The Viva Vine: vol #4, no #1: January / February 1995
Life with Bobbyby Jean Thaler
.....In my less-than-objective opinion, birds demonstrate an extraordinary capacity for thinking and feeling to anyone willing to take notice. The beauty and soul of my cockatiel fill my life with the wonder of G-d's creation, and consequently, I carry an unrelenting pity for the conscious suffering of those birds confined to cages or coops.
-- Jean Thaler
Bobby must incessantly preen his eight inches of gray feathers... even though I tell him it's his personality I love. Bobby does have boyish charm, with Raggedy Andy orange cheeks and round, eyelashed eyes. At happy times, he waves his crest straight up, longer than his entire head.

Several years ago it seems I was replaced by a placemat as the primary object of Bobby's affections. Wherever the brown cloth placemat goes, Bobby follows. If Bobby doesn't know where it is, he screams. Near the cage, he pulls the placemat up and down with his beak, exclaiming at the same time.

Bobby still has use for me since I feed him. While he eats, he purrs contentedly with soft, gentle chirps. I always marvel at his ability to chirp with his mouth full, much like his grandmother (that is, my mother). But BEWARE of putting a hand in the cage while he's still inside eating there; he snaps!

My Bobby is allowed out of his cage at all times when I am at home and often Bobby plays fetch with me. Bobby heaves a heavy keychain off the table with his beak. CRASH! goes the keychain. Then Bobby toots three times. I pick up the keychain or his toy shoe and Bobby scores unless I catch the object in midair.

Bobby might kiss me, after I ask two or three (or four) times. My family understands. I'm still single. I did take to heart their advice to play hard to get. If I ignore Bobby for a while, he flies to my shoulder or perches on my knee. I stroke his feathers after he rubs his head on my hand.

Sometimes Bobby hollers for me, not knowing where I went. Then I call out, "Hi Bobby!" Of course, Bobby never answers when I call him. Most unfair of all, he won't speak a word of English. Nevertheless, he does chirp when he hears his name or the word "bird" on my end of a phone conversation.

I like to think Bobby misses me a little when I go away; in fact I feel terribly guilty to leave him. One night, after I had boarded him for a week at the vet, I woke to the sound of Bobby screaming and thrashing against his cage. He quieted as soon as I wakened him from what must have been a terrifying nightmare.

At the vet, Bobby possibly experienced a small taste of what many caged parrots endure every day. Most pet stores and parrot owners clip their bird's wings or keep their pet confined in small cages. It is common also for parrot owners to lose interest in their bird. An unhappy bird may become obese and lethargic, or loud and hyper. I have seen parrots who have ripped or yanked out their own feathers until they bled.

By purchasing Bobby, perhaps, I have perpetuated the suffering of other pet birds simply by driving demand. Many pets fall into the wrong hands. I hope I can make amends some day by adopting another cockatiel in need of a home -- and a placemat. Bobby, your bachelor days are numbered!

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