Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I once had a cockatiel. His name was Bubba. He was a bit of a redneck, as far as birds go. He was clever. He learned how to open the door of his cage. We began to wire the door shut. He would patiently spend hours working at the twist tie until he got it undone. Then he would let himself out. Bubba spent a fair amount of time out of his cage because everyone loved to play with him. We kept his wings clipped so that he was not flying up on curtain rods (washing bird poop out of curtains every day was a pain). Plus he had a disconcerting habit of flying into windows, and we were afraid that he would injure himself. Bubba didn't mind walking, however. And walk he did.
His favorite hangout was the cat dishes. He loved to fling the dry cat food hither and thither and yon. Our three cats were afraid of Bubba. They learned very quickly that if they showed the slightest bit of interest in him, they got a smack with a rolled up newspaper. So they learned to ignore him. Even while he stood in their dish, flinging cat chow. Bubba annoyed them to no end however. He took advantage of the fact that they were afraid of him. He'd chase them when he saw them. If he had a chance, he'd nip at them. Oh. The cats did hate Bubba.
As Bubba grew, he began to speak. One thing about birds is that once they learn they can imitate, they begin to imitate indiscrimately. One of the things that Bubba learned to imitate was me calling the cats for dinner. "Here, kiiiiiiiittyy, kiiiiiiiity, kiiiiiity". The cats reacted like they always did. Three cats came running from every corner of the house. They'd stand at their cat dishes, looking at me, looking at the dishes, looking confused. And lo, this was funny. We all laughed every time it happened.
Then came the fateful day when Bubba had managed to work his cage door open and let himself out. He came strutting out into the kitchen where I was making dinner, whistling at me, making sure that I knew he'd done it again, clever bird. I laughed, and kept on working.
Suddenly he began to bellow, "Here, kiiiiiiiiiitty, kiiiiiiiiiitty, kiiiiiiiiittty!" To my horror, three cats came flying from all corners of the house. They hit the ceramic tile of the kitchen floor, caught sight of Bubba, and tried to change direction in a hurry. Furry paws just can't function that quickly on ceramic tile. Kitty chaos for several seconds, and then they were gone.
I scooped Bubba back up and put him in his cage. We actually used a little padlock on his door after that. We did not want our little feathered friend to become cat chow.
Bubba still had plenty of play time. He rode around on my shoulder, talking away, nibbling my hair, checking himself out in the mirror while I cleaned the bathrooms, or playing with the socks when I folded laundry. He liked to ride the vacuum. Lots of fun that little bird. I was coming downstairs one day, with Bubba on my shoulder. The doorbell rang, and without thinking, I opened the door. The UPS man stood there. Suddenly Bubba just picked himself up and flew out the open door.
I couldn't believe that he could fly. I must have waited just a little too long to clip his wings. He flew up into a big old oak tree in our front yard. I called him. I ran into the house to get him a treat. When I came back he was gone.
I ran an ad in the paper, but received no calls at all. I cried for days, envisioning poor Bubba out in the big wide world all by himself, forlornly calling to anyone who would listen "Here, kiiiiiiitty, kiiiiiiiitty, kiiiiiiiitty!"
It really was hopeless.


Mikey said...

Poor Bubba! You KNOW he was out there calling for kitties. Prob got him eaten.

PaintedPromise said...

i really loved this story until the end. we have a couple of friends with talking birds, can't say i would be able to handle living with one but i sure love the stories. Yvonne's bird Coco, every time you sit down to dinner, starts with the "yum yum yum", just waiting for someone to share a bite LOL.

poor Bubba... we once caught a parakeet who was in a parking lot of a Waffle House and kept flying into the window... finally stunned himself enough we could grab him. maybe your Bubba got lucky too!