I can still remember the rush of emotions I received when I had first gotten bit by a parakeet. For a small bird, these little guys and girls could easily pack a painful punch. Though one might have considered this to be a horrible first day, I considered it as the first day of my learning adventure.
I can’t remember how I got introduced to parakeets. I do, however, remember the car ride we took to Fort Scott, KS and back home to Moundville, MO when I received my first four parakeets. Four individual cardboard boxes sat in my lap as I was careful not to wiggle around too much in the backseat of my parent’s van. I was excited to get home and open them up, especially after I had worked so hard to get enough money for the four parakeets and a cage. If there was one thing I could say to my younger self, it would have been to do my research. This spur-of-the-moment decision was like signing a life-long contract.
I got my parakeets home at around noon. We had picked up lunch in town -something we often did when we were impatient enough to cook home meals- before driving the final fifteen minutes home. We first chose to keep the parakeets at my grandma’s home just down the road (no one realized how messy they were until after we had brought them home), but they were quickly moved to their final home at my house in a large, homemade enclosure after we discovered that her dogs thought the parakeets would make a delicious chicken nugget meal.
After all the hard work and many wooden splinters later, we had created an environment where both the dogs and the parrots could live safe and happy. The enclosure stood about six feet tall, eight feet wide, and three feet deep. It allowed the parakeets to hop from place to place and play with whatever toys they discovered. The one disadvantage, however, was that I could never tame any of these parakeets.
That was for all of them except Splatter. Splatter was a mostly green parakeet with little black dots that looked like ink splatters. He enjoyed my company and would even step up from time to time. He sang songs happily but was never really able to fit into the group that the other three parakeets formed. He was the first parakeet I bonded to, but his life fell short after he died suddenly about a year after we adopted him. I had come home from school one day to find him on the bottom of the cage belly up. I was heartbroken then, but I had eventually gotten over it after our next trip to Joplin where we would pick up a new parakeet.
From the research we had done, parakeets worked better in groups of even numbers. That’s how Dezzy came to be part of our flock. Dezzy (short for Desdemona) was a sea-foam green parakeet I had picked out from a local pet store. She was a sweetheart who never bit and was my first true handler parrot. She spent the majority of the summer with me. We played video games together and spent the majority of her time far away from the other parakeets who had chosen to pick on her just as they had done to Splatter. Dezzy and I were and still are certainly the closest tiny best-feathered friends there are.
When I had decided to convert my main flock to a group breeding flock, I had two handler birds at the time. Dezzy and Lucifer (you would think he would be a darker colored bird, but he is really a very bright blue and white) lived together in a smaller cage that was perfect for the two to mingle without being part of the big breeder flock. At this point in time, I had accumulated a total of 8 budgies, two who were pets and two who were breeders. Unfortunately, I have never actually sold a parakeet. This is because, again, I didn’t do my research and may have ended up with a flock of mostly females. Of all the eggs I had checked, only one had a fertile embryo, which had been lost days into development. Though shameful, this event did teach me a lot about research.
When I was nearing my sixth-grade year, I had the opportunity to visit a zoo. We hadn't visited the zoo often before; it was a rather long car ride. The zoo quickly became my second home when we had received a family season pass. Anytime I had free time, I was up walking the endless aisles of animals, though my favorite exhibits by far were Lorikeet Encounters and the Wings of Wonder (WOW) show. These places gave me my first chances to get up close to bigger birds.
During my first WOW show, I was introduced to Sherlock, a Congo African grey. This was my first encounter with a talking parrot! I was mesmerized at first glance and spent the rest of that day thinking about the parrot who could talk. My parakeets at the time had never spoken a word, just mere chatters as they went about their business. These new parrots were beautiful and I had set my eye on one for a very long time before my 8th grade summer when I had finally gained the courage to find one for myself.
I set out to research these parrots. I wanted to learn more about the larger types of parrots (macaws, greys, amazons, cockatoos) and what their personalities were like. During my free time (after chores and activities) I would start gaining funding by doing jobs around the family farm (normally resulted in cleaning the chicken pens and picking up old straw). After a few months, I had gained about $100, showing my dedication to my parents. Most of my job money went towards paying for one of these expensive jewels. One, without a cage, ran upwards of $1,000 online! I was smart enough, however, to not buy one online. I knew the risks of buying expensive things from unknown people, especially if said things were living. With the help of my parents, I settled down on a small pet store in the heart of a local city. This is where I found Newton, named Charlie at the time, my broken-winged parrot. While he did have a broken wing, he was much cheaper than other parrots considering his age. With some quick research, we decided to bring the feathery boy home with us.
Newton had been packed up in a small, cardboard box before we set out on our ride back home. I should have known better than to let them put him in a cardboard box; he escaped quicker than water in a broken canal. A frightened parrot, a hoodie, and a 45-minute car ride home made for a very awkward ride, yet rewarding, as I had finally acquired my lifelong friend and the final member of my parrot flock.