Chris Longden, Features Writer
As a family, we had probably become a bit complacent with regards to letting our feathered friends roam a bit too free inside of the home. After all, our previous budgie’s name was ‘Elvis’ and whilst we realised that the ‘left the building’ suffix for that name had somewhat been tempting fate…. well. It never happened, did it?
It never would. Nah.
But, no. Oh ruddy-hell no. On awakening I suddenly discovered that Jerry had done a jail-break. His cage was empty. He had indeed left the building. And I was experiencing that heart-stopping moment where you know … you just KNOW… that your birdy-pal is no longer resident.
Empty cage. No chirping. Nothing.
He wasn’t peering down at me from his favourite perches on the telly, or the picture frame or flapping away – I half hoped – injured behind the sofa, but easily fixed by a vet. He wasn’t in the bathroom – gotten stuck to the fly-paper – or anything like that.
So, the door to his cage was open. And the window in the room was open – just enough – to tempt a previously timid budgie to dabble with what he might be hoping was some cooler air outside. Perhaps just enough open for a particularly cunning cat to crank it ajar a bit further, grab a budgie and then make a sharp exit.
I yelled for my husband and frantically we searched for our littlest. It must have been the window, I said. Maybe not, my husband said; he had felt something fly past him in the dark last night when he had opened the back door in order to due his usual midnight snail-slaying for the good of his cabbages. He thought it had been a bat. Maybe not.
The hunt went on outside. The problem being …. that we live in the countryside of West Yorkshire. Looming great trees everywhere. Two woods, for goodness sake. Bushes. Hedgerows. Meadows. He could be anywhere. Anywhere. I dreaded telling my children. But I gritted my teeth and did it (is there anything worse for a parent, than being faced with that unremitting howl of a child who knows that one of their worst nightmares has come true?)
But the kids didn’t give up hope. They pathetically – or bravely – clung to the ‘he’s clever, he might be waiting for all of the cats in the garden to go away,’ line of reasoning.
I wondered whether I should leave the window open. After all, he could be hiding in a strange place inside the house (Elvis used to do that when he was having one of his black moods.) And then he could swoop back into the room. And then out the window. But on the other hand, what if – by some freak chance – he had managed to survive outside, to find his way back to the window? Only to find it closed.
I said; I feel like Peter Pan’s mother. Do I close the window? Or not.
So I gave up. Started thinking about how terrible it would feel, cleaning the bird poo out of his cage for the last time. With no chance of it ever being refreshed by the cheeky chappie. I tried to put it out of my mind, how he had died. If not the cats – the bigger birds.
And an hour later, the phone rang. “Are you the lady who’s lost a budgie?” Yes I was. “Well, if yours is yellow and turquoise – it’s here…”
She paused – and for several agonising seconds I expected her to continue with “… but I’m afraid my cat killed it first.” Or “… I ran it over in my 4WD,” or something.
|Also by Chris Longden...|
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|Inventions Of Paradise|
|A Re-Roofing Jobby|
|Part 3 - The Final Frontier: Stupidity Vs Maturity|
|The Maturing Year - Part 2…|
Apparently, a few doors down from the couple live a lovely Muslim family who adore birds. So, shortly after the phone call, I arrived to collect Jerry who had been homed in a cosy cage which had been lent to him by a fine new friend named ‘Baby’, a green parrot.
The incredible thing was this; just how far he flew. Right across the valley to the other side of the village. I think that he headed for that direction – towards the church – because that’s the view he has always had from his window; of the church tower. And the pub. Perhaps he felt the calling of The Spirits, as opposed to The Lord. Either way, it was a pretty impressive flight – for one so unused to long-distance travel.
Still, if a couple of giant black and white hoodies were hot-tailing it after me, with the intention of pecking my eyes out – maybe I’d try for a similar record-breaker.
He’s back home now. He spent two hours cleaning and preening himself (all of those outside smells, all that pollen and dust). He has a glint of … well. Of ‘experience’ in his eye. But either way, we’ll not be assuming he is a meek and timid little thing anymore.
Everyone that we’ve spoken to of this is pretty gobsmacked. Chances of survival were pretty much zero. Never mind recovery and return.
Victory for the Underdog (or Underbird) – alive and kicking.
(With thanks to the most brilliant neighbours – who we’d never met. Aren’t Yorkshire human beings generally …. well. Just brilliant.)
Budgie Escapade, 19th August 2018, 14:29 PM