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The Green Dancer

Swati-Kapoor-Indian-Ringneck

When you really want something in life all the universe conspires to help you achieve it. I never believed in it until it happened to me. Life is strange and I have experienced that relief sometimes comes from a place you least expected.

This story is about me and my journey from a girl to a woman who never thought would be so crazily in love with birds. Now I consider them to be my non-human kids. I’ll never forget the day of March 14, 2007. This day changed my life and how I perceived birds today. I have always had a soft spot for small animals and wanted to have a pet since childhood.

My mother who is a dog person had lost her dogs when she was young and didn’t have the heart to go through the same pain again, so the only pet I had till the age of 23 was fish. I remember once I got to keep a baby monkey at the age of four who was lost and crying for only a day and then another time I had two birds for a couple of weeks. I still have clear memories of the happiness I experienced then.

It was a few years later that my dad gifted me two adult Indian Ringnecks; commonly known as the Green Parrot in India for my ninth birthday. This was the first time I had seen birds so closely but being naïve, I didn’t know what to do. Even at this age, I could see that they were wild birds and that they were not bred. The poor things must have been captured and kept in that small round cage with no food or water.

I tried to do my best but nothing I did would make them happy. I could feel that all they desired was to be free again. So finally after having them for around 15 days I decided to free them. It was our “Independence Day.” I opened the cage and as soon as I did they took off without any hesitation. Their flight of freedom left me in tears, but I was happy for them. That night I dreamed about them, happy with their flock telling them stories about me.

mithu-parrot

The next day I heard noises in my balcony. When I stepped out I was thrilled to see my birds were back. They didn’t allow me to touch them, but ate food from my hand and took off again. God (nature) had given me the greatest gift. I didn’t see them for the next 11 days, but they were back on the twelfth day and that was the last time I saw them. I still think about them. I like to think they are still happy and alive. I pray that both of them have found a mate and made lots of babies. I wish back then that I had the knowledge I have now. I knew that those birds didn’t belong to me and that they belonged in the wild.

I continued my journey of life; getting busy with studies, job and other problems that come along as part of growing up. The memories of childhood faded away. Then an event changed my life in 2007. My close friend came to stay over. She had an Indian Ringneck back home and she told me stories about him. I listened to them like a young child and became very interested as I had never seen a bird do all the things she said it did.

We decided to fetch him. I remember the exact moment and everything that happened. For me it was love at first sight. The moment he saw my friend his eyes lit up and he started calling her Mitthu, which he calls every human he meets. Anyway for me that was no less than a miracle as I had never seen a bird talk and dance before. He seemed so happy and lively even in a small rusty cage. He was named Mitthi. The next few days I fell in love with him even more.

My friend said that he hated strangers and he would hiss and bite if they came near. But nothing of that happened with me. Before I knew it, he was giving me kisses and dancing and calling me. He even let me change the paper towel in his cage. All I did was sing to him.

After he left I thought about him every single day. I was in love with those eyes, not to forget seeing his dance moves. I begged my mother to get me a bird. I didn’t think about the lifespan and all I wanted was to give a bird a happy loving home. This time I was ready.
Swati-Kapoor-Indian-Ringneck-Cockatiel
I got my first bird from a pet shop a month later. I had never seen a bird (cockatiel) with so many colors so that is the one I chose. I named him Piddu, which means tiny as I had not seen a bird smaller than him.

At first I didn’t know what to do with him, or how to feed him, or how to bathe him. I was like a new mother with a baby who knew nothing about caring for the child. I quickly learned how to care for him from the internet and also from other bird owners abroad. This bird gave me so much love and attention that I would visit pet shops, stand and stare at birds and wonder what kind of personality each one had. But still I couldn’t forget that Green Dancer that had left a deep impact on my heart.

In the meantime my flock grew from one to six birds. The first bird that I adopted was similar to my first pet and is a cockatiel as well. He is named Dodo. He was treated badly at the pet shop and so I rescued him. I knew I had to be very patient with this one as he had gone through a lot of abuse. I remember he would faint with fear many a time when I tried to touch him. His bite would always leave my fingers bloody. Now he is the sweetest bird who sings to get my attention and hops around happily. Music is something that helped me to bond with Dodo. Every time I sing, he lets me touch and pet him.

I went through a phase where I used to cry looking at birds in pain and just wanted to save every bird and bring them home, but sadly that’s not possible. Anyway my friend went through a bad phase in life and completely neglected Mitthi. After three and a half years of waiting, I got a phone call. The voice on the other side told me that she no longer wanted the bird and that she was going to release him into the wild. I panicked and said “Don’t do that he will die. Just give him to me.” Immediately she agreed.

The next day, I drove for almost two hours to get him. All the way I thought, “Finally I will have the bird that changed my life and now it’s my chance to change his.” I saw him in the same old rusted cage, but I didn’t recognize him. Was this the same bird?

His face was full of pins as a result of bad molting. On our way back I turned on some music to cheer him up and I kept talking to him, but all I got was silence and sadness in those eyes. I remember telling him that his life was about to change. I could see his spirit had been broken and it took around a month before he made any kind of sound.

Soon Mitthi was in love with me again. He quickly adjusted to his new routine. He got lots of toys to play with, nutritious food and most importantly clean water to drink. He couldn’t walk or fly when he came to me but he got better with time. Now he would follow me around all day.

But then all that changed again. I had him for almost eight months and one day he suddenly started passing undigested food in his poop and most bird owners know that is an emergency situation. After two whole months of testing and medication and still no improvement came the horrible news. Mitthi was diagnosed with PDD. My heart sank. I had almost lost him one evening as he refused to eat and kept on throwing up and couldn’t stand up. I cried and cried. It was too soon to say goodbye and I thought it was too late to help him. But then a change of medication caused a miracle and he suddenly started eating again.

I knew this journey was not going to be easy and it wouldn't be the same as before. I struggled with his sickness and medication and most importantly his feeding. His weight kept on fluctuating and he would scream in pain and not keep his food down. But I’m grateful to his veterinarian for guiding and helping me through this. I don’t know what I would have done without the internet as I read as much as I can about this disease and what has worked for other parrot owners.

Indian-Ringneck-Scale

Today after one year and seven months, Mitthi doesn’t look like a normal Indian Ringneck as he doesn’t molt correctly or even have a ring. He is yellow and green but his disease has not stopped him from being a happy bird who loves to play with his ball. He also loves to bully my dog and steals food from my plate.

The medications are helping him lead a normal life and what helped me the most with him is syringe feeding. I feed him twice a day and the rest of the time he eats on his own. This maintains his weight and he is active and happy. He still has bad days but they have decreased. But he won’t survive without his special diet, medication and syringe feeding. I know he won’t live as long as a normal Indian Ringneck. Who knows when his time will come! It can be in a day or maybe ten years. The most important thing is that he is loved and cared for. He is happy and active. He is my BABY and will be until his last breath.

People say I rescued him, but if you ask me it’s the other way round. An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language. Only some are blessed to be able to hear it.

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