On the way home from the dog park. I almost walked right past it. Howie and I were strolling along, and on my left, on a fencepost, was a green and yellow parakeet. It took a moment for my brain to understand. I thought, oh, look, there’s a parakeet. Then I thought, Oh! There’s a parakeet. Out here, loose, trying to sleep on a cement post.
So of course, I stopped, reined in Howie, and approached the bird. He eyed me suspiciously. I spoke quietly to him, then reached out and stroked his feathers. He looked very tired, or sick. Not well. I considered how I might pick him up and carry him home.
Then Howie jumped up and lunged for the poor parakeet. Just as I reacted and pulled Howie back (he was so, so close to catching the bird!) the parakeet flew into some thick brush, at a height I couldn’t reach. He tucked his head into his feathers, and so it looked like he might stick around for a while. I took my predator dog home (he’d already caught and eaten two innocent moths today) and told Billy we had to go get the parakeet.
It so happens that when we moved into our house, there was a wooden bird cage hanging outside on the trellis that’s built into our deck. It looks antique, and has some decoration on it that reminds me of some Chinese art. I liked it, even though it’s a bit weathered and has a few spiderwebs in it. I put it down in the basement recently, because I had hopes of cleaning it up, painting it red and hanging it in my office.
It’s pretty handy (a weird coincidence?) to have a bird cage laying around, it turns out. I dragged Billy back to where I’d last seen the bird. He was still there, curled into his feathers, apparently very asleep (or at least that’s what I tell myself, I hope he is not sick). I was hoping to entice him toward us with some lettuce, which my co-worker had just told me on Friday that he feeds to his parakeets, and they apparently enjoy it.
This bird barely acknowledged our presence, lettuce or no. Billy was able to reach the bird by climbing on the aforementioned cement fence. Just as he touched the bird, it flew. But only across the street into some other bushes, which was a relief, because they were more accessible. We crossed the street and I climbed over the fence and down the hill through some brush until I reached the bird. I offered him lettuce. He wanted nothing to do with the lettuce. So, I reached my hands around him and gently gathered him up.
He was scared, I’m sure. He bit me pretty hard. But I was able to get his beak away from my skin and carry him back up the hill. We put him in the little cage and took him home. I looked on craigslist for postings about lost parakeets, but so far have found no matches.
We left some lettuce and brown rice in the cage with him, along with some water, while we went out to dinner. On the way home, we stopped at the pet store and picked up some food and a little dish to hang it in on the side of the cage.
He was asleep when we returned, and I eased the trays of food and water in around him. As soon as I finished he woke up, splashed about in the water and began eating immediately. I went back an hour later, and he was still eating. The poor bird must have been starving.
I wonder where he came from. There are no postings online that seem to fit his (or her?) description, but I posted a note on craigslist saying I’d found him. Maybe someone will contact me. But I have a feeling we will soon be adding another pet to our household, or trying to find a home for him, which might be best, in light of Howie’s penchant for chasing down and eating things that fly. And also, just chasing down and eating things in general.
I don’t know much about birds, though I know a little. When I was very young we had a parakeet and I suppose that’s probably what gave me the confidence that I could and should catch him in the first place. I know parakeets of his type shouldn’t be flying around in San Francisco. It’s too cold at night, and such pet-store birds are not used to hunting for their food. In any case, he’s here now, in his antique cage. He’s eaten. He drank some water. I’ve wrapped a towel around the cage, which is supposed to make parakeets feel safe and warm. That’s all I can do for now.