(illustration by Paris)
by Bev Letard
There are so many friends who are asking how I became interested in birds and where my passion first began.
Let me start right at the beginning of a story that totally changed my life forever. My mother passed away 14 years ago. She and I were very close and I felt my heart was going to break after losing her. About 1 month after she passed, I was quietly painting on my own. My windows were open but there was not a breath of wind that day. I turned around and saw behind me a beautiful white feather that had somehow floated in and landed on the floor. I took comfort in this and to me that was a sign that my mom was still with me. Over the years now and again I saw white feathers. One day a post came through on Facebook saying: “Feathers appear when angels are near”.
Once again I thought of my beautiful mom, then to myself I “spoke” to my mom asking her if that was really her sending me little signs of love, then she should bring me another white feather in the most unusual way! (I did not want to see feathers on the ground or anywhere one might normally see them, I wanted a special sign from mom!) Remember this was all going on in my head and I had not shared my thoughts with anybody.
Well the next day (which would have been my mom’s birthday), my doorbell rang… It was the security guard from our complex who asked me if I would like a budgie??? I said no thank you but he went on to tell me that the gardener had found a budgie in the garden and that he had it downstairs in a box. I changed my mind immediately and asked Lloyd (my husband) to go downstairs and fetch the box. We opened it up gently and there inside was this beautiful little WHITE budgie. A whole bundle of white feathers from my mom!!!
We named her Bubbles. We never kept Bubbles in a cage, she was free to fly all over our apartment and had her favourite places, one of which was to perch on my toes when I lay in bed. An amazing artist Rentia Coetzee saw this post on Facebook (Bubbles sitting on my toes) and she asked permission to paint it. Of course I said yes and now this portrait of Bubbles is one of my prized possessions in my home. Bubbles approved!
One day out of the blue a big black feral pigeon decided to visit. One morning whilst going through to my sitting room, I noticed this handsome chap sitting on my sofa. He was very tame! I had a few ladies to paint with me that day and this bird refused to leave – when I put him outside he kept pecking at my window asking me to come back inside. So he joined our art class and had fun with the ladies. We were astounded at this pigeon!
Anyway, to cut a long story short we established that this pigeon had another human home but was raised to be free. He loved to come visit us almost daily, for a period of approx. 2 years. His name is Sooty. Sooty and Bubbles formed a very close bond. At first Bubbles was terrified of this big black bird in a pink polkadot nappy (bird diaper). However, he popped in to see her everyday and would land on the window ledge. Bubbles would fly onto the railing to welcome him every time he arrived and some days when he did not come to visit, she would sit there the entire day waiting for him. She became enraptured with this tall, dark, handsome fella who came to visit and she would follow him around pecking at his tail trying to grab his attention. He never let that bother him and just ignored that fact that he may have been becoming a bit hen-pecked by her. Their association was beautiful to watch.
Then one day Sooty disappeared for a couple of weeks. Bubbles sat at that window day in and day out. She looked sad that her buddy had left! This broke my heart and I decided to get her a little budgie mate. And so my white Billie arrived. I bought him from a budgie breeder and he was tiny and terrified. The day we brought him home, Bubbles flew to his cage and kissed him though the bars. It was so sweet.
Here is a video of them together.
Billie was also allowed to fly freely around my home and Bubbles taught him where to go (where the food bowls were kept) and our nightly going-to-bed routines. She was gentle and loving to him always. The 2 became best friends.
And then one day… Sooty arrived back at my window, and then there were 3!
Story to be continued next week… watch this space!