When I was 14, my dad bought me a cockatiel. Abigail was four weeks old, too young to come home, so I visited her everyday in the pet shop. She was my child.
I didn't know she was also my mail-order bride.
You're about to gain some avian knowledge: Firstly, female birds can lay eggs. You're probably like, "I knew that . . ." But here's the trivia: They don't have to. A bird only lays an egg if she is a.) healthy and b.) comfortable/stable/dumb enough to think she's found a good nest and mate. (And when birds lay egg(s), no, it is not going to hatch unless there's a male to fertilize it. Immaculate conceptions don't happen in birdcages.)
Abby is about nine-years-old. She has always been my bird. She never took to my dad or my brother, though she tolerates my mother because who else was going to let her out when I went to college? When I come home, she shrieks at the sound of my voice. It's pretty adorable, but I'm also like stfu. She rides around on my shoulder and chirps - or tries to eat my cereal. One time she pooped in my coffee. Sigh. She is the reason I will go out in public and find dried bird poop on my shoulder - or in my hair.
Birds bond with their owners. This does not necessarily mean they want to mate with their owner. For example, in the wild, birds preen each other. In captivity, they can only clean so much of their body; they need help when new feathers grow in on top of their head. This is where my job comes in: I preen her. In return, she preens my hair. Or nips at the calluses on my foot until they bleed or I kick her. Anyway, we are a flock of two.
About three years ago, during the summer (cue Calvin Harris' "I met you in the summer"), Abby stopped squawking. She purred and wanted to snuggle. She also kept squatting on her perch. Something was wrong. I put her on antibiotics. No improvement. Her poop grew watery (TMI?). I looked under her tail.
"MOM, SHE'S BLEEDING!"
We had to go to the vet. Abby was dying.
My mom: "Let's wait until tomorrow."
My mom reasoned the vet bill would be expensive (is there such a thing as a cheap vet?), and was my six-year-old child worth that? Yes, she said that. As if my CHILD is still only worth the $52 we paid at the pet shop. I commence a fight that we wouldn't let our dog bleed to death without taking her to the vet. Then: "What is that on your shoulder?"
My mom had taken Abby from me and, like an angel of death, cuddled her while insisting to me that we let her die without medical intervention. But lo! A white blob had appeared on her shirt. It was an egg, afterbirth and all.
Apparently, in my return home from college, Abby decided I was her homecoming husband, and what better way to lock me down than to give us a child?
Since that time, Abby has laid four more eggs. Every one comes after an extended visit home. I now know when it's coming: She wants to cuddle, then she wants to nest in the pillows of my bed, and finally I will find an egg in her cage, usually in her water dish. She's an excellent mom if you can't tell.
Anyway, everyone thinks it's really cute my bird lays eggs. Meanwhile, I think it's creepy; she obviously has an Oedipus complex. This is the first time I've outed her like this. Maybe she'll get the picture and stop laying eggs.