Today, 18 November, is exactly one year since Polly became a girl. Let’s have a round of applause for Polly…


Thank you.

Back in the momentous year 2000, YT decided to indulge the then-eight year old AAH’s craving for a pet by going out and buying her a cockatiel at Christmastime. AAH was thrilled as could be expected (even though ‘dog’ topped her wish list, but AAH wasn’t about to complain. Much.). This new addition to the family was given the name Polli (which in Icelandic means ‘little lad’).

So time went on as time does, Polli got used to us and we got used to Polli. We learned important things like cockatiels like to pick one person out of the family on which to lavish their love and devotion, and unfortunately that person was not AAH but YT. Meanwhile, EPI sort of stood on the sidelines, because evidently Polli disliked him intensely – hissing and screeching whenever he passed and generally exhibiting hyper-aggressive behaviour, particularly when sitting on YT’s shoulder.

So this gave cause for many little jokes: Polli was jealous, Polli didn’t like to have YT sharing her affections with another male, etc. etc. Yet EPI made no secret of the fact that he was kind of happy about this male presence because on a daily basis EPI is surrounded by females (three daughters, one step-daughter, one YT, three sisters, and-so-on). So EPI took to making jovial remarks along the lines of, ‘Polli – you and me, the boys, we stick together, eh? Polli? Me and you?’ – That kind of male stuff.

EPI also took to playing his guitar for Polli in the evenings. EPI’s taste in music is … well, peripheral, shall we say. At least to YT’s ears. He’s a big, big King Crimson fan, f’rinstance, and likes kind of far-outish jazz. But Polli appeared to like EPI’s guitar playing and often nodded off during his serenades and EPI was mighty pleased and announced that, finally, he had found an ally in Polli – a male, who appreciated his music.

And so a couple of years went by. We moved house and Polli flew around as usual and took to spending an inordinate amount of time on top of one of the cupboards, behind the wine rack, out of sight, making strange sounds and peeling the labels off the bottles stashed back there. Kind of like – he was making a nest or something. And then – about a year ago minus a few days, he started acting extremely strange. Spending most of his time in the bottom of his cage, tossing the sand around with his beak, tearing bits of the newspaper, and in between nodding off with apparent exhaustion. And when anybody came near, he hissed and spat and made himself look real big and wide and mean, as though to say: ‘Stick as much as yer little pinkie in here and yer dead, sucker!’

And then … Polli got up from his crouching position and I saw that he had picked two little peanuts from his food and was lying on them!! I couldn’t get over it! How amazingly, incredibly sweet, thought I, he’s got all these paternal instincts and because he doesn’t have a mate – someone who would lay eggs and then pop out for a break so he could take over – he’s fashioned these two little eggs out of peanuts! Can there be anything on this earth more adorable than that??

Yet Polli’s behaviour was getting ever-more weird – increasingly nodding off and looking positively sick down there on the bottom of the cage. So on this very day, one year ago, I got pretty scared finally and called up the vet. I made an appointment to take Polli in the next morning, put down the phone, glanced into Polli’s cage – only to see a single, fragile, freshly-laid egg in there.

So that’s how Polli became Polly after four years as a male. And EPI was once again surrounded by females.


Freezing. At –10 degrees Celsius it is unusually cold. But calm and bright. Lots of icicles hanging from roofs, lots of people slipping and sliding along sidewalks. Sunrise at 10.07; sunset 16.18.