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In September, When my son turned ten, he asked for a bird; a yellow Cockatiel that he saw in a local pet shop. The bird had cute orange circles on her cheeks, and whistled happily at each person walking by her cage. My son had fallen in love with her. Each time we went by the store he asked to walk in and would gaze at the little parrot, mesmerized and fascinated. We didn’t really want another pet in the house, but there was no choice. We had to get Tweetie before someone else did. On a sunny Monday morning we all went to the pet shop, and returned home with Tweeite standing proud in a beautiful golden cage. My son’s joy was limitless. We placed the cage in the living room and gave the bird a warm welcome to her new home.
In the weeks that followed, we discovered Tweeite’s unique character. She learned to identify the members of the family, and assigned a different whistle to call each one of us. When a car would pull in the driveway, Tweetie would whistle relentlessly in excitement, greeting the visitor before they had a chance to knock on the door. She used another special whistle when someone left the living room and a different one when someone entered it, a whistle to let us know she is hungry, and a whistle to ask the dog to keep off. Her whistles became the soundtrack of our home.
Tweetie’s wing feathers were trimmed, so she couldn’t fly. When you’d put your finger in front of her she would stand on it, and let you carry her around. We did not like the sight of her trimmed wings, but we liked having her safe and close to us.
One morning, a few weeks after she moved in, we cleaned Tweetie’s cage and left the back door open. We did not realize that in the meantime her feathers grew a little and she was now able to fly a short distance. After sneaking out in tiny steps, the she opened her wings wide, and flew to the roof. My wife and I started calling her, and the kids, who heard the screams, got out of the house and joined the rally. Tweetie must have gotten startled by the yelling. she flew away and disappeared in the park behind our yard. I eventually found her on one of the low branches of a park tree. All I had to do is hold up my hand, and she climbed onto my finger. I went back to the house as the triumphant dad and the bird’s savior.
From that day on, we made sure that all the doors and windows are shut when Tweeite was out of the cage. We decided not to trim her wings. The weeks went by, and her feathers grew. It became harder to get her back in the cage. She loved to fly around the house, and when I would put up my hand for her to climb onto my finger, she would let out a cry, avoid it, and fly away. She could not longer be be fooled by the old finger trick. Tweetie wanted to be free and loved practicing her flight moves, enjoying her newly-grown feathers.
Then yesterday afternoon, the back door was accidentally left crack-open, and tweetie slowly walked out. Everyone froze and started whispering orders at each other: “don’t move”, “walk slowly this way”, “I will try to catch her, you stand behind me…”. Just then, our dog saw her walking out and jumped on her. She immediately flew up to escape the attack. First she flew to the neighbor’s roof, then she flew in circles around the house, listening to us scream and beg her to come back, then finally, surprised by the strength of her muscles and her fully-grown feathers, she flew up into the sky and vanished. For a few moments we could still hear her famous whistles fading, and then she was gone.
We left Tweetie’s cage open on the patio table along with some water and food. We hope for her return, but we know she’s not coming back. The children are sad, but they are happy for Tweetie, and understand her choice to leave them and be free. Taking care of the Tweetie was a great experience, but we now realize tat she was never ours to own. We all miss her, and wonder: If we end up getting another bird – would we do the same thing and let its wings grow?