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Momma bird knows what's best for her babies

The Little Man is not happy with me. Not happy at all. But what's a mother to do?

In truth, I can't blame him. I know I'd be feeling more than a bit miffed were I a little yellow bird and some ginormous human whom I believed to be my One True Love had just snatched me up in a towel and proceeded to pour icky-tasting gunk down my beak.

"Sorry, Sweetpea. Doctor Mike's orders. Nine more days of meds, and you'll be a new fellow."

At least I sure hope so.

Goose, my 15-year-old Lutino cockatiel had suddenly taken to plucking the feathers on his chest, and I knew that couldn't be good.

Hoping it was either a bad molt or dry winter skin, I'd already tried a plethora of home remedies to ease this sitch before we headed to the vet Friday afternoon.

Molting and conditioning food had been added to his normal vittles. The cottage was humidified with pots of boiling water. I'd also upped his mist baths — much to the consternation of his Big Sis.

A confirmed bath girl, Gaia remains convinced there is battery acid in Goose's beloved spray bottle. She is further certain that any mist that may land upon her gorgeous African Grey feathers will have a deleterious, if not deadly, effect.

But none of my ministrations seemed to fix the bedraggled state of our little yellow fellow's feathers.

It should be noted that Goose has always been bald as a billiard ball behind his crest. But the rest of this chirpy and cheery little fellow has been covered in butter-yellow feathers of various sorts and sizes. (Except for the two bright orange spheres of feathers on his cheeks.)

He loves to nuzzle his beak against my cheek while I help him with his "crunchy feathers" — those pesky ones on the back of his neck that are so difficult to reach. I gently roll them in my fingertips and the feather's sheath dissolves into so much dust as a perfectly formed feather emerges.

As I'm performing this bit of grooming, Goose is in birdy Nirvana. His eyes shut tight, he moves his head from side to side so I can get just the right spots.

"Ooooh," he croons. "Oooh! Uh huh! Uh huh!"

I can state without hesitation that this is one fellow who truly adores me. And the feeling is mutual.

Goose is my first-born parrot. He came into my life as a weanling more than 15 years ago. His first words were "Talk! Talk! Talk!" — and he hasn't stopped since.

He recites long soliloquies about pizza. He waxes forth on topics ranging from generic "Hello" greetings to heartrending "What doing? Where going?" adieus.

Most endearingly, he speaks in the tones of both my dearly departed husband and my sainted mama. He does both their laughs and loves to recite a silly little song Mom taught him.

"Gooser, Gooser, Doodle-dee-doo! Doodle-dee-doodle-dee-doo!"

He also can sing more complicated pieces. Stretching his little pipe-cleaner neck up tall, he opens his pinkish beak wide and cuts loose in his best Andrea Boccelli, "Oooh! Laaaa! Laaaaaa! Ooooh!"

His especially loves to bust a tune whenever I start singing. Perhaps he's trying to drown out my dulcet tones? At least he's more tactful than his bigger sister. Gaia shakes her head violently, then shouts "No! No! No!" — before spitting out a perfect raspberry. "Phffft!"

Harumph. Everybirdy's a critic. Especially mine.

But no matter how unappreciative of my musical stylings these two feathered chilluns may be, they're also delightful companions. And so it was with more than a modicum of anxiety that I schlepped Goose to the vet's office.

The little charmer popped out of his carrier with a cheerful "Talk! Talk! Talk!" Instantly endearing himself to Dr. Mike and his assistant, Goose popped onto his doc's finger, and then onto a scale for a weigh in. Things got a little dicey during the scoping process. Oh, the indignities he suffered.

The good news is Goose is eating, talking and playing just fine. The bad news is he's likely got a little bacterial or fungal infection that will require him and me to engage in an a.m. and p.m. wrestling match for nine more days. And thus I am practicing that age-old parental maxim — "Take your medicine! It's for your own good!"

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.