Humor – The Bird Whisperer

Dorothy-RosbyWhen I met Mr. Tweeters last summer, he was shy and a little depressed, a canary singing the blues. It was understandable; he was new to our home. Plus I think he was molting. That would depress me too.

We set out to cheer him up. He’d come to us in a studio apartment of a cage, so we bought him a doublewide. Well, not an actual doublewide, but the equivalent in birdcages. My son cleans it, but I feed Tweeters because he’s an early bird and my son is a night owl. I wouldn’t want to make Tweeters wait for breakfast; I know what that does to me.

Along with his birdseed, Mr. Tweeters is especially fond of peas and corn. But his favorite food is scrambled eggs. Some might call that cannibalism, but I don’t. It’s not like he’s eating canary eggs, though I wouldn’t put it past him.

You probably think I’m spoiling our new pet, and you might be right. He has a lovely home as cages go. His diet is nutritious and tasty, if you like that sort of thing. He spends his days hopping from perch to perch, making music. What more could a bird want—well, besides flying more than four inches at a time?

page4.birdI thought everything was going well with our new feathered family member. And then my son told me a friend’s bird had perched on his hand, and they had just met! Not only has Tweeters never perched on my hand, after all these months he still won’t come near me. What have I done wrong? To find out, I went to the font of all wisdom: Google.

The author of one article claimed his canary “warbles his delight” and bounces to the door of the cage when he comes home each day. When he opens the cage, the bird jumps to his shoulder and gives him a “kiss” on the cheek. Then it spends the evening there, singing in his master’s ear. Well la-de-da! The article didn’t mention if the canary is housetrained. I’m not proud to admit this, but I hope it’s not.

I’d been content just to hear Mr. Tweeters sing until I read about the wonder bird. Suddenly I felt like a bad mother with an underachieving child. I set out to hand tame Mr. Tweeters. I don’t have time to sit and hold a piece of lettuce for fifteen minutes a day like the author of the article did, so I held our daily training sessions while I was getting ready for work. Every day for two weeks, I sat with curlers in my hair, putting my make-up on with one hand and holding treats in the cage with the other. And every day for two weeks, Tweeters retreated to the back of the cage and eyed me like a fox in the canary coop. Maybe my Velcro rollers scared him.

I finally gave up. Mr. Tweeters never perched on my shoulder. He never “kissed” me on the cheek. He never offered to help around the house. Now I’m the one singing the blues.

We used to have hamsters and they let us hold them. Our gold fish didn’t, but at least they swam toward us when we fed them. But Tweeters remains aloof. He hasn’t said it in so many words—actually he hasn’t said it in any words, but I don’t think he’s interested in a relationship. He’ll sing for his supper – and breakfast and lunch – but he’s made it clear that’s all we can expect from him. We wanted him to be part of the family, but he just wants to rent.

Maybe I didn’t start the training process soon enough. Maybe he’s suffering from attachment disorder. Maybe he’s a loner, a rebel. Or maybe, heaven forbid, my canary is a chicken. You are what you eat.

(For tips on training your bird, don’t contact drosby@rushmore.com or see www.dorothyrosby.com.)

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