A Helping Hand (Or Beak)

“Good morning, Squeaky Pie!”

“It’s not a good morning. The sun’s hiding. It’s cold outside. It’s cold in here. Turn up the heat!” 

I fluffed my feathers to make my point.


I perch on my rolly coop when Momanita and I chat. I’d rather be napping.

To other hootmans this sounded like squeals and whistles, but not to Momanita. She MOSTLY understood cockatiel speak. I MOSTLY understood hootman talk.

“I didn’t hear whistling this morning. Do the grumpies got you?” asked Momanita.

“I didn’t feel like whistling.”

Momanita opened my rolly coop door and rubbed my belly.


“When I feel grumpy, I think cheerful thoughts. There’s no room in my head for grumpies when it’s crammed with upbeat ideas.”

“I nap through grumpies,” I said.

“I’ll help fill your head with good feelings. When I help you, it helps me.”

I didn’t understand what THAT meant. Before I could figure it out, Momanita placed my writing nest on top of my rolly coop. I climbed out of my rolly coop into the writing nest. Once Momanita got an idea into her head to do something, the idea didn’t get out of her head until it was done. The sooner that happened. The sooner I’d nap.


My writing nest is near Momanita’s computer. I tell her what to write for my post. She mostly understands cockatiel speak.I mostly understand hootman talk.

“Did you know that cockatiels and other birds help the world, Squeaky? That’s a cheerful thought!”

Momanita climbed the stairs to HER writing nest. I wondered what she meant about birds helping the world. 

“Why don’t I . . . “

“Google ‘how birds help the world’?” I finished her sentence. Momanita Googled EVERYTHING!

She scooted her chair to the computer and tapped the keyboard. I perched on top my writing nest and closed my eyes. Maybe she’d take the hint.

“Listen to this, Squeaks ’Falcons help keep airports safe by chasing smaller birds away.’”


Falcons are trained to chase smaller birds away from airports so they don’t collide with airplanes taking off or landing.

I shivered and closed my eyes tighter. Falcons are terror birds that eat other birds. I’d fly away, too, if I saw a falcon and if I could fly.

“Falconers, bird trainers, teach falcons to circle the airport and scare away other birds. There are 13,000 bird strikes a year in the USA. Bird strikes are when birds hit the plane’s engine.”


“That’s not good for the small birds OR the airplanes,” I said.

I still didn’t like falcons.

“I didn’t know that some ducks can’t fly,” said Momanita.

“Can’t fly? The mallards I see on the lake can fly.”

I popped my crest up so Momanita would know I was curious.

“You heard me right, can’t fly. The Indian Runner duck doesn’t fly.”


“Maybe that’s why it’s named the RUNNER duck.”

Runner ducks eat the snails and slugs that would eat the farmer’s grapes.

I knew from National Geographic shows that penguins and ostriches don’t fly, but ducks?

“The Runner duck eats snails and slugs. In South Africa there’s a vineyard that uses 2,000 ducks to keep the grapes safe from these pests. Each day the Runner ducks parade from the barn to the fields. At the end of the day the ducks are fed, the grapes are free from pests, and the farmer is pleased.”


Parading ducks? I climbed down to the computer to read about it. I’m not a duck, but I could parade.


Ducks that can’t fly? I had to read this for myself.

“You don’t have to go to South Africa to see birds helping the world, Squeakers. In our backyard blue jays spread raspberry seeds by eating the fruit and pooping the seeds out, hummingbirds pollinate flowers, and vultures clean up the roads by eating animals who died when cars hit them.”

I couldn’t pollinate flowers or spread raspberry seeds, and I’m not allowed on the street. But I COULD clean up the pile of Cheerios Momanita left on her desk.


I paraded like an Indian Runner duck and chomped on Cheerios. Momanita rubbed my neck.

“One special bird is helping me right now. You help me, Squeaks, by inspiring me when I write and most of all by being my friend.”

I clean up the pile of Cheerios that Momanita leaves on her desk. I’m a cereal vulture!

“Helping you, helps me feel better, Momanita.”

(Now I understood what that meant.)

“I’m glad, too, that you are my friend.”

I’m not sure if she understood me because she MOSTLY understood cockatiel speak. I MOSTLY understood hootman talk.

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