Thursday, January 21, 2010


Fifteen years ago, before the Christmas Tree Face name was bestowed upon me, my parents bought my brother and I birds.  Cockatiels to be exact.  They're little Australian parrot type birds that are pretty kid friendly, can be very affectionate, and generally put up with everything from excited dogs, tormenting kid brothers, and occasionally being forgotten after dark in their outside cage (they really don't like the dark!).

They were great pets- my brother's bird was a yellow male that whistled for the dog and generally only bit men.  My bird, named after my favorite book (at that point in my life) "The Great Gilly Hopkins," was a speckled grey color and very hen-like and sweet.  Gilly loved having her head scratched and being stuffed into my Barbie Dream House.  

We loved our little birds... for many years.  Many, many years.  Apparently, cockatiels can live for 30+ years... kind of a long commitment.

A few years ago, my brother's big flew the coop... literally.  Somehow the cage was left open and he flew away and never came back.  Gilly was content to sit inside the open cage waiting for him.  We searched high and low- calling and whistling for the bird but he never came back.  My brother was frankly not too devastated by the loss of his pet.  And surprisingly, neither was Gilly, my brother's bird's lifelong mate.

Gilly enjoyed her life of singlehood for the next few years.  She happily clucked and squacked and ate her millet without competing with another bird.

A few weeks ago, I came over to my parent's house to discover Gilly's cage open and empty (yes, she was my bird, but Gilly stayed with my parent's... much to their chagrin).  Again, we called and whistled well into the night but never heard her familiar squack.  It was a very cold night for Southern California and we finally stopped searching and reconciled the fact that we were now birdless.

Long story short, two days later my mom was speaking to the neighbors about our fly-away bird when she heard a cockatiel squack nearby.  After following her ears, she found Gilly!  In a pepper tree across the street!  She hadn't flown the coop!

So Gilly is back.

Something I didn't mention is that Gilly lays eggs.  Little white, unfertilized cockatiel eggs.  Like one or two every 2 years.  She starts clucking (really) and eating the grout in my parent's tile floor (calcium) and then she likes to sit inside of a box.  One day, we'll hear a mighty SQUWAK! from her cage and there will be an egg.  We let her sit on it for a few days but eventually my mom puts in a little glass bowl she has in the living room and Gilly's stint at motherhood comes to an end.  For a couple years.

Gilly is back to her box now. (Yes, of course she's still with us- she's only about half way through her lifespan!)  She's a curious little creature... as you can see for yourselves:

Gilly in the box... notice her 'home remodeling skills' at enlarging the opening....

Now she's yelling at my camera lens...

But she's over the lens now and is investigating things...

"Who YOU lookin' at?"

"Ahh... snack time!"

Then its back to the box... a bit of a squeeze...

And a little privacy please?  I mean really...


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