News from Shakes Manor

The Fishbirds of Parental Manor Edition

Mama Shakes has two parakeets: Blue and Honey. Those aren’t actually them in the picture, but that’s pretty much what they look like. Wev.

Now I like birds—as evidenced by my fondness for Mr. Shakes’ budgie Harry—but I swear to the fates that Blue and Honey are the most useless squawk boxes in the history of featherdom. They’re totally unfriendly, even to Mama Shakes, who, in the past, has owned budgies so charming and personable they would take a seed right from between your teeth then kiss you before flitting away back to their cages. But don’t count on these two jerkbeaks doing a cute trick or being remotely affectionate; if even Mama Shakes reaches into the cage, they just shriek like insane banshees and run to the other side of the cage like she’s about to kill them.

Which, if I’m honest, is at least evidence of a personality. The rest of the time, the dire duo are so dreadfully boring that it’s like trying to engage the occupants of a fish tank. Hence, I’ve dubbed them the fishbirds.

“They’re not as boring as fish!” Mama Shakes protested, laughing hysterically.

“You’re right,” I said. “Quite possibly, they are more so.”

“Aww,” she said, casting a warm glance at her fishbirds. “Poor little things! You’re not fishbirds, are you?” They looked back at her with the glazed eyes of circling guppies.

“See?” I said. “Fishbirds.”

To put it gently, Papa Shakes is unimpressed with the fishbirds, and he would happily let them fly to their freedom, or serve them up on a cracker as a midafternoon snack, given half a chance. His eyes roll so unfailingly at any mention of the fishbirds, it as if some strange incantation has inextricably bonded his muscles of orbit to the word “bird.” I fear if he watched the Hitchcock film, he would blind himself. He constantly exhorts their cats to eat them, but the cats are having none of it—which only confirms Papa Shakes’ suspicion that the cats are useless, too.

Last night, after a huge dinner prepared by Mama Shakes, the four of us were getting ready to leave Parental Manor and head over to my aunt and uncle’s house to watch the fireworks. Mama Shakes was in the bathroom changing from her “grillin’ clothes” into something nicer when she remembered the fishbirds were out on the deck. She called, “Hey, Papa Shakes—will you bring the birds in?”

The Papa Shakes patented dramatic eye roll ensued as he got up from the couch. Without missing a beat, he said, “What are you going to do with them in there? You need ’em to test the gas levels?”

This, of course, was the trifecta for Papa Shakes. A play on words and a dig at the fishbirds, all rolled into a fart joke.

Mama Shakes, Mr. Shakes, and I all burst into laughter as Papa Shakes headed out to the deck to collect the fishbirds, an evil, proud little grin on his face.

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17 Comments

Filed under 01_shakespeares_sister

17 responses to “News from Shakes Manor

  1. I’ve had a series of budgies and tried to train them to talk and do the things that people will say they do and had no luck whatsoever. I read all the books, followed all the instructions, even had a friend come in and help me. Bupkus.

    I swear that all the trained birds you see on TV are actually little people dressed up like birds and doing an act, or they’re CGI and voiced by people like Roseanne. The real ones are, to coin a phrase, birdbrains.

    My last one, Gwaihir, named for the king of the eagles in LOTR, was so dumb he picked a fight with the bird in the mirror. I was actually kind of glad when he hopped the twig.

  2. My ex had a parakeet named Mister Tweets. He’d had the the bird for 15 years.

    It was so old it had patches of feathers missing and was extremely ill-tempered.

    If anyone other than Sean went near his cage, he would freak out. Sean could handle him without any problems. But, Mister Tweets hated every other human on the planet.

    In the mornings, I would hear him chirping away in a sweet little birdy voice. The minute I’d peek around the corner, he’d start screaming at me. It was like he was saying, “Get the fuck out of my room!”

    I secretly praised the day when Sean found Mister Tweets dead in his cage. Friends whispered to me behind his back, “Thank God that hidious old thing is out of its misery.”

  3. I’ve had a series of budgies and tried to train them to talk and do the things that people will say they do and had no luck whatsoever.

    My grandmother owned an aviary and raised all kinds of exotic birds. She specialized in teaching them how to talk. The freaky thing about it was that they all sounded just like her.

  4. Melissa McEwan

    I’ve had a series of budgies and tried to train them to talk and do the things that people will say they do and had no luck whatsoever.

    It’s my understanding that at what age you get them really matters, and whether they’ve been truly hand-raised.

    Mr. Shakes’ budgie Harry was delightful–he would talk back to Mr. Shakes and do tricks and was very friendly with strangers. But he got him as a wee baby from someone who had hand-raised him from a hatchling.

  5. It’s my understanding that at what age you get them really matters, and whether they’ve been truly hand-raised.

    That is what I witnessed my grandmother doing. She raised them from hatchlings. Parrots, Cockatoos, Macaws, Parrots, Mynah Birds, just about every bird you can imagine.

  6. One thing about living in South Florida is the flocks of parrots that hang out in my neighborhood, along with a pack of budgies. My guess is that they’re all escapees (or have been “liberated” by someone who got tired of being screamed at). They make a hellacious racket when they get together the in trees, terrorize the other birds, and even chase cats. The budgies all hang around with them like the birdie equivalent of Bush Republicans who suck up to Karl Rove, knowing that if they piss off the head parrot they’ll probably get the shit kicked out of them.

    I raised Gwaihir from about the age of six weeks — so they said — and they swore he had been “hand raised.” I had a friend who tried to teach him to say, “Here, kitty!” She was evil.

  7. katecontinued

    For no apparent reason – except that I am intrigued with things that seem innocent (but aren’t).

  8. My aunt had an unpleasant cockatiel. I visualized him staring down the barrel of a casserole dish of sage stuffing, which has no barrel. But still.

  9. Kate Harding

    This, of course, was the trifecta for Papa Shakes. A play on words and a dig at the fishbirds, all rolled into a fart joke.

    I just fell a little in love with Papa Shakes.

  10. Deanna

    My fish are way more personable than that. When I come up to the tank, they come up to the top to greet me (well, beg for more food). Plus, bonus points for no shrieking and no feathers to make me sneeze.

  11. Mama Shakes

    I deeply resent the insinuation that our birds are not bright, delightful bundles of beauty. Just because their most consistent expressions involve the white of terror showing around their beady little black eyeballs, that doesn’t mean they don’t adore us. I’m sure it’s all a bit of birdy humor.

  12. quixote

    Birds do have a sense of humor. You got that right, Mama Shakes. Not the sort of humor you want to be at the wrong end of (as I generally am). I keep thinking about the fact that they’re related to dinosaurs, and thinking that if I could travel back to that time, it’s that sense of humor I’d worry about, even more than the teeth and claws.

    (I love birds, by the way. I have six cockatiels. You have to genuinely want complete independence in your companions to feel that way about a cute feathered dinosaur. Ya hear that, Liss?) /*Walks away muttering, Fishbirds! Honestly.*/

  13. Melissa McEwan

    Just because their most consistent expressions involve the white of terror showing around their beady little black eyeballs, that doesn’t mean they don’t adore us.

    LOL!!!

  14. Erin M

    My grandmother once owned a loud and ill-tempered cockatiel that also seemed to consider itself part rooster. To wit, it would begin squawking the moment it caught a bit of light under the cage blanket. My mom had about enough of this one morning, and told the bird it would look real good with a side of hashbrowns. Would you believe the bird’s rooster habit stopped right then and there?

  15. Mama Shakes

    Just be glad Blue and Honey aren’t as loud as Skippy, the Kirchner’s grey parrot from Hell. Remember him?

  16. My mom used to have zebra finches, a pair. One sang all the time and one never made a peep. Not one. Well, one day, my mom was a bit lazy and figured she would clean the cage with the vacuum hose, rather than taking the birds out and cleaning that way. Unfortunately, this was not a good idea and the little finch that never made a noise was sucked into the tube. She quicj turned the vacuum off and there was the little bird in the mouth of the tube, clinging to it for dear life. We quick shooed the cats out and shut all the doors and let the poor little guy climb out at his own speed, caught him and stuck him back in the cage. He sat there for about five seconds and then, “Tweep!” From that moment forward, that bird never shut up. Never.

  17. Melissa McEwan

    Remember him?

    Not only do I remember him, I remember when he escaped and Dick had to chase the frigging thing all over town!

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