2 Years: Lessons Learned – Love Your Birds

Two years… 730 Days… 17,520 hours… Countless Miles… No matter how you look at it, two years on the road is a long time!  Especially when you travel the country by truck and RV… correction; make that two trucks, and two RV’s, a flock of birds, magic props, motorcycle, and a house cat.  Driving separately from Jamie can be painstaking, but it does give me some time to reflect.  Not only on shows and future plans, but on training, and what I can do to become a better trainer.

Image Copyright Feld Entertainment 2010

I’m one of those people who is constantly in the pursuit of perfection.  Always trying to learn more, and always trying to become a better person and professional.  At many times, it’s to a fault.  These past two years have really given me the chance to realize how important it is to live in the moment.  It has also given me phycological insight on how to get my birds to reach perfection on and off stage.  After all, I’m hired to perform a 1st-class production with professionally trained parrots – and likewise, my birds are expected to be “1st Class Performers” as well. It would be hard to be “the best” if my birds would land in the rafters, or fly out the backdoor and disappear into the Vegas desert, only to be found a week later by strangers.  In my industry, there’s no room for errors.  Sometimes that can translate to a lot of pressure for my birds, after all they didn’t sign the contract, I did.  So I always do my best to reward their every moment.

October 30, 2011 finally arrived, and we performed our last show in Wilkes Barre, PA.  I had performed for five different Ringling Shows over that two year tour, and it was all coming to an end.  Aside from a huge sense of accomplishment, there was a strange calmness that suddenly overwhelmed me backstage shortly after performing Catapoultry with Bondi.  I looked around and realized… 5,000 people in an arena, sold out shows, TV, Radio, Print… it was all coming to an end in 73 minutes from that exact moment.  Surrounded by black curtains and 7-sets of birdie eyes staring at me through the dimly lit backstage, as if they could tell I was finally processing it all; I took each bird out, kissed them on the head, held them for a moment and thanked them out-loud for being there for me for the entire tour. The ups and downs, the tornados and snow storms, 20 degrees to 120 degrees – it didn’t matter, they had achieved perfection in nearly every show, night after night, mile after mile, audience after audience.

Fiji’s Last Show – Photo Mishelle Statford

It was when I picked up Bondi, who had been looking at me concerned the whole time, that a single tear made it’s way past my right eye, and was now slowly passing my lips.   I kissed her on the head, thanked her for giving her all, even on days that she wasn’t feeling well.  It was as if she and I connected more than ever.  She mirrored my mood through every phase of the tour, from being a rock star on stage, to the tender moments offstage that an audience and cameras never see.  When we lost Fiji, she completely shut down with me, as if she was mourning her loss through me.  And on October 30, 2011 she once again  understood my feelings and that this was her last show, and we could both go home and relax until our next journey begins.

Bondi Performing Catapoultry

I learned many things on this tour about life & training.  From the highest highs to the lowest lows, and yet one lesson stands out miles ahead of anything else I could ever possibly write.  A lesson that we should all live by, a lesson that keeps you moving when your down and constantly elevates you while you’re up.

“Always love your birds like it’s the last day you’ll see them, for they provide more to us than could ever be transcribed into any human language.”

I’m so grateful for everything they’ve given me.  Those of you who can truly relate know the exact feeling I’m conjuring when I say these words.  And those of you who are just now paving that path with your birds will soon understand the feelings that are impossible to put onto paper.

1 comment

Freada Dillon

Dave, I knew you were talented, and had a way with animals that is nothing short of eerie but after reading this post, I realize I am seeing a fellow poet as well as bird lover. Eloquent and touching. Thanks for sharing this.

Freada Dillon

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