On Sunday I went to an Exotic Bird Expo to pick up supplies and info on the cheap for the Bird Brains. Deals abounded, and I came home with a Beethoven size bag of Zupreem fruitblend, some Mazuri (the real good stuff)and a wooden plays tand. Even with my bed load of goodies, the best thing I took away from the expo couldn't be loaded in the truck.
Walking up and down the aisles, the experienced folks I talked to encouraged me to sit in on one of Larry's bird shows. I didn't know who Larry was, but I am always game for a good bird show. After carting out the fruits of my bargaining, I took a seat as the announcer made the last call for "Larry's Amazing Trick Bird Show."
The stage was impressive to start. A half dozen t-stands and props with wheels, pedals, and fuses. From behind the curtain came Cockatoo screeches, Macaw calls, Conure screams, and a strange chirping that hinted: exotic parakeet. A few kennels were set up behind the crowd for some flighted birds, and out came Larry on stage. His assistant set up a couple of birds on t-stands while Larry introduced himself in a voice masked behind so much hoarseness and phlem that it was just above audible. The very first bird he introduced was Lucille Bald, a Macaw that had plucked itself so persistently while being housed by a previous owner, alone in a blacked out shed, that the feathers will never grow back. The bird is quite literally naked except for it's head. Lucille did not seem shy in front of the crowd of thirty or so, and with a little coaxing from Larry, she pulled the fuse on a pint sized cannon to start the show "on a bang" as Larry put it.
To be honest, I can't really recount the rest of the show in epic detail, but I can give the highlights. A Ruby Macaw, a Lesser Sulfur Crested Cockatoo, and a Blue Crowned Conure were flown to the stage. The Ruby Macaw was named Chili Pepper. Larry explained this was his first bird, and he liked his women hot, therefore the name. We heard that joke several more times throughout the show until it was completely exhausted. The Blue Crowned Conure refused to do sit ups on cue, although Larry fed him after each of 4 refusals causing a red flag fest in the depths of my trainer-mind, but the bird did do the typical "Conure puffy bounce" while Larry clapped a beat and rapped. Hearing a guy from Georgia do a rap might have been worth the price of admission, but wait, there's more!
At this point in the show, I still haven't seen anything I'd call "Amazing" in the way of bird stunts. But the proverbial excrement was about to hit the literary fan with gusto. Larry was hacking and coughing to the point he couldn't go on without asking for a hot tea, on mic, and pausing the show while he swigged it. He made a remark about how tea is one of the only things you can drink while you're undergoing chemo. The crowd kind of stared, not sure whether to laugh at such an insensitive crack. Seriously, what if somebody in the crowd had a relative in chemo, wasting away? When he was finished with his tea, the show went on...and how!
Getting toward the end, Larry suddenly realized he hadn't repaired an essential prop after the last show. He asked the crowd if they had any tools on them, they chuckled. Finally, a joke hit! But it wasn't a joke, he repeated,"seriously, I really need a pair of pliers, does anybody have a pair?" Luckily, strict showmanship had been abandoned long before this segment. Surprisingly, a lady did come to the rescue, a vendor with a pair of pliers. Larry took the tool back stage, still talking to the crowd on mic, while we watched two macaws bicker, and a conure do its own moon walk thing across a table. It was all just starting to unravel.
By the time Larry got back on stage, the cockatoo was tired of being trumped for attention. Larry was stretching out a riveting introduction to the "Parrot riding a bicycle" trick, when the lady with the pliers tried to sneak around the back of the stage and grab her pliers on the sly. The mischievous little cockatoo seized opportunity in the form of a flashy gold hair clip. The lady jolted and started swinging her head wildly as Larry went on, sure that the disbelief on the audience's faces must have been at his telling them that Lucille Bald was going to ride a two-wheeler. The Lady swung and danced all around trying to shake the cockatoo, but the bird hung on to those long locks. First with two feet, then one, and then a daring beak-only grab. Finally it let go and fluttered to the ground. The lady jetted off just as Larry turned around to grab Lucille for her finale. All that he saw was a little cockatoo waddling on the ground. He said, "How did you get here?" to which the crowd snickered in their wisdom.
Lucille rode her bike, although with little grace because Larry had inadvertently tightened the wheels too much and he had to push her along. The end of the show came, and Larry's messages of bird safety and well being. He shared some very good advice about how to find a quality toy, and what products to stay away from. He professed his love for the birds, and bird people. He then told us of the birds he is actively trying to re-home. Three of the birds on stage were not going home with him, due to his health concerns.
Larry has Hepatitis, contracted years ago from a vaccination. He's in stage 3 kidney failure, and trying to re-home all of his birds before his time is up. He has been rescuing birds for many years, and all of the birds in the show were abused or abandoned individuals that he has given a loving and stimulating life to. He admitted the shows aren't what they used to be, but he loves sharing his knowledge and helping birds and bird owners. He believes that many neglected birds can be saved without leaving their current homes just by educating the owners. He closed with saying that he will be back at the expo in April if he can move at all. He doesn't know how much longer he can keep doing the shows, but in his own words: "I'm gonna give it hell. I love these birds, and I love bird people. Ya'll keep my heart beatin'. Thank you."
Needless to say, the snickering, jeering, fun-poking crowd felt awfully sheepish after the show. Larry is doing a great thing for his birds, and for all birds whose owners might see his show. He injects very useful info into the show, and encourages anybody who doesn't have the money to get their bird to the vet for a needed procedure to contact him so that he can make sure it gets done.
What is it they say about books and covers? Maybe Buffett said it best of Spider John: "If you wait till the song is sung and the story's told, you might come to understand."
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