A Quaker parrot named Bobber, who weighs less than a quarter pounder, rules the roost in my house. Every gram of bird is manipulative.

Right now, Bobber is feigning illness. He wants to go to the bird hospital, a place I call the spa. Life there includes sunning to music, high-class human and avian companions and superior food.

In the past, I bought him a new cage, a $150 mansion, big enough for him to take flight, a little, because he could dismantle the older, smaller one and knock his food all over the floor, even when the cage was reinforced with mailing tape.

He can talk, but he’s been stuck for a year or two at five words and phrases. Words like “hello” and “peek-a-boo” and “gimme, gimme, gimme.” “Gimme, gimme” is really all he needs.

He will sit with his claw resting softly on your finger, which sounds sweet, until you realize he is keeping you from petting him. He doesn’t like to be touched.

Now he is trying to get to the spa, Kersting Veterinary Clinic and Bird Hospital in Chesterfield, by puffing himself up, shaking and flapping his wings. He looks as though he has a neuro muscular disease. The behavior is a sign of illness, amour or a desire for attention.

Dr. Jennifer Cira of the clinic said attention was likely. I knew, as soon as she said it, the attention he yearned for was the spa. He had stopped shaking as soon as we walked in the clinic.

Before the clinic, Bobber and I were happy together. He gave me kisses. When I was sick and napping, he was quiet. Once, after a bad day, I asked him what he had done for me recently. He climbed up my arm and gave me a peck.

Then one night, last year, he crawled up my arm, across my chest and burrowed himself under my fuzzy robe, over my heart. He could barely make the climb. I told him, “I’ll take care of you, buddy.”

Bobber would lose nearly 20 percent of his weight before his ordeal was over. He would stay in the clinic’s hospital for about a week, have dozens of tests and take two kinds of medicine.

At any point that I might of ceased care, Bobber would bow his head and peek up at me imploringly, rather like Princess Di. He seemed to be saying, “I know you’ll take care of me.” In the end, the bill was nearly $1,000.

While he was in the bird hospital, Bobber basked under a heat lamp, was swaddled in a towel and fed warm food. He squawked with the other birds. A radio sat in one corner. As Bobber got better, he began dancing to its music. He head goes up and down like a bobble head in time to music. He rocks out to salsa and soul. The staff loved him.

He is often home alone. I couldn’t blame him for preferring the spa.

I began racing around, trying to enrich his life. I felt guilty about denying my buddy happiness. A bird friend might do, but there would probably be a fight. Bobber actually sits on top of his mirror to show his reflection who is boss. In the parrot kingdom, the highest bird rules.

I bought three sets of bells. The parrot books say parrots get a lot of satisfaction — wink, wink — from bells. Bobber proved too smart to become romantically involved with a bell, no matter how appealing.

With great sorrow, I thought about finding him a home with a flock of people and birds.

But then he began to shake less. He forgot to shake if I played peek-a-boo or told him stories. So I upped our time together. I got him more toys and a heat lamp. He gets swaddling and baby bird food until he fattens up.

Now I’m looking for a gadget that will provide him with television at two hour intervals and I realize that the bird brain in my house weighs a lot more than a quarter pounder