This One Is Really For The Birds

     It all happened late one night (or early) depending on how you view 1:00 a.m. I was just shutting down the computer for the night because I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer and nothing constructive was happening with the latest story I was trying to write. When you fall asleep in your chair and catch yourself falling forward with your forehead only inches from hitting the computer screen, it's time to give up and  go to sleep.

   Suddenly I heard pandemonium break out among the parakeets in Justin's bedroom. Did I mention Justin lives in an apartment in Hilton Head with a no pet policy? His birds live with us. But back to the story: it sounded like somebody stuck a weed wacker in the cage and turned it on. There was screeching and fluttering and high pitched squawks. I opened the door quickly to discover the moma bird was attacking one of her grown kids (what do you call a teenage parakeet) and trying to kill it. I'm not exaggerating. Feathers were flying. And there was blood.

     Moma parakeet had been sitting on one egg for about two weeks. She's done this before with no babies being hatched but one such sitting produced three babies that resembled some kind of pre-historic featherless mini-raptor. They grew into beautiful green and yellow parakeets and all was well until the new egg. Now, apparently they are on her nerves. And it's not going well for the one she's attacking. 

      I can't let her kill him. But I have no idea how to stop the massacre. I hit on the cage and all the birds scatter but immediately she dives at him again and resumes pecking his head. I have no choice. I have to go in.

      I don't know whether you've dealt with birds before, but you handle them wrong and you will "draw back a nub." They bite. I found this out when Justin brought Ricky and Lucy home. Actually, Lucy turned out to be Lou which is why we have all the birds, but I digress. Justin was wearing a glove and trying to slowly get the birds used to being touched so that he could catch them and tame them. I had watched the pet store worker pick one up and in my usual, non-patient way I announced there was nothing to this and reached my hand in the cage. I quickly cornered one of them and triumphantly pulled him out of the cage held high in the air. About this time, the bird bit down on the tender web of skin between my first finger and thumb. There's no word in the English language for that pain but a few synonyms can help you relate: burning, searing, fiery, piercing. Get the picture? Well, what could I do? I flung the bird. It wasn't a conscious decision. It was more of a survival instinct. After that I decided to never again pick up a bird unless it was wrapped in cellophane in the freezer section.

             But here I was witnessing murder and Neal was asleep. I had to take action and fast.  I thought quickly and groped under the aquarium for the big fish net. Next, I hurried to the kitchen and came back with a plastic colander with a makeshift lid. Plundering in the bottom of the linen closet I found a couple of old towels and wrapped them around my hands and arms.  I looked like a crazed bee keeper. Bravely I opened the door of the cage. If I thought there was pandemonium before, that was a picnic compared to the feathers flying as I tried to manuever the fish net  all over the cage in pursuit of the moma bird. After almost a half hour I cornered her with the net and slipped the colander over the net. I quickly reached in with the lid clamping it over the net and colander and brought out the captive bird. The only problem was that now that I had her, I didn't know what to do with her. The only other cage we possessed was in the shed outside. I couldn't put down the colander because the lid didn't really fit and she was squawking and pitching a fluttering fit. Things would get much more complicated if she got loose and I had to chase a bird all over the bedroom and connecting bathroom. I decided to try to wake Neal. I carried the bird to our room and whispered his name several times but he didn't stir. All the while I was thinking it wasn't a good idea anyway. He only had a few more hours to sleep before work.  Somehow I was going to have to carry the imprisoned bird with me to the shed. 

              I armed myself with Neal's huge ring of keys (one of those MUST fit the shed) and a flashlight under my chin. I found my flip flops all while balancing the bird and ventured out into the dark. Did I mention our next door neighbor killed a HUGE snake last week on the same side of the yard I was now exploring at 1:30 a.m.? Yep.

              The bird continued her indignant squawking while the cats surrounded me and hoped I'd lose my grip on their midnight snack. I rushed to the side of the house all the while shining my sad little flashlight from side to side to scare away snakes. As I turned the corner headed to the side gate, I startled a possum the size of a small monkey. I don't know if me or the possum was more afraid. Here he was minding his own business in the middle of the night when this wild woman rattling keys and blinding him with a flashlight stormed toward him. He lurched at me and spit or hissed or whatever it is that possums do. I screamed, stumbled over tree roots and ran back into the house falling over cats on the way. That settled it. Neal had to wake up. 

                After calling his name much more loudly this time he sat up in bed. "What?" he asked trying to focus on me standing in the middle of the room holding a colander, a flashlight and jingling keys.  "You have to wake up and hold the bird." I explained. "WHAT!" he asked again. "The moma bird is trying to kill the other birds. I have her in this colander and I can't go to the shed to get the cage."

            Neal threw back the covers and yelled "Fry the birds! I'm trying to sleep. It's 2 in the morning!" He raced past me toward the living room. He jerked the door open and headed into the darkness. I followed to the porch in pursuit. "Be careful! There's a huge possum out there! He's big as a monkey!"

             I don't know if he encountered the possum, but very soon he returned with the cage and I was able to transfer the moma bird and her egg to her new home. A quick look at the poor injured bird told me he was traumatized. He sat unmoving, perched on a branch in the back of the cage. Every time I looked for the next couple of days he was still there in the same spot. I think he was scared to move. He's almost back to normal with just a few missing feathers and a wild look in his eye. I think he's going to make it. I'm not so sure about the possum.


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