Human-Avian Insanity Reaction Syndrome

 

 

"Hairs"
by Garry Walen

In the past 100 years of domestication, our avian companions have developed some interesting complex behaviors that seem to be aimed at creating responses in humans that are frequently well beyond the realm of normal human behavior.

Many of these avian activities have become so ingrained, they are actually being passed on in "genetic memory" to offspring as instinctive behaviors. I have spent nearly a thousandth of a century studying these avian activities and human reactions. I would like to highlight the following half-dozen activities involved in 90% of the cases of Human-Avian Insanity Response Syndrome,: or HAIRS:

  1. THE GREAT TOE HUNT:
    Where a bird, large or small, chases human feet with the ferocity of a pit bull on crack. This is an impressive activity when performed by a bird that can assume Maximum Fluffage, such as a Moluccan Cockatoo, but generates more avian humor, and human embarrassment, if performed by a Quaker, or budgie. Humans seem to have an instinctive need to protect their toes and perform interesting dances and vocalizations in an effort to avoid a painful, stroll-by beaking.

  2. THE GARBAGE TORNADO:
    Where wings are flapped to produce maximum air movement while the feet hold tightly to a perch. The result is a whirlwind of detritus from the bottom of the cage. This is an activity usually launched just after the appearance of the Vacuum of Death and frequently results in the Frustration Dance and/or Chant of Invectives on the part of the human victim.

  3. THE FOUNTAIN OF POOP:
    A disgusting activity, reserved for those special moments when guests are admiring the "pretty bird." The trigger for this activity is usually a phrase such as "Are birds messy?" followed by a negative response. Within seconds, a fecal presentation is made that makes African termite mounds pale in comparison. Some special variations, exercised at the discretion of the avian subject, can include pooping for distance, special aromatic overtones, and saving the presentation until placed on the arm of the guest. The probability of an occurrence of the latter variation is directly proportional to the cost of the guest's clothing or their social or career-related importance.

  4. THE WORD:
    A behavior where a word or phrase of startling vulgarity, the suggestion of a barely-possible physical act, or the imitation of an embarrassing human body noise is presented in the presence of a guest. The vocalization is usually something never heard before the time of utterance and may in fact involve a word, phrase, or sound NEVER heard previously in the household (parrots share these special items in an unknown and mysterious way). This maximizes the embarrassment of the human host because no amount of incredulity or statements like "Pastor Smith, I don't know WHERE he learned that word!" can ever erase the damage done.

  5. THE HYPERSONIC SCREAM:
    All birds, regardless of size or temperament, have the ability to create a high-pitched scream, screech, or cry that can be tuned to the nervous system of their human victims. Utterance of this sound can result in any or all of the following in a human: hair loss, spontaneous combustion, loss of bladder or bowel control, and the desire to view old episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies. This sound has been described variously as "a cat being attacked by a belt sander," or "a belt sander being attacked by a cat with a radial arm saw attached to an F-15."

  6. THE REMODELING:
    An activity involving a bird, a beak, and expensive household woodwork, carpet, flooring, paneling, drywall, or furnishings. In some cases, fecal material is used to change the complexion of furniture. In other cases, the beak is used to turn expensive household building and flooring materials into compost. The brilliance of this activity is that while it creates great anger in the human victim, it also creates a greater sense of guilt which makes the human think that the damage was "all MY fault." Instead of getting angry at the avian companion, the human turns the anger upon themselves: "If I had only locked the cage! If I had only given my bird more toys! Oh, he must be *so* bored and it's ALL MY FAULT!"

At the present time, there is no defense against these avian activities. Even the most jaded aviculturist can fall victim to HAIRS, though prior knowledge of the existence of these behaviors can cut down on the severity of the human response. Research will continue and I will endeavor to keep the public educated about this syndrome.

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Copyright 2004 [Southeast Texas Avian Rescue, Inc.]. All rights reserved. Revised: 12/10/11