For the Birds

I am afraid of birds. I like to watch birds, but I get anxious if they are too close, or swoop at me. I don’t mind the  scolding wren who upbraids me in the garden, since he keeps his distance and scolds me from the safety of a tree.

I think my bird fear started when I was very young and I went with my grandmother to collect eggs from her hens. I remember the birds pecking me and flapping their wings as I tried to retrieve the eggs. Flapping birds really scare me.  I also remember a parakeet we had who escaped from its cage all the time and who was devoured right before my eyes by a very proud and self-important pug when I was a preschooler.  Alfred Hitchcock didn’t help the situation at all with The Birds.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed what I thought was a robin crash into the French doors leading out to our deck. Robins tend to do that, momentarily stunning themselves and then flying away. This bird fluttered at the door a couple of times.  Husband noticed, too, and went to see what was happening. Imagine my surprise when he announced “Renee, it’s a parrot!” It was trying to get into the house.

We don’t see many parrots in our backyard as a rule. I phoned the police to see if anyone had reported a missing parrot. The dispatcher said no, but that a man had phoned to report two small parrots sitting in his tree.  Our parrot appeared to be alone, and was sitting in the grape vines that grow up our deck. Husband made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to catch the bird with a net. It flew off each time and then returned to the grape vines on the deck.

It was 99° that day, and I was really worried about the bird’s safety.  I asked Husband to get our cat carrier, and I placed it on the deck with some cherries in it. Then I slowly approached the parrot, speaking to it in a gentle, high-pitched voice.  It let me come close, and I extended my finger. It hopped right on.  I tried to stay calm and not think about having a bird perched on me.  It allowed me to walk over to the cat carrier and pop it in. Thank goodness it didn’t flap at me. It started devouring the cherries.

Here is the bird I rescued after the police took it to the shelter.

I learned that it was a Green Cheeked Conure, and that its buddy was apprehended the next day two blocks from our house.  They were placed together in a foster home. A work friend knows the foster mom, and she showed me a photo of the two exhausted birds cuddled up to each other on the foster mom’s shoulder.  She will adopt them if no one claims them.

I still am afraid of birds,  but glad I could help  a grateful bird who had enough of the outdoors and just wanted to feel safe and eat cherries.  It was the perfect bird for a therapeutic intervention to reduce a phobia.

How do you tackle your fears?

 

28 thoughts on “For the Birds”

  1. I am impressed with your courage, Renee, and with the compassion that drove you to attempt something so challenging. Do you think your therapy training helped you rescue the bird in spite of your anxieties?

    The only personal fear to affect me has been performance anxiety, especially the fear of public speaking. And I can’t claim to have “tackled” that one. It pops up at random moments. I have no strong reason to overcome it, so I deal with it by avoiding public speaking.

    How randomly does this pop up? The last time was when you and your husband–two lovely, non-threatening people–celebrated Mother’s Day with my family in Happy Valley. I was telling a story when that fear struck.

    I often think of Herbie Adams, the principal of my high school in Ames. He was a small, owlish fellow with no sense of humor. Every school day began with Herbie reading the public announcements on the PA system while all kids and staff sat listening in their homerooms. Poor Herbie was terrified by public speaking. He would warble, halt and pant out of control while hacking his way through each morning’s announcements. He never got better, and yet he never delegated that horrible job to an underling. What a thing to face, knowing that each working day of your life would start with five minutes of public terror.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I’ll take that as a compliment, Renee. Lots of experience with “stage fright” has taught me how to hide it. But my point was meant to emphasize the tenacity of anxiety. I’ve not met two such nice people in years, and yet I was struck by that old fear. I have great respect for the power of anxiety, no matter how trivial it might seem when viewed rationally.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome to the trail! Our daughter was disappointed that we didn’t keep it, but a bird just isn’t in our future. I am just happy it was reunited with its buddy,

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  2. This is slightly OT, but not much. I hope some day to read a thoughtful analysis of how people choose pets, especially the more exotic pets such as parrots, wolves or hedgehogs. I think an honest appraisal of the underlying psychology would not be flattering for the people who make unconventional choices.

    Two parrots trying to live outdoors in North Dakota are probably the result of a failed experiment by someone who thought it would be fun to own a talking bird. Conures “only” live about 20 years, but that is much longer than the impulses that motivate some folks to buy a parrot. The average person has a poor sense of how serious a commitment is required to be a responsible parrot owner.

    My guess is that someone who wants a pet leopard is motivated by visions of how owning such a pet might attract favorable attention from strangers. Just a guess. But I’d like to see someone thoughtful doing an in-depth discussion of what drives people to own animals that have not been bred for life as a pet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    When I am afraid I think of two people: Eleanor Roosevelt and Uncle Jim.

    I love quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” She was a fearful young woman who found out her husband had a paramour. It caused her to question herself. Somehow in the next years, she forged ahead and made a life out of the mess.

    My Uncle Jim had a talk with me about anxiety. He said, “Listen, Jac, if you don’t face the things that scare you (in this case a garter snake) you will go on being afraid of everything, and that’s no life for anybody. Now put the snake between your fingers. Don’t squeeze. See, you can do it. And now you know there is nothing to be afraid of. “

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Great story, Renee — very nicely done and good for you to rescue a bird despite your fears. As I get older, I’ve found that I fear fewer things and make an effort to get over discomfort in situations. But I still don’t do confrontation. I try to remember the saying, “feel the fear but do it anyway”.

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  5. I generally don’t tackle my fears but at least one I noticed has disappeared with age: speaking up in a classroom.

    When I was a child, teenager, and young adult, you couldn’t pay me to speak up in class. Raise my hand and ask a question? Never. Raise my hand and answer a question? Never. Speak in front of the class? Well, I had to at times, but it was always me standing there reading quietly from a paper and the teacher yelling at me to “Speak up! You’re too quiet.”

    Well, in 2015, at a much older age than most people take college classes, there I was back in the classroom. I don’t know if it was just being older and not caring what people thought of me – or what – but I suddenly was able to raise my hand and ask questions. Lots of questions. I even answered questions sometimes. Perhaps it was because of it being classes that were not mere academics but practical application and because the teachers really wanted the students to become proficient in photography, but I found it freeing to be in a classroom where the teachers really cared if you understood things or if you were floundering. I found their patience inexhaustible. I think, too, that I no longer cared if the other students thought me dumb for asking questions. I wanted to understand things and do well in class, so I asked questions.

    I even had one presentation where I had to be in front of the class – put up my report on a screen and talk. So I wasn’t facing the classroom in a stand-up-in-front-and-make-eye-contact way, but I did the presentation. And nobody laughed at me.

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      1. Yes, I was truly impressed with the community college. At least in the program I was in, they were geared toward students making a career/getting jobs. The teachers were invested in making sure the students were competent and understood things. It was so much better for me, and I think for others, to have that way of teaching rather than just being fed information.

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  6. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway was a book (that I never read) which my consultants used in their coaching back in the 90s, but like Joanne, it kind of sums up what I do some of the time. One exception is when climbing to great heights on a ladder, when “Just Say No” comes into play.

    Then there’s this from The King and I, that my mom would sing with the piano – I imagine that’s imbedded in my psyche:

    Liked by 1 person

  7. One of my favorite movies is Nobody’s Fool, a film Paul Newman made late in his career. He plays a small town handyman whose life would look like a failure to most people. When he meets his grandson, however, Sully surprises everyone (including himself) by wanting to be a better parent than he was when he was younger.

    Sully gives his grandson a stopwatch to help him find courage. Sully tells him, “You don’t have to be brave forever. Just try to be brave for one minute. And if that works, the next time you’re scared try to be brave for a little bit longer.” (That’s just my recollection of the dialogue.) The idea is simple: courage is hard, but you can be brave if you summon up courage in small steps.

    The film is based on a Richard Russo novel. It features a stellar cast and the wittiest script I’ve ever encountered.

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  8. OMG I loved reading this so much cause I can relate so much! I never liked birds either and my experience was so similar to yours. My grandma kept chickens when I was younger – and I also remember that they would always come close and peck at me too! And ever since I’ve always been so scared of them!

    It’s funny cause my dad just got bird a couple months ago, and he got 2 green cheek conures, I always thought they were cute but was too scared to go close ahah.

    Love your post! 💜

    Would you mind checking out my photography blog at ( Rafia Tasneem ).

    Can’t wait to check out more of your posts! 🤗

    xx

    – Rafia

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hey Kids–

    Most of you know I have chickens. There’s a lot of family history with my siblings and chickens and most are NOT fond memories for them. 🙂

    A few days ago, my nephew, Jason, from PA was here to visit with his 2 yr old daughter. She wanted to see chickens and I thought they should collect eggs too. There was 3 hens still sitting in the nest boxes.
    Jason hesitated, but he started gathering eggs. And then he quietly mentioned how he hates birds. Oh? His mom wasn’t aware of that. And I warned him, there was one chicken that would peck as he tried to get her eggs.
    First chicken didn’t. Second chicken didn’t. Third chicken – Yep. And that’s it; he was done.
    But he said to his mom, ‘I have to be brave for my daughter’.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. There are some things that deserve to be feared. I don’t know how to handle those. I try to deny and ignore them. Birds don’t particularly scare me. I’m glad that the pair of parrots found sanctuary.

    Liked by 2 people

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