Tuesday, March 21, 2006

When Did I Become a Bird Lover?

I've been asked when it all started ... when I did I get interested in birds. That got me thinking. I'd had to go way back ... back to my early childhood. I'm not sure what age I was when our family got Budgies. We had two and I was in grade school. The budgies were untame so they weren't companions.

Some years passed. When I was a young teenager my Dad brought home two Cockatiels -- Junior and Pancho. Junior was handfed and was a love. Pancho was probably handfed also, but hadn't been handled enough as he got older and was a little nippy. So Junior became my pal. He'd eat breakfast with me every morning before school and later in the day we'd have some playtime. The only time he got into trouble was at breakfast one morning. He hopped down to the table and proceeded to jump into my bowl of cheerios. Being an animal-loving family we didn't consider that anything but a funny event -- we all got a big laugh out of it. But Junior did need a bit of cleaning up and my cereal had to be replaced.

Sometime later my Dad decided to build an aviary in our backyard and then he brought home some more cockatiels. I think we had ten. Dad is gone now so I can't ask him about his intentions for the cockatiels. And I can't remember because sometime later my parents separated. Understandably, the separation was an extremely traumatic time for me and may be the reason for my failed memory. Perhaps Dad meant to breed the cockatiels. I don't know. He had built an area within the aviary which housed them at night and contained their food and water. But I don't remember seeing any nestboxes.

It was Junior, my cockatiel, that connected me to birds. He was the most wonderful little creature and I loved him more than anything.

I was a very shy kid and it was hard for me to stand up in front of my school class and give reports and things like that. I do remember vividly that one of my classroom assignments was to give a report on any subject of my choosing. Along with the talk, I had to use the chalkboard to explain my subject matter. Whew! I was scared to death. What got me through it was talking about my Cockatiels. I drew a picture of our aviary for the chalkboard part of it. I guess the A+ I got on my report should have been an indicator of the future serious interest I would have in birds.

My next birds were budgies that I kept in my apartment when I went to college. They weren't tame but were nice companions, nevertheless.

It wasn't until I was in my early forties that birds really became a big part of my life. My connection with Junior always remained with me. One day -- many years after sharing my life with him -- I happened by a bird store where a Moluccan Cockatoo was displayed. I was instantly captivated. I'd never seen anything so beautiful. That vision stayed with me for several more years. Then my circumstances changed and I found myself able to buy a Moluccan. But that's
another story.

Now it is twenty two years later and Fagan, the Moluccan, is still with me plus 13 other birds. My interest in birds has grown from being Mom to my avian family to a die-hard birdwatcher, creator of a website
Birdwatchin'.com devoted to that interest, publishing a birdwatching newsletter -- David's Wild Bird News! . . . and this blog. I guess you could say that birds have become a way of life. And I couldn't be happier!

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