Bubba a.k.a. Bubbs-a-hoppin’
It was the year of our Lord, two thousand and four. I was volunteering for the Refuge, and was assigned my favorite room, the garage. When I opened the door, I was greeted by the usual din of many cockatoos. This was music to my ears, though others may not feel the same way. On this day, I noticed a NEW cockatoo. This cockatoo was the LARGEST umbrella I had ever seen, and pure snow white. He was sitting in his cage, chewing on a piece of paper, while consuming the perch he was sitting on. As I am fearless of all cockatoos, I opened the door and took him out. I started to pet him, but as I was in charge of the garage, I decided to clean at the same time. I proceeded to clean this bird’s cage, and then walked into the kitchen with him on my arm to get him some fresh water. As I was standing at the sink, waiting to fill the pitcher, another volunteer walked in. She asked me which bird I had out. I looked at the bird, and shrugged, as the piece of paper he was eating previously was the one that had his name on it. I mentioned this to the volunteer, and turned to look at her. It was at this point that I noticed the abject horror on her face! She screamed aloud: “You have Bubba out! Get him away from me! Get him away from the other birds!” I calmly looked at Bubba, then back at her. Bubba was sitting gently on my arm, with no intention of going anywhere. He gave me that innocent cockatoo look, saying with his eyes, “Who me?” That was all it took; I was in love.
I roamed around the house until I found Richard. He was shocked when he saw who was on my arm. I learned that this sweet, innocent, and loving creature was actually the devil in disguise! He had previously broken out of his cage, and terrorized the other birds in the rescue. Actually, it went beyond terror. Bubba had seriously injured another bird, Prince. He had torn his lower mandible off. Partially due to everyone’s reaction, and partially due to my heart, I asked Richard if I could adopt Bubba. He said yes immediately. I found myself driving home with a large cage, a new rolling perch, and a charismatic, charming, and fascinating new friend in my truck.
When I arrived at home, my other umbrella Skeeter gave Bubba the skeptical eye. It was at this point that I started to wonder if I had lost my mind. Skeeter was my baby. Skeeter and I were bonded in August of 1991; he was my first umbrella. How dare I think to bring another umbrella into his home! What was I thinking? I could read the disgust on Skeeter’s face; additionally, I could read the interest on Bubba’s. What was I going to do? What if Bubba ripped off Skeeter’s beak too? What was I thinking?
Well, it just so happens that one day both Skeeter and Bubba were out of their cages at the same time. I do not recall exactly how that had happened, only that it did. Skeeter walked over to Bubba while Bubba walked over to Skeeter. They cautiously eyed one another. The next thing I knew, Bubba was preening Skeeter’s crest feathers. Skeeter loved every minute of it. These two male umbies fell immediately in love with one another and have been close friends ever since.
Bubba is a destructive, massive, aggressive and adorable twenty-something umbrella cockatoo. He had an interesting life prior to coming home; the specifics are irrelevant at this point. Most importantly, Bubba has changed his attitude. His aggressiveness has melted away, and he has become as sweet as sugar. His favorite activity is hopping, hence the name, Bubbs-a-Hoppin. When Bubba comes out of his cage, he needs to hop. And hop. And hop. He can hop up to three feet! It starts simply; Bubba will slide out of the hole where his water dish is supposed to be… (OOPS, my mistake! He got out!) Once out, he climbs up to the top of his cage, and the hoppin begins! Back and forth! Up and down! Swinging and laughing, crest erect! Bubba is a hoppin!!! He puts all of his energy, all of his joy, and all of his vigor into the largest hops I have ever seen! He whoops it up, laughing and throwing his crest! He is free to hop, his most favorite activity.
Well, cockatoos cannot hop forever, though some would like it if they could. I stand next to his cage, and tap my shoulder. Bubba will come running over, and we take a little walk. We walk together down a short hallway into the bedroom. As with all bedrooms, there is a large bed in the middle. I sit down on the bed, and Bubba hops off my shoulder onto a pillow. I lift the sheet up, and he streaks under the covers, where he commences with his second favorite activity, beak clicking under the sheet. At the same time, I look down at the floor, and low and behold, there is Skeeter! I pick him up, and he too streaks under the covers, to preen and click beaks with Bubba. If given the opportunity, the two of them will stay under there for hours. Sometimes they do; it just depends what I have TIVOed lately. The three of us stay in the bed for hours, preening, clicking, and sleeping. I love my too’s.
Needless to say, Bubba has owned me for over five years now. When I come home from work, he gives me the eye, saying without words, “please mommy, let me out so that I can hop and play with Skeet.” As anyone with a rescued bird knows, cockatoos are fantastic eye speakers. I cannot ignore that silent plea to release him so that he can hop with his friend. It is all over for me; cockatoos run my life. Is this what I signed up for when I asked Richard if I could adopt him? You betcha! I cannot imagine my life without Bubba, or Skeeter. I hope that when the time comes, and we pass on to the next plane of existence, we will be in a world where we both communicate in the same language. Until then, we will be a hoppin!
By: Kathryn Green