Acquired: Pet store
Buffalo, New York, United States
Posted May 08, 2013
I am a hazard to parakeets. Under my care, they’ve met some untimely deaths. It all began with my very first bird. I think his name was Charlie. I loved him. I would take him out of his cage, and put him on my shoulder or finger. He was a good boy, and never tried to peck me. We made an awesome team. Then one day, I decided to wrap Charlie in a towel. It was a fun game that I did over and over, wrapping and unwrapping my parakeet. But on the third time, I opened the towel to discover a lifeless bird. This is how I learned about suffocation, and the importance of air for living things. I was distraught. I mean, imagine being 5 years old, and coping with the fact that you killed your pet. It was a terrible day, and should have been a sign. Unfortunately, my parakeet ownership didn’t stop there.
A couple of years later I got Purple Rain and Princess. There was no towel game for these two. No, I was a very careful bird mommy who loved, fed, watered, and played with these parakeets without incident. Then one day—against my mother’s advice—I took the birds outdoors for my friends to see. The birds ran around on the ground, happily squawking and flapping their wings. Everything was fine until I turned too quickly, and accidentally stepped on Purple Rain. He had run from under the car right where I was standing. I broke his neck. I cried. My mom gave me the “I told you so” speech. And, I blamed myself for killing yet another bird. About a week later, Princess was outdoors in her cage hanging under the porch. I would put them out there sometimes for fresh air. When I came out to retrieve her, she’d gotten out of the cage. I followed her bird song to a tree in the backyard. I called her name over and over, but she just stayed in the tree. After a few moments, she flew away. I never saw Princess again. That was probably a good thing.
Years went by, and I never owned another bird. But, my younger brother did. My mom got him a white parakeet while I was living in Nashville. I moved back home, and became part-time caretaker of my brother. Mom was working out of town. My brother stayed with my grandma during the week for school. This meant I became a full-time nanny for the bird. That was a huge mistake. I really tried to make sure it had food and water. Things seemed fine. Then one day, I found my brother’s bird dead in the cage. Whoops! I immediately got a replacement that matched the color of the original bird very closely. I can’t remember if he noticed. In fact, I don’t recall what happened to the second bird. I’m pretty sure it probably died at some point. But that time, I didn’t do it. At least, I don’t think I did.
Now where was I. Oh, right.
My brother came to live with me several years into my military career. After our third move, he decided that he wanted a parakeet. Guilt from the other bird incident made me finally give in and buy him a pair. I tried really, really hard to keep these birds alive. I constantly checked on their food and water to make sure my brother was doing his job as a pet parent. Usually, I’d end up giving them fresh seed and liquid refreshment. Yeah, he kind of sucked at it. Everything was fine. Then one day, my cat got into his room and knocked the cage down. Fortunately, the birds were unharmed inside. My brother had no idea it happened. But, I stressed that he had to keep his bedroom door closed. And, he did. Except for that horrible day when I came home to find the cage knocked to the ground again. This time, there were no birds inside. I checked under his bed and saw a tiny head staring back at me. That was all I found of bird remains. My brother was very upset. And from that day, I vowed to never, ever, ever, ever own a bird ever again.
If you are considering getting a bird, please learn from my mistakes.
1. Don’t get a bird for small kids. Ultimately, they will do something to kill it. It’s not their fault. Their perspective on life and death is just more limited than older people.
2. Create a safe place for the bird when it is out of his or her cage. Birds need exercise, and they really enjoy interaction. But, our human environment can be a possible death trap. Handle with care.
3. Don’t get stuck taking care of your child’s pet. You are busy, and have so many things going on that you will eventually forget to feed or water the bird. When it dies, just hope you find it first so that you can get a replica. And, pray little Susie is not adept enough to notice the difference. Otherwise, keep a shoe box handy for a parakeet funeral.
4. Your cat is going to kill your bird. No, it is going to happen. And unlike Tweety Bird, your parakeet won’t be able to talk himself out of becoming a delicious meal. If you own a cat, unless it is old and crippled, do not—I repeat—do not buy a bird.
Overall, parakeets make nice companions as long as you are not a harbinger of death (like me). Taking care of them is fairly easy. They need bird seed and water regularly. They also like fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Cleaning their habitat is simple. Lining the bottom with paper makes for a quicker clean up. But, birds poop a lot. So, this should be done weekly. And, make sure you add all those toys to their cages. They love playing and being goofy, entertaining critters. They can be a little noisy with chirping and squawking. Most people find that if they cover the cage at night, this keeps their parakeets quiet. Expect to be awakened in the morning with song. If you are a light sleeper, or are not a morning person, a pet bird may not be the best idea. And finally, do not buy a bird if you own a cat.