Kiwi the Moluccan Cockatoo was bored. All day long he would sit in his small cage, admiring his glossy white feathers in the mirror. He would stretch his wings, and remember his youth spent flying through the tall trees of his jungle homeland.
He climbed up next to the big window and peered out on the vast landscape beyond the thermalpane. As he nibbled on a sunflower seed, he could feel himself sliding through the warm air. Below him the ground almost seemed to roll beneath his soaring imagination.
His day dreams were suddenly interrupted by the sound of the woman entering the room. She was carrying several large fresh branches as she approached the cage. With one deft movement she unhitched the cage door. As Kiwi watched from the far side of the cage, the old, dried branches were exchanged for green moist ones.
The woman gathered up the old branches, ambled towards the door and headed outside. Kiwi's coal black eyes followed her form through the open cage door. He scrambled to the edge of his perch just inches from freedom; and without a moments hesitation, was airborne.
He sailed through the room and on out the front door just in time to glimpse the shocked expression on the woman's face slip beneath his clawed feet. He headed towards a large fir tree and landed for a moment on one of the lower branches, a scant 15 feet above the ground.
Kiwi watched with glee as the woman and the man scurried about below him, yelling at him to return to his cage. His response was to hop up onto the next higher branch. Before too long, all he could see below him was the green and brown branches of his fir tree.
Up and up he climbed. Flying across the gaps in the branches too wide to hop. After awhile he reached the very top of the tree. It was like coming out of a mountain forest into a clearing. In one direction was the familiar view out his window, but now it was only a very small part of a spectacular world that was spread out below him.
Down on the ground he could see the man and the woman running about. From inside his cage, they were monstrous giants. But now they were only tiny bug-like dots; just another small aspect of his new reality.
He let out a loud squawk, and leapt into the infinite ocean of air around him. Flying in a wide circle, he passed over the house that only a little while earlier had been his world. It was like hatching anew. The freedom he felt was intoxicating.
All through the rest of the day, Kiwi flew from tree top to tree top, trying out ever higher perches. Occasionally he would peer back towards the house and the people.
They had moved his cage outside now. How small it appeared within this new world. It was hard for him to imagine ever being able to put up with that rather cramped existence. From now on, he was the boss! The Head Bird!!
The early evening air had a bit of a chill to it. These late November days had been cool and clear. The waxing half moon rose high in the south, and from his perch, Kiwi felt that he could leap out and fly up to it. The slight discomfort from the cold night air was well worth it, he kept telling himself.
The next morning he was awakened by the gentle touch of raindrops on his feathers. He glided down to some sheltered branches on his tall fir tree and found a dry spot. He was starting to get hungry; so he instinctively looked for his bowl of sunflower seeds, but it wasn't there.
His cage was sitting outside next to the house; with an open door and a full bowl of seeds, but he knew that trick. As soon as he flew into the cage, the people would close the door on his freedom. He would have to find something else to eat.
There were many other birds around. Maybe he could eat what they ate. Now Kiwi was not a sociable bird; he considered himself the apex of avian evolution. So he watched from a discreet distance as the crows flew into the now dead corn patch. After they had left, he flew on down to check it out.
The few remaining corn cobs were fuzzy with mold. To a picky bird like Kiwi, it would take more than a little hunger to make him stoop to eating junk like that. He flew back to his fir and left the rotten corn to the inferior crows.
He had noticed a hawk awhile back, sitting atop a telephone pole over looking a large grassy field. Periodically, the hawk would takeoff, and dive down towards the tall grass, curving upward at the last moment after snatching something with his claws.
From his perch, Kiwi noticed that the hawk was eating what ever it was that he grabbed out of the field. The hawk was not quite as ugly as the crows, and he sported a curved beak somewhat like Kiwi's own. Maybe he was scooping up sunflower seeds!
He watched carefully the next time the hawk dove down. After he returned to his telephone pole perch, Kiwi headed towards the spot in the field that the bird had been. But all he could find was a smattering of wet fur and a few small drops of blood; not a sunflower seed in sight.
The rain was starting to come down harder now, so he headed back up to his fir tree. Except for the constant drumming of the rain, all was quiet at the house. The cage sat next to it beckoning to Kiwi with the bowl of sunflower seeds. It seemed as though the bowl was overflowing with the tender tidbits.
After a time the hunger got the best of him, so he flew on down and landed on the top of the cage. He nervously looked around for the people, and stealthily clambered in.
It was overflowing; the rain had dripped into the bowl and filled it up with water. A layer of dark, cold and soggy sunflower seeds floated on top. Kiwi was disgusted. Cold, wet and hungry he once again flew back up to the fir boughs.
The night came, and the rain continued to increase. The wind started to blow, and the once dry fir perch was now drenched. The cold wind drove the rain deep into Kiwi's feathers, as he tried in vain to find a comfortable position. He felt that the night would never end.
In the morning, he flew over to the cage, remembering how comfortable and warm it had been in the house. But he now found being outside, the cage was as cold and miserable as the rest of world.
The familiar surroundings were now only a mocking reminder of his former life inside the house. The rain and wind continued to beat against his feathers, but he remained in the cage, trying to warm himself with his memories.
He was now so hungry, that even the soggy seeds tasted good. He scarffed down as much as he could stomach; and sat upon his perch, staring into the mirror at a miserable looking water soaked cockatoo. After awhile he tucked his head under his wing and fell asleep.
He awoke to the sound of the cage door slamming shut. He jumped back on his perch and watched as the man opened the door to the house. He then began to push the cage back into the friendly surroundings of his room.
The dry, warm air was to Kiwi one of the best feelings in the world. Even better than soaring free in the clear cloudless sky? Maybe not, but definitely a close second.
His cage was now back in its old position. The bowl was filled with DRY sunflower seeds. As he munched away and gazed out the window, he continued to soar. Not in his imagination, but in his memories.
© 1995 by R. Douglas Frederick
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