Sunset From a 737

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.

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