Jazz The Camper Bird

Jazz has just returned from six weeks on the road. Along with his people and pet Samoyed, Jazz toured the coast of California, parts of Nevada, five National Parks in Utah, and central Colorado in an RV. Already a veteran auto-rider, he had no problems adjusting to life on the road. Of course, we took his shower bottle and all of his favorite foods.His personal travel cage was firmly anchored to the dinette table while we drove. From there he could watch the world whiz by. Frankly, he much preferred sitting on his basket on the dash. It was a privilege granted only when the road was smooth and straight. Cage time was perfect for practicing parrot-talk and he chattered to himself for at least an hour every morning and afternoon when we were driving.

Once we parked, Jazz wanted out. His cage moved to the co-pilot’s seat and his basket and table-top play-gym moved to the dash. (We found a huge bird store in California and spent a wad.) We also hung a plastic chain from overhead cabinets and suspended a swing over the cage. This varied playground was Jazz’s domain for an hour every morning while we had breakfastand again for several hours after we returned to the RV in the afternoon. He loved the view from the windshield, screaming at bikers and frizbee tossers,and climbing down to be eyeball to eyeball with passing admirers. One of our criteria when shopping for a bird was that it be a good traveler. Jazz is certainly filling the bill.

About mid-trip, Jazz turned nine months and seemed to leap, almost overnight, from infancy into toddlerhood. Suddenly he was willing to explore flat surfaces (an area he had always shunned), accept new toys, and experiment with words. The first thing he spouted was “Tickle me silly.” Shocked us. For the next two days he treated us to hours of that one phrase, repeating more versions of those three words than you can begin to imagine. Since then he’s experimented with “Hello” and “Check it out” but neither of those receives his undivided and delighted attention the way “Tickle me silly” did. And once home, he spends much less time vocalizing in any language than he did on the road.

One thing I learned while on the road is that even with the first five primaries on both wings clipped from infancy, Jazz can fly a good three hundred yards. Not exactly what I wanted to discover in a campground in southern California. I guess all those birdy aerobics I was giving him built up his pecs. When Jazz disappeared around a campsite divider, flapping delightedly along at about six feet off the ground, we thought we would never see him again. And since we didn’t believe he could go very far, our search was confined to the dense trees and shrubbery in the immediate vicinity. After a half hour of panicked hunting, we finally started asking the few other campers around. Sure enough, Jazz was sitting on a finger about twenty sites away. While I won’t claim he was contrite, he snuggled right into my neck and didn’t want to leave my shoulder for the next hour. Never again will he be allowed outside his cage in the great outdoors. At least not until I leash train him.