On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy
A Day at Work with My Feathered Colleague
The idea for this special post came from a friend whose blog showcases spectacular photography work, featuring wildlife, art, and culture, from exotic locales around the world. Check out her work at http://cindyknoke.com.
People have been shocked by my ability to perform solitary work (e.g., reading, writing, and research) for several hours a day, several days a week without feeling lonely. The reason why I can pull this off is because my introverted temperament makes me well-suited for this kind of work. Being devoid of human companionship doesn’t mean I’m completely alone however. Meet my feathered colleague, Nikita, a Pacific Parrotlet whose antics keep me in good spirits.
I understand that certain animal companions are distracting for some people who’re trying to work. Nikita, however, tends to be quiet and content around me. She always finds a way to amuse herself while I’m engaged in research or writing. Nikita is fully-flighted (i.e., wings are unclipped), by the way, so she’s not in an uncomfortable situation here.
Note: Having a fully-flighted parrot entails a lot of responsibility, but it’s worth it because your parrot will get the exercise he or she needs. For me, it means performing reconnaissance to see what other members of the household are doing prior to deciding how much of the house she has access to: Is anyone planning to go outdoors and might open a door? Is anyone planning to cook in the kitchen? If yes to either, we stay in my home office. If no, then I inform everyone when she’s coming out. Are all the windows and curtains closed? How about doors to certain rooms (e.g., bathrooms)? It also means not taking your eyes off of them when they take off.
Here we are at break-time. There’s always so much fun to be had!
Yes, that’s a hollowed out pufferfish hanging there. So, except for its spines, it’s not dangerous. (No, I wouldn’t buy something like that. This is my parents’ doing.) As for Nikita, her expert, acrobatic flying skills dropped her right on top of my head from there.
Note: While these photos depict Nikita’s cute side, which is there much of the time, she’s also challenging. Pacific Parrotlets are known for being incredibly assertive, territorial, dominating, and stubborn – something people don’t expect out of a 5-inch parrot. There is, of course, individual variation. I’ve seen plenty that seem comparatively gentle and docile on YouTube videos. However, I’m addressing the norm as there is a reason why they largely evolved this way. Sandee Molenda explains the nature of their origins in Parrotlet Aggression & Territorialism, Interaction With Other Birds (and animals!):
They are also very tiny and easily preyed upon by everything from reptiles to other birds; even spiders are bigger than they are so nature has designed them to be tough and aggressive in order to survive. These instincts do not change just because they are hatched in captivity and kept as pets.
To share a life with one, it helps to be extremely patient, calm, and not easily frustrated, frightened, or made nervous (yes, these little birds pack some very painful nips!). If you can manage this, it’s worth it to see them happy and playing at your desk while you work!