Lindy The Parrot Says Hello

Aug 5, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Lee Juslin, Pets

by Lee Juslin

Lindy was a double, yellow-headed, Panama parrot. He was given to my mother by her father around the time Lindbergh made his historic flight. So, of course, she named him Lindy. Lindy was well established in the family before my arrival. However, since parrots live almost as long as humans, he was a teenager and still pretty active when I was born.

Lindy resided in a tall brass and metal cage that would probably be considered a decorative antique today. There was a brass base on the floor with a pipe that extended up about four feet to an oval, metal base. The top part was brass with a ring at the very top. Inside, there was a perch extending end to end with two iron cups that screwed into either end. One held water and the other seed. At the top was a swing. He would hang from the swing and dip his head into his water dish while flapping his wings. This was his way of taking a bath.

Cleaning the cage was not easy. My mother spread newspaper on a table in the kitchen, lifted the top of the cage, and carried it out to the kitchen while Lindy held on to one side. I never understood why he didn’t just drop out. Sometimes my mother’s arm grew tired and rested on the bars. These were the times Lindy lived for. Always on guard, he would reach up and bite her arm with his big, lethal, curved bill. Those bites always left a large, black and blue mark. And, while it hurt, my mother never held it against him, or, at least, not for long.

Lindy’s vocabulary was not large. My mother taught him to say “firecracker” when offered a treat. She felt “Polly wants a cracker” was too common, so somehow she came up with “firecracker.”

His proudest vocabulary accomplishment was “hello,” which he said in a number of different voices and not always to greet someone. He could say it very softly or scream out “Helloooo.” He also had a number of voices in between.

One Saturday morning when my parents were away, I got up and became aware of how quiet it was in the living room. I looked towards the big cage, and it was empty. My brother was just coming down the stairs. When he saw the empty cage, he turned and went back up.

My soon to be sister-in-law, Sue, was due any minute. She did not like Lindy and was actually terrified of him.

Lindy often escaped his cage by chewing through the metal base and making a hole where he could squeeze out. When this happened, my mother would put him in his smaller cage, which she referred to as his traveling cage and take the big base down to a local auto body shop, where they would weld the hole closed. I often wondered what they told their families at dinner about their welding work that day.

When I was in grade school, we went on vacation to Niagara Falls, which was where my father was from. We stayed with his brother’s family in a cottage on the Canadian side. Those times, Lindy was boarded at the local pet shop. Looking at this from an adult point of view, I’m sure he was not happy. Parrots like to be with their people. They don’t enjoy being alone.

Lindy’s life definitely looked up when my parents bought a lot at the Jersey Shore on Long Beach Island. Now in ninth grade, my parents and I went to a land auction to bid on various lots. There were a lot of developers outbidding them, but eventually, these professionals took pity on us and my father bought a lot on 13th Street. After securing the land parcel, my father hired a builder for a cottage.

The builder gave my parents a date of July Fourth weekend. Taking this as a firm date, we packed up the station wagon ready to move in to our new cottage. We always had a station wagon. My father viewed them as the perfect family car. This one had a third seat, which had been removed for cargo. A roof rack had been added for additional boxes. Loaded to the gills and no doubt looking like the Beverly Hillbillies, my parents sat in front, and I sat in the second seat with our dog and Lindy in his traveling cage.

Lindy had never gone for a long car ride. When he was boarded at the pet shop, the trip was no more than a mile. Now, the ride to the cottage, or “down the shore” as we say in New Jersey, was a two-and-a-half-hour ride.

Lindy sat quietly in his cage and proved to be a good traveler except for one incident. When the dog fell asleep, one paw fell over to the edge of Lindy’s cage. No one noticed because I had fallen asleep and my mother was nodding off. In the quiet, Lindy slipped over and bit the dog’s paw. Suddenly there was a loud scream from the dog, some choice swear words from my father, and the car veered sharply to the left. Fortunately, there was little traffic, and my father was able to right the ship. Looking at him, Lindy seemed to have a twinkle in his eye. The rest of the trip was uneventful.

When we pulled into the cottage front yard, it was clear the July Fourth date had been an estimate. There was no front door, only a screen door. The floors were not finished, and no window screens had been installed.

The furniture my mother had ordered had not yet been delivered, so we had folding chairs to sit on. My mother did have an old table she set up for Lindy’s cage.

At first the workers didn’t notice Lindy. However, he couldn’t stay silent for long, and pretty soon he was muttering and chortling. One after another the workers came to see what kind of bird we had. Several said he was the largest parakeet they had ever seen. My mother explained he was a parrot from Panama. When the workers quit for the day, many were talking about Lindy.

The next morning, I awoke to parrot sounds and human laughter. The workers were gathered around Lindy’s cage offering him screw drivers and other tools. Lindy was obligingly lunging at each offering, and the workers were laughing and elbowing each other.

When the workers went back to their jobs, a small boy appeared, came in, and cautiously approached Lindy. He asked what it was and my mother, again, explained that Lindy was a parrot.

Soon, a woman approached screaming for Timmy. The boy, obviously the missing Timmy, paid no attention. The woman came in, introduced herself as a neighbor in the next block, grabbed Timmy, and left.

My mother and I looked at each other knowing what would come next. And, sure enough, over the next few days, a variety of children knocked on our door and asked if this was where the big bird lived. The same thing had happened at home giving me quite a bit of street cred and a good subject for required essays.

Lindy continued to be a source of curiosity when we were at the cottage. He demanded attention by calling out when he wanted a head scratch or just someone to notice him. He developed a new trick to get the attention of visitors. Sitting in his cage next to one end of the sofa, he would slip down and firmly dump his water dish on the person unlucky enough to be sitting on that end of the sofa.

As time went on, I had graduated college and was living and working on my own, it became difficult for my mother to tend to Lindy. I was not in a position to take him, and of course, my sister-in-law wanted no part of him. So, reluctantly, my mother found a sanctuary for parrots and other birds and placed him there so he could live out his final years with other birds and caretakers to give him the attention he craved.

Editor’s note: Lee didn’t have any photos of Lindy so we found some similar ones on Pexels.

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Lee Juslin is a freelance copywriter living In North Carolina with her husband Scott and four rescued cats. She has an embroidery business, I B Dog Gone, and sells on Ebay under the I.D. Collectorfrosty. She supports several national, regional, and international breed rescues.

1 Comment

  1. Hello, Lee! Oh! I’m terrible! I haven’t read any of these wonderful King’s River Life essays in a long time. Mea culpa. I love birds, but have never had one as a pet. I’ve always felt sorry for birds in cages. To me, a bird needs to be able to fly. But I’m not saying that many people take good care of their pet birds. I loved this story about Lindy. I particularly enjoyed the part where Lindy bit the dog’s paw. Ouch! Poor doggo! I bet that dog never trusted him after that! I promise I’ll get back to reading your wonderful stories. I do very much enjoy them! ?????


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