Growing Up With Bird Daddy
The Start of My Life Story
by Joplin D. Boid
I started life as a pin cushion. At least that's what Bird Daddy says. "You were so ugly you were cute," he once told me. I'm not so sure about that, but I must've been a beautiful baby, 'cuz baby look at me now.
Anyway, let me introduce myself. I'm Joplin D. Boid, a quite proper Alexandrine Parakeet. Frankly, I prefer to think of myself as an exotic Asiatic Parrot... it's a little classier, you know. By the way, that's Joplin as in "Scott" Joplin, as in ragtime music, not "Janice", as in overdose. Margie Mom and Bird Daddy are definitely not the "Janice Joplin types!"
Back to our story: I was hatched under the care of my Egg-Mom and the original Big Bird, a dude named Don Cavender. He's president of the Asiatic Parrot Breeder's Association, so, I guess you could say I was hatched at the home of the big poo-bah of ringnecks. Pretty good place to start, right?
Things were going along just dandy for the first three weeks of my life. Though Mom kept squishing us a bit she did keep my siblings and me warm and regularly brought us some good eats. Then, March 16, 2003 everything changed. Drastically. The lights went on bright. Egg-Mom blew out of there like fireworks on the Fourth of July and we were left alone, staring up into a glaring flashlight. Four scared little birdies looking up at three very large, strange people faces. Scared, I mean, scared!
Suddenly monster hands reached down into my cozy little nest and picked up one of my clutchmates and me for inspection. Brrr, it was cold out there. I heard Big Bird say, "Get the one with the biggest head, it'll more likely be a male." At the time I wasn't sure what to think, but, as you'll undoubtedly see, it turned out for the best. The hands that cuddled me were none other than my new Mom and Dad (or "Bird Daddy" as she now calls him). Whatever...
That was the beginning of another beautiful feathered friendship for Bird Daddy. He had a few Parakeets and Cockatiels over the years, the last Cockatiel being Ludwig Von Birdhoven who whistled the wedding march something fierce. Well, la dee dah! But Ludwig croaked, so now I'm the center of attention, along with a couple of Giant Schnauzers, Gershwin and Brubeck.
Before he made a decision on what species I'd be, Bird Daddy read five books on parrots and a lot of online articles. And, of course, he picked me. Whaddya expect? He even waited a couple of months for me to get laid (no, it's not like it sounds) and hatch while he read up on parrot psychology. Parrot psychology? We'll see. At least it taught him what a cool companion I would be.
In spite of digesting all those how-to books my Bird Daddy still had questions. Lots of questions. So he started peppering Mariette Rogers, the online Asiatic Parrot Association lady in Lost Vegas "What about this? What about that? How big? How much? How long? How warm? When? Where? Why?" You get my drift. He wanted everything to be just right. It was like a Lamaze class for bird pops, I guess.
That first day Bird Daddy, Margie Mom and I spent a lot of time just staring at one another. They weren't sure if they were parenting a bird or horned-toad. The fact that I spent the next month living in a terrarium didn't initially clarify their confusion. To top it all off, and, adding insult to injury, they kept a red light burning above my bed during our first six weeks together. I mean, really, a guy's gotta protect his reputation. What kind of bird did they think I was, anyway?
This was when Bird Daddy's bags-under-the-eyes difficulties began. I'm not sure what his problem was. A fellow's gotta eat when he's hungry, right? He does, so why would he think I wouldn't want the same? People. Ya can't live with 'em, ya can't live without 'em!
So, getting back to that first day, you might say it was a little exciting for us all. Bird Daddy had a heckuva time figuring out how to get my formula to the right temperature. He finally blew out to WalMart and bought an adjustable baby bottle warmer. Good thinking, since I was definitely going to need a lot of warm feeding attention. To be precise, every four hours for the next month. Poor Bird Daddy. What had he gotten himself into this time?
I got him up at 3am that first night, uh... make that morning. He wasn't sure what to do with me while he heated the food. So he wrapped me up in a kitchen towel and plopped me down on the counter. It was kind of like being in a birdy pup tent, you know. While he messed with the food I did every kind of maneuver imaginable to bust out of there. He just laughed at me... at 3 in the morning. The nerve of him!
Monday went along fine until afternoon. The plot thickens. That's when he plopped me in a padded shoe box, put me in the car and we drove across town to see some bird doc named Geoff Smith. At first it seemed he just wanted to check me out. I weighed in at 171 grams, but that wasn't all he had in mind.
Next thing I know he's poking at my foot with something sharp and dripping my blood out. "Ouch! What the heck is going on here," I wondered. They were mumbling something about DNA testing and, "He said we can return the bird in a week if it isn't a male." Right. Do you actually think someone who spends a week caring for and nurturing a little dollface like me would ever have the heart to take me back? Wrong, bonzo. They'd just have to change my name to "Jopleen". It turned out that I'm a guy, so there!
Bird Daddy asked Doc about expected weight gains. That sent him scrambling for his books like Marian, Madam Librarian. He came back in the examination room and displayed a weight chart in a centuries-old book (that must've been printed back in his childhood days). But, alas, there was no entry for Asiatic Parrots, let alone a cool-lookin' Alexandrine like me. What kind of book was that? I mean, gimme a break! Checking with Mariette, Bird Daddy confirmed what Doc said. There was no progressive weight-gain chart available. So, he sorta set out to create his own chart. What a hoot.
So picture this: It's 2 a.m. and the alarm goes off. A confused, groggy-eyed Bird Daddy stumbles down the hall into the kitchen with me in one hand and the other shading his eyes to cut down the glare. Finally he understood how we felt that first day in the nest box! "Exactly what is the problem here," I wondered. "I mean, it's time to eat and you're shading your eyes like Osama Bin Laden crawling out of a cave. Get with the program, man!" He's a very compliant Bird Daddy.
The first thing he did each time was the electronic scale routine. He thought it'd be a breeze. Plop the birdy down, weigh him, log it in the book, squirt a little formula down the hatch and then, voila, back to bed. Sleep, sweet sleep. Wrong again. Little did he realize that scale gymnastics was not my idea of a cool thing to be doing at 2 a.m. So I tried every trick in the book to get off there as fast as possible. Getting an accurate reading took several attempts every time. Score: Bird-1; Bird Daddy-0.
So, here's my weight story, plain and simple:
I had to wait a year for my first beer... bummer!
(now, you bird dudes, don't get in an uproar, the can was empty)