I bought a bird.

August 1, 2015 | My Jottings

Our family had several pet birds during the years our girls were growing up. First we had Rosie the yellow cockatiel. Her last name was Shackadorum and she was hand-fed, so was quite tame and loved to sit on our hands and shoulders. She breeped when we came in the back door and each time the toilet was flushed.

We thought Rosie would like a boyfriend so we bought another hand-fed cockatiel, a grey guy we named Chester Pondaleeky. Chester was mean and domineering to easy-going, cheerful Rosie, and one morning we came downstairs and found her cowering in the bottom of their cage, her wing bloodied. We gave Chester the Molester to a couple right away, who promised to never put him in a cage with another bird.

Then we tried again with a meeker male, another grey cockatiel we named Walter Whomperwhacker. Walter and Rosie liked each other enough to need a clutch box, and over the next couple of years she laid several eggs, three of which had baby cockatiels in them. Rosie and Walter were very intrigued by their newly hatched and helpless offspring, but didn’t know how to feed them, so the poor little ones never survived. Then Walter turned into an angry bird and took his frustrations out on Rosie, and we gave him away too. Rosie lived in cockatiel peace for a good long time, and we were truly sad when we found her dead at the bottom of her cage one winter morning.

Next we acquired a canary with a bad toupee. I think these kinds of canaries are called Gloster Canaries, and you can see what I mean by a toupee here. She first belonged to our friend Carl, but she didn’t thrive in his house because he had over a dozen cats who paced the floor beneath her cage and plotted her feather-exploding death. It was perhaps no puzzle why Carl’s canary began to lose her little yellow feathers, one by one, until she looked like the most pathetic miniature plucked chicken, all pink flesh with an occasional pin feather here and there. Except for her head, where she had retained an odd cap of dark brown feathers I always said looked like a tiny fountain. Carl gave his canary to us and we named her Harriet the Canary with the Bad Toupee. As soon as Harriet came to our cat-less home, her yellow feathers grew back and she was a sweet, trilling pet for a few years.

Here are a couple of drawings my talented son-in-law Jeremy drew of Carl and some of his cats, considering what to do about Harriet, and one of Carolyn and our old Schnauzer Winnie, peering at Harriet once she came to our house.

drawing of Carl

Harriet, Carolyn, Winnie

Then life happened. And dogs were what we could handle. I didn’t want to clean cages and vacuum bird dander anymore, so when Harriet flew to canary heaven I decided to take a bird break.

But now that break is over, and we have a new little parakeet. I’ve never had a parakeet before. She’s quite young, and the way you can tell is that the rows of stripes (or bars) in her head feathers come almost all the way down to her beak. As she grows, these stripes will fade. Here’s a photo of a young parakeet with the stripes, and a mature parakeet who has lost his stripes.

phoebephotoHere’s Phoebe in her cage in our dining room. She is being very quiet, but will squawk once in a while when she hears me turn on the kitchen faucet.

I’ve been relieved to see her eating her seed, and I hope she’ll take a bit of the apple slice I’ve affixed to the side of her cage. I haven’t seen her drinking from her water container yet and that concerns me a little. I hope she’s sipping when I’m not around.

I hope to hand tame her a bit so she’ll enjoy sitting on my shoulder and having her head stroked. But I’ll have to shut Edith and Mildred the Schnauzers away in another room when I try. One doggy chomp could bring about a very sad ending. I’m feeling stirrings of affection for little Phoebe already so don’t think I could bear that.

Michael taught me to love birds. He had a way with animals, and birds were always sidling up to him and were never afraid of him.

How about you? Have you ever had a pet bird? If so, what kind, and what was its name?


  1. Nancy says:

    We got a parakeet when my son was 5. We wanted him to have some kind of a pet. Coocoo was the sole bird for 4 years and he was very friendly. We had his cage in the kitchen and he loved to watch us cook. After 4 years we decided to get a companion for Coocoo and Cooquette came to live with us. It was love at first sight and the 2 were really love birds. We had several birds until we got a dog. Good luck with Phoebe. I’m sure you’ll enjoy her.

  2. Just Julie says:

    What cute names, Nancy! I am hoping that Phoebe will grow attached to us. I saw a video recently of a parakeet who put himself to sleep by cuddling on his owner’s chest. It was adorable. xoxo

  3. Ginny says:

    Oh dear Lord! I will surely be stoned now for being “the icky not so fond of dogs, lady AND worse yet, don’t even like birds inside, lady”! I will understand if you hand me my “you can’t be my friend anymore” pink slip…..
    I do however enjoy pictures of birds, little glass and metal birds and birds in bird feeders outside… Can that save me? One can hope……….????????????????

  4. Just Julie says:

    I laughed out loud when I read your comment, Ginny. No pink slip yet. You’re missing out on so much though! xoxo

  5. sue raimo says:

    I have never had a bird, nor do I desire to have a bird. But I read with great amusement your history of bird ownership. I love the way you write. I have to admit Phoebe is rather good looking.

  6. Just Julie says:

    I’m so glad you think Phoebe is a good looking bird, Sue! I’m rather partial to her already myself. Thank you for brightening my day with your comments. xoxo

  7. Connie Parkinson says:

    We had the most wonderful cockatiel when the kids were young. His name was Skyguy. Since we homeschooled, he spent every day out of his cage and with us. He especially liked sharing our macaroni and cheese and my coffee. He met a very tragic end in the jaws of our nextdoor neighbors dog, and we were all quite traumatized for a long time.
    We also had a beautiful white hen named Snow. Every morning she strutted up to our sliding glass door that went from patio to living room, and tap, tap, tapped on it with her beak, until we opened the door. Then she would hop up into our livingroom and strut down the hall to our sons’ bedroom, clucking all the way. She hopped up on Lukes bed and laid her egg there every morning! Then she would hop down and cluck her way back down the hall and out into the backyard. She never once went potty in the house, and a freshly laid egg is warm, dry and precious. If you are ever looking for great entertainment, I recommend getting chickens!!! There are a blast! So much personality!
    I hope I didnt disgust people who arent quite bird lovers. I know we might be a bit outside the norm. Hahaha but birds are so much fun. Congratultions Pheobe, on finding such a wonderful home!!!

  8. Just Julie says:

    Connie, I felt like I was getting started in a delightfully good book by reading what you wrote about Snow and Skyguy. I have a friend at Community Bible Study with a pet chicken named Dorothy, and the looks you Dorothy gives are hysterical. I think you should start a blog. I have told a few others that here — I have such great commenters. But no one ever takes me up on it. Thank you for stopping in here, dear Connie. xoxo

  9. Christy says:

    I was hoping my sweet baby sister (Connie) would comment on this. She could spend the day telling amusing bird stories….as could her kids. When we were growing up my dad always told us not to try and save the baby birds that fell out of their nests. It just couldn’t be done and would only be a tragic disappointment to the rescuer. Baby birds were too fragile and persnickity to be saved. Our dad was a big animal lover so this wasn’t taught in an uncaring manner. Laurel and I paid attention to that advice but not Connie. For all the years I can remember, Connie has scraped up featherless babies from the sidewalk, from under trees, from predator mouths etc. and has succeeded in saving not all, but many. She knows the tricks and has the loving touch so if you find a baby bird gasping its last breath, call her. She lives in Calif.

  10. Just Julie says:

    Awww, this makes me love Connie all the more. The world doesn’t have enough tender hearts. Is it only birds she nurtures back to life? Or can she work wonders with humans too? 🙂 Hugs to you, dear Christy. xoxo

  11. Ginny says:

    Jewel somehow I missed the pictures Jeremy drew!! They are amazing!! He really captured Carl!!

  12. Just Julie says:

    Ginny — I had forgotten I had them on the computer, so I added them after I originally published the post! xoxo

  13. Linda says:

    A blue parakeet! Amazing ! Just so happens my “grand birdie” is a blue parakeet who found his way into my son’s yard last Fall & willingly climbed onto a stick & was brought into his home. He was obviously a much loved bird…very tame & loves sitting on your shoulder …or head! But we never could find the owner. He took to my grandson immediately as he realized everywhere that baby went was a food trail ….his name is “Feathers”.
    At the time he arrived we kept saying “see his pretty feathers” …the baby said feathers when he wanted his new friend out of the cage so the name stuck! He can be quite a pest though when we eat so back in the cage he goes during meal times! We love the wonderful “babbling” sounds he makes although we think he may have picked up some bad language from his previous owner/s as sometimes we hear very distinct words that don’t sound very nice when he’s put back! We pray for his attitude! 🙂
    Ohhh what fun you will have training Phoebe!

  14. Just Julie says:

    I loved reading about Feathers, Linda! I find Phoebe’s squawks very cheering. I look forward to her developing her budgie language. She’s still so young. I had to laugh when you said you pray for Feathers’ attitude! LOL. Hugs to you dear Linda… xoxo

  15. Mariah says:

    Never had birds…but I’ve always wanted to. I fell in love with a Sun Conure that was hanging around in the pet shop on the clerk’s shoulder the other day. I have two cats though…one of which is crazy crazy crazy and has the markings and personality of a Bengal (I got her from the Humane Society so I’ll never know her actual lineage, not that I need to. The fact that she’s crazy is enough to entertain us and keep us on our toes!), so I think birds would be far too stressed out in my household for now. I do see birds in my future though…I wonder if they eat beets! (insert winking face!)

  16. Mariah says:

    Also…have you heard of the parrots of Telegraph Hill in San Francisco? I’ve seen them hanging around on the streets downtown (well, not exactly on the streets…they have a routine they follow and certain times of the day they can be seen in certain areas in the trees) and they have become an icon of San Fran. There’s a book out about them…written by a guy who lived near where they roost. They used to come to the fire escape on his building and he got to know them individually. I don’t remember off the top of my head where they came from but you’ve sparked my avian interest that was laying low for a while! LOL I’ll see if I can remember the title and roust out a copy for you if possible.

  17. Just Julie says:

    I get the beet joke Mariah! You made me smile. It’s so strange that you mention the parrots of Telegraph Hill — I can’t remember where now, but not long ago I ran across a blurb online regarding a movie about them. I put it in my Netflix queue and it’s coming up quickly. Then you mentioned it. I’m anxious to watch it. Maybe there will be some sort of profound meaning in it for me — hahahaha. And yes, your Bengal cat doesn’t sound like she would be a soothing companion for a birdy. I hope you do get to go the bird route someday, though. Our little Phoebe is getting used to being here and is very chattery, which I find cheering. Have a blessed week, dear Mariah! xoxo

  18. Mariah says:

    I’ve never seen the documentary, but I’ve read the book. Very interesting and I loved it , especially after seeing them in person!

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