We weren’t bird people! Everyone knows bird people are... strange. Acting like birds were special. My husband and I had cats for many years, but they had passed away after long and happy lives (17 and 18 years). We didn’t want any more pets. We were fine. And then fate stepped in.

Due to a strange set of incidents, coincidences, and luck, we ended up with a little cockatiel named Bibi. Of course, this was a temporary situation, and we were going to find her a decent home. Besides, what did we know about taking care of birds? Plus, we didn’t want any pets. Yeah, yeah, I see you smiling — bird people, just knowing the story in advance, huh?For the non-bird people who were shopping for their weird bird-loving friends when you popped in to read this little tale, the above situation is known as a “foster fail.”

It turned out that Bibi wasn’t a mean animal that did nothing but scream and bite. She was just a lonely little birdie. We found YouTube to be a great resource, getting a crash course in bird care.  Bibi started to respond. She bonded very quickly to David, going from a bird that would strike at us anytime we got to close to his little shoulder-mounted shadow. She didn’t like to fly (we found out later that at some point her shoulder was broken and didn’t heal correctly) but she loved riding about on his shoulder. Six months later, he couldn’t remember what it was like to be home without a little friend hanging out with him.

Bibi’s relationship with me was a little more complicated. My offers of friendship were looked at with suspicion. She wasn’t striking as she did in the beginning, but she would rather I keep my distance. Unless I had chips, then nibbles were ok but leave that treat in her treat cup and go away, kthxbai. Our relationship got better after a medical scare.  I was the primary care-taker, during a little time off work, and she was letting me handle her with only the obligatory protests rather than real ones.

But I did want a little friend of my own. We weren’t ready to add to our flock; however, one day... someone picked me. To shorten a long story, we were at a pet store (don’t judge, the animals there want love too!), and I met a green cheek conure. She promptly jumped on my hand and bit my finger. I tapped her beak and said, “no bite.” Her response was to run up my arm and snuggle up by my neck. An hour later, Kona came home.


We weren’t sure how Bibi would react to a new bird. She was ok with Kona but ignored her with great disdain. But over the next few months, Kona was a roller coaster for the whole flock. But she was a blessing for us all. She’s taught Bibi how to play and even helped her flight skills. She’s full of love and mischief.

And she talks. She chittered for the first eight months of her life, and then one day, she looked up at me and said: “Mommy, I love you.” It shocked the heck out of me. Since then, her little vocabulary has grown considerably. She likes to tell us what Bibi wants. They’ll chirp at each other, and then we hear that Bibi wants a treat. She lets us know when Bibi wants a nap. Although it *is* a bit suspicious when Kona has asked for something, told no, and then suddenly it’s Bibi that wants the thing... coincidence, I’m sure.

Our sweet flock has brought love and changes to our lives in ways we never thought possible. They are cuddles and happiness and a little exasperation. We have all adapted. Our shy Bibi has blossomed into a loving bird that can cute a chip out of me in about 3 seconds. In Kona’s mind, she is the boss. They both love watching Dora the Explorer. We talk about our girls a lot. Show pictures to anyone that even mentions a bird, and even those that don’t. Everyone needs to hear the stories of how wonderful our girls are. We developed a line of t-shirts that will resonate with parrot owners to spread the word of how wonderful parrots are.

Oh dear.

It’s happened.

We are the strange bird people!

- David and Angela Heiney

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