun “pinging” noise when hurled in the bath. Putting a serious chip in a bath has a sound in its own right.


Personalised paint job anyone?

Who am I kidding? I’m going to have to paint the whole house. Evenly spaced scratches halfway up the wall in the living room from that fun day I put a cage too close to the wall? Nothing else is going to fix that! It could be worse though – at least I stopped them from chipping away the bricks…


Next on my list: Undo the damage the cats have done… Don’t get me started on the dogs!

So please give me something to laugh about as I watch paint dry? Share your stories of the way your own birds have personalized your house in the comments below.


Unlike galahs, lorikeets can fit through the top opening of a good tax folder.

Mel Vincent works as an animal rehabilitator out of Australia.


Jordan Crawford

I have a 3 month year old parrotlet who is still mad at me for going to mexico.

Jordan Crawford
Bess Chilver (myladyswardrobe)

I live in a 15th century house in the UK. Its built with a 600 year old oak timber frame and the spaced filled in with wooden laths, wattle and daub and then covered with lime plaster and lime wash. I came into my Bilbo’s room (Moluccan Cockatoo) and found he had removed a 5 by 8 inch rectangle piece of 600 year old lime plaster and daub and got down to the wattle and lath layer! This was after destroying the frame of a cloth covered wardrobe. He got under the cloth and proceeded to reduce the frame and shelves to kindling. Once that was replaced with a solid wood one (with large cardboard boxes in front of it to prevent him from chewing the wardrobe), he has turned his attention to a small wooden chest of drawers (like a bedside table/nightstand). As this borders his “nest” on one side and the settee on the other we’d prefer him to chew the chest rather than the settee). He has also chewed through two of the staircase spindles – we have replaced these. They are solid oak. He loves to chew the door or doorframes around my sewing room if I have his perspex parrot gate across my doorway. My thinking is that he can at least “see” me and talk to me but he can’t climb in when I am sewing. And latest chew toy was my finger. A nasty chomp, completely uncalled for, on Saturday evening. He’s been on his best behaviour today wanting a tickle from me but I told him he could stay with his “Daddy” instead (my husband). Finger really is too sore to tickle him just at the moment. My Bilbo is a little feathered monster…but he is my feathered monster and I love him. Even when he turns furniture to kindling and takes a chomp out of me. ;-) (Wish I could post a photo of the wall damage! It really is quite impressive).

Bess Chilver (myladyswardrobe)
Rebekah Hiebert

When I have company over, they think I’m kidding when I say, “wear a Shit shirt.”. And then I realize that seeds, pieces of fruits/vegetables, and the odd poop everywhere isn’t normal…

Rebekah Hiebert

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