Introduction for: The Birds in My Life
My ignorance of the lives of birds began to seriously change one summer's day, sometime in the mid 1990s, when I met a boy on the gay strip of Church Street in Toronto. He was living on the street, having been rejected by his parents for being gay. This extremely bright and attractive 18 year old had a great sense of presence and good communication skills. When I met him, he was dressed in some sort of Indian wraparound sari, having lost his pants somewhere along the road. We chatted and it didn't take long to realize we were both students of Biology.
I invited him to come and stay with us on Beaty Avenue for awhile, to see if he could pull his life together. A day or so after he came to stay at Beaty, he mentioned that he had worked at a pet shop, and, in fact had a parrot that was being looked after at the shop, but now needed to join him at Beaty. The next day we headed off in my Volkswagen, nicknamed Simba, to retrieve the parrot.
'Poopie' as he was named (in reference to the manner and frequency of his evacuations), was a Red Lorikeet, a splendid mid-sized parrot from Australia with very difficult and specific digestive requirements. Poopie came with a large round cage where he spent most of his days. Unfortunately, Poopie's owner wasn't seriously dedicated to the care necessary for someone keeping such a complex miracle of evolution. The lad was more interested in the downtown party scene, leaving Poopie in my care.
Once my charge had landed a job in a chic clothing boutique, we saw even less of him and I started to think of Poopie as my own. The Lorikeet was my first intimate exposure to a tropical bird: I was captivated by its intelligence and beauty. A few weeks later, we made the decision to ask the young man to leave Beaty because of lifestyle issues in conflict with our own and that of our roommates.
It was a sad parting — I lost both the boy and the bird. But the time with Poopie started a new chapter in my life. Ever since, birds have always been part of it.