Remembering Freddy, Our Blue Bird of Happiness

A loving tribute to a budgie named Freddy—gone now, but not forgotten.

In 1978 I brought home a blue budgie for my daughter, Elaine, for her birthday. Elaine called this blue bird Freddy because at this time we had a hired man called Fred who Elaine liked very much. As Freddy matured, we could see that she was female but so what, Freddy can be short for Fredericka.

Freddy proved to be a very lovable little pet, but she was also full of mischief. As I worked around the house, she would sit on my shoulder and talk to me with her budgie sounds, which I loved. I would always be sure to have my hearing aids in my ears so I could hear her better. Mind you, at times she could be quite noisy, squawking loudly when she was excited or angry. Then we wished she’d be quiet. When I’d lean over, Freddy would sometimes walk down my back and sit on my rear end! When I stood up, she would have a long, steep climb up my back to my shoulder again. Sometimes she would perch on my glasses or others’ heads!

Judy, another of my daughters, is afraid of birds and was one who didn’t appreciate Freddy. She would put on a hat when I let the bird out of its cage as she was afraid that Freddy would land on her head. Freddy knew Judy was afraid of her and would swoop right towards her and fly over her head!

My husband Lane couldn’t get over how much Freddy trusted us. If I didn’t want her on my shoulder any longer, I would take my hand and push her off. She would just fly around in a circle and land back on my shoulder. She never had any fear that I would hurt her.

When Elaine was home and practising the piano, Freddy often sat on her shoulder to keep her company. I’ve no doubt that she sang along with the piano, but I wouldn’t know as I couldn’t hear her without my hearing aids.

To me it was always interesting to watch Freddy preening herself. She would work her beak through her feathers. Budgies have an oil sack just above the tail. Once in a while she would rub her head in this oil sack as part of her preening. She would also scratch her neck with her foot and her foot would move so fast you could hardly see it! Watching her do all this had a relaxing effect on me.

Naughty Birdie!

Now for the mischief! There was much of this nearly every day. Her favourite was getting into my plants. With the large ones she loved sitting on the branches and sometimes would chew on the leaves. Then she loved to draw attention to herself and make a mess by digging in the pot, sending dirt flying all over! I thought I could remedy this by gathering stones from the crushed rock in the driveway and setting it on top of the dirt. Surely she couldn’t pick up stones to throw out? Well maybe not, but it didn’t stop her from using her handy little curved beak to push them to the edge of the pot and then right over the edge! One of the plants was in a planter over the kitchen sink. Imagine the racket made by these stones hitting the sink!

One night I was trying to relax in the living room by reading a book. Freddy decided I should be paying attention to her so she went to work on one of the plants hanging in the living room. As usual dirt went flying! I took a piece of cloth and pinned it around the plant. Freddy gave me a look that said, “You can’t fool me!” She climbed to the bottom of the cloth and went under it! Then I put another pin at the bottom of the cloth. I got another one of those looks and she climbed through a space in the cloth that wasn’t pinned. In went another pin! Company arrived, so Freddy gave up and finally went into her cage at which point I immediately shut and fastened the door!

Another time, I was making a stew for supper. After having simmered the meat, I was cutting potatoes and carrots into it. Freddy was sitting on my hand watching all this when she decided to jump into the pot! Fortunately for her and us, she landed on some vegetables that happened to be sitting on top of the stew so she wasn’t hurt.

Trying to do a jigsaw puzzle was quite a process with Freddy around. She delighted in picking up the pieces in her beak and running to the edge of the table to drop them on the floor. This also happened if you decided to play solitaire with a deck of cards. This was more difficult for her as she had to hold her head way up high to carry the card. Also she wasn’t able to see where she was going, so one time she got to the edge of the table before she realized it and started to fall. Of course, being a bird she could just up and fly away. She was rather surprised by it all though, and didn’t let go of the card until she was halfway to the window that she was heading for.

Still another time, I had left a saucer of butter sitting in the sun that had started to melt. I was sitting at the table reading when I heard this little thump! There was Freddy on the floor covered with melted butter! She must have tried to take a bath or something. I had quite a time getting the stuff off her, too.

Lost and Found

Then we come to the lake incident. Elaine along with her friend, Donna, and I were staying at a cottage at Kenosee Lake. The girls were there to take swimming lessons. Freddy came with us and sometimes I would let her out of the cage for a break. One evening, we decided to go for a drive. I opened the door to bring in some lawn chairs before leaving. Unfortunately, I forgot about Freddy. She flew onto my shoulder when I was in the doorway. Before I had a chance to back up and close the door, Freddy flew out and away! Oh, how upset we all were!

The next evening, Lane arrived to be confronted with four people in mourning! He told us to put a notice in the store. Being a tame bird someone might get hold of her. I didn’t hold out much hope for this but the next morning Nancy and her friend, Sheila, came down. They wrote a notice, and took it to the store. They found out that someone had caught a bird and took it to the Chalet. Nancy and Sheila went to the Chalet only to find out the person who caught the bird had taken it home. They found out where he was camping and went there. He wasn’t home but before they left, Nancy peeked in the window and saw a cardboard box on the table with holes punched in it and bread crumbs scattered on the table. Nancy said, “Yup, that’s Freddy!”

Somehow they found out that the owner of the camper was golfing, so they went to the golf course. This man spotted them, and asked, “Have you lost a budgie?” Then he told them he would bring the bird home when he finished golfing. How happy and excited we all were when we heard the news!

Later, when the gentleman arrived with Freddy, I took her out of the box and said, “Freddy, you bad girl, just what did you think you were doing?” I asked the man how he caught her as she doesn’t just let you grab her. He told us how he’d been golfing the morning after Freddy flew away. He saw these ladies with a blue bird and he went to investigate, wondering what kind of a bird it was. When he got to them he saw that it was a budgie. Having had one himself, he knew something about them. He managed to get Freddy on his finger but when he tried to grab her with his other hand, of course Freddy would just flit away. Then he got her on his finger again but this time he flipped his hat on her to catch her. This worked but he said, “Boy, she sure did a lot of swearing!”

We had Freddy for seven years before she took sick and died. Lane, who always acted like she was nothing but a nuisance, insisted she be put in a box and buried in a special place in the yard. It was raining cats and dogs but the girls went out, dug a spot under a branch of our old elm tree in the corner of the yard and buried her. Such a lovable, vibrant personality is missed by all of us, especially Elaine and me, but all the wonderful memories remain with us.

Check out more great Canadian bird stories.

Originally Published in Our Canada