Much to my finger's dismay
Bad bird was in no mood to play
The moment he struck
My mouth uttered f*#%!
So I flipped him the "bird" as repay
Bad bird is thirty years old. Can you believe that? My cockatiel Bart is thirty years old!
He was born around December 1989 and gifted to me at about eight weeks old by some friends I let stay at my house while they were house hunting. I already had a small flock of parakeets as pets so while he had bird friends, he was definitely the odd man out and he ruled the roost. He treated the parakeets with complete distain. He was people, not a dumb bird, those parakeets were birds. I knew immediately that he was a boy by his behavior, even before he got his adult feathers because he adored mirrors and was very vocal. The Simpson's was a brand new show and with his yellow topknot and beady eyes the name "Bart" was the perfect fit. He became an expert whistler and it wasn't long before he learned the theme from "The Andy Griffith" show followed by the "Looney Toons" theme and "Jingle Bells". Another favorite game he learned was to do the baseball game "Charge!" I started out by whistling the first riff and he followed by doing the "Charge!" part while bowing his head down as he whistled.
So one by one the parakeets all died off and he was the only bird (not a bird) left. At that point he was about eighteen years old I decided to see if I could teach an old bird new tricks. So I taught him "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", "Pop Goes the Weasel" and the theme from "Mister Ed" (yeah, I'm dating myself). Even today he will do a quick "chip" which is a cue that he wants to whistle with me. So I will start whistling one of the tunes and he will chime in with me. Sometime he bursts into whistling all of the songs as a mashed-up medley all by himself. This brings absolute joy to my heart and makes me smile every single time he does it.
The funniest routine we have is that every morning when I leave for work I say, "Bye Bart". He then repeats it back to me in a garbled "Bye Bart" followed by me saying, "No, you're Bart" at which time I will repeat "Bye Bart" back and forth as a comedy routine ensues. He is also a master mimic. He often gets ready for work with me by sitting on the towel rack and he will bob his head up andante down making scrubbing noises while I brush my teeth. Because of my allergies I often start the morning off by a series of sneezes and he has learned to make a "sneezing" sound following my sneezing episodes. One day I was drying my hair with a blow dryer and I had flipped my head over and was drying my hair upside down. I peeked out from beneath my hair and he was upside down on the towel rack swaying like he was drying his head feathers at which point I laughed so hard I snorted.
Bart's favorite treats are spaghetti, rice, oatmeal, apple and salt free corn chips (he gets so excited over spaghetti he shakes). He does not like to be touched but he will sit on my shoulder and serenade me for hours. He is very territorial about his cage though, which is what led to me getting my finger bit in the photo and prompted the limerick.
Bart has seen me through a series of career changes, numerous failed relationships (until one finally stuck) and the loss of family members so he definitely wins the award for sticking by me through thick or thin.
Bart ushered me out of my twenties and hopefully will escort me into my sixties and beyond. His antics keep me perpetually entertained and I am constantly amazed that so much personality can fit into two ounces of feathers. He is a constant source of joy in my life and I cannot imagine life without him creating me with song at sunrise. As an old man of thirty years old, he is a major part of my family, even if he is a bad bird.