Gate Way Drug:

A drug (as alcohol or marijuana) whose use is thought to lead to the use of and dependence on a harder drug (as cocaine or heroin)

You might say Parker was my “gateway drug” to the world of aviculture. I began studying up on parrots when I got him and I never stopped. It kind of opened up an entirely new world that I really knew very little about and once that “drug” took hold of me, it became an obsession.

I cut my first teeth in the world of parrots with articles by Sally Blanchard, Liz Wilson, Susan Chamberlain, and so on. Before the days of Wi-fi, efficient laptop computers, hotel room computer hookups, and instant portable access to the internet, I used to download many of these articles on my PC at home, print them out and carry them with me on my flights to read on layovers in my hotel room. I went through tons of paper and ink. It didn’t matter. I needed the information, wanted the knowledge and thought that the only way I was going to be able to make use of the dead time I had on my trips, this was one way to make use of the time. It served me well.

I thought about this when I was doing the research for an article I wrote for the Bird Channel on taxonomy. My neighbor and good friend Bill stopped by while I was doing the research for it and he simply asked me,

“What are you doing?”

“Research for an article.”

“Article on what?”

“Taxonomy. I’m trying to write an article in a way that explains it in the simplest and easiest way.”

“How’s it going?”

“Oh, fine. I’ve been working on it since I got in from my trip last night, and I’ve got the bare bones of the article laid out. I’ll be done by late tomorrow morning.”

Then I smiled and said, “You know, it’s funny.”

“What’s so funny about taxonomy?”

“It’s not taxonomy that’s funny, it’s the fact that when I first got Parker, well, you remember the stuff I was reading and studying. It was all really basic stuff I have in my bones now; stuff I don’t even have to think about anymore. And now I’m writing the stuff I used to read. Only now, I want to write about the stuff that I couldn’t find when I was first learning.”

“Patricia, you are writing some of that stuff.”

“I know! And it’s fun.”

The stuff I get to write about is fun. At least to me. At first, when I get the assignment, or propose the article, I get scared. “Aww, man!  How the hell am I going to be able to put this together?”  But I do. And I usually get it in about three weeks early. I’m terribly paranoid about deadlines. My editor loves that.

So for those of you that are new to the world of aviculture and are overwhelmed with the amount of information out there, consider yourself lucky. As little as eight years ago, I was reading some real crap that refused to die. Most of it has gone the way of pay toilets and the Ford Pinto and in its place you can find some real quality information if you know where to look. Start with getting a subscription to BIRD TALK Magazine.

(If I do say so myself, there is this very good column on page 6 every month…) BT has managed to put together a stable of really good writers who know what they’re doing. BT is just the beginning, but you have to begin somewhere and that’s a good start. We all never really stop learning. 

So don’t fret. You’re in a better position than even I was eight years ago. Eventually, it’ll all click. And when it does, you’ll just know.