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.