Work-Life Strategies & Solutions

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.

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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.

Nikita hanging by her toes at my desk while I work

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!

Looking through a magnifying glass

A distorted parrotlet

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.

Just hanging out at the end of the day and getting a great view of the pufferfish

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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!

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5 responses to “A Day at Work with My Feathered Colleague

  1. Thomas June 19, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    “To share a life with one, it helps to be extremely patient, calm, and not easily frustrated, frightened, or made nervous.” Long experience has taught me that the same is true of sharing a life with a human being. 🙂

    • L. P. June 19, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      Ah yes, very true! My partner is more social than I am, so I’ve had to stretch my own ability to tolerate a few oddballs he brings along. 😛

  2. cindy knoke June 20, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Oh my Lynne, this is a truly delightful post because you are opening about yourself and you have such a lovely self! (I’ll get to Nikita in a second! 😉 Obviously we connect and “get” each other. We love birds, animals, are essentially introverted and enjoy solitude, and like to use our noggins to think in creative ways. The reason I love blogging is because I get to people like you who, I would normally not run into in the course of my day.
    As for Nikita, she is adorable. Parrots simply fascinate me, and always have. They have such a divergent intelligence. Maybe, this is why we like them so much! Plus, they are characters with strong personalities and quite engaging to interact with.
    Sending all good thoughts your way my friend~

    • L. P. June 20, 2015 at 9:23 pm

      Thank you for this lovely comment Cindy! I really do consider myself fortunate to have found your blog and connected with you. 🙂 And I love that we have all those interests and tendencies in common. Yes, thank goodness for the internet!

      Nikita entered my life in an amazing way. I think a breeder in our neighborhood lost her (though no one came forward to claim her after we put out a notice for a found parrot for a month). Nikita flew to our waterfall for a drink and hung out there, since it’s a great source of fresh water and it was a hot September day.

      From her appearance we could tell she wasn’t doing well (looked like she might’ve gotten into a scrap with another bird) and possibly hadn’t eaten in awhile so we lured her into our house with my late lovebird’s (passed away about 5 months prior) food. At that time I couldn’t fathom getting another parrot (as I was missing my lovebird and I continue to miss her now) and thought the only way that I’d get another is if one just came to me… and that’s just what happened! I’m wow’d by Nikita’s strength and survival instincts. Small bird but big personality!

  3. Pingback: To Live Differently – A Personal Manifesto | Work-Life Strategies & Solutions

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