There it is.
It is called a “cockatiel”.
This one’s name is Pearl.
When I first met Pearl, I was still mourning the loss of my very first cockatiel, Jacob. Jacob died from a congenital kidney defect at age 3. The pet store didn’t check the babies for defects and we had no idea until we ordered an autopsy done. His death is still one of the most painful memories of my life.
I did not – I repeat NOT – want another cockatiel after Jacob passed.
But my parents thought it was best that I “get back on the horse” (or on the wing, so to speak) so unbeknownst to me they started scouting babies at nearby pet stores.
One day I was at work, and I got this urgent call from my mom, who just insisted I had to meet them at Petsmart on my lunch hour. I just insisted I didn’t want to go.
But as Moms go, mine can be very persuasive, so at noon on the dot I dutifully pulled into the parking lot.
The sight that met my eyes proves that sometimes first impressions have nothing to do with the eyes.
First, I saw several very large, well-groomed, sleek and confident yellow and white cockatiel babies parading around and begging for treats from the audience in the large, open-air cage in the center of the store.
Next, I saw a small grey cockatiel with feathers matted with baby formula. She was missing several claws from each foot, and her left wing was clearly malformed. The other babies ignored her, unless she happened to get in their way, at which point they just walked over her.
I knew EXACTLY how she felt – the runt of the litter, the ugly duckling, the one that just didn’t fit in.
I extended my finger. She climbed on. And up my arm. And onto my shoulder, And underneath my hair, cuddling as close to my neck as she could. She stayed there for 45 minutes as we wandered the aisles of Petsmart together, until the birdie manager panicked and thought she’d gotten lost or stolen.
Nope. We were just hangin’ out – just a gal and her bird.
I nicknamed Pearl “love with wings” that day, because she healed the open wound in my heart and reminded me that if we want to keep love alive, we have to keep giving ours away.