On an average Thursday, back in July at around 5:25pm it decided to pour down. I was driving out of work, past the Subi oval and the heavens literally opened. It had been a pretty intense day, and I was dreading the drive home on the freeway which would now take even longer with the wet roads. Suddenly, the SUV in front of me came to an abrupt stop. Confused, I looked around and couldn’t see why she had stopped – the roads were clear… with the exception I suddenly realised, of a small green bundle in the middle of the road, just metres away from us, absolutely soaked as the rain pelted down from above. Everything then happened really quickly. Firstly, it dawned on me, with amazement, what was about to happen… Almost at the same time I opened my door to jump out of the car, the woman in the car in front shouted through her open window “It’s a bird! I didn’t hit it! I’m… I’m really scared of birds!”
Okay so firstly, could this situation literally have happened to a more perfect, qualified, crazy bird lady? I think not. What could have been better was my response… Wait for it, because this is a beauty… “It’s okay, I’ve got a galah! I know what to do!”
Yes, really; “it’s okay, I’ve got a galah! I know what to do!” And I wonder why I’m single, with birds.
So, by this time, there are a few cars behind me. They all know I have a galah. They all know that I know what to do. So no pressure. I jump out of my car, the rain soaking me more and more by the second, I’m teetering in heels, in the middle of the road outside the Subi oval with a small audience, growing in anticipation.
I get to the small birdie and pause. It doesn’t attempt to run away but looks scared and stunned. It’s a baby Rainbow Lorikeet, with a pretty sizeable, sharp looking orange beak. Shit.
What do I do if it bites me? I turn to the woman in the car in front and back to the bird. Then, slowly back to the woman. She looks apprehensive. She’s scared – It dawns on me that, despite my situation (wet, crazed galah-owning-bird-lady, stood in middle of road, growing rush-hour audience), I have all the power here. No really, I do. Sort of. I take a deep breath, “don’t worry, I can take care of this. I’ll just need a towel or scarf if you have one?” The lady literally moved so fast, rummaging through her back seats and shoving a towel in my hands before you could say “dance, cockie, dance”. It was like seeing my mom in a Target sale.
And so I threw the towel over the birdie, bundled it up in my arms and ran back to my car like the hero that I was. The person stuck behind me even waved! I like to think it was in impressive appreciation, rather than a “Oh great, bravo. Can we all fucking go home now?!” kind of wave. I like to hope it was the former, although I’m not convinced.
I drive to the end of the road with the bird bundled on my passenger seat and pull over to allow the 4,725 cars that had backed up to pass me. I wave politely to a few to say thanks (I’m British, I can’t help myself), but I really have more pressing issues to deal with – namely the wet ‘n’ wild bird trapped in my car with me. Firstly, I had to Snapchat a picture to, like, everyone I knew. And then secondly, I realised again that I had a wet ‘n’ wild bird trapped in my car with me. Luckily, the birdie must have been really stunned, as she didn’t move at all, other than to open her beak if my hand came too close, and to closely watch me with her beady black and orange eyes. I propped her up inside my tote bag on the passenger seat which meant she could see out of the window, but was also high enough to get some heat from the fans on the journey home. Michael Kors would have been proud of such effortless accessorizing. Am I right?
I spoke to the birdie softly all the way home so she could become familiar with the sound of my voice. It is perhaps a blessing that it was raining and no-one could see me talking to my tote as I drove home. Although, it wouldn’t be the first time I spoke to a bag. You should have heard the conversations I had when I bought my first (and last) Prada bag. When I got home, I held her in front of a little portable heater to get her warm. I then took food from Thor (galah) and Kenickie (weiro) and tried to feed this colourful little birdie some seed. No dice. Her tongue was freaky-weird, like a little toilet brush, and she just kept trying to tongue the seeds, rather than grind them up in her beak. Whilst warming her up with one hand (trying to ignore the ‘WTF is THAT?’ looks from my other two birdies), I Googled with the other and soon learnt that she was a nectar and pollen lover and not a natural seed eater – although they could adopt to eating seed. A few moments later, she’s happily tonguing a blueberry which she demolishes in about fifteen minutes. After she’d eaten, she was a lot more comfortable and I was able to examine her a little.
She was obviously very young, with black streaks on her beak and feet not even knowing how to grip properly. I had to hold her feet in place on my finger so she could learn how to hold on and perch. All her feathers were completely matted together with dirt, grit, oil and goodness knows what else – you can see from the pics the state she was in, and that’s after being wrapped in a towel for an hour. It took three warm baths in the laundry sink until the water ran clear and she was clean. No sign of mites, thank goodness! After a quick towel and blow-dry, she was snug and sleepy, and fell asleep on my hand within minutes. We made her a bed from a small basket and a green piece of fleecy blanket which my mom had and she was set for the night. I still smile at the bedtime events of that night. I didn’t want her anywhere near my two boys, just as a precaution in case she had any diseases/fleas/etc. which could harm them. Thor and Kenickie were my #1 priority and I didn’t want to do anything which could jeopardise them. And so, I snugged her down on the floor of my walk in robe, in her basket (to save any more falls – I’m guessing she’d fallen from her nest into the middle of the road). She’d be happily snoozing, until I turned off the light and she’d squark. Lights on, snoozy, lights off squarky, lights on, snoozy, lights off squarky… and so on.
She won in the end, and so we slept with the robe lights on that night. It’s kind of funny to think, that in the wild, there must really be so many environmental noises we don’t even think to consider – the sway of trees, glow of street lights, steady hum of traffic. And always alert for danger.
First thing the next day, I called and made an appointment to take all three birdies to the vets for a check up. Thor and Kenickie were my priorities, but if there was a chance that I could offer this little lady a home too, even just until she could fend for herself, I was totally game. Our vet examined all three birds and gave me the okay. I don’t want to go into too much detail as apparently, keeping these kind of birds is frowned upon as they are seen as pests. But c’mon, if the alternative was not keeping her, most vets would have euthanised her. At this point I was in too deep with this awesome little fluffball and so I decided to try and introduce her to my family even if it was just for a little while until I found her a home. And so, over the next few weeks, I slowly introduced her to the boys. The vet estimated that she was about 5 weeks old – so that would make her approx. six months old now. She instantly bonded with Kenickie, following him around and snuggling up to him, much to his protesting. He now just deals with it and throws a cheeky peck her way if she gets too full on, but I often find them perching together in their cage and she literally follows Kenickie everywhere he goes when he walks around on the floor. Oh, and her name? Lola. Well, have you seen those feathers and colours? She’s a total showgirl!
We still have the fleecy green blanket we nested her in on that first night, although since then its probably been washed about 367 times – she’s a pretty messy pooper. But she loves her green blanket – and the green towel I have used to carry her around in (to save my soft furnishings from her poops!) – she’s a living example of Bowlby’s Attachment Theory for sure. Other than her green blanket and Kenickie, you’ll see from the below pics that Lola just loves to squark, eat and fall asleep just about anywhere, in any position…
Lola has now been with us for six very loud, chaotic months now – and whilst she is noisy, messy and pretty darn wild, she has been an adorable addition to the family. Unlike Thor and Kenickie, she’s not massively loving towards me, but she’s a cutie. It difficult to remember that she’s wild. After graduating in Psych, I know there are a million nature/nurture debates out there. As someone who’s always related to the behaviourism school of thought, this has been a challenge. I’ve shown Lola so much attention and love, whilst trying to balance this with Thor/Kenickie so they don’t get jealous. But still, the older she’s gotten, the less affectionate and receptive Lola has been towards me. Completely unlike my other two birds, who are so clingy I can’t put my makeup on in the morning without them trying to ‘assist’. But then, Lola is a wild animal. My other two birds, as much as I like to think they are products of their very loving, caring and stimulating environments, have been bred from captivity. Lola is wild. That being said, she has developed a huge connection with my mom – she absolutely adores her, mimicking her voice, saying ‘hello’ and making cute, content chirruping noises and mumbles as she snuggles into her. However, the stronger their bond grows, the weaker mine with her grows. Ironic really, as my mom is not keen on my feathered friends. At all.
We’re at the point now where Lola is actually becoming quite boisterous with the other birds – and doesn’t like to be handled by me at all, which to start with was heartbreaking – especially when looking back at some of the cute pics I have of her snoozing in my hand or next to me on the sofa. But I’ve come to accept that she just doesn’t appreciate how awesome I am – despite me feeding, watering and cleaning out her cage every damn morning.
There are a million theories as to why she hasn’t grown to connect with me – one bird expert I was talking to suggested that because (we think) she is female, Lola is jealous of my connection with Thor and Kenickie – and was basically threatened by my relationship with the two boys, seeing me as competition! I thought that was quite funny. So much for sisterhood. Another theory was that she sees me as her mom – I feed her, bathe her, care for her and she’s simply grown up and become more independent. Who knows. Ultimately, I have to do what is best for Miss Lola, Thor and Kenickie – and sadly the time has come for me to rehome her to hang out in a mini-sanctuary where she can be more at one with nature and other loris and cockatoos. I know, it’s kind of sad, but you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’m so pleased I was where I was on that rainy winters night back in July and that I saved her. Teaching her to eat, step up, perch – and even watching her fly (straight up, smacking into the ceiling!) for the first time was such an amazing, awesome experience!
And so, as I type this, whilst I am sad that Lola won’t be with me for much longer, I know I’m blessed to have spent the time I have with her and to have nurtured her into the crazy little bundle of fluff that she is today. Whilst I won’t be adding her silhouette to my blog homepage, to perch alongside Thor and Kenickie anytime soon, I’ll always think of her as my little wild rainbow and will always carry a towel in my car. Y’know, just incase.
And so I’ll leave you with my fave pics of the little lady from the past five months… Enjoy!