I think I was around ten or eleven when my best friend, without asking if it was okay with my parents, bought be a zebra finch and cage for my birthday. I got him a wife, and they had some chicks – managed to raise two to adults.
Eventually they died, and I got a budgie, had him for a few years, and got a cockatiel. I lost the cockatiel (she was a sweetie too), and got a lovebird. Kept birds until I was nineteen, and moved to Australia, and couldn’t take the lovebird with me. She was easy to get rid of, tame as hell, because I hand raised her from a few weeks old, and the first person to come see her fell in love with her when I went to give her away.
I’ve always loved birds, and been fascinated with anything that can fly. I would watch the finches for hours as they flitted back and forth across their cage.
But the reason I stopped keeping birds, ultimately, was because once I got to the parrots – the ones that make the best companion pets, (important because I was such a lonely child) you have to clip their wings if they’re going to be out of their cages for any significant amount of time. A thing with wings should fly.
I dreamed of doing something like falconry, where one works with birds unclipped, letting them fly. I remember a group bringing in a bunch of rescued raptors in a show, and getting to see a great grey owl in person, that they had fly over our heads in the multipurpose room at school. I remember being captivated by David Bowie’s Goblin King, because the Goblin King could shape-shift into an owl. My favourite Cosgrove books were Shimmeree and the Flutterby ones, because they were horses with wings. I read the Pern novels just for the parts where characters get to ride on the backs of dragons.