Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.
Wednesday, in my birding column in the StarTribune (Variety section, Home and Garden, page 3) I wrote about chickens as birds, not dinner. I visited with the local woman who runs a chicken rescue and adoption agency called Chicken Run Rescue. She told me that raising chickens or keeping them as backyard pets is hardly a slam-dunk. “Helluva lot of work” is how she phrased it.
Readers, well three readers, sent me emails discussing the article and the joys of chickens in your yard. Or, your bedroom.
The first email debated the comment that chickens are more work than a prospective owner might imagine. In my column I quoted from a book on raising chickens for fun and profit: easier than cats. I was dubious about that. It’s true, said my correspondent, in firm language. Chickens and cats – no difference.
The second story told of chicken that did not fit into its flock. It was so low on the pecking order (yes, there is a very real pecking order in chicken flocks), so low that it was not even on the list. One day when the owner came to the pen to feed the birds, the lowly chicken flew into her arms. When she placed the chicken back into the pen, it cried and pleaded, in chicken language, to be saved.
And so the bird became a house chicken, with free range of all rooms. It is cuddly and loving, she says. It roosts at night on the headboard of the owner’s bed. This is where I read my first-ever mention of diapers for birds. Of course, this is not a thing birdwatchers see in the wild. It is a garment for large birds allowed to be cage-free in your home. It's pretty obvious that diapers would be a vital piece of equipment if you had chickens on your headboard.
Google is such a wonder. Type in “chicken+diapers” and up pops “Avian Fashions, home of the revolutionary bird diaper, The Flightsuit.”
I love it! Flightsuit! These are people with vision and a sense of humor. The garment allows the bird to move freely, fly and all that, while keeping you and your furniture clean. I know people who keep exotic birds like parrots as pets. I’ve wondered about the soil problem. Do they buy new furniture often or never? Now I know: they buy Flightsuits!
This is a fashion garment as well as a practical solution. There is a choice of colors. Sizes range from petite to colossal, which comes right after mammoth. I can't imagine what species of feathered house pet would require one of those. Flightsuit fabric is soft and stretchy. There are fleece suits for cooler climates. Color choices are available. And, as you’d imagine, you buy disposable liners for use with the suits. The suits, by the way, have a patented design called the “poop pouch” that keeps droppings away from the bird.
If you favor ducks or geese, Avian Fashions can help you. There are costumes for your birds, and “fashion hoodies,” and toys, and harnesses and leashes to keep your bird from doing what it might want to do when you approach with a diaper – fly away.
This is an entire new world for me. Diapers for birds. Wish I’d thought of it first. (The photo, from Avian Fashion’s web site, shows a parrot in its Flightsuit.)
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