FF33: Cages (part one)

Alexandrine Parakeet. [Buy a print]

This caged bird perches on the street, pecking occasionally at the nuts and seed in his steel bowl.

Its feathers look pretty good, not pristine, not scruffy either. Bright and striking. Something to be proud of.

And someone’s obviously proud of it, placed there on display, right out on the street, right in front of the green walls of the house.

Walking past, the parakeet catches your eye like a glitch. Something not quite right, something copied out of the fabric of the house and pasted as an offcut onto the street.

Now it has your attention, you realise it is its own thing. Not just a discarded piece of house, but something altogether unique and quite majestic, in a small way.

‘I am the icing on the cake,’ this exotic mascot seems to say.

And then the cage. Like many of its type, it is at once visible and invisible. It presents as a perceptible lattice, but that is secondary. First of all, we see the parrot. We look through the webbed holes and gaps to what is inside. The parakeet in its greens and red beak, its strange flat eyes, its neat black necklace and splash-of-red shoulder patch. Yet we aren’t fooled. The wide wire grid lingers in the periphery as a barrier. A geometry of jail, a patterned prison.

The bird looks at me knowingly. It looks straight into my eye, my lens. It doesn’t flinch at my presence, nor at the heat, nor the sound of horns and passing legs. It is steadfast and stuck fast.

The bird is beautiful. A bird in a cage. The bird clutches onto a wire. His something to stand on.

In the section on the Alexandrine Parakeet in the book ‘Birds of the Indian Subcontinent’ the following notes are listed:

  • Gives a loud guttural keeak or kee-ah, deeper and more raucous than that of Rose-ringed.
  • Flies with deliberate wing-beats accompanied by a harsh, loud scream.
  • Deciduous forest and well-wooded areas.
  • Flocks in large numbers.

‘I am the icing in the cage’, it seems to say.

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