Sunday, March 14, 2010
Saving the World's Grumpiest Cockatiel
Twelve years ago our family welcomed a newly hatched cockatiel into our home. We were all excited to raise the hand-fed pet. We had visions of him sitting on our shoulders and being our feathered companion.
But the reality is very different. Crackers does not speak a word. He will ride on our shoulders and is finger trained, though he will most often bite those fingers. He does dance to certain songs but only if he is in the mood. Occasionally he falls out of bed in the middle of the night. (That means he falls off his perch then squawks in anger, flapping around on the bottom of the cage until someone comes and turns on the light so he can see to climb back up.) He also loves to taunt our poor dog who, obviously, has a lot of bird dog in his lineage and looks at us in confusion as if asking our permission to follow instinct and swallow the bird whole.
Despite all of our efforts to befriend Crackers and care for him, he has only bonded with one member of our family—my teenage son. As soon as that son walks by Crackers starts to whistle and sing until our son comes and holds him. The bird absolutely adores him.
The other night I moved down the dark hallway, intent on placing a backpack in the closet next to the bird’s cage. I knew where I was and felt I did not need the light; but a split second of counsel flashed in my mind. “Turn on the light so the bird is not startled.”
The thought did not make 'sense' to me. Afterall, I walk by his cage all the time in the dark. I ignored the counsel and walked into the dark room with a noisy backpack. Crackers, deep asleep on his perch, let out a squawk of fear and erupted into panic.
Hearing the chaotic flapping of wings and horrid screeching from the bird I turned on the light only to see the bird now stuck between the bars of the cage, his body halfway out of the cage, his wings twisted around and caught between the bars in a way that both amazed and shocked me. How did he manage that? He has never fit through the bars before.
Angered and scared, the bird fought to get free. I worried he would break a wing in his attempts and quickly moved to help him.
Now, you must understand that Crackers tolerates me because I feed and water him. Tonight, though, he was not in a tolerant mood. When I placed my hands around his tiny body to carefully fold back his wings and release them he turned his head and bit my finger hard enough to draw blood. He had never done that before and I knew there was only one person he wanted--only one he would relax for--and that was my son.
My son came upstairs and, with the help of his father, freed the cockatiel with only a few ruffled feathers. Then my son spent the next hour and a half petting and calming the bird before returning him to his cage.
The success of my son in freeing Crackers made sense to me. What surprised me was the split second of counsel and inspiration the Lord gave me before it all happened. He told me what to do because He wanted to protect the world’s grumpiest cockatiel!
It has made me reflect on the comment made the Savior. When speaking of captive sparrows he said, “Not one of them is forgotten before God…Fear not, therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7, also Matt. 10:29-31).
If God would send a moment of inspiration to prevent undue stress to an ornery cockatiel, it is because sending inspiration and giving revelation is what He does! He wants to protect and guide us in all aspects of our lives, even with the smallest of things.
I wonder how many times He does actually inspire us and we don't listen, or we choose to ignore it because it is so small? If we don't respond to His small counsels, why would He want to trust us with the bigger inspirations?
The night Crackers got stuck I chose to ignore His seemingly "small" inspiration and continued working in the dark. It didn't turn out very well.
I have decided there is a lesson in that, too.