Bijou was all boy, finding adventure in rapidly learning to release a series of cage closures which culminated in keyed padlocks; we finally resorted to hanging the key on a shoestring because otherwise he would simply reach through the bars and turn it if it was left in the padlock. A boistrous 'Hi!" would announce each successful escape. Bijou loved to play, and we learned to say "Ouch" loudly for him to temper the pressure of his 900 lb-per-sq-inch beak. There is the true story of a break-in gone very wrong when someone made the mistake of trying to grab a macaw; although nothing was missing, the trail of blood was unmistakable. In fact, the would-be thief left with less than he had arrived with. I hope it wasn't his favourite finger.
If Bijou liked what I cooked for dinner, he said "Mmmmm, good!"; silence conveyed its own judgment. He adored Jon and often rode around the house on his shoulder, cleaning Jon's ear with his surprisingly-pleasant dry-black-leather-purse of a tongue. The night he taught himself to fly, he flew right over a dinner party and made a right turn in the living room to land on the perch at the far end. He was offered a movie role by someone who saw him perform this manoeuvre when being boarded. Although we declined, his athleticism made us proud.
And so we lived happily for eighteen years until I made the mistake of giving Bijou a pingpong ball. His mood began to darken and he started to play much too roughly. Whatever he was thinking, he meant business. Then Bijou began hoarding the ball in the back of the closet where he and Gussie the parrot slept at night; it got to be murder to get him up on his sleeping perch and one evening I found myself towering above him while we screamed at each other. It was no contest: "Pound-and-a-half" could out-yell me. We were both nuts with frustration.
The next morning there was a broken pingpong ball on the floor under his perch......A broken pingpong ball with a yoke??? OMG, Bijou's a GIRL!!!!! The guilt. The poor soul had been trying first to hatch a fake egg and then desperately to excavate a cavity in a dark space to lay a better one! All I had done was to create a problem and prevent her from solving it.
All we could think of to do was to remove the pingpong ball and thankfully all became calm as her hormones diminished. But what a paradigm shift! We couldn't get our pronouns right and Jon and I realized that we might be guilty of major gender stereotyping.
Was female Bijou was being described in a new vocabulary? Was she suddenly all jewel tones with a powdery white face accented with thin black lines of makeup? Was she flirty and coy when she would let herself be rolled across the bed in a blanket and emerge to proclaim "Kitty-kitty-poo-poo!" ? Was her screaming "anguished" rather than "aggressive"? Somehow our limbic systems had decided that "she" was a different kettle of fish.
It certainly gives you sympathy for people who have had a family member undergo gender re-assignment.