Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Meet the Critters: Bella the Fail Dove and Screamin' Shaman

Bella is a 7 year old white ringneck dove.  Doves have long been regarded as symbols of peace and serenity. They are known for their grace and for their beautiful, soothing voices…

…but not Bella.

Clearly, anyone who believes this to be true has never met Bella. Bella does not embody ANY of the qualities for which doves are so well known.  In fact, Bella is quite the opposite.  He is a thieving, clumsy, and downright warlike bird.

Yes, you read that correctly. Bella is a ‘he.’  

For years, Mama assumed Bella was female, mostly because he is noticeably smaller than the other doves in the family. Since there are no real distinguishing physical features between the genders of ringneck doves, it was impossible for her to know that Bella was male…until he fathered children in 2008. By that point, he had learned his name and it was far too late to change it.

Poor guy…stuck for life with the most girly name imaginable. No wonder he’s such a mess.

In addition to having a girly name, Bella fails in many other ways as well.  For starters, he is quite possibly the clumsiest animal to ever ‘grace’ the face of this planet.  When Bella stretches his wings to take flight, a wise person will know that the best course of action is to duck and cover until Bella lands (or crashes) somewhere.

When Bella flies, it’s similar to a game of ping pong, where Bella is the ball, but there aren’t actually any other players. He’ll bounce off one wall, and then the next, until he reaches his destination…or at least somewhere in proximity to the landing spot for which he was originally aiming. 

A simple flight down the hallway, for example, sounds something like this: 

Flap-flap *thump*, flap-flap *thump* 

The truth is NO ONE is safe while Bella is airborne. There have been numerous mid-air collisions with the other birds in the house, he once mowed through a cluster of parakeets like they were nothing more than colorful little bowling pins, and Mama has been broadsided in the face by Bella more times than she can count.

In reference to his voice, everyone knows that doves make a beautiful, soft cooing sound, right? 


Not Bella. The best way to describe this, really, is to say that if Janis Joplin had been a dove, she would have sounded a lot like Bella. He has a raspy, Janis-like voice, and he often makes a scratchy ‘HEE-HEE-HEE’ noise that sounds like a maniacal cackle. 

Let’s have a replay of the flight down the hallway, with vocals this time: 

Flap-flap *thump*, HEE-HEE-HEE!!!  Flap-flap *thump*, HEE-HEE-HEE……*thump*

That is what it sounds like to live with Bella.

Bella fails to live up to a dove’s reputation in other ways, too.

He is not peaceful.

He is not serene.

He will pick a fight with anything that moves…except for Beaker, of course. (He may be clumsy, but he’s by no means stupid.)  His favorite ‘opponents’ include Beau (his son), and Bodhi, the largest, strongest dove in the house.  Bella will attack his opponents on sight, slapping them with his wings and ‘HEE-HEE-HEE-ing’ all the while.

It’s all in vain, though.  

Granted, he’s won a few matches with his son, Beau, but Bella has never won a fight against Bodhi…not once.  For some reason, that doesn’t stop Bella from trying…and trying…and trying again.

Doves do not deserve their peaceful reputation. Doves are warriors.

Bella is also a thief. He will steal anything he can carry, like jewelry, key rings, and hair ties.  Several of Mama’s necklaces have been lost this way, never to be seen again. He doesn’t eat them—he hides them. Mama and Dadda are certain that Bella has a secret hoard somewhere that they have yet to discover. 

Honestly, he’s worse than a ferret. 

Some of his attempted heists have involved shopping bags, fresh cut flowers from the arrangements Dadda gives Mama, and Mama’s ear bud headphones.  Thus far, he has failed to process that the headphones are connected to Mama’s computer…but that doesn’t stop him from trying with all of his might to fly away with them….over and over again. 

Admittedly, Bella’s failed attempts at thievery are highly amusing to observe.  He pretty much wreaks havoc everywhere he goes. 

In summary, if it is possible to fail, Bella will find a way. 

                               *                        *                        *

Shaman is an 8 year old male pearled cockatiel.  He has issues. 

Shaman screams—incessantly—for no reason whatsoever. It doesn’t matter how much love and attention he gets. It doesn’t matter how often he gets to come out of his cage. It doesn’t matter how many new and exciting toys he is given.  The screaming never stops. He just keeps going…and going….and going….like something out of the Energizer Bunny’s worst nightmare.
Truthfully, Shaman’s screaming would be a highly effective torture mechanism…and a viable alternative to waterboarding.  The effect is very much the same. 

None of Mama’s other cockatiels behave this way.  It’s just Shaman.  He’s…special. 

As a baby, Shaman was a feather-plucker.  That behavior (thankfully) subsided as he matured. Unfortunately, it was replaced with screaming.  Shaman always has been (and probably always will be) a high-strung, neurotic bird. He is highly sensitive and is susceptible to overstimulation.  Any amount of noise or activity in his immediate environment causes him significant stress.  

Mama has tried everything to keep him calm, but so far, nothing has worked. He is what he is. In truth, Shaman’s ideal environment would probably be a nice, quiet, padded room…perhaps with a New Age relaxation CD playing softly in the background….or maybe Tchaikovsky.  He really likes Tchaikovsky.  At least his tastes are refined, even if his behavior leaves a lot to be desired.  

He’s just plain crazy, and that’s all there is to it. 

This concludes introductions to the characters of 7.6 Lbs of Awesome.   

Up next, ‘Adventures in Housebreaking’…

Want to see photos of Bella The Fail Dove? You can! Click here:  http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.150216278390113.37783.141692599242481

Want to see photos of Screamin' Shaman? You can! Click here:  http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.149708091774265.37675.141692599242481&type=1


  1. The Fail Dove. This is so funny I've got tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. I can only imagine what it was like the first time you looked up to a ping ponging, flapping, slightly befuddled bird careening down the hallway.

  2. @Pat: Yep, that's our Bella--a flapping, befuddled, careening, ping-ponging ball of fail. Haha!

    As far as the first time I saw him fly is concerned, I'd say the phrase 'hilariously horrifying' sums it up quite nicely. I couldn't stop laughing, but at the same time, I was really afraid he was going to hurt himself. In 7 years, he hasn't had a single injury, though. He's hard headed, I guess.

    Thanks for reading, and for laughing. It's a compliment. :)

  3. Bella is a man's name. Bella Lugosi, who is EPIC in my opinion.

  4. @Sarah: You know, I hadn't thought of that! That's awesome! I'm going to tell Bella about this right now. It's going to make him feel much better about everything! ;)


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.