Friday, March 26, 2004


Years ago I had a pet Cockatiel named Coocoo. She was a Cockatiel that Noy and I had bought when we first moved to Huron, South Dakota in the summer of 1983. This story takes place a couple years later. It was in April of '85 and one of the first warm days of the year. I was at work when I got a phone call from Noy. She was panicked because she had set the birdcage out on the deck and the wind had knocked it over and Coocoo got out.

I raced home to find Coocoo still in the area, perched on a power line by our apartment. There was no way she was going to come back to me. The winds were blowing hard from the south and a cold front was bringing some very strong thunderstorms toward us. I remember seeing her fly from the power line and getting caught up in the winds which quickly took her out of sight. I felt so helpless as I really loved that little bird. I couldn't stand the thought of losing her, especially with the violent weather which was approaching.

The weather got so bad that night and the winds so strong that the windshield on my car was cracked by a piece of gravel or something which hit it during the storm. I couldn't imagine how Coocoo could have survived it. I walked the neighborhood the next morning calling for her as she was very tame and I thought there might be a slim chance that she would come to me after what she had been through the night before. There was no sign of her.

A week went by and I decided to put a small ad in the local paper which said, "Lost, pet grey Cockatiel" and I listed our phone number. Two more weeks went by and I had pretty much given up on ever seeing her again. Then one morning I got a phone call from a farmer 18 miles to the north who said he thought our bird might be staying around his farm and that I might want to come to have a look. I had one question for him. I asked him if the bird hopped like a Robin or waddled like a duck when it walked. He said it would put one foot in front of the other sort of like a duck. I felt it was worth checking out after that answer and so I did.

I had the afternoon shift that day so I had to hurry. I got up there around 10:00am and I no sooner got out of my car when I saw Coocoo fly to a power line and perch herself above me. There was no question that she knew me but she wouldn't fly to me. I had no means of catching her so I decided I'd have to buy some sort of net and come back the next day to try and catch her. As we were talking with the farmer, his dog was hanging around. I remember the farmer saying to not let the dog get anywhere near the bird because it would not be good. I bought a fishing net on my way to work that day.

I got up early the next morning and arrived at the farmhouse as the sun was rising. I also brought along Coconut, our other Cockatiel and its cage to act as a lure for Coocoo. I remember getting out of my car with the fishing net in hand. I walked toward the barn and was curious that nobody was up and about; I always thought farmers got up with the sun. As I approached the barn I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the dog come out from the barn with Coocoo on the ground walking by its side. I remember talking very softly and saying, "hey's's okay" She continued to walk slowly not so much toward me but just sort of keeping her distance. I was thinking I had only one chance to get her back and this was it. I very slowly began to extend the net toward her but well above her so as not to alarm her. All the while I'm talking very softly to her. I slowly let the net down closer to her and when I got within a couple feet of her I thought to myself, it's now or never. I quickly brought the net down on her and with my heart racing, I reached down and picked her up. I cupped her in my hands through the netting and in an instant, I was devastated as she went limp in my hands. I knew that birds were susceptible to shock so I was pretty certain she would come around. I softly blew on her and talked to her and within a short time, she sprang back to life and bit into my thumb. I remember's okay's okay.

I got her to the car and Coconut was talking a mile a minute at the sight of her. I got her back into the cage and felt such a sense of relief to have her back. She was a bit tattered I could see but she seemed okay. I went to the house to see if anyone was awake and they were just getting up. I thanked them over and over and tried to give them $20 for all they did but they wouldn't take it. I asked to use their bathroom and on my way out I left the money on their kitchen table.

It wasn't until I got home that I realized that the dog was never a threat to Coocoo. In fact, I think she was getting warmth from the dog at night as the temperature was still getting down into the 20s at night and Cockatiels are a warmer climate bird. If you could have seen how both the dog and Coocoo walked out of the barn together you would understand why I believe this.

Coocoo lived another six years and died in October of '91. I was sitting in our kitchen when I heard a thump at the bottom of her cage. I walked over to see her on her back and struggling. I quickly picked her up and held her as she died in my hands. Wow, I've got tears in my eyes as I recall this. She was such a special bird and she too has a piece of my heart. I buried her in a box behind the garage and cried my eyes out as I did. I've got a photo of her somewhere and I need to post it on the net as she's earned her place. You can see her at the beginning of this video from my dad's video page.

Video of Coocoo

I have to thank God for the extra time Coocoo and I shared as his hands were all over our finding one another again.

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