#20: Lessons from a little birdie

Watching such a tiny creature educate himself through instinct is inspiring.

We bought a baby budgie from the pet shop last week. Being the noobs that we are, we didn’t realise that it was cheaper than the rest because it has a defective beak. We presumed that it was how baby birds looked like. But it does pig out at every meal and is a flurry of activity, so we think he’s alright for now. (We’re not sure of its sex yet, but I’ll just use ‘he’ based on characteristics.)

Watching him grow is fascinating. They evolve at a much faster rate than a human child, and without any help. All we do is fatten him up, talk to him, and clean his endless droppings. It’s amazing how a tiny little thing can fill his entire cage with shit in a few short hours.

Malnourished and scrawny when we first got him, he put on a third of his body weight every day. When he was settled into his new home, he began trying to get on top of his box. He would stretch his claws up as high as they could go, and haul himself onto the edge. Sometimes he would fall backwards, but he kept trying over and over again. Now he can get up with one hop.

Then he surprised us by recognising that it was meal time, and started to come straight to us from the cage. He was only in the beginning stages of flight, but it’s amazing to watch how his self-taught abilities improved overnight.

We’ve added some perches, ropes and toys into his little home, and he climbs higher and faster with each passing day. He used to be hesitant perched on the lower bar, but today he dances up and down with ease. It takes him a few tries to perch onto the highest, unhinged bar with the bell, but I’m sure tomorrow all it’d take him is one leap. He practices hard, flapping his growing wings with such gusto I’m afraid he’ll injure himself. But the wonders of nature always surpass my limited imagination.

When we found him at the pet shop, he was with three bigger birds of a different species. His chirp was loud and he fought hard for attention and food. I fell in love with his spirit immediately. We thought it might take a while for him to warm up to us, having come from a harsh environment, but this wasn’t the case. He is friendly with all human beings, and loves to chat and cuddle.

He is also a fearless little thing who doesn’t seem to have any concept of danger. Perhaps it’s how all children are. He hits himself and falls down while flying, but simply gets up and tries again. He has a healthy curiousity, easily aroused by sounds and new objects.

What I find most fascinating is that he does all this through instinct. He obviously doesn’t stop to the analyse the situation or purpose. He understands his limits, yet pushes against them daily. When he’s uncomfortable at a certain height, he calls out to us for help. In his spare time, he aims for the next level on his own. He’s learning to fly because that’s what birds do. He doesn’t go around thinking about what he wants out of life, but does what life expects of him. That is a big lesson that I could learn from this little creature. What does life expect from me today? Perhaps it is to be content in all its simplicity. Or perhaps it is to go through a period of suffering. Whatever it is, watching such a tiny creature educate himself through instinct is inspiring. I’m sure as the days go by, there’s more we’ll be learning from each other!

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