Birds I knew

2nd February 2022

It’s hard to see in the photograph but as we were drinking in the sky yesterday morning, we noticed what I have previously called a “snow bow”, though I see that our friends to the north refer to them as “snow dogs”.

It was a glorious sky for most of the day.

Unlike today which is warm and wet and gray. Generally disgusting.Though the ground is frozen hard and taking seed out to the feeders proved a bit tricky. What looked like grass in fact was slick ice.

Falling on my butt is not part of my plan but my feathered friends must have their daily supplement.

The house finches allowed photos lately.

……

An hour of connection issues and other disturbances have discombobulated me. Where was I? Birds…that was it. Birds have always been in my life, one way or another.

My mother’s younger brother, George was disabled with muscular dystrophy, but for a while he had an outdoor aviary and raised budgerigars. Parakeets they are called here.

When we visited my mother’s family in Wiltshire, I loved being taken into the aviary to see the birds. Indoors, there was always a special budgie that had a cage with an open-door policy.

Snowy sadly died in a fire. I barely remember him. Next came Billy a smart blue bird that always had a lot to say. He would sit on your head and he loved to clamber onto my aunt’s glasses. Billy and the wire-haired terrier Judy didn’t get along and Billy taunted the dog, but even though he often walked around on the carpet, he was smart enough not to get caught.

Yes, one had to be careful where one stepped! So, you see I had early training in deferment to pets.

My parents allowed my brother and I to have budgies as well. Happy was green and died prematurely. Then came Pippy, another blue bird that was a real character. Our budgies were free to fly around the two level draughty old flat in London.

Dad was good at carpentry and built a large cage since after all, a budgie needs its own roost. Pippy helped by sitting on my father’s hand as he tried to hammer in the nails. Once it was put together, Pippy came and went as he chose, even if the door was temporarily closed. He simply chewed a hole and let himself out.

Pippy was very attached to my mother, wanting always to be on her shoulder. We discovered that he was a she when Mum was distracted one day and the bird crawled down into her cleavage and laid an egg!

Later, in Vietnam there were Whitey and Pensive, so called by my dad!

When my parents moved to Thailand, Mum bought a blue budgie (Peter) and took him on the overnight train up country. He had to be placed solemnly on the big scale to be weighed! I was in boarding school by then and Dad used to write letters to me from Peter which always made me chuckle.

My father didn’t have time for animals (or children) but he admired birds. The paintings he did of our various budgies are a fond souvenir of a very strange man.

There must have been a redeeming quality in him.

It’s ironic that many of the budgies my parents had were called Peter, after my brother, and just like him, most of them had to be left behind.

Except Pippy who managed to die two weeks before Mum and I left to join Dad in Asia.

6 thoughts on “Birds I knew

  1. Mr House Finch is quite an attractive guy (I mean bird) – so colourful! And yes, your dad’s paintings are lovely … we had a cockatiel when I was in primary school and his name was Pollie (the Afrikaans version of Polly đŸ˜‰). Such a naughty little bugger – ate my school books, but we loved him.

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  2. When I was 8, my mum bought a budgie, and called it Billy. He used to bang his beak against a mirror in the cage constantly, and it was my job to change the grit paper that slid out of the bottom of the cage and hang the millet on a hook so he could eat it. If you put your hand inside, he would sit on your finger and cheep. A year later, I found him dead on the bottom of the cage. I wanted to take Billy downstairs and bury him in the grounds of our block of flats, but my dad flushed him down the toilet!
    He was never sentimental about pets.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. I always loved having a budgie sit on my finger and I used to stroke the beak and talk to it. They can be very entertaining. Pippy once pushed a whole can of seed off a shelf. It was a Bournvita Cocoa tin and fairly full! Usually he would throw things off his cage roof and watch as they clattered to the floor. I remember my parents flushing mice down the toilet and they were live:( But things changed. When our penultimate budgie died, he was kept for me to “deal with” when I arrived a few days later. So I buried him in an authorized flowerbed. It made me sad.

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