Friday, February 20, 2015

BIRD!! BIRD!!


Let's go to the memory vault to find a tale that doesn't involve something cold or snowy.  Pretty please.

Everyone in our family loves pets, even the ones who don't admit it (Dad, Hubzam...). We've raised and loved every sort of creature you can imagine. At times, we partially raised dogs for my grandmother to save her the trouble of housebreaking a new pet. Cats were on our radar, but not as popular as dogs. The other critter we connect with is birds, especially parakeets. 

Parakeets are the perfect pet for someone who want an easy keeper. Even small children, who can't be trusted to handle the birds safely (hint, hint), can enjoy watching their antics. 

One year, we gave my great grandma a parakeet that she named Peachy. She'd talk to it and her dog, Tippy, all day long. Sometimes she'd give me play by play reports of what Peachy was up to in our phone calls. When visiting, my siblings and I would fall into the same mode and chat with Peachy; we were amused by her "warm up" jibberish on the way to actually talking. If you've never owned a bird that talked, you just can't understand how magical that can be. You start to think that this is a small human covered in feathers, no matter how limited the vocabulary.

Growing up in Ohio, we had Mulligan's Pet Shop. As you walked in the door, a huge Mynah bird named Joe sat and held court. Everyone who entered was greeted with a loud, enthusiastic "Hi, Joe!" from the bird. It's amazing that the owner ever sold anything; we were rarely interested in anything beyond standing at the perch and encouraging the bird to say "Hi, Joe" over and over again. Everyone loved Joe; he was so personable - or a great faker.

A fire destroyed Mulligan's Pet Shop and my friends and I wept at the loss of Joe. He was the last Mynah bird I ever saw as a pet.

Jumping on this bird-love history, my little brother asked for a bird for his birthday; I think he was ten at the time, but that's just a guess. The beautiful thing about your sibling getting a pet is you get to play with it, too. Even better, you may not have to actually care for it - it belongs to your brother, after all. 

Brother dear would hold "Bird", and inspired name if ever there was one, on his index finger and talk to him. Soon he began to say things like "Hello" and "give me a kiss." The later phrase came from Bird's tendency to lean forward and check out your lips if you held him close to your face. We started pretending he was giving us a kiss and were delighted when he started saying "give me a kiss," too.

Bird rode around on shoulders frequently, and his cage door stayed open for a big portion of the day. If you called him, he'd fly out and join you. If you held out your index finger when you called him, he'd land there. Bird treats were available to reward him when he came to "give you a kiss." That bird must have come when called hundreds of times. As warm weather approached, the human trips in and out revealed a problem. Bird would try and follow people outside. Far, far outside.

Once outside, Bird might pause on your shoulder, but then he went straight for a tree. His favorite landing pad was two doors down at Betty's house, our neighbor and good friend. He'd perch in the center of the tree about twelve feet off the ground and just chatter away when you came for him. If I could read his mind, I surmise he was calling us and thinking to himself: "These idiots all most have it down. They're trainable!"

The litmus test for true bird love was our willingness to embarrass ourselves in order to get that bird to come back. Standing under the tree, my brother would start tearing up and moaning about the bird, sure that we were moments away from losing him for good. As the big sister, I'd be doing the dirty work of holding my index finger up and calling "Bird! Bird! Come here, Bird! I've got a treat!".  

If that didn't work, the next phase involved yelling "Give me a kiss! Give me a kiss" and by that time, any neighbor in ear shot thought you had lost your ever loving mind. They couldn't see the bird in the tree and I always looked insane. 

Curious neighbors might walk over and ask what I was doing and then I really looked dumb as I tried to explain the whole bird story. One time, a neighbor looked up and said, "I don't see a bird..." and gave me a concerned look. IT'S THE SAME COLOR AS THE LEAVES IN THE TREE, LADY. LOOK CLOSER. 

Sadly  it was easier to believe I was nuts (or accurately; you be the judge).

Bird always came back. And many of the neighbors tried not to make eye contact with me in the grocery after witnessing my recovery efforts. 

42 comments:

  1. When I was growing up my grandmother had a small bird of some sort that talked. Like my grandmother, the bird had a Yiddish accent.

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    1. Talking birds are endlessly amusing.

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  2. Sounds like Bird had the best of both worlds. Inside and out.

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    1. In my head, I suspected Bird would have returned on his own. :-)

      I was just afraid to risk it.

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  3. I sympathise completely with your bird-rescuing predicament, but must confess: I'm still laughing my patookie off!

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  4. I'll make eye contact with you. It's an easy promise since I don't see you.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Turn around - I'm looking in the window. Hi, Franklin!

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  5. Good morning, dear Cherdo!

    It is I/me, Baby Del Knight aka Shecky Shady Shaft, the blogger who never moves beyond "warm up" jibberish.

    (BA-DUM-BUMP)

    I was once led away in handcuffs for repeatedly saying "Hello" and "give me a kiss" to a Mynah.

    (BA-DUM-BUMP)

    Rest assured, dear Cherdo. If I ever hear you yelling " Come here, Bird! I've got a treat!" and "Give me a kiss! Give me a kiss" I will fly directly to Tennessee.

    (BA-DUM-BUMP)

    When I was 13 my parents bought me a Mexican double-yellow-headed parrot which we kept in a cage next to the dinner table. My mother had incorrectly assumed that a bird would make less dirt in the house than a dog, the pet I actually begged for... (the pet for which I actually begged... for... with... from). She was wrong. Pieces of the parrot's "underwear" - that fluffy white down - floated through the air and into our soup.

    (A police officer once ordered me to get down from a goose. BA-DUM-BUMP)

    Our parrot had a bad temper and often became agitated, at which time he would flap his wings and send poop covered seeds flying from the cage in all directions. Did I mention that all I ever wanted as a boy was a dog like Coco? ...and that I was never allowed to have one because they "make too much dirt." Did I mention that? Bitter? No, not me/I.

    Our current next door neighbor owns a macaw and likes to keep him outside the house while he works in his garden. The large bird is a flight risk. If his wings are not kept sufficiently clipped, he flies high into one of our trees. This has happened three times. On one occasion the bird stayed in the tree overnight before returning to his perch at his own house.

    From 1994 until 2001 Mrs. Shady and I owned zebra finches that we raised from eggs and fed with an eye dropper to maturity. One of the finches was very tame and loved to fly onto my hand and go for rides around the house, looking out every window to see what the birds outside were doing. I miss that special little finch. She brought a lot of joy into my life.

    Have a happy Friday, dear friend Cherdo, and a safe and happy weekend!

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    1. This is kind of off topic, but when I was a kid, I had a beagle that was a bit of a mess. My Dad wanted to get built in pool. He asked, "Do you want to keep the dog or get a pool?" Of course, I said I wanted to keep the dog. Apparently he heard "pool" somewhere in that conversation. So, I sympathize with your difficulty to get the doggie message across.

      My friend in Ohio had a whole screened in porch (as opposed to a half screened in porch?) that belonged to her three Grey Conures parrots. It looked very clean and lovely, till you stepped in there and they basically freaked for fifteen minutes until they decided that the stranger would not eat them for lunch - or whatever Conures think.

      I once had a guy bring a Macaw bring to the little kids class. Wondering what would happen if the bird had to "go"...this guy promptly said, "Oh, I'll take care of it!" When the inevitable happened, he rubbed it into the classroom carpet with his shoe. Apparently, out of sight was the same as clean. I DISAGREE. The classroom smelled terrible and I had to get a carpet cleaner and scrub before I went home. He frequently asks to return. I decline and try not to curse when I respond.

      Have a lovely, warm weekend...

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  6. My sister had a parakeet that loved to take showers with her. What pretty little birds they are!

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    1. Neat! We used to get a bowl of water out for Bird and watch him take an endless bath. He didn't stop till you took the bowl away.

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  7. Had peacocks at our house growing up, those suckers could be nasty and liked to honk a ton

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    1. I love peacocks - and I used to have farm animals on my property. I thought about getting peacocks, but then I visited someone who lived next door to a peacock owner...

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  8. Cherdo, enjoyed your story of Bird and other feathered friends in your family. We never had a bird. My hubby sat with a bird for a friend once, and the bird died on his watch (not his fault, apparently). I do think it's entertaining to talk to a bird that will respond. They look at you funny.

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    1. They look at you funny because you're talking to a bird (lol).

      As one of those humans who projects emotions on to birds, I always think they are listening intently when they give you that look.

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  9. lol on the neighbors. My mom had several parakeets during my youth and they were fun. Your story about the Mynah bird reminded me of the same. And I'm almost positive the bird was kept at a pet store in my hometown in Ohio. It wasn't Mulligan's though, it was Gallagher's. :)

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    1. Now I'm interested in knowing your home town...stranger coincidences have happened.

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  10. Neighbours look at me too but I don't have a bird that I am calling to, they just look at me as if i am weird...which i am:) When i was a kid, there was a crow (or raven-not sure which) that the police were trying to catch. You see, this bird would sit right by a grade school in a nearby town and then say the rudest words one could ever hear..all directed at the kids and teachers. As soon as the police got close it would take off. Now i know it was bad of the person who taught this bird to say such nasty things but to this day, the devil in me still chuckles. They never could catch the bird

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    1. That would give me a lifetime of chuckles, too; we'd want to get that on film, Birgit.

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  11. I miss my birds. Had a Cocketiel who spoke English better than me. Then the two parakeets he kept entertained were always chatters. The good old days. (smile)

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    1. Cockatiels are beautiful; I babysat my neighbor's birds. It was a treat for me to do so, I love them.

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  12. What a great story! I've only seen talking birds on TV. I'm a cat person, so any bird I got would have been saying "I tot I taw a Putty-tat" all the time - before being eaten. Funny about your neighbors! Have a great weekend! :)

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  13. I like seeing the ducks go through the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis with pomp and circumstance. And Maw-Maw had a singing canary. I wish he could talk. Would he speak French like her?

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    1. I'll bet he would...they don't have an official language (so far...).

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  14. My girlfriend had to train me to say "Give me a kiss"

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    1. But if you're trainable, you're worth hanging on to. All girls know that (ha ha).

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  15. Sounds like great memories. I've never had a pet bird--I wasn't even allowed a dog growing up. I've had dogs steadily since the age of 22, though, so I've made up for lost time! I was always worried a bird would get poop all over the place. Come to think of it, though, that's no worse than a dog having an accident in the house!

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    1. Actually, I think the bird is far easier and I've had both! I've been lucky about housebreaking our pets. There's nothing worse than dealing with the messes.

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  16. Great story, wonderful memory. Best I can offer- we have an animal sanctuary nearby that took in a cockatiel, I think. His habitat was near where workers were building the new monkey house... and soon had to be moved as he picked up the workers rather salty language.

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    1. That is hilarious - I've heard of more than one bird that picks up the "bad words."

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  17. My grandma had a Mynah bird! I never got to meet it, but heard all the stories. It would sit on its perch and call, "Here kitty, kitty" and would often say, "Damn it, Clarence"...my grandpa's name was Clarence. Sadly, I didn't get to know him either.

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    1. I've never seen a Mynah bird since Joe. When I read this, I went and searched for them and they are still around. Joe was so entertaining. We were devastated by his loss.

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  18. Every time I hear someone mention parakeets it reminds me of a terrible mistake we made as kids. We were outside playing when one of the littlest kids yelled that he was being attacked by a bird. We ran over and sure enough, this weird little yellow bird kept flying straight at him. When we all gathered around it flew straight at all of us, like it was trying to peck us in the face. The neighbor kid's mother came out and told us to get away from it because clearly something was wrong with it. It flew at me and I slapped it down with my hand. It never moved again after that. We were baffled by the crazy bird we assumed had a disease. Years later I got engaged to a girl. When I went to visit her family they had a parakeet, a little yellow one. It flew straight at my face, just like that little yellow bird from long ago, and then it landed on my shoulder and just sat there, harmlessly perched on me. That was the first that I knew I had accidentally killed someone's poor escaped parakeet and it was just looking for a shoulder to perch on.

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    1. Awww, that is a terrible story...for you and the bird. Bird guilt is the worst.

      Thanks for stoppin' by, Steve!

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  19. I had parakeets as a child. They were so cute. Now that I own cats I wouldn't think of getting birds.

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  20. When I was younger, one of my friends had a bird...that dang thing never came to me. Maybe I should have asked for a kiss :)

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  21. My wife used to have a parakeet when she lived with her parents in Vegas. After moving out, I guess the little guy missed her so much that he became a grump. Even when we go back and visit he snaps at the cage and shrieks at us. He's the cutest little thing I've ever seen that could tear off my fingers in one bite if I gave him the chance. And he doesn't really talk, which is good, because I don't think I'd want to know what he has to say to me.

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    1. Laughing out loud: "...I don't think I'd want to know what he has to say to me." That is awesome.

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Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo