When Mom Clocked the Cockatoo


(Here’s the pet that inspired Mom.  She never knew the true importance of its plumage….)


I realize people usually buy for their kids the kind of pets they had as children.  That’s the reason Mom gave me the parakeet one Christmas.  I awoke that holiday morn to find its cage enshrouded and knew right away that it was a bird. Then, too, I knew it was for me.

She’d grown up in a household where her Mom had birds—lots of them. But I’d never really developed an affinity for them.  I mean, after all, they’re hard to cuddle, and I guess I never had patience enough to train one.

Then again, neither did my mother.

After we all left home and Dad died, Mom was lonely.  I guess she’d been watching “Baretta”  reruns and thought, when she saw the lead player’s famous bird:  “Now, there’s a bird I can enjoy.”  “It’ll perch on my arm and talk to me.”

She went to the local pet vendor and after consulting him on any number of questions, she came home with a full-grown, snow-white (with fiery orange accents)  cockatoo with the signature plumage on the nape of its neck? (Too bad my mother didn’t see that cockatoo site beforehand..It’d tell her why a cockatoo pet would never work with her.)

Along with that bird, she bought his cage, a multi-level affair in conformance with its size and needs. She’d help the bird nest.

Now, I don’t know what it is about my family, but we don’t exactly have a 6th. sense when it comes to pets (see my “When to Get a Pet”  post).

When she tried to bring the bird into the house, all Hell broke loose. You see, he’d somehow gotten out of his confines and the two of them grappled, and Mom had no intention of losing to a bird.  After all, that bird had cost her a lot of money.

But she’d cost the bird a lot more…as you’ll learn.

They must have had a full-blown, drag-out affair, for in the end, the cockatoo lost its crest plumage.  That’s right, in all the knocking about, my mother had destroyed the flank of feathers that stood out on his head. 

In other words, she’d neutered him. And in the bird kingdom, that’s close to a suicide run, for plumage is how one attracts mates…even if it will never meet any potentials in this quarter (by virtue of being a house pet.).

Following that episode, too, Mom knew:  She and that bird weren’t a good fit. She just didn’t have the temperament for a temperamental bird which was never going to coo in her ear or come to her, in flight, when she extended her arm.

What with its memories of how he lost his sexual identity, why would he?

So, she gave up the bird…put him up for adoption…fast.  Bird…cage…food…errant feathers all for sale to any willing taker. Like me, she’d found having a pet is serious business one shouldn’t embark on frivolously.

And what of the cockatoo?  Well, as fate would have it, he did get another owner.  It’s just that owner never put up one of those bird mirrors, in the cage.  After all, that would have been needlessly cruel.  When the defrocked cockatoo saw a deformed potential mate, he would have had no interest…

No, it was best to allow the bird some modicum of dignity….and false delusion.

Now, have you had an unusual pet most don’t have (alligator, scorpion, pirannha, ape) or know someone who does?  How’s that working?  Share at Comment section below.

***Now click on this link to learn some amazing fact about Baretta’s bird…See what Mom could have achieved, if she only had patience?

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
This entry was posted in Family Life, Just-Plain-Fun, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.