Avian Access Control Lessons

I received a hard lesson in security administered by an unlikely source the other day.  A couple of toddlers taught me that my controls need to be properly deployed, effectively monitored, and that the defaults are never best practice.  The lesson was costly, claiming the life of my 8-year-old budgie, Pinball, named for his renowned inability to negotiate the air, and practice of landing hard after using walls and windows to slow down his forward momentum.

I hate to make light of the passing of Pinball who was one of the family and will be missed.  There is a very large empty space where his cage used to stand in our living room.  There will be no further avian acquisitions in the near future, and his cage has been disposed of.

The lesson came after my 2-year-old grandson and 4-year-old granddaughter observed my procedures for preparing the main floor for one of Pinball’s regular flights.  First, the cat is located and removed from the house.  Backyard is the typical destination for the ferocious feline offender who would eagerly lick his chops and swat at the windows during the exercise.  Next, turn off and cover any hot stove elements, light fixtures or other potential causes of spontaneous birdie combustion.  Flip up the cage’s built-in locking mechanism consisting of a flexible bar over a metal knob.  Open the cage door, and either insert hand or allow the floundering fowl to hop out under his own power.  Pickup the streamlined brick as he unceremoniously comes to rest somewhere in the house, and allow him to try, try again.

Once the procedures were observed, they could be repeated, with the suspected aid of the 4-year-old accomplice who loved to watch Pinball fly and would laugh as he made a “landing”.  They could also be short cutted, because no one likes to spend minutes to hours chasing a cat that flees at the mere sight or scent of tail-tugging toddlers.  So, skipping over the first couple of steps in the procedures led to the demise of the great Pinball. 

The root cause of the incident was a lack of stringent access controls on the door, the defaults are NEVER EVER sufficient, and an inaccurate assumption that a stern “Don’t do what I am about to show you” would be adequate to an inquisitive and misguided cast of pre-school characters.  A simple rubber band could have been used to reinforce the closure of the cage, complicate extraction of the prized contents, and defeat many attempts to gain unauthorized access.  The danger was real, the outcome unpleasant, and the grandkids now see the empty space left by the great bird’s departure.

Sad day, Pinball, you will be missed.