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Nut Babies, or Hope Springs Eternal

It’s been ages since I reported on the escapades of Polly the cockatiel – so long in fact that many of my readers probably have no idea that Polly the tiel even exists and is an integral part of the YT household.

As some readers may recall [has anyone been reading that long?] Polly entered the YT household pretending to be a boy cockatiel, and was given the name Polli. Four years later, Polli outed himself as a girl by depositing an egg on the bottom of her cage. Polli was quickly renamed Polly [convenient!] and embraced femalehood by becoming completely obsessed with propagating the species – although sadly alone and unsupported. Polly has with great regularity laid a clutch of eggs at the bottom of her cage and sat on them for weeks on end – basically until they became so dry and brittle that they broke into tiny pieces.

[Incidentally, this behaviour seems less about propagating species than having something to cuddle. Cockatiels normally sit on unfertilized eggs for three weeks or so before they catch on that no baby tiels are about to emerge, at which time they lose interest. Polly, however, cuddled with her last clutch of eggs for over two months, or until they were cuddled past all repair.]

All this would be good and fine if it weren’t for one small problem: laying eggs puts such a strain on the wee cockatiel metabolism that Polly almost dies every time [see here – and no, she’s not sleeping]. Which is why it is sometimes a full-time job trying to stop her from nesting – and a futile one at that.

Anyway, for the past few weeks Polly’s become increasingly broody and a few days ago it appeared that the time was nigh. Instead of going up on her perch during the night, Polly spent two consecutive nights on the bottom of her cage – a surefire sign. Plus she hardly came out of her cage at all during the day, and when she went down onto the bottom she started scratching around as though she were looking for eggs to stick under her belly.

Which is when YT hatched [badum tish!] a brilliant plan: I went to the kitchen cupboard and got out two hazelnuts. Sticking my hand in the cage was predictably a risky business – as affectionate as Polly is on a regular basis, she becomes absolutely fierce when defending her nesting place. I managed to drop the two nuts just before she lunged for my hand, which I quickly withdrew. She then turned her wrath upon the nuts – for about a second, until she figured out that they were small and round and somewhat egg-like – at least close enough so that they would do nicely as surrogates. A moment later she had them tucked all nice and cosy under her belly and was grinding her beak happily.

Since then, Polly has barely left the bottom of the cage, and appears happy as a clam with her two hazelnuts, which she defends like a tiger anytime anyone goes near. Whether it will actually stop her from laying any eggs of her own remains to be seen – I do hope so because it would save us a lot of grief and worry, not to mention efforts at resuscitation and revival [see above]. Not to mention that hazelnuts are exceedingly durable – I bet she could cuddle with them for years and they still wouldn’t break.

… Which means it’s cold, even though the sun is out. However the weatherman promises that it will be short-lived and that soon we’ll be into glorious spring [it’s taking forever]. Good thing, because tomorrow is actually the First Day of Summer according to the old Icelandic calendar. That’s right, in the old days there were only two seasons here, winter and summer, and the first day of summer was on the third Thursday in April. As an indication of how important this day was to the Icelandic nation, it is still a public holiday … so today feels a bit like Friday [although being self-employed with lots of assignments it won’t be much of a holiday for me tomorrow, sigh]. Children are traditionally given presents on that day – something to remind of summer, like a ball or a skipping rope – and there are parades and fun events all over the country. Yep. First Day of Summer, with temps right now being 3°C [37F]. Sunrise this morning was at 5:47 am and sunset is due for 9:09 pm.

[PS for those who know Reykjavík and are interested, there’s a major fire downtown right now. The buildings with the Kebab House and Pravda nightclub are affected, as well as others nearby. Very sad, because the corner building is a beautiful old timber house. Nobody has been hurt, though, which is good.]