Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind

Parrot looking over its shoulder

Though I remember going to see the film, I had no idea what the number referred to, so I looked it up. A mere sighting of an alien ship – a close one, mind – is the first kind. The third kind that gave name to the film means seeing an alien. If you speak directly with one, it’s the fifth kind.

It baffles me why we don’t have the same avid fascination to talk to the wild creatures we have on Earth, to find out what they can tell us. You can pooh-pooh this, but if we spent the money collectively invested in looking for the man on the moon to achieve a close encounter of the fifth kind with intelligent life on our own planet, dolphins, say, would we have had a breakthrough by now?

Double yellow-headed parrot with foot on the bars of its cage

When anyone asks me who I would like to have dinner with, if I could chose anyone, the human characters vary. I’d invite Shakespeare, of course, family members who have left us, then Lawrence of Arabia or Ayrtoun Senna, depending on my mood and the size of the table. Doctor Who could have an invite (but only the real one).

But the first three guests never vary: an old elephant, an old whale and an old oak tree.

What’s all this to do with parrot pictures? Good question! Of all the birds I’ve ever seen, this one stays with me. We found it alone in a cage in one of those really nice, tall glasshouses that is home to tropical plants.

The first glance over its shoulder was not promising, but it soon came over and started looking at me with a peculiar intensity.

I have no idea what it was trying to convey, except that it didn’t want me to leave it, even though I had nothing to offer except a few quiet words of company. I lingered for a while, then of course I had to go.

Double yellow-headed parrot looking out of the bars of its cage

The parrot looked healthy, was well cared for, and had no doubt learned to associate a human being with a tasty treat, but I often think about it and the way it held my eye. Parrots can live for a long while. It would be nice to think it has a chance to roam the glasshouse and visit the plants it can see when nobody is around, especially as there were quite a few small, wild birds living freely there. But how would they get the parrot back down from the trees? I don’t imagine it would be safe to have it out when visitors are around.

Shared for the last day of KindaSquare with apologies to anyone who likes grids on pictures to be lined up properly, never my strongest point. And with thanks as always to Becky for being such a great host.

38 Replies to “Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind”

  1. I met a caged parrot in a pet shop once, who came over to me, so I talked to her and she didn’t want me to leave. A week later, with her still on my mind, I went back to the pet shop and bought her. 🙂

  2. After hundreds of hours observing birds (and animals at the zoo), I’m convinced they have the ability to communicate. Perhaps it’s we humans that need to learn to talk nature talk.

    I talk to my indoor plants for sure.

    I definitely had a relationship with the Black-capped Capuchins at Melbourne Zoo over the 100+ visits 2011-15. It got to the stage where, when I arrived at the Capuchin cage/window, the main monkey came up to the glass viewing screen and spread its hand over the glass. I, in turn, would place my outstretched palm over the primate’s hand and then we would look deeply into each other’s eyes. This didn’t happen with any other visitor – adult or child – so I like to think the monkey ‘recognised’ me.

    1. I agree that they communicate and that we need to better hear them. And I have no doubt at all that the capuchin recognised you. For several weeks there was a horse alone in a field on my way to work. I always stopped on the way home and it would race over to ‘talk’ for a few minutes when it saw the car. I was told the horse just wanted food, but I disagree. It knew I was only bringing company and it came anyway.

  3. I love your parrot pictures today. He looks like an interesting character all right. We used to own many different parrots, all with unique personalities. One looked just like the one in your pics. Love your blog…always interesting!

    1. I wonder how far that individual personality idea stretches – to frogs and bees and worms? You would have to guess that every creature has that. It is so weird that we have never seriously set out to find out.

  4. So apt, we could have learned a lot from animal intelligence v. The fifth kind!
    That parrot pic really portrays an ‘intent’ gaze. Once had an interesting encounter with an orca whale while sailing in Tasman Bay, NZ on a small yacht. The whale surfaced several times to ‘eye ball’ us (crew) on deck. A while later a profound sense of sadness overwhelmed me. I wondered about that moment and what it signified. Some years later a documentary on Anna Breytenbach – The Animal Communicator, aired here in South Africa….. I think it can still be found on the web. It certainly raises awareness on inter- species ‘conversations’.

    1. I am sure inter-species conversations happen all the time. You would have thought you’d be filled with joy to have seen a wild orca close up. Did you sense that the whale was unhappy?

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