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Brainy, the Budgie

by Vicky Chapman, NSW, Australia


Someone reminded me of Brainy, the Budgie, and how she survived a mortal enemy (the cat) invading her space.

Firstly, let me describe Brainy. She was a rather large bird, a lovely aqua blue with a sparkling green tail and a white head. She wasn't the brightest bird on earth, she never learnt to talk, but what she lacked in the brains department, she made up in brawn. If she didn't want to be held, she could bite to draw blood. She walked pretty much everywhere, but could fly around like a mad-bird when it suited her. One of her favourite games was "swoop the human when the human least suspects it", which lead to some "interesting" comments being made by guests. She spent almost all of her time out of her cage, and usually "roosted" on top of the kitchen cupboards. (I think that was where she could spy on everyone and get the best swoop angles). Her favourite toy was a loaf of bread -which she'd pick to pieces overnight, or throwing things she could pick up off various high surfaces. We got used to "a bump in the night" - it was probably Brainy re-arranging the knick-knacks again. She could jail-break her cage fairly easily, even if we "pegged" it shut. Firstly she'd shred the peg, then open the door with her beak, and use a wing to keep it open so she could squeeze through. Basically this bird "ruled the roost".

Then Shmoggleberry turned up. We had a dilemma. Brainy was used to being out of her cage all day, whether we were there or not. There was no point trying to keep her in her cage, she'd just get out and be annoyed with us that we'd tried. But there was now a cat, a lean, mean, bird-killing machine. Hmmm....

Firstly, we tried to keep them apart. Shmoggleberry on the floor, Brainy on surfaces Shmoggleberry couldn't reach. But Shmoggleberry managed to get up on the fridge one day, which wasn't too far below the top of the kitchen cupboards, so that option suddenly disappeared.

We tried aversion therapy too, which we thought would work. We put Brainy in her cage (with a peg on the door - it took her a bit of time to get through one) and put the cage on the floor. We stood around with water pistols and waited for Shmoggleberry to investigate. Squirt! every time he got near the cage, he got wet. We thought this was great, because he didn't go near the cage again. Unfortunately the therapy meant he associated the water squirt with the cage - he still thought Brainy was pretty darn interesting.

So we eventually decided to move Brainy into the bedroom and the shut the door if we weren't going to be there to supervise, and it worked out fine for a while. But Shmoggleberry was still fascinated by Brainy.

One day, we were doing the couch-potato thing, supervising the critters. Brainy got into her human-swooping mood, but since we were on the couch, being pretty immobile, we weren't a lot of fun. But Wait! What is that grey furry thing walking around? That will be fun to swoop! KAMIKAZE!!!!.

Poor cat. He didn't quite know what was flying at him. He ran. Brainy dive-bombed him again. He ran some more. By this time we were in hysterics. Brainy actually landed on Shmoggleberry and Shmoggleberry became a very unwilling horse to Brainy's expert riding skills. Brainy was squawking in delight. Shmoggleberry eventually managed to "buck" Brainy off, and did the slinky thing behind the sofa. Shmoggleberry was now very wary of that vicious blue thing that had the audacity to ride him, the most elegant creature in the universe, as a mere horse! Oh, for a camera at the ready!

If we were out, we still separated the two, but if one of us were in the house, we knew that there would be no unfortunate bird-knapping incidents. Brainy had a shriek as grating as a disapproving mother-in-law, so if anything was happening that Brainy didn't welcome, we were notified in a most ear-splitting way. At some point we gained a second-hand budgie, Vomit (don't ask - we didn't name him), and the heirachy that Brainy had set up worked just as well with Vomit. Shmoggleberry still has a wary respect for all budgies. There were no incidents of cat-catching-bird for the remaining 5 years of Brainy's life (she died peacefully, in her cage, in her sleep) or the remaining 5.5 of Vomit's. (I think he died from missing his mate, Brainy).

(Please don't tell Shmoggleberry I posted this, he thinks I've forgotten how he was outwitted by a mere bird)


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