Occasionally we all hear this ominous statement when someone sees your bird: “Oh how cute! I want one!”
*Insert Theme From “Dragnet”*
Now, I love it when people develop an interest in aviculture and decide to get into it. They want to learn everything, they do research, take classes, read up on everything bird and bust their humps to do research and do the best job they can to ensure that an adoption is a success. I love these people.
But this isn’t on a person’s mind when they see your cute, fluffy little cockatoo, or your adorable African Grey. All they’re thinking about is their need for ownership of this little guy. They’re thinking like a 16 year-old kid…with their “little head.”
And while I empathize with their want for Parker, or any of your adorable little darlings, I have a tough time with them when they get tired of the up keep, the scrubbing, the cage cleaning and the noise.
They’re looking at the advantages. And I’m thinking,”What exactly are the advantages?”
Let’s see, let’s see, let’s see…….Okay give me a minute here would you?
Ummmm….hey! I got one! Some of them can talk! Yeah! That’s right. And some of them can do tricks. I’m on a roll here!
Why do we have them? Well I can answer that for myself. I’ve always thought birds were neat. Interesting.
Parker playing with a “Puzzler Toy”
When I was a kid, my parents would take my brother and I north of “The Cheddar Curtain” for summer vacation. What’s “The Cheddar Curtain?” That’s the Illinois-Wisconsin border. It’s kind of like the Iron Curtain, or the Bamboo Curtain only Wisconsin makes a lot of cheese. and well, you get my point. But I digress.
Anyway, we’d go up there to a little unincorporated Wisconsin town called Mercer, which is way the hell up there near the upper peninsula of Michigan. Naturally, the upper Michigan people are called “Yuppers,” pronounced “Yoopers.”
We’d spend two weeks on a private lake in a log cabin. With no running water. Oh, and no electricity. Oh, and an outhouse. This was called “fun.” There was just this one cabin on the lake. If you wanted to take a bath, you grabbed a bar of Ivory soap and jumped in the lake. Why Ivory? It floats.
Lots of bears. Lots of deer. We’d fish off the dock or out of one of the rowboats. My father would rent a canoe for me. We’d pop popcorn in and roast marshmallows in the fireplace. Occasionally, we’d sweep off the landing strip for the mosquitos.
And every night Loons would come and visit us. They were gorgeous. There are a LOT of loons up there. As a matter of fact, Mercer calls itself “The Loon Capitol.” They now have a Loon Festival every summer with a Loon calling contest.
I got Mr Loon Here!
(Early on, I trained Parker how to do a Loon call and he did it spot on. I was going to take him up to Mercer and enter him in the contest. Maybe we’d win a canoe or something.)
Anyway, I loved watching those loons fly in. They’re still one of my favorite birds. Birds sort of always ended up in my life.
And when I finally had the opportunity to bring a parrot into my life, I did. And that was Parker. Was it what I thought it was going to be? Not on your life!
I’d lived with a parrot before but Pedro, a yellow-naped Amazon wasn’t my bird.
But this? This is better. My Greys drive me nuts and if you read my column in BIRD TALK you know exactly what I’m talking about. But it’s a lifestyle I simply wouldn’t trade for another.
Parker’s First Photo
Of course, with the magazine, the blog and the talks and presentations, it’s taken on a life of its own. Parker, Pepper and Nyla opened a lot of doors for me. So there’s that. And of course, having birds in the family sort of launched my writing career. So there’s that.
And truthfully? Despite the fact that they occasionally drive me right up the wall and out the window, I love my life with them and their place in it.
March 16, 2012 at 11:00 am
Patricia, it sounds a little like my introduction to birds, which also started with waterfowl, except it was ducks. Oh, we had a budgie, but his cage was hung from the ceiling to keep the cat out and I was little, so our worlds didn’t commingle much. But one morning, at the Farmer’s Mercantile in town, I fell in love with a little baby duck, and despite the fact that we lived in town, my mom let me bring it home. That duck and I became best friends. I had more ducks later in my childhood, and when they had to be given to a farm because of divorce, I got a cockatiel who was the second love of my life. I always knew I wanted a grey, and after warming up my husband to living with birds with my two cockatiel hens, we finally got my Ziggy. Lifelong obsession with birds, their unique natures, the silky feel of feathers, the soulful look in their eyes. I’m not feeling it when I’m scrubbing poop off the walls or picking up carrots from the floor, but the rest of the day… it’s a rewarding experience for the right people. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story!
March 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm
“Lifestyle” really nails it. 🙂
March 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm
Yeah, I love my birds too. How come I only ever see them from below? Because I’m on my hands and knees picking up toys and other misc. household objects and scrubbing bird poop off the floor! It is a lifestyle for sure! I thought about that as I swept the floor yet again this morning and wiped up another round of poop. But I love them and wouldn’t trade them for anything. There is something wonderful when a creature who CAN fly away chooses to stay on your hand and be part of your life.
March 18, 2012 at 9:48 am
When I was little, my brother had a few parakeets, one at a time. They were neat, but looking back I realized what we had done wrong (and why the birds kept dying so quickly): the cage was near a drafty window and drafty door, seed-only diet, all non-stick pans. And I don’t blame my brother (he was about 4 or 7 and I’m not sure if he was even that into them), and I can’t blame my parents who had no idea. I’m only 4 years older than my brother so I wouldn’t have been much help. My dad and I were talking about them the other day and I went down that same list… and I think Dad kind of felt bad about it.
When my husband and I decided to get a parrot, we settled on a green cheek conure because she kept nodding her head up and down enthusiastically at us. Yes, we had done research on training and diet. I found several second-hand Barron’s books and bookmarked every legitimate informational website I could find. We prepared by purchasing a nice big flight cage for her with many toys, stocked up on pellets to convert her from her current seed-only diet, and purchased fruits and vegetables the same day we got her. Were we prepared for her screaming and biting? Hell, no!
It’s amazing how loud a 65 gram bird can be, and even more amazing at how hard she can bite! I would lock myself away in the bathroom and cry in frustration! I’d have rather cleaned her poop from the cage over and over again than deal with her directly.
Looking back, I realized what we lacked was confidence. The books and sites are great but they don’t teach you how to at least fake confidence. That was the biggest learning experience ever. Dizzy is now almost 3 and is a sweet bird–still my husband’s favorite, and he is hers. She still doesn’t back down from a challenge, but we don’t back down from her either.
July 31, 2012 at 8:02 pm
I really needed that tonight. My guys were all on my last nerve, especially my two Greys. But I love them and wouldn’t give them up for anything. I might strangle them one of these days but they always make me smile. They’re all tucked in for the night and after I clean up their mess, it’s my quiet time. AAAHHH!