I was looking through the news on my iphone and came across this story about an incredibly intelligent bird, an African Grey parrot who can think in logical progressions. He can figure things out and knows when NOT to do something. Which makes him a fucking genius. He is probably doing calculus and writing a cookbook where ever it is that he lives. For a minute there, I was actually wishing I had one of these birds because wouldn't it be kind of cool to have a really smart parrot, after all, they are considered to be the gold standard bird to own. Then I remembered my short foray into bird ownership.
When I was pregnant with my first child I bought a white cockatiel and set up his big-assed cage right behind the chair I sat in to watch TV. Admiral Bird proceeded to pull his feathers out while preening and he screamed like someone was lighting his ass on fire. He shit like he was being paid for every blob of white and green pile of crap that poured out of him. I suspect, if you were to perform an autopsy on a cockatiel, you would find a mouth opening into a bottomless sack of bird shit.
Admiral Bird never stopped screaming and whistling. His sounds were varied and always loud. I tried everything I could think of to get him to talk. He would look at me and bob up and down and scream and shit. When he wasn’t screaming and shitting he was shelling his bird seed and tossing the hulls out onto the floor or pulling out, what seemed to me, to be perfectly good white, fluffy feathers. Here comes the real amazing part of this story; So, I thought... “hmmm, this bird needs a friend, a girl friend will make him happier and maybe the little fucker will do something besides scream and shit.” So, without having a gun held to my head, I drove to Birdland and purchased a female cockatiel for him. (Yes... I know, smart huh?) She was grey with yellow cheeks and she was sweet. At least while she was at the store she was sweet. And quiet.
I held her up to Admiral Bird and introduced the two. He cocked his head to the side and stretched his wing. He seemed sort of bored by this whole introduction thing. So, I decided to pop her into the cage with him. As soon as I put her in the cage with her new boyfriend, the once sweet and quiet bird became a maniac screaming machine. Admiral Bird was horrified by this change in his home life. They eyed each other from opposite sides of the cage. They shrieked AT each other and AT the TV. It was like they were having a goddamned screaming contest. They gradually decided they kind of liked each other but their favorite past time was screaming and whistling. What a moron I am. Not only did buying a second bird not make any sense to anyone who has a ounce of grey matter, it was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. I attribute this lapse in judgement to be due to the massive quantities of hormones that flowed through my pregnant body. Now I had twice the amount of feathers, seed hulls and shit and five times the volume. Measuring bird noise can be compared to the way earthquakes are measured on the Richter Scale, a 6.2 earthquake is like a hundred times stronger than a 5.9 earthquake. Two birds make 5 times the amount of noise as one bird. It’s comparable to the sound a Bell Jet helicopter makes when landing on your head.
After my son was born I tried to like the screaming fucking birds. They were making me hate them though. They made the screaming baby sound even louder. I tried playing music for them to keep them happier but they just danced while they screamed. After one particularly long day and night and not getting more than two hours of sleep I loaded them into the car along with their big, expensive cage and put my baby son into his car seat and drove the two back to Birdland where I was almost willing to pay them to take back the shitting, screaming, loud damned birds. I was grateful when they said they would keep them. And no, I did not ask them to also keep the baby. That would have been wrong. Wouldn't it?
So, yesterday, as I read that article about the genius bird and I began thinking how I would like to have one, I slapped myself in the head...Well, not actually but I should have.