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A young couple happened by and stood at the fence to watch and talk to me while I was working. I stood on the bridge in the middle of the lake with my back turned to them while I worked on a particularly large chunk of algae floating amid the reeds. I must have disturbed a fish that had been hiding in there because he hit the surface with a splash and Pickles yelled out “Fishy eat a bug!” He says this when fish rise to the surface to feed on insects.

“Oh! They eat bugs?” the girl asked. She obviously hadn’t noticed Pickles in the foliage just to the right of her. “That was my bird,” I said, over my shoulder.

“The fish eat BIRDS?” she remarked.

“No, no,” I said, “That’s my bird in the bushes. He said that, not me”.

She quickly spotted him and said, “He talks? You mean, he talks and actually knows when a fish eats a bug??”

I told her that I wasn’t sure if Pickles really understood but yes, if a fish splashes, we’ve taught him to say that.

“Wow” she said and turned to start a conversation with Pickles but he was too intent on watching me. “Can you make him say that again?” she asked.

I wasn’t sure if he would and the fish had all been scared to the bottom, away from my stick, so I went and got some fish pellets. I stood on the bridge facing them and tossed a handful into the water between them and me. The fish exploded from the surface like a school of piranha, soaking me and splashing Pickles and our two guests.

Pickles went ballistic in his cage, furious that he was getting wet and started yelling, “What are you doing???” I ran over to calm him down and as he clung to the far bars, I told him there was no more water but he still eyed me suspiciously. “No fresh water” he spat and I told him it was all gone, and that it wasn’t exactly ‘fresh’.

He climbed back down to his perch and sat nicely while I talked to these people over the fence. They were enthralled with Pickles and chuckling over his little fit and comments. A couple of minutes later, they took their leave and I bent over to pick up Pickles cage to take him to the aviary but just as I reached for it, I pulled my hand back in horror. Pickles had snatched a leaf off a shrub and was pulling it through the cage bars. A spider clung to the edge as he held it in his talons and began to chomp on the leaf. Pickles is scared of spiders and so am I. It was a wispy spider, not one of those big bodied ones and I watched as it spun a strand of webbing and dropped to the perch beside him. Pickles continue to chew on the leaf, oblivious to the little critter. I watched in horror as the spider crawled up his leg, on to his chest and scampered to his back and paused on the top of Pickles’ head. Crap. I wasn’t about to save him.

I almost let out a scream as the spider carried on and moved down Pickles’ forehead and paused again, right between his eyes. Ever see a parrot go cross-eyed? Pickles dropped his leaf and nonchalantly snatched it off with his talon and shoved it in his mouth. I’m pretty sure he thought it was one of his downy, spidery feathers that were good to chew on, like gum. I stared in disbelief as he began to roll it around with his tongue while a couple of wispy legs dangled outside his beak. I guess Pickles got a taste of it and stopped dead with a stunned look on his face, eyes as big as saucers, then snatched it from his beak with his talon and attempted to toss it away. But it stuck. Then he seemed to realize what it was and stood shaking his talon in an attempt to flick it loose. A couple of shakes later, the spider fell to the bottom of the cage and Pickles began flapping around to get away from it. It’s a small cage, with nowhere to go, so he couldn’t escape the scary arachnid ...

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