Posts Tagged ‘ pigeons ’

Birds and Babies Don’t Mix

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Peepers is the yellow one on right

Fia nearly killed Peepers and I nearly had a heart attack. If your child kills an animal, aren’t their chances of becoming a serial killer heightened?

The hair-raising incident happened on a recent visit to my Aunt Nancy, who lives on the bayou about an hour north of New Orleans. She and my uncle live in a spectacular setting where jasmine grows like weeds, and crawfish populate the waters (sans oil) with abundance. I woke up to hummingbirds fluttering about and Fia squawking for Peepers.

Peepers and Peg are a pair of lovebirds. Both are boys, so I guess they’re gay. They’ve been partners for 15 years now. Peg only has one leg, thus his name. Peepers has scrunched up feet from a stroke, which means he needs to land on flat surfaces. He can’t curl his toes around a perch. Both survived Hurricane Katrina. Peepers also survived a near fatal beheading when caught up in a ceiling fan a few years back. But he almost didn’t survive Fia.

For background, Fi has chased after pigeons on the playground before, but her obsession with Peepers was unlike anything I’d seen. Nancy lets them fly about the house a couple times a day. Peepers will land right on your shoulder, or your head, and loves to have his belly rubbed. No joke.

The first—and only–time he landed on her arm, Fi squealed with delight. But before I could even say, “gentle,” she grabbed his head in her fist and took off running across the room, screaming with glee. All I could see were his legs poking out of her hand.

I gasped in horror, lunged for her fist and quickly pried it open. Peepers is yellow, but at that moment I swear he was blue. He took off in flight and Fia, thinking this is the most fun she’s ever had, ran after him again. Her fingers were covered in feathers. She tried to eat one.

“Um, this isn’t such a good idea,” I yelled across the room, cornering Fia from Peeps. “Fia, stop!” I screamed.

Nancy chimed in, scooping up a now-traumatized lovebird. “If she kills Peepers, she’ll have to kill Peg because they can’t be alone.”

Peg, upon hearing this, began to squawk, realizing his mortality was on the line.

Oh great, so she becomes a serial lovebird killer. Just what I always dreamt of for my daughter.

Luckily no more feathers were shed during our stay. But a lot of tears were. Everyday, after she grew tired of slobbering on Willy the dog, she’d go over to the cage, stand on her tippy toes and shake it—hard. She’d stick her fingers in, trying to extract even a feather. Peg and Peeps would squawk and take cover in their birdhouse. I’d pull Fia away, which would trigger an immediate tantrum. Crying, pointing at the cage, and ending with throwing herself on the ground.

“Poor baby,” I’d say. “I’m so sorry your mama won’t let you squeeze a bird to death.”

Each time we tried to supervise/teach her to hold him gently, I could see her fist tighten around his neck and I had to take him away (which of course meant more tantrums). After several more attempted beheadings we just kept them both in their cage.

I thought I’d come here for tranquility, not baby and bird wrangling.

In the end, we left with both birds still alive, but fewer feathers than before, plus a tormented child and a mama with shot nerves. I don’t think babies and birds are a great combo at this age unless the bird is stuffed.

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