I saw a blue headed parrot with a price tag of $3000, an African grey for $2000 and some other parrot for $1000. Beautiful birds, but who pays that kind of money for a feathered friend?
A little further down I noticed a cage full of twittering budgies. Green ones, blue ones, and white budgies with blue streaks in their tail. Each budgie went for $3.50. Now that was a little more like it. Not that I considered keeping birds because with five cats around … that bird wouldn’t twitter for long.
Finally I noticed a canary, a yellow one with black streaks in his tail feathers. Male canary, the label on his cage read and his price was $150.
Seeing the bird brought back memories though …
Years ago a friend of mine (let’s call her Annette) was going on vacation for a week with her boyfriend. She asked me if I would mind looking after her canary.
Of course I didn’t mind. I had a little experience with birds and they were no trouble at all. If they had food, water and a birdbath, they were generally happy.
When Annette brought me her bird, I noticed that the cage had a number of round wooden sticks for the bird to sit on, a little swing, a mirror, and a piece of cuttlefish bone to clean and sharpen the bird's beak.
Annette said goodbye to her bird, I said goodbye to Annette and Sweetie (the canary) eyed his new surroundings and started a happy tune.
For the entire week everything went perfectly fine. Sweetie ate and drank, took his daily bath, and enjoyed some freedom when I let him fly free in the house (as instructed by Annette).
But two hours before Annette was set to pick up Sweetie, everything went horrible wrong. I had forgotten to close the kitchen door, and when I realized my mistake, I was just in time to see Sweetie take off into the unknown.
Sweetie briefly sat on the washing line, flew to a nearby tree, and then disappeared into the woods. Bye, bye birdie.
I panicked. What was I going to tell Annette? Could I tell her that her bird had spread his wings? No, she would never trust me again.
It didn’t take a genius to come up with a plan. I would just buy her another canary, she would never know the difference. After all, if you’ve seen one canary, you’ve seen them all.
I hopped in my car, drove to the nearest pet store and asked for a canary.
“Sure,” the salesman said, “which one would you like?”
He showed me a cage with at least twenty canaries, all different ones. Some were lemon yellow, others had a more orange tint; some had a bit of black on their tails, some had bit of black on their wings.
I tried to remember Sweetie … was the bird yellow or orange? Yellow, Sweetie was definitely yellow. Did the bird have black feathers on his wings or tail? No, to the best of my recollection the bird had been completely yellow.
“That one,” I pointed to an all yellow canary. “Give me that one.”
The man caught the bird, put it in a box, I paid for it and drove home. Back home I let the bird flutter from the box into the cage and voila, that was that. Crisis averted. Annette would never be the wiser.
I had just changed from my shoes into my slippers, when the doorbell rang … Annette.
Even before I could ask her to sit down, offer her something to drink or ask her how her vacation had been, Annette asked “What happened to Sweetie?” while pointing at the bird in the cage.
“What do you mean, what happened to Sweetie?” I asked, trying hard to keep a poker face.
“This isn’t Sweetie,” Annette said.
I mentally went over Sweetie’s looks yet again. The bird had definitely been yellow, and there had been no distinctive marks. So how did Annette know that this wasn’t her bird?
“Of course it’s Sweetie,” I tried to look as innocent as possible. “It’s a yellow canary isn’t it?”
“Yes, it’s a yellow canary,” Annette said hands on hips, but Sweetie was a male and this is a female.”