Bird Sex Letters
About 10 years ago, my own grandparents housed a flock of cockatiels. One was particularly attached to my grandfather. It was male. It would regularly do this weird thing where it would sit on the end of his finger, squat down, and furiously wiggle its back end. Gramps claimed that it had an emotional complex, that it thought it was a dog and was just wagging its tail. But anyone who saw this act knew something very naughty was going on (except maybe my Gramps). Again, we’re talking about kind, generous, devoutly religious grandparents. Could this be a trend?
The Bobbing Is Really Doggie-Style
When I was young, my pet pigeon, Brownie, used to masturbate on my palm, depositing a small drop of yellowish sperm. I was prepubescent at the time and did not realize at first what he was doing, but I also lived on a farm in Iowa where I saw other animals doing things, so after a bit I figured Brownie out. Every morning he would be waiting for me on his perch. I felt complimented by the bird, for, after all, I supposed he could have had his pick of the ladies of his own species. It’s a quirky world.
Just to add in a bit of biology to the grandma/parakeet forbidden-love story:
Birds have a biologically set developmental window in which they figure out what makes an appropriate mate. Basically, whatever species the bird is exposed to during this time period, he or she will forever see as mate material (the process is called sexual imprinting). In this case, the bird was probably raised by people and may not have had any exposure to other birds during this critical period. He is simply courting the only available mate around. So your bird-shop buddy was right in that giving Pretty Baby another bird probably wouldn’t help, but not just because birds are picky (though they can be). Also, this is not unusual at all (well, probably the indulgences given by the grandma are, but not unusual on the bird’s side). A common problem with large birds in particular is that they court and pair-bond with a human (whether the human knows it or not) and jealously attack other humans (i.e., their owner’s husband or boyfriend) who try to make it a threesome.
When I was 12, I had a parakeet named Little Buddy. I learned that parakeets are attracted to mirrors and things that look like other birds. In my adult life, I now realize that they must be incredibly stupid animals if they do not recognize mirrored glass for what it is and not another parakeet, but that is neither here nor there. Whenever Little Buddy saw something that he thought was another bird, he would peck at it, chirp, and spit up seeds on it. One day, my dad was barefoot while I had the bird out on the floor. Little Buddy walked over to my dad’s feet and started pecking at his big toenail. My dad has the gross, callused feet of a workingman, which in no way look anything like a small bird. Little Buddy started spitting up seeds and when he started humping away at my dad’s big toe, I grabbed him and put him back in his cage. Anytime my dad’s feet came into view of his cage, he would start chirping or he would bite if I put him away while my dad was barefoot. The moral here is that parakeets are sick, fucked-up animals and you should keep them away from the ones you love.
I had to write after reading the letter from Polly Wanna Wanker. My grandmother also had a rather erotic relationship with the family bird. Fortunately, she had no idea what she was doing. The relationship developed slowly. Grandma took over Mendle’s feeding (yes Mendle) because I was, I admit, an irresponsible kid and never fed the poor bird.
One day, I happened to come into the living room when Grandma was feeding her. Mendle’s tail was sticking straight up, her head feathers were pulled back, and she was making a strange purring sound. “Stop growling, Mendle,” Grandma cooed at her, “I’m getting your food.” Mendle followed her, tail in the air, “growling” intensely as Grandma moved around the room. Grandma never figured out that our little bird was trying to have a trans-species lesbian relationship with her.
I had a female friend a few years ago who had a bird that would hump her hand as well. My friend was young, attractive, married, and a mother; very different from the lonely grandma in the letter you printed this week. I was going to housesit for her when she went out of town, so she was showing me where the bird food was, etc. She took the bird out of its cage and it perched on her hand, chirping away, but then began to hump her finger. I wasn’t sure what the hell was going on, but then she told me he does it all the time. He finished, she washed her hands, and that was that. I wasn’t sure what to think about it, and then I just forgot about it until I saw this letter. Anyway, apparently there is more than one bird owner who lets herself be used as a love doll.
The parakeet thing is real. My husband’s (male) parakeet, which first had a significant attraction to some patio furniture, would sit on my husband’s shoulder and climb up on his head. There, the bird sometimes started humping, but my husband never let him proceed. We got rid of the bird a few months after I moved in; it started screeching nonstop, probably out of jealousy. He lives in a bird sanctuary now, hopefully with a birdfriend.
Hi! Someone sent me the URL to a letter that PWW wrote to you about her grandmother finger-fucking her bird. I just wanted to say that my male bird used to sit on my finger and do the same thing when I was a youngster. I didn’t know what he was doing until my sister told me; then I stopped letting him do it.
Hi Dan! Here’s something I never thought I’d e-mail you about: Ten years ago I dated this guy—we often spent time at his family home. They had a pet parakeet in their house. No one paid much attention to it, so I started whistling and talking to it any time I came over and, interestingly enough, it would always perk up and usually would sing when I stopped by its cage. We all found this to be quite amusing, so I started making a point of paying attention to the bird often. One day, they decided it would be fun to let the bird out of the cage. Once the door was opened, that bird flew straight to me and landed on my shoulder. I held out my hand and he hopped onto it, sang a little, and then started trying to hump my hand! I totally freaked out (as did the rest of the family) and they managed to get the bird back into the cage after chasing it away from me. There were no more out-of-cage opportunities for it when I was around. Thanks for reviving the freakish memory of humping birds!
Birds That Hump Are No Joke
Back when my wife and I were college roommates living in sin, we (she) had a cockatiel that really, really liked her. While there was no creepy bird-sex talk about “giving Grandma lovin’,” she would let the bird relieve himself on her hand when he was in the mood. After a minute or so (which the drawing of the bird captured amazingly well), she would go wash the little wet spot off her hand. No big deal. And nothing sexual for her.
At least I don’t think so.
My sister used to have a cockatiel. Sometimes we would let it walk around outside of the cage. I was watching TV, kicking back in my favorite recliner. Mickey, the cockatiel, ambled down to my foot, whistled a few times, and started shuffling his tail feathers around my ankle. It felt kind of funny at first but eventually I figured things out: The damn thing was having sex with my foot. It wasn’t too bad, though, because male birds don’t have peckers, if you catch my drift.
I thought the whole thing was kind of funny, so more and more when Mickey was out of his cage, I’d give him a little action. I made a game of it. I’d lie down and provoke him by wiggling my toes around and pointing my foot straight up. He’d scurry to the base of my foot and start whistling. He couldn’t talk like grandma’s love bird, but he would sure whistle up a storm. Then I’d lay my foot down •Âat and he’d do his business, occasionally nipping on my toes with his beak. Finally, after climaxing, Mickey would run all the way across my prone body to hiss at my face. I guess he liked feet but not head.
Bird Lover Too
I’m a 15-year-old heterosexual male cockatiel and I just had to write when I saw your response to Polly Wanna Wanker. Dude, that column was not fit to line my cage. What are you doing, discouraging bird owners from helping guys like me get off?! How would you like it if you had no hands and some smart-ass advice columnist told everyone that if they helped you get off they were sick fucks? What gives?!
If I understand you correctly, humans can pee on each other, fart in each other’s faces, lick each other’s asses, and eat menstrual blood, and that’s all cool. But a little basic relief for a loving and loyal feathered friend like me is out of the question. Thanks, man.
And I gotta ask, how can a guy like you, who’s supposedly seen it all, not know that ALL male birds wank? At least all male birds of certain species, of which I am one. I don’t know a male bird that doesn’t beat off on its owner. I even know some female birds that do. Where have your experts been? Where have you been?
Lucky for me, my particular owner is demented enough to be thrilled to have earned your “sick fuck” designation and isn’t deterred at all from continuing to help me out. She always thought she was far too vanilla to show up on your radar. Imagine our collective surprise! But what of all those bird owners who may be shamed out of action by your insensitive response?
Many of us domestic birds sacrifice the company of other birds in order to be the caring companions of our human owners. We eat meals with them, sit on their shoulders while they work, cuddle up to them when they’re sick, and love them no matter what. In exchange, our owners feed us, play with us, and give us a nice home to live in. And if they really care about us, they help us get off because they know that, like any other dude, a bird’s got needs.
Bird sexuality is perfectly normal and healthy just like human sexuality is, Dan. We’re here, we like to hump humans, get used to it.
Murdoch in Vancouver