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June 4th, 2010:

Bird brain — or Feathered Fiend?

I had a couple of people ask me to reprint something I wrote a few years back, so here it is: (I actually still have the bird.)

saj

BIRD BRAIN — OR FEATHERED FIEND?

When I was just a little fella, my parents got me a parakeet. He was a very typical parakeet, with a green and black back, a green chest and a little yellow head with spots on his face and a nose -sorry- a beak that looked like Jake Dempsey – for those of you old enough to remember. I won’t even get into his cauliflower-ed ears, as I could never find them anyway.

I named my parakeet Frisky, because he was.

My mother would let him out of his cage and he would fly onto the top of my head, whereby he would immediately start scratching around and pecking, much to my delight, for whatever bugs he thought he might find. (Back then, there may have been a few.)

One day we left him in his cage on the back porch for sun, as was our wont, and the lame- brained cocker spaniel from next door got across the ugly chain-link fence and broke into the cage. Our next-door neighbor brought the little bird back to me in her shaking hands. Man, did I cry my heart out.

What’s funny is that my mother kept saying that the bird didn’t seem to have even been bitten by the stupid dog. It must have just died of a heart attack.

C’mon.

Frisky didn’t smoke, because he couldn’t have even struck a match, much less popped open a Zippo, and besides, where would he have gotten the lighter fluid. (Hmm-my dad, maybe? – Nah…) And he didn’t drink, anything more that water; that I ever saw. And I used to make him run laps.

Maybe he got scared to death? Maybe.

About two months ago I went to the pet store while my wife was out of town (ha ha, got her), and bought the identical twin to Frisky (which took some doing by a young lady with industrial sized gloves, as there were several birds that were similar, and I was very specific about which one I wanted.) I didn’t even know that there were “white” parakeets. I think that they tried to pull off a miniature cockatiel in there, but they couldn’t fool me. I wanted Frisky II.

About two hours and $35.00 later (which is very cheap, I must declare), I took home a beautiful six-week-old little bird, with a cage and some birdseed. I ignored the optional mirror, swing set and newspaper in my glee. After all, it’s just the bird and me.

Now remember, this was two months ago.

My wife did not even have to admonish me or remind me that this was my pet and I had to take care of it. I’ve heard that before through at least a dozen dogs, five cats, several horses, but only one bird. (The squirrels, etc. don’t even count, as they never tried.)

So my little bird is settled in and I’ve custom-cut newspapers so that not one piece of poop will ever disgrace our floor. (And if you believe that I’ve still got a deed to the Brooklyn Bridge.)

Suffice to say, this guy, whom we named Larry-the-Byrd, is not the same bird I remember X years ago. I was afraid to let him out of his cage because he might fly away. To heck with that. I can’t poke him out of his cage with a BBQ fork. I even tried a little fire and only ended up with a burnt finger as he kicked over his little water dish and put it out.

Open the cage door? He shuts it.

We even put in a mirror with a ladder on it, and I didn’t even know that birds had a middle feather. We put in a swing and the next morning there was a little noose tied on it. I don’t know where he got the thread but the knot was professional. I actually went to extensive research on the internet and found out that one is supposed to also augment the so-called parakeet food with what we eat, like fruit, nuts, grain bread, etc. You ever had a peach pit hit you in the forehead, spit out by a bird?

But that was the last straw, (which is all he’s getting lately to eat). I’m not to be intimidated by a parakeet, no matter how expensive he was.
Therefore I started the proper psychological approach approach, which included a lot of screaming. Now he simply waits until I’m soundly asleep and starts cheeping at the top of his little bird lungs. When I wake up, swinging wildly, as though the bell just rung, I swear I see a little grin on that beak.

Once my wife stifled the noise, I started throwing (just lobbing, actually, for you animal activists) various peanuts, apples or loafers lying around. (Do you know how fast a parakeet can dodge?)

I thought of trying to get him another bird as a cellmate to teach some manners, but was afraid that the ASPCA would get wind of it and make me buy a separate cage for the new inmate.

So we’re at an impasse, because my wife saw me with the cage outside with the doors open and a barbeque fork in my hand.

Steven A. Jackson

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