Friday, March 13, 2009

to cockatiel or not cockatiel?

Nine year-old Iris Uber Alles fell in love with a cockatiel at our local bird supply store, while waiting for our crabby old Amazon parrot to get her nails and wings trimmed. "I couldn't believe it, Mom-dude," she reported back to me. "A bird that LIKED me and let me touch her!"

This amiable cockatiel was the topic of conversation for weeks, with Iris constantly asking me to take her back to see the bird again. Today we did go back, but as I'd predicted, the sweet, friendly cockatiel wasn't there any more. We peered at some cute owl finches and tried to strike up a conversation with some African Grays, but there weren't any birds who struck us. Then, after having us carefully wash our hands, one of the store managers brought us out a tiny baby cockatiel wrapped in a towel. He was so little and fragile that the skin over his neck was see-through, and Iris cradled him carefully. I stroked his head and beak softly. He seemed too small for his feathers.

Some other children ventured over. "Is that real?" one asked me.

We were in love. I carefully gave the baby back after almost half an hour of our cuddling him. The manager told us that if we wanted him, we needed to buy him before Sunday, as he was sure to be spoken for by then. He would not be ready to go home for another six to eight weeks, but during that time, we could visit him frequently, and then he'd know us well when time came to go home.

Positives: I've been intrigued by cockatiels for decades, and Iris has been longing for a bird for a long time. Cockatiels are legendarily charming and easy-going. Also, you can buy 110 cockatiels for the price of one Amazon Gray.

Negatives: we already have five cats (yes, I got one I haven't formally told my blog about --- I didn't mean to adopt him, it's just that he, the last of the 2008 kitten season fosters, went up for adoption and NO ONE WOULD TAKE HIM. He rotted down at the San Francisco pound for a couple of months, because no one particularly wanted a nondescript short-haired black cat) and one crabby old parrot who only likes the Sober Husband. An Amazon parrot, like cranky Zoe, is big enough and powerful enough to more than defend herself against a cat (our cats don't even make a move against her), but a fragile cockatiel would need to be scrupulously chaperoned.

Update: It would appear that we won't be adding a cockatiel to the household just yet. Iris didn't push very hard.


Anonymous said...

Would Iris' school let her bring it along? I could totally see her with a constant feathered companion on her shoulder, keeping it safe from her otherwise adored feline friends.

Amy said...

I wouldn't do it. The SH would complain and there's already the extra cat and battling martyrs thingie. Then there's Iris' reaction if anything ever happened to the cockatiel.

Anonymous said...

We did successfully keep two rats alive here until the end of their natural lifespan (we adopted Cutebone and Goosebye as part of my Great Petrataluma Rat volunteering saga a couple of years ago)...

For me the biggest negative is the extra work of another animal.

Anonymous said...

Oops, that's me, DH, logged in under one of Iris's aliases.

Anonymous said...

I think you should get the bird. Cockatiels are lovely.

My family had 3 different birds (2 parakeets and a cockatiel) along with 4-6 cats at a time. We put the bird cage on a chain and hung it in a room with nothing around for the cats to jump up on.