Saturday, September 24, 2011


I've never been an avid lover of birds. This particular fact strikes me as odd considering how immersed I've been in the winged world since starting Birdcage Girl over nine months ago.

When I was little, my parents brought us a pet parakeet. We named her Ariel (after my favorite Disney princess) and she had a lovely combination of yellow and green feathers. Unfortunately, she decided she didn't feel at home with us. Ariel cried whenever we turned on the television and, when we let her out of her cage for some exercise, she'd perch on top of the refrigerator and bite our fingers. When my mother got sick from Ariel's presence in the house, we had to return her to the pet shop.

From them on, I admired birds from afar. When I still lived in New York, I watched blue jays and cardinals flutter from tree to tree in the backyard, looking very much like flying paint. My favorite birds were, and still are, sparrows. I liked sneaking snacks and tossing them for the tiny army of sparrows to gobble up. I daydreamed about owning one and teaching it to do tricks.

There are many different kinds of birds in Florida, some of them as tall as your torso. Every lake is covered in white birds airing their wings; some saunter across roads, expecting cars to stop for them. I still see sparrows here, even though they don't appear as often as I like. It seems as if they are children of the fall season - a season that Florida doesn't acknowledge anywhere but on a calendar. Theme parks are full of birds - whether they are the exotic ones kept in towering aviaries or friendly ducks; if I could be born as something else, I'd probably want to live out my whole life as a Disney duck. Seriously. They have it made.

In my senior year of college, I went impromptu bird-watching with my friend and the guy she liked (the guy who would soon be her husband). For two days straight, we met him in the park and followed him around while he showed us the local birds. We sat on sidewalks and passed around his heavy binoculars. Found baby birds in their nests. I watched in awe as he and my friend examined the bird guide together, their heads together, laughing softly.

But even so, I couldn't call myself a lover of birds. Not any more than the average person.

There's something magnetic about the idea of birds, isn't there? That's why you'll find birds painted on walls, printed on shirts, the icon of many different design schemes. We all want to fly - watching birds do it continues to be inspirational.

For a long time, I kept my head down and just typed out the story of Birdcage Girl without giving much thought to the birds right outside my window. However, in recent weeks, I've paid more attention. And it's been interesting. My friend over at HelloEnaam surprised me with a birdcage; she gave it to me over the summer and I proudly walked to the parking lot with it swinging in my grip. It has a little door that actually opens and closes. Whenever I feel stuck, I like to look at it for inspiration. Remember your roots, right? My main character, Ashlyn, has come so far that sometimes it feels like her days in the birdcage have been but a dream. I'm sure she feels that way too. Being close to finishing puts me in a nostalgic mood, haha.

I've also been on the lookout for birdcages too - and I found a shirt with the print. It's been a pretty exciting hunt. However, there are always some bird-inspired items that make me laugh. One of them I saw today - it's called Snap-On Feathers. It's apparently the "latest fashion craze" to stick feathers in your hair - the commercial for it is... uh... pretty interesting. I'll have to look around and see if people are really doing this. Still, the idea makes me smile.

Image from We Heart It


  1. I've always been infatuated with birds, when I was young I would walk outside and hold my hands out just waiting for all the birds to perch on me like in all the Disney movies (sadly I don't live in a Disney movie and I looked like a strange little girl walking about with my hands spread open). My Uncle has a whole house full of birds just flying about freely, he has them trained very well and being in his home is like being in an Aviary (great for photo taking). Even now I always carry breadcrumbs or seeds just in case, there are so many lovely birds where I live, I hung a feeder outside my window and there are sparrows and chikadees and blue jays and robins about all the time, right outside my window, it's lovely to wake up to. I share your fascination with birdcages, in fact I adore them so much there is one tattood on my wrist/ forearm with birds flying out. Anyhow, so sorry for the epic comment. I think I am going to send you an e-mail shortly, just a little letter with some questions and to see how you are.



  2. I'm just the same! I've never been an avid bird lover, just a faraway admirer. But lately I've been watching them too. My 12 year old brother is actually the bird-watcher of the family! He has a book of State Birds and makes a note in it whenever he sees a new one. :)

    One of my friends got a feather in her hair semi-recently! I'm not sure it's a Snap-On, though. I had no idea that was a "thing!"

    ...Actually, this post brought to mind this video, ahaha:

  3. I imagine going bird-watching with someone who knows what he's doing and can point out things we normally miss - that must be really fun and amazing.

    I'm like you, too - I've never been ESPECIALLY fond of birds (maybe in part because I've been so singlemindedly in love with dogs). A couple weeks ago though, a bird flew into the air pipes above my apartment. There was an opening to the air pipes in the hallway supply closet, and it wound up in the closet, where it was trapped and in a panic (I imagine) either panicked and had a heart attack or something, or it flew hard enough at the walls in the dark that it killed itself. The whole experience really terrified me, but it also made me incredibly sad to think of the bird dying in this dark, confined space. Sorry for the morbid ramble! I think I'm still trying to work out my feelings for birds.

    A a kid reading the Animorphs series though, I always wanted to be able to turn into a bird - just to get from one place to another faster, and for the incredible view.

    Also, what an awesome gift from Namie! It sounds so elegant and beautiful, I hope we'll get to see a picture!

  4. Hm. I like birds, but not enough to go out specifically to birdwatch. And I don't think I'd like one as a pet. But the image and sentiments they carry are beautiful.

    Isn't it weird how common that is? For instance, I don't think I'd feel very comfortable walking around a forest -- half the time, I'd be worrying about bugs or snakes. But at the same time, forests *in writing* are fantastic. They are golden little places of magic and wonderment and enchantment. They are the home that our thin, pale heroines yearn to return to.

    But I still wouldn't want to walk around in one. :(

    (Glad you're enjoying the birdcage!)

  5. @Jhordyn Ashley That's a lovely story about how you used to try and attract birds; I never thought to try it. I think I spent too much time tossing my headbands around like Sailor Moon to call singing creatures. I'd love to see the photos you took from your Uncle's house - it must have really been something.

    Wow, your tattoo with the bird and birdcage sounds really awesome :) I think, in many ways, it's a symbol that can been interpreted at many levels. My character, Ashlyn, from Birdcage Girl, has a birdcage tattooed above her heart - and a bird sneakily added on her shoulder blade.

    Aww cool! I'll be looking forward to your email. I miss reading your blog, but I understand how overwhelming projects can be, especially when things get busy :)

    @Melee Ah, so you have a bird-watcher in the family! Sometimes I find that hobby so overwhelming; I wouldn't be able to tell the subtle difference between certain birds. During my time with my friend and her boyfriend, I found myself nodding and squinting with much confusion. But I guess that's okay, haha.

    OMG, I LOVE that video, hahaha! Thank you for sharing it :D

  6. @Linna Yes! Fellow dog-lover! No matter how normal liking dogs must be, I still must admit that they are my favorite animals (owls and hedgehogs follow close behind).

    Awww, what a sad story about that bird. I would have freaked out myself after finding it like that (You're very brave!). Reminds me of Thumbelina where the swallow is considered to be dead underneath the earth. I guess you weren't harboring a little girl in your apartment who couls knit him a blanket :(

    ANIMORPHS! Yes, I read a bunch of those as a kid! I always liked the boy who turned into the bird (I think it was a hawk). If I remember correctly, he was the mysterious brooding kid of the bunch - with more control over his powers too. Gosh. I want to read those again.

    Yes! I'll take a picture of it soon :)

    @Namie Thanks again for the birdcage! Yesh, I love it very much :) Haha, same here. I wouldn't mind a walk in the crowded area of a nature park (with a definitive path, but I wouldn't wander about in a forest either, haha. But it is the perfect setting for magic and fun, so the best way to explore is in our heads :)

  7. @Kim AW! Hedgehogs I especially love, too! Basically all the animals in the Peter Rabbit series haha.

    Oh, Kim. I downplayed my reaction big time. I was unbelievably freaked out. Like, hyperventilating to a friend on the phone freaked out. Ahh I haven't seen Thumbelina since I was like...younger than 10! Need to see again.

    TOBIAS! RED-TAILED HAWK! He was my favorite, too!!!! It was sad when he was trapped in his morph, but he's so awesome. He started taking on the mind and characteristics of the hawk/predator after that became his body. Tobias is the best haha.

    Can't wait to see the photo!

  8. I like birds, but, like you, not particularly fond of them. But I do appreciate their beauty.

    I think vintage birdcages rock though.

    Fickle Cattle

  9. what a lovely post! I have birds visit my window on a regular basis. One of the most beautiful things about living in Australia is the range of animal species, including birds. I could stare at them all day.