Ernie and Burt
Ernie and Burt In February of 1996, I bought my first parakeet. He was not very old and was mostly white with irregular blue and black markings. I chose a cage that had a blue plastic base, and I bought a little blue ladder with a mirror and beads.

I couldn't decide on a name for my new parakeet--my mom liked the name Ernie. Even though I was not crazy about the name, she continued to call him that, and finally I gave in. Ernie seemed happy with his new surroundings and loved his ladder with the mirror. Our family got into the habit of saying 'Ernie Bird' whenever we talked to him, and before long he was saying 'Ernie Bird' himself.

In May of that same year, I moved to the city to live with a relative and to find a job. I left Ernie with my parents, thinking that I would probably go back home soon if I didn't find a job. I found one the second day I was there and was required to work six days a week. It was several weeks before I was able to go back to my parents' house. But when I got the chance, I brought Ernie with me.

A few days later, I went to the petshop to get Ernie a friend. I knew I wouldn't have the time to spend with him as I did before. I asked the man at the petshop for a male bird--I didn't have the time take care of babies. He said the bird was really too young to determine its sex, but that he was quite sure it was a male.

I named this parakeet Burt--he was mostly blue with white and black markings. I kept them in separate cages for a period of time, but would let them out together occasionally. Ernie finally settled down, and I was able to keep them in a cage together.

After a few weeks, I noticed that Burt's cere was not changing into a bright color like normal male parakeets, but that it was still a dull brown color. After calling different breeders and pet shop owners, I found out that Burt was a female.

This hasn't caused any problems--Burt has never laid eggs, and she and Ernie don't seem to be 'romatically interested', which is fine with me.

Ernie has picked up several phrases such as: "what is Ernie? what is Ernie? Ernie's a pretty baby, pretty baby"; "Give me a kiss (smack)"; "What are you doing?"; "Ernie's a bat"; "Give me nose sugars"; "Glass of water"; "I love you"; "Now let's see"; "Bye-bye, be good babies".

One day I was replacing the branches in their cage, and Ernie said, "What are you doing?" I told him I was replacing the branches in the cage, and then he said, "I love you." I told him and Burt that I loved them too--and I do. Having them in my life is a true joy.

- Submitted by John Fazekas

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