A few days ago I visited my old stomping grounds of Nevada. Not only do I love the wild, untamed beauty of the sagebrush covered plains sheltered by the mountains, but I hold Nevada in a special place in my heart because of what started there. My bird journey started in the outskirts of Reno – a young kid walking into a petstore and coming out with a budgie, uninformed as so many first time bird owners are. My thirst for knowledge led me to a local bird club, where I immediately started attending monthly meetings and seminars. I was incredibly lucky to live in an area that had an active bird club, but also a bird store and large bird community that greatly contributed to my knowledge and experience with birds. Not every bird club would take the interest of a teenager seriously.
Instead of shooting my interests down or not paying me any attention, the club took me under their wing and encouraged me to learn and grow in aviculture. I fostered various species of parrots that were in need of new homes – the club operates as a nonprofit and focuses not only on education, but adoption of second hand birds, utilizing a foster network, It was through Reno Area Avian Enthusiasts (RAAVE) that I fostered my first bird, and subsequently had my first experience with a caique – that caique, Higgins, whom I adopted and is still with me today.
Strolling through the city that I have not visited since moving to North Carolina, a rush of memories and emotions came flooding back. I visited my former bird store haunt, where I was thrilled to find it exactly the same as I remember it. I got some much needed cockatoo cuddles in, and let the stores white bellied caique surf on my t-shirt. I have fond memories of meeting bird club folks at the store, interacting with the various birds that are boarded there, and learning tidbits from the stores’ longtime owner.
Who would have thought that 10+ years later, I would be travelling the country, conducting this great and exciting experiment? It made me pause in my tracks, and once again be thankful for the state that started it all. As we wound our way up to look at Lake Tahoe later that evening, and the birds flew in the sky, I winged a silent thank you to whatever caused me to walk into that pet store in the first place, and walk out with a blue budgie that started it all.