The Song of My People: Wake-up Calls and Sleep-Mumbling

Good Morning! (It doesn’t really matter what time it is when you read this, because as long as there is any form of light — sun, lamp, candle, computer screen — it’s automatically morning to a bird.) Want to know what makes each one of my mornings equally annoying and amazing?

Yup, you guessed it. The screech in the above video. This is daily. This happens every. single. morning. I try to be as quiet as possible while I get ready for my morning classes — I catch the 7:20a 2B bus to  get to campus — in order  to appease my roommates, who are generally still asleep. (One of which works overnight and will be just going to sleep as Baby begins his shenanigans.) No matter  how silently I creep around to get ready, the bird is ready and waiting to greet me. I whistle quietly sometimes by their cages in order to encourage a softer song — but it doesn’t always work. Even if he spends hours practicing the Final Fantasy Victory Fanfare that I taught him, sometimes, he is just plain loud. So, sometimes said night-shift-working roommate complains of bird noises. Sometimes I feel horrible, but it seems we’re all getting used to his reality.

This song he sings is not in malice, no. Baby really is singing the song of his people. He is greeting me when he hears me awake and about. Sometimes, if nobody is moving around the house first thing in the morning, he’ll still sing right to the sun as She rises. All he wants is to let everyone know how happy and content he is, generally speaking. What we, as humans and companion parrot keepers fail to realize is that these parrots are still WILD birds — even if we have them commonly as pets, they are not very many generations removed from their wild ancestors. Cockatiels — Nymphicus hollandicus — are native to Australia. Imagine for a second Australia. Now think of Oswego-Basically-Canada, New York. Wouldn’t you sing to the Sun too?

Besides the random bird chatter that mimics human speech I am so used to by now, Baby does know a specific song which he learned off of YouTube:

Just like your average college student watching their favorite television shows, the bird has his favorite YouTube episodes. More like a preschooler, actually, because this is how he learns to speak and sing. He can mimic people well, actually, and knows how to say and use a few words his previous owner taught him, as well as one phrase I taught him inadvertently, “Birdie Bedtime.” I originally used that phrase first as a signal to teach my parakeets to settle down when they lived in the dorms with me. After a while of repeating the phrase, the birds began to find places to roost before I covered them, signaled by hearing and understanding the phrase. (That’s not to say there weren’t occasional squabbles over the ‘best perches’ on which to roost. Sigh.) Baby has since equated this to “NOPE.” (He uses BIRDIE BEDTIME! In a way that sounds enunciated, to me, like a swear word.) He doesn’t particularly care for bedtime. He enjoys company and being out of the cage way more. Can’t blame him, though. I just wish got a guaranteed 10 hours of sleep a night, minimum. Shenanigans start at birdie bedtime, too, often at a decibel higher than actually necessary. Basically, the bird is like a child. He’s enjoying whatever it is he’s occupying his time with, and when time runs out? All he wants is FIVE MORE MINUTES!!! (Whining included.)

All craziness aside, my favorite thing that my birds do, when they finally settle down, is sing softly into their feathers. I wish I could get a picture, but I almost never can bring myself to disturb them. They tuck their beaks back under their wing as they roost. The parakeets especially are wicked adorable, singing their video-game-esque trills and whistles with their eyes too heavy to keep open. But Baby? He’ll speak Human, or say words he knows. He’ll keep only one eye open and tilt his head a little before asking, “Whatcha doin’?” beak tucked back into feathers. However, if I answer him — and he does expect an answer — he’ll take the interaction as granting  him 5 more minutes before birdie bedtime, and think of more ways to chatter and interact. He always does. And no matter how loud he is, or how many “days off” he has woken me up at the actual crack of dawn — that will always be freakin’ adorable. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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8 thoughts on “The Song of My People: Wake-up Calls and Sleep-Mumbling

    • Thank you! When the old one was pulled up on the overhead, and it was black & white as opposed to the grey I had intended, I figured a dramatic shift in color scheme would be beneficial. I like the new header image better, too. I always think Marian’ll judge me for my poor graphic design skills, hehe.

  1. Haha, I’m deaf so birds never bothered me with their songs. Not even a cockatoo with all their might could wake me up (which I do plan on opening up my life to if I feel financially stable enough and live in a house). My cockatiels surprisingly are quiet in the mornings and don’t do much until noon, but parakeets in my past were always quick to notice when people started scurrying around at 6am.

    It helps that only one of my walls is attached to another apartment and it’s soundproofed. Gotta look for specific apartment rooms when having birds around, even more specific than cats and dogs imo.

  2. I like the way you let your readers interact with your post with the hyperlinks and the videos of Baby singing his tunes! Not only can I see him through your writing, but I can also hear him too, which I thought benefited this post well. Baby sure is one heck of a character, you describe him in a way where he’s your son that annoys the crap out of you, but you love him anyway. Also, the way you humanize when you describe him greeting you, the sun, and others, and speaking and singing is great and sets up a well rounded character, kind of like Henry the parrot in David Sedaris’s “Repeat After Me.” You create great imagery for Baby, but I think it would make this post stronger if you take a specific moment showing Baby’s routine. You mention little moments like the morning singing and greeting the sun, but if you developed one of those instances a bit more then I think you will have more memorable scenes adding to the emotional connection you have with Baby.

  3. I really appreciate the way you used hyperlinks in your story. Also you can tell that you really paid attention to the way you presented the story, video coming first. I think if you went into a little more detail about the little scenes you set up, like creeping around in the morning, they would become more powerful. Other then that I told you did a great job at mixing the blog elements, with the element of writing.

  4. I loved the videos and hyperlinks you provide. The post is a great blend of your personal connections to birds and research that will broaden the awareness of your audience. Baby’s character is very strong and it is clear that he has his own reality. I think maybe starting out with a scene of you getting up and tip toeing around Baby without success would be a great way to create an even stronger image of Baby and your relationship with him without relying too much on exposition. Great post!

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