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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Family Pet (05/15/08)

TITLE: Ask the Avian Expert
By Betty Castleberry


Dear Ms. Markel,

My husband and I bought a big red parrot. It is young, and we think itís a male, but we arenít sure. He is very sweet and lets us pet him.

We donít know anything about birds. Since you are an avian expert, we need your advice.


Debbie Poindexter

Dear Debbie,

Congratulations. Your new family member is a highly intelligent creature. The biggest mistake people make is assuming they own their parrot. Your parrot knows better and will prove it. I hope you enjoy sunrises. Youíll be seeing a lot of them. You will no longer have dominion over your own dwelling. Big cages, play stands and toys will take over your home like Kudzu vine in the south.

That sweet young bird that you have will go through the terrible twos, just like a human child. In fact, parrots are perpetual toddlers that live a very long time. If you think you wonít enjoy caring for a toddler well into your golden years, then a parrot isnít the best pet for you.

If you have a dog, your bird and dog may bond quickly. While your bird is out playing on his cage top, the dog may walk by. Birdie accidentally drops food and your dog is the happy recipient. Your bird will catch on quickly and intentionally begin launching food missiles at the dog. He will sometimes miss, leaving you to discover unidentifiable blobs on the surfaces around his cage. By the time they are found, they will be permanently bonded to the wall. Tell your guests itís modern art. Itís a good idea to check your dogís head for any poorly executed missiles. Removing them quickly will save both you and your dog a lot of hassle.

Birdie will need a variety of foods. Birds are sensitive to pesticides, so feeding him organic produce is a must. Yes, I know itís expensive. The ridiculous price you paid for your parrot is nothing compared to the ongoing cost of his upkeep. Get used to it. Keep in mind you will need to purchase extra food to allow for what he shares with the dog and what he flings across the room for his own amusement. The food on your plate will be especially attractive to your bird. He wonít think twice about wading into your spaghetti to sample it.

Parrots are social animals who love being with their humans. Learn to run the vacuum, which you will do a minimum of seventeen times a day, with a bird attached to your shirt.

Clothing with buttons will no longer have a place in your wardrobe. A parrot can snatch off a button in a nanosecond, making tee shirts essential. Just donít be alarmed when Birdie goes tee-shirt diving. Heís curious, and itís just his way of exploring.

Most people want birds who talk. While thereís no guarantee your bird will, many do. Because your parrot will repeat what he hears, be careful what you say around him. Never mention your computer password or bank account number near him. Monitoring television programs is critical. Rough language isnít the only concern. Birdie may hear an annoying commercial and ďentertainĒ you with his squawky rendition all day long. And of course, never keep your parrot in the bedroom.

Talking birds can be a great deterrent for nuisance calls. Put your bird on your shoulder and encourage him to talk. After hearing ďCome here, baby, want a kiss?Ē, most people will hang up. Those few stubborn ones who donít will surely be put off by evil laughter and bodily function noises.

Prepare yourself for some screaming. It will happen. You will think your birdís relatives in South America can hear him. If they canĎt, your neighbors can. I hope you are on very good terms with them. Do not under any circumstances give them your house key or any poultry recipes. At least not until they have met Birdie and think heís as cute as you do.

There is something I must caution you about. Your bird may appear as if he is gagging and bring up some partially digested food. He isnít ill. This is a natural behavior and is of the highest compliment to you. He is letting you know that he considers you a flock member and is regurgitating to feed you. Lucky you!

One final note: stock up on Band Aids.

I hope this has helped. Enjoy your bird.

Maxine Markel, Avian Behaviorist.

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This article has been read 870 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 05/22/08
VERY fun - I could picture most of these things happening. Love the tone and voice of this - and especially the advice NOT to give neighbors poultry recipes. Truly enjoyed this!
Laury Hubrich 05/24/08
Funny commentary on being a bird owner. Ummm... I think I'll pass. ROFL!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/24/08
Delightful, humorous commentary. Did you know a dog will keep your secrets?
Dee Yoder 05/25/08
Ha! Now I know why I'm not a bird owner! My Grandmother had many birds-I had to change their cages out once a week-one thing I want to know: why do birds like to try to pull your thumbnails off?! Every bird she had tried that on me...ouch! Love your many examples of avian antics. You made me laugh AND cringe.
Chely Roach05/26/08
"And of course, never keep your parrot in the bedroom."
LOL! Very funny and entertaining...well done.
Joshua Janoski05/26/08
"After hearing ďCome here, baby, want a kiss?Ē, most people will hang up."

LOL! You never fail to crack me up with your wonderful sense of humor, Betty. Of course, I know that a lot of what you are saying here is true, which makes it all the more hilarious.

I will definitely keep all of this stuff in mind before purchasing a parrot. :)

Thank you for sharing this wonderfully funny piece.
LaNaye Perkins05/26/08
As a fellow parrot owner this piece made me laugh out loud. It is so close to real life and absolutely halarious. Well done my friend. TOO FUNNY!
Yvonne Blake 05/26/08
(smile) I've never owned a bird, and now I don't think I ever will. I can see how a dog and a bird would enjoy each other's company. I'm sure they could come up with some "tricks".
Joy Faire Stewart05/26/08
This is hilarious with great format and voice. Also, I found it very interesting. I knew nothing about parrots.
Lynda Lee Schab 05/27/08
ROFL! Too funny! I think the second half of the entry was particularly hilarious, especially this line "And, of course, never keep your parrot in the bedroom." HA! Very clever and unique take on The Family Pet.
Jan Ackerson 05/27/08
Extremely witty! Not sure why anyone would actually want a bird after reading this...but it was highly entertaining and very visual. Great job!
Debbie Wistrom05/27/08
Your expert's voice is wonderful, this had me smiling and cringing. I agree with some of the others, no birds for me. Thansk for the warning. ;)
LauraLee Shaw05/28/08
Love it! My kids kept bugging me to tell them why I was laughing out loud, so I just gave up and read it to them. Their eyes were HUGE! Then they proceeded to tell me how much funnier your writing is than mine, but no worries, I still love you! Kids are so honest. ;)
Sara Harricharan 05/28/08
ROFL! This is too funny! I know someone who would love to read this. You made it real and entertaining at the same time. I loved the image of "Tee-shirt diving" that was simply hilarious. ^_^
Cheri Hardaway 05/28/08
Hysterically funny! Written by a true bird expert. And thanks... I always thought I wanted a bird, but not anymore. Ever wish someone would have told you these kinds of truths about children too? Just kidding! =) Blessings, Cheri
Lyn Churchyard05/28/08
Very, very enjoyable story. There were just so many great lines in this - 'Tell your guests itís modern art', 'Tee-shirt diving', 'wading into your spaghetti to sample it.' All combined to give me a great laugh. Wonderfully written by a true bird lover.
Mariane Holbrook 05/28/08
As a former parrot owner who had to sell her parrot because he helped himself to a chunk out of my dog's nose, I found this soooo delightful and funny. But then, you are, too, Betty dear, just so delightful and funny!
Joshua Janoski05/29/08
Congratulations on taking 9th place in your level with this piece, Betty!
Joshua Janoski05/29/08
And you placed 13th overall. Awesome!