The Parakeet Rode a Motorcycle

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Once upon a time I had a parakeet that could slam dunk.

In his cage there was a tiny plastic Donald Duck that he learned to play with.

He just loved that toy. If I removed the toy while cleaning the cage, the parakeet would run up and down his perch, screaming to high heaven until I returned his toy.

He played basketball with the toy.

The bird would go to the bottom of the cage, pick up the plastic toy in its beak, then climb to the top of the cage where he would drop the duck into his feed cup. He rarely missed.

When he did his slam dunk, my kids would yell, "Two points."

Then the little parakeet would retrieve the duck, climb to the top of the cage, and repeat the drop into the "basket."

He played this game for many months, never tiring.

When my two children were young, they each had a parakeet for a pet..

We kept them in separate cages because the birds fought when they were together.

My son's bird was named Spot, an unusual name for a bird.

Spot wasn't the brightest bird on the planet, but one day we were surprised to hear it say, "Pretty bird."

No one had taught it to say those words.

Then we realized that Spot was mimicking my daughter's bird who was caged nearby.

In other words, Spot was taught to speak by another bird.

I thought that was a fascinating realization.

That reminds me of another parakeet, probably the smartest parakeet I've owned.

Beebe had a vocabulary of several dozen words and learned to mimic quite well.

Also, our family had a dog named Chip. I would let Chip go outdoors several times a day, then I would stand at the backdoor and call him to come inside. I would yell his name two or three times,

One day when I went to the door, the parakeet strained his raspy voice and called, "Cheeup, Cheeup."

From then on he called the dog..

Beebe could also sing. He could sing the first two lines of Jesus Loves Me. When he came to the part, the Bible tells me so, he would strain his voice and stretch out the word bible...putting emphasize on the first syllable..

The song went something like this......Jesus loves me, the Bi,,,,,,,ble tells me so.

Beebe loved toast. One day when he was sunning in a kitchen window, I got a phone call during breakfast.

When I turned back to the table, Beebe was busy eating the outer edge of my toast, all around the four edges.

After that, we had toast together. I would pinch off a portion of my toast and give it to him.

He would tackle the toast with gusto.

However, a friend had a parakeet that surpassed Beebe in intelligence and vocabulary.

I believe the bird's name was Petey.

This bird rode a motorcycle. Let me explain.

The bird's owner, Hubert, began to play with and teach the bird after Hubert broke his leg.

While recuperating at home, Hubert spent hours playing with the bird, letting the bird climb his cast, and perch on his shoulder, too.

Hubert taught the bird many words as their friendship developed. One day I looked up and Hubert was driving his motorcycle into my driveway. Perched on his shoulder was Petey, the parakeet.

After that, the two often went for motorcycle rides. It was a strange sight to see this grown man riding his motorcycle with a tiny parakeet perched on his shoulder, wings flapping as it tried to maintain balance. (Petey's wings were clipped).

Petey also played cards but he made his own rules.

Hubert would deal the cards, then spread his cards in his hands.

Petey would then draw a card, take the card in its beak, walk to the edge of the table, stretch forward and drop the card to the floor.

The bird repeated this until all the cards were on the floor.

Game over.

Then there was the baby blue bluejay, the rescue bird..

I've written about Jay Jay before but I didn't mention that he played marbles.

That is, he played with one white marble. I would "shoot" the marble, then Jay Jay would run after it, shoving it across the living room floor with his beak..

After rescuing Jay Jay during a thunderstorm, I nurtured the baby bird and it became dependent on me. I fed it a special formula with an eyedrop.

Later it progressed to bird seeds and insects.

I taught it to fly in my living room.

The bird and I often sat on my open deck and enjoyed the outdoors.

I would feed pecans to Jay Jay and he would attempt to feed me some of the nuts or hide them under my collar.

Eventually, I let Jay Jay go, after I acclimated him to the outdoors and other wild birds.

He lived in trees outside my home until winter weather came.

It's true that I could stand on my deck and call Jay Jay.

He would fly from a tree and land on the deck railing.

Then I would reward him with a piece of pecan.

There was the time when a carload of guys stopped in front of the house.

They had stopped to chat with my son who was leaning on the driver's door, window open.

Suddenly Jay Jay appeared and flew inside the car, landing on the steering wheel.

The guys inside the car were taken aback, wondering what in the world a bird was doing perched on the steering wheel.

"Well, look at that," one of them said.

My son laughed.

'That's just Jay Jay," my son said.

I'm convinced that the birds of the air can teach us a lot.

We just have to observe.