Sunday, October 14, 2007
This cute video reminded me of my own talented Parakeet, hence the post:
Once upon a time our family had this darling parakeet named Snowflake, who used to say 20 things.
He lived from July 24 1991 to 19 May 2000. He was named Snowflake because his wing feathers were white, but his breast was a most beautiful turquoise blue.
I got him when he was only 1 week out of the nest, which meant he was 5 weeks old. I allowed him to get used to the environment for a week, then I began to talk to him. I gave him a 10 minute lesson every day where I would time myself and just get near his cage and say, over and over, "pretty boy"
We had a neighbor who loved birds and had taught a parakeet to talk, and in November of that year, he babysat him for us while we went to my folks for Thanksgiving. When we got home, he informed us it sounded like he was talking, saying something like "pretty boy or pretty bird."
As we continued to teach him more words, he was quicker at learning. He learned "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year" and "Happy Birthday" pretty quickly and was saying them by the holidays.
He also imitated the squeak of the doors and drawers. Just as an aside, I was talking to my son on the phone the other day and opened a drawer, and he asked if I had another bird, he thought he heard one. I told him it was our drawer squeak.
To learn the squeak, he would fly over to the drawer and listen whenever it was opened. So I would oblige and open the drawer and close it back and forth a little ways while he rode on the edge listening to the squeak and learning how to imitate it.
He learned to imitate a sneeze and would make that sound almost as quickly as someone breathed in to sneeze. He would sneeze with you.
I wish I could have gotten these cute things on video. I got a few, but not everything.
He liked my fingernails because I had a shiny polish on them. He could see himself and would land on my fingers, pull on the tip of the nail as though looking in a mirror, since the nails had polish, and begin his repertoire.
His favorite were: I love you, I love you, I love YOOOOUUU. drawing out the last you was done with a change in his tone. He loved to say je t'aime making a whistling sound with the "je"
He liked to whistle the first part of the Andy Griffith's show.
He did wolf whistles and loved to finish it if you would start one. Then he would reverse and whistle the first half and wait for you to finish. He liked to play this game back and forth.
I got him to say "I tot I saw a puddy tat"
here kitty, kitty, kitty
("I love you" came in four languages including english)
jag alskar dig
ich liebe dich
and sometimes he would mix up the last word and say jag alskar dich and ich liebe dig
We even got him to say "No Worries Mate" in an Australian accent.
I guess my forth child was the one I picked on because he shouted her name a lot.
He loved to be in the middle of anything you were doing, whether it was eating spaghetti (he would have orange around his beak and all over his face after one of those feasts) or quilting a quilt. He loved to land on the quilt and pull out one of my straight pins, carry it over to the edge, drop it off then cock his head look at it with one eye as it sat on the floor. He loved the mirror in the bathroom. We left the light on in there so he could talk to himself. There were little kiss marks where he had admired himself.
He loved being with me so much that he would come looking for me. Usually he would not come into my bedroom unless he was riding on my shoulder, but Once when I was sick, I could hear him flying all around the house. I slept all day, and every once in a while, he would come in and check on me, sit on my blanket and sit there, as though he sensed something was wrong.
On the other hand, I would panic if I couldn't find him. I would whistle and call to him. His favorite places were in the bathroom, the computer chair, the sewing room, sometimes on the radio antennae sometimes on the sewing machine. Sometimes he liked to be in D3's room by the mirror, and sometimes on a chair near the hutch. Again he could see himself in the glass. He wasn't fond of flying downstairs or being there, so whenever someone would get him down there, he would find a way back up.
He loved when someone would come in the door and would chirp loudly as if to greet them. If he was in his cage he would scold telling us he wanted out. He always loved being where our hands were. Once he dove into the dishwater. It terrified me, but he spluttered and was OK. I was afraid he would try to go into the boiling water and we kept him caged up when we were doing dangerous things. Once he found me in the bathroom in the shower and came to join me. He was NOT happy about getting wet.
When our oldest left on his mission, I taught him to say
He learned "come here" because we would say that to him.
He said "I'm Sorry and Its OK"
He also said lots of words all jumbled together without making sense when he was talking to himself in the bathroom. It would go like this:
You're so cute, cute, cute, little birdie, you're so sweet, sweet, sweet! Hi baby, Hi Sweet Pea", and D2's favorite "Hi Pea"
One of my favorites was when D1 helped to teach him to say "Gimme a Kiss!" then he would reach over with his beak and make a kissing sound on your lips. He liked to do this over and over, making a dramatic swoop with his whole body after he would kiss you, and coming back to kiss again and again.
One day I couldn't find him. After looking everywhere, I finally found him in D3's room. There was a basket of dolls on the floor. One had red lips and he was sitting on the front of her and kissing her mouth over and over saying "Gimme a Kiss!" "Gimme a Kiss!" "Gimme a Kiss!" We got that on video.
He got loose twice into the great outdoors. The first time he rode out the door on one of the kid's shoulders. We could hear him but he wouldn't come back down to be caught. I could hear him all over the neighborhood, and I would walk around and call to him and he would answer, but not come. He was gone 27 hours that first time. I was frantic, and went to the local pet shop and told them if they heard of a found bird, to let me know.
Sure enough, she called me the next day in the afternoon. He had flown over a mile away and landed in someone's open shed. The little boy who caught him had convinced his mom to take him to get him a cage and food. The pet shop was where they went to get the supplies. I went to their place and paid the little boy $25 to supply him with his own cage, food and parakeet.
Only in a small town. Had we been in a larger metropolis the new owners would have had a choice of pet stores and I may have never heard of his capture.
The other time was when S1 was heading on his mission. That very morning. He was riding on Sailor's shoulder right out the door when he went to feed the dogs. The Stake President had admonished us to kneel in Family Prayer just before we left for the Mission Training Home, so that would be how our son remembered his family. Instead he remembers the whole family sitting on the roof, flashing mirrors, rattling bags (he loved that sound and couldn't imitate it, so he would come to listen) and calling "here birdie, birdie, birdie"
We finally left him in the Lord's hands and drove away to drop our Missionary off. When we came back, he was in the tree across the street and we were able to catch him by whispering. He couldn't whisper and this drew him very close, beak to lips to hear how I did it, and he was in this position when we put him inside the cage and slammed the door. He had had fun with us just before his capture flying high and diving low near us, singing with delight as he did. He was thirsty in the end and very happy to eat after his long adventure.
He lived 9 years, a very long time for a tiny parakeet. He was a delight and I still really miss him.
PS. My daughter talked to a vet the other day, and she mentioned how much she loved our parakeet. The Vet was very negative about parakeets, because they don't live long and usually die of malnutrition. She told him ours had lived 9 years. He asked her what he had eaten and basically we said everything we did. I guess that is why he lived so long. Little did we know. What we thought was social eating, was really survival.
RIP little Snowflake