10 March 2019


The newsreader at the radio station where I worked as an announcer had friends moving interstate. They wanted to get rid of their Budgerigars. When I first saw the one blue and one green bird, I knew they were meant for me. 

Placing the cage on the passenger seat, I sat chatting, getting acquainted with my feather babies. Then I noticed the former bird owners staring out their window. They must have thought I was mad.  
I was madly in love.  
On the drive back to my flat, I continually glanced at my new pets. Looking back, I couldn’t remember a time I didn’t want budgies. Once home I stared at the birds like they were television. 
Happy, it was love at first bird sighting.  
A year later I moved to Victoria, then Queensland to work at bigger, better radio and TV stations. My 2 budgies went with me. 
I lost green budge after moving to country Victoria. Then it was only  Bernie and me. With no Internet, I presumed Bernie was a boy. My flatmate Danny worked at a local library. Once he brought home a budgie book I learned that Bernie was a she.
Q: Am I destined to get a bird’s sex wrong?
A: Quite possibly.
Without Greta Green, Bernie Blue Budgie believed she’d become human. When I first let her out, she crashed into windows. After clipping one wing she couldn’t hurt herself flying anymore. The dear thing still flew short distances, but took up duck waddling instead.
The only pic I have of Bernie and me, she was 3, I was 21.
An evening radio announcer, I finished work at midnight. I played golden oldies, a request show, or made endless shout-outs to teenagers in a Love Song Dedication program. Nights off, I’d go out clubbing with girlfriends; winding down about 3 am.
Birds are early risers; they want to usher in each dawn with bell-like songs and whistles. They want up and at ‘em at sunrise. If I forgot to peg Bernie’s cage closed I’d be woken at 6.
My budge would stare at me from the pillow. A blurry blue bird chirping an inch from your face after a couple of hours sleep is not good. I’d roll over and ignore her.
A companion bird, Bernie didn’t like being dissed. Within minutes this feathered monster would be playing in my hair, or trying to preen it. 

Two claws running along the back of my neck usually got me up. Screaming, I’d jump out of bed for the amount of time it took to thrust Bernie back and put a dark cloth over her cage. 

If I stayed in bed and ignored her she’d pluck out a nose hair. I don’t know if you have been woken by torture; but I can testify it is not pleasant.
I remembered to peg her cage door after the 3rd plucking. She wasn't ever having another go at my nose.
During the day Bernie had enough attention from housemates, friends, TV and wild birds on flypasts. Still, she would squawk up a storm if she didn’t share my meals. Duck waddling over, climbing the tablecloth, this small blue blob would thieve off my plate when I wasn't looking. Her favourite treat was lettuce or fruit.
Bernie joined me when I lazed around on days off. For such a wee bird her intentions were clear. Perching on my head making a nest up top was her favourite thing to do. Her second fave was wriggling beneath my hair from one shoulder to the other.
I sensed when Bernie was disappointed though. There were different chirps for: ‘I don’t want to be shut in here’, ‘I’m out of bathwater’, ‘Wake-up’, ‘You’re home from work!’ and, ‘Whoopsies, I just pooped on your shoulder.’
Bernie packed loads of eccentric personality into her tiny torpedo shape. She would chirp and squawk all day. I loved every tweet.

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