Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Our family has a long tradition of naming our blue budgerigars Joey.

My grandmother’s Joey was a dear creature with a vast vocabulary which made him most entertaining.

He would ask you, “Who’s a pretty boy?” and then immediately inform you that, “Joey’s a pretty boy.”

He would call out, “Where are you Dor?” mimicking my grandmother calling for my mother.

He also did an accurate rendition of my mother’s smoker’s cough.

As a child I would press my mouth against the cage and call, “Kiss, Joey, kiss.”

Joey would hop across his perch to me and tickle my lips with his beak and little dry tongue.

We lost Joey one day when my grandmother was cleaning his cage and the window was slightly open. Someone ran into the kitchen. I don’t remember who it was but, today, I have decided to blame my younger sister. Anyway, the sudden arrival of an excited child startled Joey and he flew out into the wild blue yonder.

It was very sad and most untimely as my mother had begun to teach Joey our telephone number and, given a little more time, he would have mastered it.

I would like to think that Joey landed on the verandah rail of a caring family who happily accepted the sudden arrival of a delightful bird and let him become one of the family.

When my younger sister left home, she was given a blue budgerigar by a good friend as a companion and she named him Joey. They were a devoted couple. When my sister was home, Joey spent most of his time outside of his cage familiarising himself with the flat and chatting to her.

On occasions when my sister would imbibe in a glass or two of wine, she would become festive and she would place the obliging Joey on her head and call him her Cocktail Hat.

My sister brought him with her when she came to work at the family hotel for a while. It was at this time that she felt that Joey should have a wife and she asked a local budgerigar breeder to select a suitable spouse.

She also decided that it would be a good idea to throw a Bucks Party for Joey to celebrate the end of his bachelor days.

The party was held one night after a social club meeting at the hotel. A small group gathered to wish him well.

With all windows secured, Joey was taken from his cage and placed on the edge of my sister’s glass of beer allowing him to sip at it and join in the celebration.

When Joey’s wife arrived I thought her a homely looking hen, thin and a pale yellow. She seemed to take an instant dislike to our dear Joey. In fact she lashed out at him physically. When she began to pluck the feathers from his head, my sister intervened.

The hen was returned to the breeder and the marriage was dissolved.

Joey and my sister eventually returned to the Gold Coast. One unhappy day she came home from work to find an empty cage. Suspicion fell upon the brainless twit who was a friend of my sister’s flatmate. We suspect that this unsavoury twit had spent some time behind bars himself so he decided to set free an unwilling and unprepared Joey into a world of cats and other predators.

Again I would like to think that Joey landed on the verandah rail of a caring family who happily accepted the sudden arrival of a delightful bird and let him become one of the family.

I did pine for a Joey I could call my own.

I would often tell my family that I wanted a Joey but they would remind me that my beloved cat may view the bird as a potential food source.

So I had to be content to watch the birds frolic in my birdbath and occasionally call out to them, “Who’s a pretty boy?”

One Christmas, as I unwrapped my presents, I uncovered a blue budgerigar. I instantly named him Joey. I asked him if he was a pretty boy and I asked him to, “Kiss, Joey, kiss” as I pressed his little plaster beak to my lips.

My spouse could not see why I was less than enthusiastic about my new pet.

“You don’t have to feed or water it. And you won’t need to clean up after it. And when you put it down somewhere it won’t fly off.” he pointed out smugly.

Michelle ©