oh for the wings

Page Forty-four

What I would have missed in my largely despised life (despised by me) if I had never had my own birds. They are at the same time so different from the mammals I had always lived with, and so much the same.

The first bird of my own that I ever had I had in Europe in 1976, and when I came back here, I wasn’t able to bring him with me. He was a parakeet, and I called him Julian, and he was a snow-white jewel with accents in turquoise. I wouldn’t have a bird of my own again until 1989, and that first one after the long drought was a sparrow brought to me as a nestling by my cat Mindy. This sparrow couldn’t fly yet, or eat on its own, so for a while I was the surrogate mother bird. In 1990 she would be followed by a robin (also courtesy of Mindy), two zebra finches, and two parakeets. More birds arrived from 1991 until 2004 (meanwhile others were dying), so that I had an uninterrupted era of birds from 1989 to 2008.

Their sounds, a different set from each species. Some sounds, like feathering, prettier than others to the human senses, but all of them interesting, all of them occasions for me to look and listen and learn. Just about all of my many, many birds had eyes that were black, but my pigeons delighted me with orange eyes and my Senegal parrot with yellow. The finches and lovebirds produced young, and in doing so gave me the great pleasure of watching these young hatch out, grow feathers, be cared for by their parents, and eventually become grown-ups.

There were calamities too, as there always are with animals. Chicks that hatched out and died. Mommies that nearly died from being egg-bound, and I had to learn what to do about that. The occasional chick that was rejected and cast from the nest by the mother. And while not a problem, there were a great many infertile eggs laid by finches who’d chosen not to mate with the available males, and cockatiels and pigeons who had no mates to begin with.

I had dreams for my birds during those nineteen years that seem now to have flown by. As most of my dreams and hopes did, the things I envisioned for my birds were contingent upon owning a house. One room would be an aviary, divided down the middle to separate hookbills from straightbills, and never again the life in a cage. So many things in living split me down the middle within myself, leave me in an endless stew of cognitive dissonance, and caging animals was one of them: I hate animals being caged, and yet I also hate living without animals. If I wanted the joy of rabbits, or birds, or hamsters, in the absence of owning my own house where I could do as I liked, I had to keep them mostly in cages. I loved them, and hated their cages. And the dream of a house never happened. I feel remorse and anger at having had to cage my dearest friends, but when I think of never having known them — or not having had them know each other — because I was a renter, I feel a gaping bleakness too dark to dwell on.

The sounds, the parenting, the self-taught tricks and the joys of birds. And then there is of course their flight. Born with it as they are, they don’t even know what a wonder their flight is, or how much so many humans envy it and have tried to copy it. Or do they. Fifty-five years with animals taught me exactly how acute their powers of subliminal communication are, and it would not surprise me to learn that birds who are kept by humans know exactly much those human mommies and daddies envy the grace, freedom and splendor of flight.

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read…  Sehnen…     and more Sehnen

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all photos, graphics, poems and text copyright 2011 by anne nakis, unless otherwise stated. all rights reserved.

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Published in: on December 3, 2011 at 9:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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