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The Parrot Diaries - A Lory Story

Mira Tweti | Jun 25, 2007


A Lory Story is the first piece I wrote about my amazing parrot companion, Mango. I'm sharing it here for the first time in some time. Now that WPT has asked me to blog for them I thought it would be a perfect place for the series of life-with-parrot stories I've written over the years, some published (like this one and The Butter Wars, entry #2) and some not. I expect to write new ones for this space - incidents and situations I've been documenting in notes (and photos in some cases) but  haven't had time to write in full. Now I have an impetus -- a blog space waiting for them. I hope you enjoy these first true tales as much as I loved living them.

Mira Tweti, Los Angeles, June 24th, 2007  11:06 p.m.


A Lory Story

I was a cat person from childhood. My mother fed perhaps a dozen strays in our Manhattan brownstone's back yard. We knew them all by name, disposition and dramas.  Years later, when I broke up with my long term boyfriend he got the ever-shedding Persian and I bought a pair of easy-to-care- for Finches. That was the end of cats and the beginning of my life with birds.  If anyone had told me then that I would find a bird smarter than any of the smartest cats I've owned, with a personality as distinct as a human's and more fun loving than most of the people I know, I would not have believed them.

One July, as I had for several years, I went to the Lotus Festival at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles.  The local Buddhist temple I belong to has participated in this neighborhood get together of Pacific Rim culture for many years.  The festival is a lively and colorful mix of food, performances, Dragon Boat races and vendors of all kinds. My teacher leads the procession of monks in the ritual to open the "eyes" of the dragon figures on the boats so they'll speed their rowers to the winning circle.

Over the years I bought several more pairs of finches (if anyone had told me my beautifully decorated living room would sport flight cages to harbor an ever increasing variety of finches I would not have believed them either) from two very nice guys, that breed all kinds of birds and have a booth at the festival each year. They have since become my friends.

This particular year I went to say hello to them and saw the most beautiful bird I had ever seen standing atop one of their cages. He was about eight inches high, had purple and black on his crown, a bright yellow band around his neck, light green on his back and red and black stripes on his chest.  I was told he was a hand fed baby Rainbow Lory.  I just couldn't get over him.  It was love at first sight.  Here,  you can see why:

My girlfriend said "You don't need another bird," which was absolutely true. He was nowhere near as inexpensive as any of my finches, and I was in the process of getting divorced and on unemployment to boot. But I looked at him again and he cocked his head to look at me and that was that. 

As we were leaving the park with the bird in a cage we saw one of the monks; an ever smiling, gentle man from Sri Lanka. He saw my Lory, commented on his beauty and wished me luck with him.

A couple of weeks went by and I realized I could not keep my finches.  It was just too much work having four large cages in a not huge living room. Plus, the finches and the lory were on different diets (seed and liquids respectively). I decided to donate the finches to my temple's large garden aviary.

The monk who had been at the Lotus Festival was there to open the gate for me when I arrived.  As we walked to the garden aviary he asked how my new bird was doing. I told him how Mango (my Lory's name) followed me all around my apartment, waddling along behind me like Charlie Chaplin.  How he would lie on his back, feet kicking in the air, allowing me to rub his tummy with a finger as he tried to catch it with his feet. How he'd hit a ball to me with his beak. And what an amazing personality he had. Without hesitating the monk said: "You've known him in a previous life." Needless to say I was surprised to hear that. "Are you sure?" I said. "Yes," he sais. "When an animal ends up having extensive interaction with you, like living in your home,  it's not accidental.  It means you have some Karmic connection to each other." I commented that maybe it wasn't so great that he came back a bird and not a human this time around. In Buddhism one strives for enlightenment which is hard enough to accomplish in a "precious" human birth and theoretically much harder from a bird life - though, in time I would come to find out Mango was much more enlightened than I am. The monk replied, "Look how hard and complicated your life is. Look how easy his is. You take care of him and he gets to play with you and he has no worries. A lot of people come back as animals to have an easy life in between human lives."

Needless to say, there's no way to know for sure. But after that I often thought of who he might have been in a previous life? I've become convinced from the way he behaves that in his last life he was a runway model for a high fashion designer, like Giorgio Armani. He religiously bathes every day (and is out of sorts if he misses a bath), he will not allow a tiny feather to be out of place in his perfect coif,  and he loves the feel of silk so much I get bitten if I try to stop him from rolling on my expensive silk shirt when it's laying on the bed.