A month ago, a dear friend asked whether I’d be interested in helping her out. Her sister, working at a summer camp in Massachusetts, had found a lost parakeet down by the pool. She’d tried locating its owner for weeks, to no avail, and was trying to re-home it. My friend was visiting her at the camp for a few days and had immediately thought of me. She sent a picture of the parakeet and – NO PRESSURE!!! – but I’d get first dibs if I *was* interested.
I am writing today to get something off of my chest, as well as my head and shoulders. Meet Kiwi.
Have you ever found yourself asking: Is a pet bird right for me? Nope; me neither.
I don’t profess to be a bird expert, but I do speak the language. I live with a parrot named Kiwi. Or as I call her, my birdie appendage. Kiwi is a gold capped conure, a small species of parrot native to Brazil. We adopted her several years ago. And when I say adopted I really mean my husband was offered a parrot for free and then brought her home. Not that I minded, but I want to make clear I had NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. We were told at that time she was young; maybe 2-3 years old. Also, her name was Robin. Not a bad name, but I felt strange calling a conure ‘robin.’ So I named her after a fruit instead.
Kiwi quickly bonded to yours truly and I now spend the bulk of each day w/ Kiwi nesting in my hair, grooming me and generally making herself comfortable. Most of the time I don’t mind, but when she gets particularly engrossed in picking my face, it can be a bit distracting. Especially when my husband starts screaming, UUGHH WOULD YOU NOT LET THE BIRD DO THAT! In addition to surrendering much of my physical person, I have also surrendered my wardrobe. Most of my shirts have holes and keeping anything with buttons or a zipper intact is a near impossibility. Let’s not forget the matter of her “birdie business,” which she does at will and with abandon. Suffice it to say, I change clothes often.
Kiwi has one goal in life. It is called I MUST DRIVE ALL OTHERS AWAY FROM THIS WOMAN. See, Kiwi likes me. A LOT. And like all stalker/victim couplings, it’s a special kind of relationship. Normal people can talk on the phone. They can leave the house. They can hug their children without ducking down and glancing around wildly. The day my husband brought Kiwi home, I went from being a free woman to a claimed territory. And not just my body. I’m not talking boogers here (though she definitely wants those too). Kiwi wants ME. She wants all of my love & attention and BOY does she let me know. Her voice can be deafening at times. She also likes using her beak. NEVER ON ME! mind you. No, just on anything and everyone else. I am her property alone and the rest of the world must be kept at bay.
In this way, she is much like my husband. Yet the constant pull for my attention can wear thin. When her jealousy reaches intolerable proportions, I tell her NO. I stick her back in the cage. Over and over. And OVER AGAIN. But she never lets up. My husband says, “Baby, you tell me when and the bird is HISTORY.” But I just look at him. And he knows. We all know. Kiwi’s here for good. Even though I did NOT bring her home, I can’t turn my back on her now. I’ve off-loaded too many pets over the years. And my parents aren’t interested (I asked at Christmas.) It’s unfair to tame these animals, make them dependent on us, and then abandon them when they grow too needy. Though trust me, the temptation often abounds.
Not to discourage anyone, but there is a reason birds are considered EXOTIC pets. Exotic can mean non-native, or topless, but in the case of birds it’s really code for unusual. Bird people are also an unusual species. Long on patience and short on clean tops. As far as birds go, parakeets are pretty easy. I had one as a kid. But as you get into the larger species of pet birds, things change dramatically. The mess, for instance. Parrots are poop machines. Just ask anyone who’s ever been to my house. And like all birds, they are social. They do not just need but indeed demand companionship. Many large species will also outlive you. Apart from this massive time commitment, you need to consider your living circumstance. Birds are noisy. The squawking may drive close neighbors (and often you) insane. And lest I forget to mention, birds can be nippy. If permitted, they will chew you, your clothes and your furniture apart. All of this – the noise, the biting, the destructive tendencies, can be lessened through proper training, but in some semblance will always remain.
Now that Kiwi is “mature” (meaning reproductively), I’ve begun wondering about her gender. Although many birds are dimorphic (i.e., you can tell whether they are male or female simply by looking at them), gold capped conures are not. I have always referred to Kiwi as a girl. I put a little nest thingy into Kiwi’s cage ages ago. I’ve never actually seen her in it (she sleeps on top of it), but I do occasionally glance in there, just to see if she’s produced anything. I know Kiwi thinks of me as her human mate, so I wonder why she hasn’t yet laid me an egg. Which (were she female) she’d have likely gotten round to by now. She is certainly a very happy bird. Plenty of food. and attention. Hmm.. In order to establish her gender w. certainty, I could have a DNA test done. Which isn’t a big deal, but frankly I’m not rushing to do. Deep down, I’m starting to think Kiwi is a boy. But I still call her my (favorite nickname) “Bird Girl.” Do you think it’s confusing? I don’t think she/he cares, but still. I wonder.
I don’t know about you, but I for one enjoy the easy life. Someone else cooking my food, cleaning up after me, picking my teeth. So next to my birthday week, and Christmas, I like Mother’s Day weekend the BEST.
Friday night kicked off the festivities w/ a hot date featuring my husband.
After sushi for two @ our favorite place, we hit Ye Olde Booksellers. I got a great new book called Farewell, My Subaru. A tale about a guy who gives up his material existence to live off the land in New Mexico. Never mind he’s a pampered urbanite with zero farm experience. I was sold when I read he’d gotten goats off of Craigslist.
Given the number of pets we have, this shouldn’t come as a major surprise, but we’ve also gotten animals off of Craigslist. Our former 3rd-hand macaw, and our little wonder bird *Kiwi*. Now normally I’m not one to toot my own bird, but since we’re on the subject. Toot-toot. it sure is hard to imagine life w/out Kiwi. I would have to go back to grooming myself, changing clothes just once a day, and having friends. YES, She’s become so attached to me, in fact, that I may have to take a restraining order out on her. She has of late begun trying to drive all others away from me. For instance, when someone comes over to talk (and by someone I mean ANYONE, including humans, human-esque forms, animals – even toys and telephones), she begins to chirp in a jealous fashion. If I do not respond, she becomes slightly more agitated, to the point where she starts to lunge at said person (or animal – or phone), trying to bite them and send them packing. I have had boyfriends who were not so attentive. Or insane.
ANYWAY. Saturday my husband – who is just so smart! brought down the big plastic log cabin that was up in our attic playroom and reassembled it outside for our daughters – as well as the rest of the kids on the block. It looks like this:
Except that ours is now taking up most of our front porch, and those are NOT my kids. But they do look like they are having a grand old time, and they would not be the only ones. The ladies were having the BEST TIME EVERRRRR this weekend playing in that thing. And who can blame them?! If I were a kid, I can’t imagine anything better than my very own plastic log cabin!!
So Saturday evening my husband dragged the girls away from the cabin to take us all to the Borgata buffet for a pre-momma’s day feast. We got there just after 5 PM and let me tell you, that is the BEST TIME TO GO. There was no line, no waiting, nothing but food glorious food and meeeee eating it alllllll. After dinner, I did NOT play my secret luckiest winniest machine ever, mostly b/c someone else was using it and they did NOT appear to be winning anything. Instead I went the next aisle over and played a brand new machine called S’mores. And it was DELiCIOUSLY addictive. Yes, I blew $40 away on the machine quick-as-a-wink, and wanted to go back and spend more. B/c THAT is the kind of food-obsessed moron I am. Oh well. It was fun while the flavor lasted. After the Borgata, we went to the beach, and it was as magical as ever even though it was windy and cold. Ahhhh. Nothing like it.
Yesterday, Momma’s Day, was lovely. My older daughter lost her second tooth in TWO DAYS. I kid you not. We were all giddy about it. She also got her brand new violin restrung, and practically slept w/ it she was so happy. Later in the day we went shopping, and even though I have decided that bathing suit shopping is as close to hell as I care to get, I even found a new swimsuit! It is WAY CUTE with the prettiest pattern. I usually hate most bathing suits b/c they are made of hideously ugly fabric, things you wouldn’t dare dress in EVER. Not to mention the fact that most of them make you feel like an over-stuffed sausage sticking out of a waaaay too small casing. But this one is soooooo sweet. YAY. Yes, I know I have half a dozen bikinis that my husband begs me to wear, but all I want is a cute 1-pc that holds my ample chest in place so I can run around in the surf & build sandcastles w/ my kids w/out worrying that my breastesssessss are popping out unbeknownst to me and some old duffer is getting an eyeballfull. which has happened before. This suit is great b/c it is SO CUTE and fun, but highly practical. My idea of perfection.
So last night we returned home for supper before the BIG SURVIVOR SEASON FINALLEE!! 3 HOURS OF SURVIVOR FUNNNN!!! Which brings me to the funniest story. Last night as I was inside getting dinner together (YES I KNOW I WAS COOKING DINNER ON MY VERY OWN MOTHER’S DAY BUT WAIT TILL YOU HEAR THE REST OF MY STORY). SO, I was inside, and the next thing I know my husband comes in the house w/ the biggest smirk on his face. He goes YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT JUST HAPPENED. And he starts just cracking up. Well it turns out, our little neighbor across the street isn’t quite *up to speed* yet w/ regard to potty training. So she’s out there playing with all the kids, hanging out inside the cabin, when SNIFF**SNIFF** my older daughter’s like “Who FARTED??” The cabin apparently goes silent. The kids are all looking around at each other, waiting for someone to fess up. My daughter asks the littlest neighbor, “Did you fart?” To which the little one responds, “No fart, POOP.” My daughter looks down and sees that the kid has POOP all over her leg – AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! Thus prompting a MASS EXODUS from the cabin. All the kids spill out onto the sidewalk. So on the cement, my husband discovers this one lone turd. Just sitting there. right outside the cabin door. Our friend across the street happened to come across just then, with a plastic bag in her pocket. No kidding. Craziest thing ever. Can you imagine just walking down the street and PLOP a big crap falls out of your shorts! BOY I hope that’s not me some day.