LIAN TANNER

Bird rescue

March 17th, 2018

I found a lost cockatiel last week. I was just setting off for a walk when I noticed a whole lot of magpies and noisy miners dive bombing something at the corner of my street. (Both magpies and noisy miners hang around in families, and when they find something or someone they don’t like in their territory, they are merciless.)

So I went to see what they were attacking, and saw a grey and white cockatiel, clinging to a brick wall with its wings splayed out, trying to hide from these ferocious birds.

I shooed off the magpies and miners, and picked up the cockatiel – it was pretty tame, didn’t try to escape, though it bit me a few times. It was obviously used to humans.

But then I had no idea what to do with it – I didn’t want to take it home, because I thought Harry would be far too interested in it. And besides I didn’t have a cage or anything else to put it in while I tried to find where it had come from.

So I took it to some friends around the corner who keep birds.

It was still pretty early in the morning, and Tim opened the door a crack and peered out, bleary eyed, in his dressing gown. But when he saw the cockatiel, he and Danielle leaped into action.

They had a rescue cage in the garage, from where they take care of wild parrots who have got drunk on fermented apples and need protection until they sober up again. So they cleaned it out, filled up the feed bowl and the water bowl, and we put the cockatiel in it.

It settled down immediately, and started eating – I think it was pretty hungry. Then it went to sleep. Tim and Danielle said it was pretty young – probably just a few months old.

And then we started talking about how violent the world is outside the illusion of safety that we have created for ourselves. It’s easy enough to see it if you start looking. Cormorants diving for fish. Seagulls watching a family of ducklings in the hope that one will stray far enough from its mother to catch and eat. An inchman ant fighting a battle to the death with an intruder.

And the funny thing is, that we humans almost always sympathise with the victim. Our hearts are with the gazelle, rather than the lion. With the cockatiel rather than the noisy miners. And yet we as a species are the greatest predators of all.

Maybe we have a sort of species memory of the time when we were the prey.

Anyway, the cockatiel is safe and happy, and we are trying to find out where it came from. No luck so far, and if no one turns up to claim it, Tim and Danielle will happily keep it.

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