Intern Abroad: Bird Fever

I left Pandemonium Aviaries to spend a semester in Ireland, saying a temporary goodbye to all of the birds. But it’s safe to say that the sanctuary sparked something in me: Bird Fever. I love birds. I fell hard, and now they’ve managed to follow me all of the way to Ireland.

Exhibit A:

I was wandering around Dublin one afternoon, killing time before meeting up with some friends. A teapot caught my eye, it was covered in birds, and as I stood admiring it, in the corner I saw a familiar figure that I never in a million years would have guessed to spot in Dublin:

A Blue Crowned pigeon.

No way. 

A year ago, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the feather-tipped head of this exotic bird. I probably would have thought it was a weird sub breed of peacock, like most people do. But no, now I am perfectly aware that it is the world’s largest pigeon, native to New Guinea, and is currently threatened. I also know that they act a lot like puppy dogs and are rock solid to the touch. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear the booming noise they make while pumping their tails up and down in greeting.

What were the odds? I couldn’t believe my eyes. And of course, I was nearly jumping up and down like a crazy person in the middle of the store with all of the excitement and no one to tell. Few people are aware of the status of these majestic birds, and it was my job while at Pandemonium to help spread the word in order to save them. In that moment, the world seemed like such a small place, and I was thrilled to have been reminded of the beautiful avian friends I’d left behind in California.

Exhibit B:

I was touring the Guinness Storehouse, a museum dedicated to the craft of brewing the perfect pint of beer. Upon entering, there are huge screens displaying a waterfall of barley pouring out into cases. But, as it happened, one of these screens was malfunctioning, and all that was shown was the insignia of the screen company. This logo was a trio of happy little birds of wonderfully diverse color: Lady Gouldian finches.

Again, my excitement burst out.

“Ah! Lady Gouldian finches! We had those at the sanctuary! They’re highly endangered in the wild, but since they’re so beautiful they’re totally fine in captivity as pets. But the red-headed birds tend to be more aggressive than the black ones, so many of the black-headed birds are dying out and the red heads are more common. We had one, he was a favorite, who would wait until all of the birds were napping on their branch in the aviary, and once everyone got settled and calm, he would fly over to the middle, and shake the heck out of the thing like a madman so everyone else flew off in a panic. You could just see him laughing to himself on the branch.”

Not to mention, when I saw that one of the mascots for Guinness beer is a toucan, I simply couldn’t resist explaining why toucans have such large beaks, as discussed in an earlier blog post. I just can’t contain myself when I recognize a bird. Even street pigeons have become amazing creatures since I’ve learned so much about them.

But again, what are the odds? The day I go to the Storehouse, a screen is out, meaning that the finches are in plain sight as the insignia. I can only imagine what the people around us (not to mention my own friends…) thought as the crazy bird girl went into a spiel of facts that weren’t about beer- which is what we all went there for.

I can’t believe that these sightings within a two week period are coincidental. It seems that Pandemonium is calling out to me, sending the birds that I know and love as messengers to remind me that they are still there, even if I myself have moved on. I would venture to guess that the Pandemonium magic is at work, even thousands of miles across an ocean.

I haven’t forgotten my feathered friends, and I know now that I never will. I will always have a place for them, and I will continue doing for them what I can in a world that, although we don’t always notice it, admires them for all that they’ve shown us.

by Brittany Webb