In­tro­duc­ing a bird to the home shouldn’t have been a drama…


NEIGH­BOURS. Ev­ery­body needs good neigh­bours. With a lit­tle un­der­stand­ing, you can get through a trau­matic death.

While there are a thou­sand things I love about my home (ex­cept the un­ren­o­vated bath­rooms), the street on which it sits is per­haps the most pre­cious.

In an era where peo­ple are squeez­ing into high­rises, or stay­ing in­doors on their de­vices, we seem to live in a neigh­bour­hood from a by­gone time. We all not only know each other, we like each other.

And never have I been more thank­ful than the past week.

While the neigh­bours were wit­ness to the big­gest par­ent­ing fail of my il­lus­tri­ous moth­er­hood ca­reer, they also helped me through it.

My epic fail was, like the very rel­e­vant road to hell, paved with good in­ten­tions.

For a full year my chil­dren have been beg­ging me for a cock­atiel. No, I don’t know why. I’m pretty sure it has some­thing to do with some­thing they’ve seen on YouTube and if I look into that worm­hole I will lose my head … much as some­one else did.

So, after a stel­lar year at school, I promised the kids a bird on our re­turn from our over­seas trip. Spoiled, I know.

It’s not like we don’t al­ready have pets. We do. A cat. And a dog. And there lies the rub. Or the rub out.

It was the cat I was ner­vous about. But Señorita Loca (whom some of you may re­mem­ber as the res­cue cat we adopted who was di­ag­nosed with chlamy­dia … in­sert puss joke here) was to­tally chill. Ap­par­ently a caged bird presents no chal­lenge, so she ig­nored … as all good cats do.

The dog was no con­cern. Sparky is such a big goof­ball, not only does he love all crea­tures (both the cat and green tree frogs are his BFFs), but the flabrador is far too fat to move at any great speed.

And so we bought Beakon­cye.

Like her name­sake, she sang, she danced, she strut­ted … ev­ery­one was en­tranced.

Even the dog. Es­pe­cially the dog. Deep in my heart, know­ing Sparky’s ex­ces­sively good na­ture, I felt if I could only in­tro­duce them they could be­come a pair of, well, love­birds.

But Beakon­cye was hav­ing none of it. Ev­ery time she saw him she would start huff­ing and puff­ing. She was all “talk to the wing, be­cause the beak ain’t lis­ten­ing”.

My hus­band didn’t blame her. He said there was a look in Sparky’s eye he just didn’t trust. Turns out that man can read dogs.

So our plan was to slowly ac­cli­ma­tise them, pri­mar­ily by putting the cage in my daugh­ter’s room and clos­ing the door. Which was all good. Un­til day five.

We still don’t know how it hap­pened. Was Beakon­cye left out of her cage? Did some­one leave the door open?

One minute there was peace in the house, the next my daugh­ter was scream­ing like she’d been painted by Ed­vard Munch – then Sparky came run­ning out of her room, some­thing yel­low and feath­ery in his mouth.

Oh, how we howled. He, of course, thought it was a game.

We chased him from one end of our fenced front yard to the other, yelling at him to DROP IT!

“It” be­ing Beakon­cye. Who, iron­i­cally, was not a sur­vivor. I mean, I guess if we liked it we should have put a cage on it. (Too soon?)

Sud­denly heads ap­peared over our gate, our neigh­bours to the res­cue. First and fore­most they wanted to en­sure we were not be­ing mas­sa­cred as our voices im­plied.

Re­al­is­ing it was in­stead the bird be­ing mas­sa­cred, they helped with the body re­trieval.

It was ugly. Feath­ers flew, fur was punched. And no sooner had I gone in­side to fetch the burial paper tow­els then Sparky picked up Beakon­cye again – her body was just too booty­li­cious, I guess.

Even­tu­ally, we laid her at peace, kicked the dog and sat on the couch, cry­ing, shak­ing and gen­er­ally ex­pe­ri­enc­ing all the symp­toms of PTSD.

I felt hor­ri­ble. Not only do I love an­i­mals but I’d brought this in­no­cent baby bird into my house, aware that there could be dan­ger, and I hadn’t pro­tected her.

I’m sure some would con­sider that over­dra­matic, but not my neigh­bours. Over the course of the day, a pro­ces­sion came by, called or texted – of­fer­ing a cup of tea or a hug or a sym­pa­thetic ear.

It didn’t bring back Beakon­cye but it did re­mind me how lucky I am to live in our house, in the mid­dle of our street.

Now we just have to con­vince one of our neigh­bours to get a cock­atiel. I know where they can get a great sec­ond-hand cage.

And a dog.


Beakon­cye the cock­atiel was just too hard for Sparky (in­set) to re­sist.

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