How to Be a Bird Nurse

Welcome and congratulations on the purchase of two cockatiels by your preteen who has been saving his money since the summer. Sure, they’re his birds, but you’re a parent, you know the truth. They’re yours too. No matter that you already have a dog, four chickens, a baby, a preteen, and kombucha to keep up with. Your life is boring. Nothing exciting or chaotic ever happens so you thought, “Hell, why not add 2 more to our menagerie?” Especially ones that sit quietly on the dining room table while you’re eating dinner until they walk smugly across the table, crawl up your boob to your shoulder, and perch there while you shriek and writhe to get them off you, for fear that they will poke you in the ear and peck a piece of your brain. What if it’s an important part that they peck?!

Anyway, the good news is that your cockatiels, Eli and Oscar, aren’t quite yet weaned so you will need to learn how to feed them bird formula. That’s right. Bird formula is a thing. It looks like sand and it smells like butt.

Let’s begin, shall we?  These new attention suckers will need to eat twice a day, which should be easy enough, especially if your baby is currently in the hospital. You have plenty of time to handfeed birds, right?

The first thing you need to do is reign in your son, ahem, I mean, your apprentice. He will want to snuggle and kiss the birds while you’re trying to get him to do this job. Pull him by his ear and tell him that kissing birds is never a good idea. Never.

Once your apprentice is ready to feed the birds, you will heat some water and get out approximately 1000 kitchen bowls. I do not know why you need this many. You just do.

Once the water is heated, mix the formula until it has the consistency of wet sand. It doesn’t matter that that description is pointless and you don’t know what wet sand looks like because you grew up in West Texas approximately the moon’s distance from an ocean. Just make wet sand, okay?

Here’s the real kicker. To feed the birds, the formula must be at exactly 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Apparently, the birds will die if their food is not delivered to them at exactly 109 degrees.

The difficult part of this is that the formula only stays 109 degrees approximately .04 seconds. So, you may have the right temperature in the kitchen, but by the time you carry the formula back to the bedroom and put it in a syringe, it is now 107 degrees and has basically turned into poison, according to your very dramatic apprentice.

So, once you get back to the room, get the formula into the syringe, discover that the temperature has fallen, then you have to put the formula back into the bowl, trek back to the kitchen, reheat the formula on the stove, where it instantly goes from too cold to on-fire, a temperature so high that it would cook the birds from the inside out. During this process, it is an absolute necessity that you use at least 14 spoons. In fact, just to be safe, why don’t you just use all the spoons in the whole house? Including the baby’s spoons and grandma’s decorative spoon she brought you back from Ireland.

Once you have used all the spoons and heated the formula to the temperature of the sun,  your apprentice will carry the lava formula back to his room, where he will hold it in front of a box fan until it the temperature falls too low again.

Repeat these steps three or four times until you have paced back and forth from the kitchen at least one million times. At one million and one times, you will deliver this speech to your apprentice, “I do not care that this formula is now 108 degrees Fahrenheit. We are going to put it in this syringe and stick it down the gullet of these birds or all three of you are going to die today.” As your apprentice gawks at you, you give him the death stare until he complies, muttering under his breath that you’re going to murder his birds.

Here comes the fun part. The wet sand formula is now in a syringe ready for delivery. At this point, assume the role of mother bird, vomiting up worms you have collected to feed your screeching babies.  Like most children, the birds will feign disinterest in the food you have so lovingly and painstakingly prepared for them. You must wave the syringe in their face and wipe it on their beaks to even get them interested. When they start eating, be ready. Don’t be dismayed by the horrible screeching sound that the birds make as you feed them. It sounds as if you are actually killing them. Just as slurping your noodles in Korea indicates that you’re enjoying your food, making death bellows while eating wet sand is considered polite in baby bird culture.

When the birds are finished, all of you, yourself, your apprentice, and both birds, will appear as if you just bathed in lukewarm damp sand. You will need to immediately soak all utensils used in the feeding or the wet sand will harden like concrete and then you will have to eat your cereal with a fork.

It’s that easy! You have just finished your very first course in bird nursing, affectionately called nirding. We’ll get your certificate in the mail to you once the birds have weaned. Which will feel like never.
Congratulations on the new additions to your family!

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