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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cockatiel Saves Family from Fire

My neighbor’s cockatiel died a few weeks ago, likely from natural causes that come with being 16 years old. He might have had a fatty liver or an upper respiratory infection, but they hadn’t noticed any change in his eating or anything. It’s a fact that wild animals and many exotics will mask an illness, making it hard to tell if they’re sick. This is an innate survival mechanism, even in some domesticated pets.

So when my neighbor came over to offer me her remaining cockatiel seed and other supplies, we talked a little about her long-time pet bird, Glister. She and her husband had gotten him well before they had kids so he was like their first child together. They named him after a popular Amway product, Glister toothpaste. When she told me how the bird may have saved their family of four from a house fire, I had to share the story.

She and her husband, Tony, and their two young daughters were in bed for the night when they heard Glister whistling and making distress noises. Of course, this was highly unusual so they went down to check. At that point, Tony smelled smoke and knew something was wrong. Glister’s cage happened to be right next to the television at the time and that’s where the smoke was coming from. Apparently, the cat had a urinary problem and had relieved herself right on the surge protector, on the floor, behind the TV. This started a reaction that caused sparks and heat. When Tony discovered the problem, the cords and surge protector were beginning to melt into the carpet which would have surely hastened the fire’s progress.

While it’s not likely the bird was thinking, “There’s a problem here. I have to warn the others,” it is possible that his natural instinct to warn the flock was at work. What’s more likely is the bird was scared and feared for his own life so he naturally gave a call of alarm since he was trapped in a cage and had no other recourse. The result was his successful rescue and the consequent avoidance of a possible disaster.  

The lesson in this is not to ignore something your pet’s doing that seems out of the ordinary or just weird. At least take the time to study the animal and its environment for a minute before passing it off as just one of those odd things that our pets do from time to time. While exotics can be especially hard to figure, some of them do have a way of demanding our attention.

When a bird is in immediate distress, he'll squawk, whistle loudly, flap his wings and just carry on until something changes. 

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