The recipe will turn out better if they have been warmed up by some loud, intimate conversation with the birds outside for awhile.
Add this at a volume to suit your taste, but be forewarned: it's going to get louder than you expect -
Grab onto the edge of a sturdy desk or something similar for support. You're going to need it.
In my ears right now: You already know what it is, but you can't imagine the volume. When Freddie Mercury emotes, so do the birds.
Something that charmed me: In 2008, I brought Bloomsbury Bird to live at the office. Although one of my co-workers had rigged me a wonderful pulley system and Bloomsbury lived at the ceiling in my home, I came home often to find Dylan or Virginia Woolf swinging in the air, clinging to the bottom of the birdcage. David wasn't opposed to having the bird in the office, and so I lived in very close quarters with him for about a year. First I learned how entertaining a bird can be at close range (about 18 inches from my keyboard), and I learned they are happy 100% of the time. Making a trip to PetSmart, I learned that most of us toss the little things into the most pedestrian wire cages when some really remarkable bird homes exist that make their life (and their owner's) a little better.
Soon I owned a small version of the wonderful Hagen bird home that has guards to deflect their poop from the food and water cups. It has plastic guards extending pretty far up the sides of the cage to keep the typical bird mess (seed hulls, feathers, projectile poop) contained inside, rather than floating out into the room. I liked that. Next came the wonderful natural wood perches and a 12 foot soft, flexible rope perch I formed into several loop-de-loops for their jumping pleasure. They do jump, too, landing with a thud on the neighboring loop! When Benson Bird joined us, it was soon apparent we needed larger digs, so the large Hagen cage was ordered. The day it arrived, I got an e-mail asking how large it was. I replied with literal truth, "If we could fold my limbs up against my body, it would be a nice fit for me." I set about fixing the parakeet palace up with perfect feng shui.
I've already confessed on this blog to being pretty tightly wound, and having completed my own birdly rite of passage, I wasn't finished. I repeated it as a gift for a friend in virtually the identical steps: one bird, small Hagen cage, second bird, large Hagen cage, fine natural wood and loop-de-loop perches. Yes, it was my birdbrain year! And finally it was over. I have no other friends who would appreciate such a gift and my obsessive attention to it.
I handled the birds a lot during all that relocating. I don't like to handle them much. They are tiny and my looming hands must be terrifying. They're delicate things and there is always a fine line between holding them too tight or holding them too loose so they can fly off. Since my pair moved into their palace, I have not touched their bodies once, nor have they left the comfort of their home. It pleases me to say we only had one mishap amongst all four birds and their four homes.
It was the final moving day from small Hagen to large for my two feathered friends. I transported Bloomsbury without any difficulty. He didn't even peck me. I took a breather in between, so I wouldn't feel anxious. Benson's journey was not as idyllic. I made the serious mistake of holding him too loosely and he wasted no time in attempting to escape my grip. As he lunged forward, I grabbed for him, grasping the very last part of his escaping body. Yes, the tail. Every feather in that tail, save one tiny specimen (I swear this is literally true) was held tightly between my thumb and forefinger and the little blue bird had propelled himself right into the new cage where I wanted him to be.
Shocked and upset, I stared at Benson's backside with my nose pressed up against the cage. I can attest that a bird's tail is made from a lot of feathers, and he had a noticeable void in his caboose. The one tiny remaining tailfeather fluttered as I exhaled, so I knew it would soon be gone, too. It was! I observed that without the long tail, his body shape was rather like a fat, thick S. He was roly-poly, and one needn't be an ornithologist to understand that the tail is required for balance. He has no arms to use for balance, and he can't spend 100% of his time with his wings extended for that purpose. We spent some time in distress, did Benson and I. I sent him all the cosmic, karmic bonhomie I had. The rest had to be performed by his own little body.
A cage of happy birds attracts a lot of attention in an office setting where one might not expect to encounter such a thing. It is a rare visitor to our business who does not step over to the cage and speak softly to them. Mailman Steve flirts with them daily, making little kissing noises. For a few weeks, birdie observers stepped up to the cage and then stepped back, looking startled. I could tell they had observed Benson's deformity. I would hold up the little bouquet of tailfeathers I kept at my fingertips and most people looked even more startled. One morning, upon inspection, I saw the tiniest tip of a feather reaching out of the void. The next day there was another. The third day, each was a bit longer. Today Benson is fully restored to his original beauty and I have a very special attachment to the little blue jelly bean bird.
So, does the reader know what charmed me? It's the lesson I took from Benson and his tail. We all suffer losses, both large and small. After the loss, there is the period when the fallout settles. Internally and externally, lightning bolts of positive and negative energy shoot through our universe. And then we emerge into life after the loss. Can we be completely restored? Maybe. Can we be restored to a condition that is at least acceptable, even if different? Hopefully. Is it likely the loss will completely break us? Note to self: get the tattoo. It is not.