For my latest petsit I spent August housesitting in Athens. It was a one month housesit, and my first looking after a parrot. I hadn’t been looking at the TrustedHousesitters listings much at the time as I’d been hopping about the Greek islands for a bit. But I needed somewhere to base myself for a while so when one of their emails came through I had a look.
Housesitting for a bird
The sit in Athens looked perfect in terms of date and location. I took a moment before applying to think about what sitting for a bird might be like. I don’t think I’ve ever applied for a bird sit before, even though I’ve seen them come up.
Until this sit, I wasn’t familiar with pet birds. Although I thought they must be quite easy to look after I’d always been hesitant in case they were noisy. Anyway, I decided to apply and if the owner was interested I’d ask all my questions and then make a decision.
Confirming the sit in Athens
Sydney responded promptly to my application and we arranged to meet at her apartment the next day. I was honest with her about my concerns. I told her that a quiet environment to work and uninterrupted sleep were important to me. Although she said Oscar could be a bit vocal in the morning sometimes she didn’t think his behaviour would interfere with the things I mentioned.
So I travelled to Sydney’s the following afternoon. Her apartment wasn’t far from the city centre and my first impression of the area was that it was quite leafy and calm. Sydney welcomed me in and I met Oscar along with Sydney’s little dog and another dog she was looking after at the time.
Sydney showed me around the apartment and introduced me to Oscar. She explained what I needed to do in terms of feeding and it all seemed quite straightforward.
We agreed that I would do the sit although we still had to confirm the start and finish logistics. Sydney hadn’t decided if she’d leave the morning of her flight or if she’d book a hotel at the airport the night before. So we kept in touch and sorted all the details nearer the start date.
Housesitting in Athens hadn’t really been on the agenda since rescuing some stray cats of my own. But in the end, it worked out to be the best option.
Learning about parrot behaviours
I was excited about the sit but a bit nervous too. I’ve had plenty of cats of my own and sat for a good number of others. So I feel quite comfortable with what their behaviour means. But birds were a whole other ball game for me.
It was easy to tell Oscar was happy with his contented little warbles. But some of the other things he did were a bit harder to understand. I did a fair bit of Googling during my stay! it was quite fascinating. Thankfully everything I looked up was quite normal and Oscar standing on one leg or grinding his beak were good signs.
Sydney had told me about how she’d rescued Oscar from a pet shop because he’d plucked out all his feathers from stress. So after the first week when I noticed some feathers on the bottom of his cage I was a bit worried.
Oscar seemed pretty happy and I hadn’t actually seen him pulling at his feathers. I thought it was probably quite normal to lose some little feathers since cats shed hair and whiskers. It seemed logical but I hadn’t noticed any feather loss the week before so I looked it up.
Turns out parrots shed their feathers a couple of times per year. I checked with Sydne this hadn’t already happened recently. It hadn’t so I relaxed a bit. But I think it’s a bit like when a baby is teething. They get a bit agitated and sorry for themselves because growing new teeth, or in this case, feathers is quite hard work. I noticed that Oscar was a bit grumpy and quieter just before a tail feather dropped out. He also slept a lot more. Sometimes I’d suddenly realise it had gone really quiet. I’d look over and Oscar would be standing on his perch with one leg, head resting on his shoulder having a snooze.
Bonding with a parrot
I never thought I’d bond with a bird the same way I can bond with a cat. But I did! Oscar was very cute chatting away to himself in the background. I let him out of his cage every day and he sang with joy when I did. He really made me laugh with all his happy noises and whistles as he got more and more excited and joyful!
One night was a bit tricky as he didn’t take himself back to the cage. So at 1.30am I was trying to negotiate with him from the light fitting. I made the mistake of giving him a piece of apple while he was out of his cage, so food wasn’t an incentive to go back in.
Eventually, he decided to head back and thankfully that was a one-off. To be honest, Oscar took himself back to his house and was asleep most nights before I even started getting ready for bed. A couple of times he was noisy in the evening although I think it might have been that the new feathers growing in were bothering him. Anyway, I found out if I switched off the light he immediately went quiet and settled down for the night. He didn’t make a peep through the night and he’d usually wake up about 7am. He liked to play with his toy and whistle happily to himself.
One of the things I found sweet was how he liked us to eat as a flock, albeit a small one of two! Whenever I sat down at the table for a meal, Oscar would get his apple and eat with me.
Housesitting in Athens
Sydney’s apartment was a great base for me to work from. It was nice and bright and I was entirely grateful for the air conditioning. Since it gets so hot in August, most people leave the city and go to the islands. This year was no different and Athens was HOT thanks to the heatwave that hit the country.
It was over 40 degrees and this Scottish lass didn’t love that. So I didn’t explore as much of the city as I might have done. The heat was exhausting and I really didn’t venture too far. But as someone who’s lived on a small island all winter, I will say it was a treat to have all the shops on the doorstep. I stocked up on some bits I can’t get easily on the islands and enjoyed being able to easily pick up what I needed.
Getting around was really easy as it was about 7 minute’s walk to the nearest Metro and then about 15 minutes to the city centre. Buses and trams ran frequently from various stops about 5 minute’s away. There were supermarkets and other shops nearby too.
All in all, I had a great stay and enjoyed housesitting in Athens. It also opened my eyes up to caring for another type of pet. I feel much more confident in understanding birds now. I’d definitely be happy to sit a bird again and would love to look after Oscar another time too.
If you’re interested in housesitting in Athens or anywhere else in Greece then keep an eye on TrustedHousesitter’s listings.