Following my column about Clare Kipps’ Sold for a Farthing (the story of a domesticated sparrow), I learned of another memoir of a “house bird.” The protagonist of That Quail, Robert lived in Orleans, Massachusetts during the 1960s with a couple named Tom and Mildred Kienzle. The author was a neighbor.
Displacement of very small objects did not escape his notice. He was intimately acquainted with the objects in Mildred’s dressing table, since he was usually on it when she was sitting there. But let a bottle of nail polish be left where it did not belong, as on the stand in the bathroom, and Robert’s world was disturbed. He would stalk and call, stalk and call, until the situation was remedied…
[A]t about the same time…Robert gave up sleeping in the carton. At bedtime, which for Robert was usually about seven o’clock unless there happened to be company whom he did not want to miss, he signified that he was ready to go to sleep by getting up in a philodendron plant, which was on an end table. There he would make his sleepy sounds, pull up one leg, settle himself on the other, and with eyes closed, his head would droop. He was unmistakably tired. Someone was always there to pick him up and put him in the carton under his lamp. But one night he disappeared. He was found later on a high shelf in the dressing room off the big bedroom, should asleep on a red velvet pillbox hat. He looked so cozy that they left him there, and from then on that was it…Since the crown of the hat was soft, just his head was visible. When the light went on, he would open one eye, give a little purr of recognition, and go back to sleep.
–Margaret A. Stanger, That Quail, Robert