I wrote a long post for today and was nearly ready to put it up, but just as I was getting ready to proofread, our cockatiel, Mishka (returned home not an hour ago), got thread from her favourite rope perch wrapped around her neck.
I turned, and saw immediately what was wrong. She likes to hide her head under cloth, hair, or the poofy thing at the top of the spiral rope perch.
THE POOFY THING IS DANGEROUS.
I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before. But whatever the case, she was struggling to pull away. I knew if I didn’t get the hell in there, she would break her neck.
I flung open her cage door. I fumbled it a bit – I felt a bit distanced, almost, I dunno, floaty. Shock? Is that silly? Everything felt the tiniest bit slower, which was a good thing. I had time to react.
Mishka was flapping her wings in utter terror, but I put a hand over her back to stop her from struggling and got my other wrist under her feet. She went still. I thought for a moment that that was good.
Then it occurred to me that perhaps she was dead. She wasn’t moving. I didn’t know if she could even breathe.
I said her name, and she blinked. She was watching me… trustingly. The vague, distant thought that I’m good in a crisis and hadn’t yet panicked (yet) flicked through my head. Mishka began to struggle again, so I said in my calmest voice, ‘Easy. Good Mishka, good girl, shhh,’ or something like that. Suddenly she scrambled off my arm and back onto the rope perch to ‘fight’ it.
I thought she was going to die.
Got my arm back under her. Soothed her again. Tried to pull the threads off, but she bit me.
I had no way to cut her free – the damn scissors, which are usually on the desk a matter of feet behind me, had been cleaned up. WHY? And I was home alone.
I decided I’d try to get the rope perch down instead. Take her to the scissors. But I couldn’t. The bolt thing attaching it to the ceiling was stuck.
Mishka bit me again and again, but managed not to break any skin. Ow. She was yelling properly now and had got a foot tangled in the poofy thing as well. I wondered if I should let her go and grab my mobile off the desk. I thought maybe I could phone O. at work – but knew that even if I could keep Mishka calm that long, it would be at least 45 minutes before he could get to us. I wasn’t sure that work would even let him go. Bird rescue?
Besides, I figured that if I let go of my bird even for a moment, she’d fall and snap her neck. From the way she fought earlier, I was surprised that she hadn’t already.
I have never been so scared.
I lifted her higher to try and loosen the threads a bit. She was struggling less, and again, I didn’t know if this was good or bad.
And then suddenly Mishka was free. I don’t know how – perhaps it was a combination of me trying to unravel her, or if she just slipped out herself, but she was free. I noticed a bit belatedly that she was running up my shoulder… I pushed the cage door shut.
With her safely freed, and once I’d checked that she was okay physically, I allowed myself to finally have a panic moment.
Mishka is asleep on my shoulder now – completely unusual behaviour for her. Poor, poor girl. I will never buy a rope perch again.
But it ended okay. I’m so relieved. If I hadn’t been home… if I hadn’t been in the room… It doesn’t bear thinking about.
Please, if you own a rope perch for your birds, be careful. It might be you next time, and it might not end so well. I’m only glad that Mishka trusted me enough to help her get free.