I will never forget the day I found her. It was a tiny bird shop, in an open air cage filled with about 30 or so baby cockatiels. Watching these little clown-faced birds play was really something. A woman then came in with her 14-year-old daughter, they seemed to really know birds and were talking about the commitment of taking on another feathered pet. They were really friendly (you’ll find that most bird people are), and I remember she asked me if I was going to get one, her head sort of tilted toward the cockatiels. Even though I told her I was “just looking,” she came over and pointed to one bird in particular. “If you’re going to get one, get this one,” she told me. I wanted to know how on earth she could tell them apart, at that time they all looked the same to me. (I’ve since learned how). Apparently she owned 2 of this bird’s cousins, and the breeder they came from was considered exceptional.
“Do you want to hold her?” she was really nice. I did, but told her I had no idea how to pick up a bird. She was a willing teacher, “Put your finger down in front of her, as if your finger is a perch for her to step up on, and she’ll hop up.” I did as I was told, and sure enough, this beautiful little bird with the gorgeous orange cheeks and long eyelashes hopped up onto my finger. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be. The next thing I knew, she was side-stepping all the way up my arm, up across my shoulder and stopped and cuddled up under my right ear. The first time a bird cuddles up on your shoulder is, for some, a life-changing experience.
Just then another woman came in, and looking straight at me said, “You’ve got my bird!” By what she said I thought she was upset that I had ‘her bird,’ but the smile on her face told me otherwise. A little confused, I had no idea how to get the bird off my shoulder to give her back. “No, I was just teasing you,” she told me, and came over to us. She introduced herself, ‘Cheryl’ told me she was the owners’ daughter, and that she had hand-raised the little bird I had so completely fallen in love with. She gently took her off my shoulder and showed me how she loved to have her neck rubbed and would give kisses. When I saw that I knew I was smitten and had to take her home with me, this was THE bird.
“If you promise to give her a good home, you can take her,” she said to me. About $250 later (bird, cage, supplies, food and all), all piled into my Honda, the bird in a special paper bag carrier. She sat on my shoulder for 4 hours the first day, which was 9/11/94, the day before I turned 29. A dear friend had advice when it came time to name her, “Give her a name that’s meaningful. Later you’ll be glad you did.” Coming up with a good name was tough. I had always been passionate about clouds, and I thought that if she was ‘in flight’ she’d be sort of cloud dancing. So I opted to name her CloudDancer, but everyone calls her CD. In fact, one of my best friend’s daughter’s used to say, ‘come here, my little compact disc’ and CD would step right up on to her finger, and is still that friendly to this day.
About 8 years ago this week, my Father had passed away. I was up here from L.A., searching through the Seattle Times (the reason escapes me at present) and an ad caught my eye. It was a MISSING BIRD notice, someone had lost a beloved cockatiel in Kirkland. A few ads down the page, someone posted a FOUND BIRD notice, describing a cockatiel found in Issaquah. (Kirkland and Issaquah are cities about 5 miles East of Seattle, Kirkland is about 15 miles north of Issaquah). I called the “MISSING” ad people and told them about the “FOUND” ad, and gave them the number. They thanked me and after we hung up and I couldn’t help but think about what a trip it was to find those two ads. Long story short, a few hours later my curiosity got the best of me, I had to know what happened, so I called them again. “Chirp” (isn’t that a cute name for a bird?) had flown from Kirkland to Issaquah and landed on a man’s head while he was in his backyard mowing the lawn. Can you imagine? They had both placed ads, but never thought the other would do the same. I have the clipping in a box somewhere, I’ll have to find that one of these days.
This sweet little soul has given me so much love through the years. Not only has she inspired me to help a little bird find his way home, but she has been there for me through losing my Dad and all of the circumstances that followed, including moving up here temporarily and then moving up here permanently 6 months later (driving both times with me from L.A. to Seattle, perched on my shoulder the entire time); she was such a good sport. Her preferred perch to this day is cuddled up on my shoulder, or snuggled up on my foot. And yes, she still loves to give kisses and closes her eyes in bliss when getting her neck rubbed. But then again, don’t we all?
Myla Kent (Redmond, WA, USA)
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