Watch the Birdie -or- Head Impacts, Avian-Style


I entered the National Aviary this weekend and looked around with some trepidation... Our fine, feathered friends would be flying around loose, wouldn't they? Roosting, pecking, having the run of the place like extras in that Hitchcock movie? Sure, they would. And while I'm a big fan of nature, I also recalled what happened the last time I was in a setting such as this...

Although the memory's probably a little fuzzy due to the head impact.

Wait, I'll explain.

When I was about 14, my parents and I were vacationing in Florida, and one of our holiday splurges was visiting Parrot Jungle in Miami. The place was packed with all creatures beaked and winged. Cockatiels, toucans, parrots, parakeets, macaws... Why, this facility really knew how to give you the bird.

Now, this was also the time of the our very first camcorder. And my Pop has always been one for love of the gadgets. So this camcorder was absolutely state-of-the-art 1986-- the latest VHS technology, portable as a small suitcase, and weighing slightly less than a toddler filled with oatmeal and Ovaltine. Oh, how Pop loved that machine!

Anyway, so we followed the paths around Parrot Jungle, giving seed to these birds, gently ruffling a few feathers, and at one point I even got to hold a white cockatoo on my arm... All very cool.

Then we reached the flamingo pond. And my father decided to make his film debut.

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but the Pop has always enjoyed showcasing his many talents in public places. For instance, at any keyboard or organ store in a mall-- or, you know, the music section at Best Buy-- Pop will entreat the locals to an impromptu concert of either classical music, or original freeform compositions. Just to give everyone else a taste of the good life, you know.

Well, at the flamingo pond, ol' Dad decided to demonstrate his range in acting. Because he is nothing if not versatile. So he handed me the camcorder, helped me hoist it onto my shoulder using ancient Egyptian pulley techniques, posed in front of those long-legged pink birds, and summoned his very best flamingo imitation.

The routine went on a few minutes, and so immersed was I with trying to keep this cinder block of a recording device on my shoulder, I failed to notice the creature behind me.

As I saw later from the shaky footage, the assailant was a red and blue macaw. And I call him the assailant because this macaw was apparently not nearly as impressed with my father's performance as my father was. No, somewhere along the way, he must have decided that ten minutes of this guy standing on one leg in Bermuda shorts, pretending to squawk and eat crustaceans was more than one family ever needed in their home video collection.

On that point, the macaw and I were agreed.

So somewhere between Pop's feather flapping and Pop's shifting to the other leg in true flamingo-style, the macaw leapt off the fence behind me and took flight...

A little low.

I don't know if his gauges weren't calibrated right or not, or when he prepared for ascent he just hadn't accounted for the proper airspeed, velocity, the right amount of lift, or you know, the fact that my big head was there in his path.

But we have this really interesting footage of the Pop, marred by a huge THUD as the camera-girl got struck hard in the noggin with a large swiftly-moving parrot. We hear the camera operator shriek, "OWWW! What the--?! HEY!!!!" as her vision swimmed a bit and she saw stars...

Or birdies...

And we see the perpetrator, still unyielding from the low-flying course he'd charted, skimming from my spinning head across the camera, tail-feathers sweeping over the microphone with an enthusiastic woosh.

But, you know, that's show business for you, isn't it You think you've finally made it by securing the starring role, and then you get totally upstaged by the supporting actors.

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13 comments:

Claire said...

Hmmm remember when I mentioned that video footage of me dressed up as a clown? If not then forget it quickly.

Well on that video there is also footage of me being part of a parrot display and a parrot eating a peanut that was placed between my teeth.

I want to see your video!

Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- Actually, I would, too as it's been years since I've seen it. I think my dad still has it, and it's on a VHS tape. Otherwise I definitely would have posted it. It's worth it just for the sound of the thudding parrot!

Claire said...

I have asked the dad if I can convert the VHS to DVD, he is thinking on it.

I have seen a few sites that do it.

Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- I have a few old videos that would be fun to convert. There was some footage from Epcot once and... well, that's another tale for another day. :)

Drowsey Monkey said...

Okay, our arms may hang differently, but we gotta be related! Did you read my post about my giant freak head? Where the bird flew into it? LOL

Just when I thought I was alone in the world ... I find your blog. Such a blessing.

Jenn Thorson said...

Drowsey- Oh, I DID see that one and it was what totally reminded me of the bird flying into MY head!!... Having just visited the aviary, it seemed the timing was too good to pass up.

Bird Magnets of the World-- UNITE!! :)

I wonder what the stats are on people getting hit in the head by birds in the aviary per day. Hm.

Alice said...

I can't believe you missed the opportunity to post a picture of you doing a flamingo stance next to a flamingo since I KNOW you have one on your other site! Booooo....

Jenn Thorson said...

Alice-- Hey, hey now, missy-- I have no picture of ME in front of the flamingo. I have a flamingo, entirely free of yours truly. :)

Anyway, what happens on TSR, STAYS on TSR. :)

Da Old Man said...

The Parrot Jungle!!! I was there, too. You know the thing where they have the doofus stand with arms extended, and they line up all the parrots for a true "Photo Op of a Lifetime!"
I was almost talked into getting that, until I saw one kid decorated by Parrot Poo. He smiled widely for the camera as a large parrot released yesterday's Parrot Chow all over his back. And, his Mom and Pop were so enthralled by the experience of watching Jr with a parrot on his head, they never noticed. So, this doofus spent the next few hours walking around with parrot poo all over his back.

ThriftShopRomantic said...

DaOldMan- I'm proud to say, I was NOT that particular doofus! I managed my brief "let's hold the cockatoo" encounter entirely parrot-poo free. But I'm certain some were not as lucky! It's very cool you've been there, too. :)

Greg said...

Eighties Big Hair is CLEARLY responsible for this incident.

wordtapestry said...

You know, conures are attracted to the color red (to the point of regurgitation for someone with bright red hair). Could be the macaw saw you as a big bird with a large (camcorder) eye.

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Greg and WordTapestry- okay, okay, you two and your hair theories! :)

If he thought I was another bird, then perhaps he should have had more respect for my personal airspace. You know, as a fellow bird courtesy thing.

Just sayin'. :)