For the Birds

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Years ago my next door neighbors had a couple of parrots who sometimes flew freely from their cages through the house. Whenever I visited they became agitated and hid in the recesses of their metal homes until I left. My neighbors insisted the the two birds were well versed in the English language and capable of rather remarkable speech but I never heard much more than squawks. I longed to hear a conversation between those birds and their owners but I was never there long enough for the creatures to realize that I was not going to hurt them. They simply shivered in fear until I left.

My brother and sister-in-law have a parrot who is a little less shy. He sees himself as the master of the domain but only shares his linguistic abilities when he wants to do so. He is a quirky soul with a sense of humor which isn’t surprising because my brother is always up for a good joke and a laugh. I imagine he and the bird having a great time poking fun at the world. I take delight in his antics but have little desire to have a feathered friend of my own.

I’ve never had much desire to own a bird of any kind. I’ve seen how messy those cages get and I really don’t want to have to add the chore of keeping them clean to my to do list. It might be fun though to have a talking animal but not one that requires so much maintenance. I just wish that dogs had been given the ability to speak. Somehow I think that if we were actually able to converse with our four legged furry friends we might be rather amazed at how bright and observant they would be. I laugh at the very thought. 

Easter time always reminds me of the days when grocery stores dyed the fluff of baby chicks and ducks and sold them as amusements. My brothers and I begged and begged our mother to allow us to bring one of the little critters home each year and after much nagging we finally broke down her resistance and allowed us to bring one home. Back then HOA’s had yet to become the rulers of the neighborhoods. We were free to have whatever we wanted in our backyard so we proudly created a little nesting area for our chicken who promptly died within a couple of days for who knows what reason. 

After that we had a difficult time convincing our mother to allow us to raise another chicken even as we argued that the one that died must have been defective before we even brought it home. Eventually we saw some brightly colored ducklings being sold in our local grocery store and with a great deal of persuasiveness talked her into letting us try a different species of bird. We purchased a pair of the critters thinking that loneliness had been the culprit that took our little chick to animal heaven far too soon. Sure enough the little fellas grew into very handsome adults. We assumed they were male but had no earthly idea how to determine whether or not that was so. We chose generic names for them just in case we had girls instead. I no longer recall both of the monikers but one of them was known as Ducky Lucky. 

When they began to fly around the backyard and attempt to leave the confines of the fence our mother announced that it was time to give them a new home. We gathered them into cardboard boxes and drove to the cemetery where our father lay in rest. There was a lake there populated by ducks and swans. We had often stopped to feed them whenever we visited Daddy’s grave. It was a lovely tranquil spot and we were excited that our sweet ducks would be living there. 

When we let them loose they joined the other birds without ever looking back. Within minutes we were unable to tell which were our babies because they all looked alike. When we were about to leave one of the ducks appeared to come to say goodbye and we convinced ourselves that it was Ducky Lucky showing his appreciation for all that we had done for him. For years we returned to the lake certain that we knew exactly which bird was our beloved duck.

We never got another bird, not even a parakeet. My brothers had a snake that terrorized me and we had a cat and a dog. One time the Easter bug hit us again and we convinced our mother to let us raise a couple of bunnies. My brothers built a makeshift hutch in a corner of the backyard and things were going exceedingly well until a neighbor’s dog who often roamed freely through the neighborhood jumped our fence and helped himself to a rabbit dinner. I was horrified to find him with our beautiful chocolate bunny in his mouth. It is a sight I will never be able to erase from my mind and the trauma of it was so grim that we never again asked to bring any of the Easter animals home. 

Since those times I have been content to have a dog. I’ve had very good luck with them. I’ve owned a collie and two golden retrievers. All of them were bright and sweet and faithful. I could trust them to roam inside the house when I was gone and they never damaged anything. They were wonderful companions who guarded my home better than a cache of guns might have done. While none of them ever uttered a word I had many conversations with them and I truly believe that they understood what I was saying. 

I have no pets for now. I like to travel and until my wanderlust is fully satisfied I don’t want another animal. When I finally settle down I think I will once again bring a dog back into my life.  To each his own but for me any animal other than a sweet puppy is for the birds. I’ll stick with man’s best friend.