I’m going to come right out with it. I didn’t want a pet. It’s not that I don’t like animals, but our family has had to move a lot, so we are limited in what sort of pets we can have. Plus, I figure, I’m flat out trying to look after four kids so don’t need another thing in the house to look after, right?
Things changed when my daughter turned seven and asked for a bird. I noticed her desire for a pet was matched with a general interest in birds. Her interest in birds was not something I particularly fostered or encouraged, it just happened. Still, I felt reluctant to grant her wish because I knew our family had a lot of moves to come. However, my husband and I weighed it up and decided to introduce a cockatiel to our family anyway.
That was seven year ago now. Our lovely yellow bird with orange cheeks and white highlights is such a joy to our family. We adore her! My husband comes home after work and she greets him with a happy song before he nuzzles the small form between his hands. Often I’ll find my daughter asleep with her sweet bird sitting quietly on her pillow. The bird is part of our family now and we can’t imagine what it would look like without her.
Not only has the bird become an integral part of our family, my daughter’s passion for birds has developed and impacted the rest of us. Birds are now something we all look for, identify and talk about. We bring our copy of the Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Ken Simpson and Nicolas Day with us on camping and hiking trips and mark all the birds we have seen.
The decision we made seven years ago enriched our family life in more ways than we imagined. If there is something I have learned over the years, it is the importance of being open to paths that present themselves. While it’s imperative to have goals, it’s equally important to allow family life to take its own identity. We have become a bird-watching, nature loving family and I have a cockatiel to thank for that.