Yasi took some things from us that we will never have back again. It took away our beloved Peep.
Peep was a mynah bird, considered a pest up here, and as a chick it fell out of a tree. It should have been erradicated, but ‘we took it out of the gene pool’ and it became our family pet.
Peep was hand reared by the kids and me (when they were at school), and became very tame. It liked to sit on people’s shoulders, especially my eldest son’s. Sometimes it even tried to play the guitar, and it had just worked out how to bite and pull the strings to produce an effective note.
Peep loved to peck your fingers when you typed at the computer. It was a pain. I had to use bionicle claw to shoo it away as nothing else worked.
Peep loved to sit on your head, especially eldest’s bushy red hair. We think it may have been a girl because it kept nesting a lot the last few months. We gave it twigs and things for its cage to play with.
Not that Peep spent much time in a cage. As soon as Eldest was home that bird was royalty. It went for walks on people’s shoulders around the oval, and David and our eldest son, taught it to hunt for bugs.
Peep liked to mimic the telephone and other birds, like lorikeets. We think he had a wagtail and another mynah bird that visited him at his cage and spoke with him.
Peep liked to play with string like a kitten. It liked bright things! It liked to try and iron creases in clothing with its beak, and loved my bright skirts. It thought it was the centre of its universe, but welcomed us into that universe. Sometimes I think Peep thought it was human.
Before the cyclone like most animals and people Peep was a bit on edge. It kept diving into every available water container I had filled that didn’t have a lid. I went to take him outside, just to calm him down, silly me, and he flew away with a passing flock of birds- it happened so quickly and he was gone over the cane fields. Oh no! I thought he was lost forever and eldest would never forgive me. I went out calling for him Peep, PEEEEP and darned bird it made me cry.
My youngest said, ‘Come in Mummy don’t go too far please.’ I kept calling Peep, peeeep and finally had to give up as the winds picked up and youngest got frantic. My eldest kept calling too, and whistling, he loved to whistle for Peep, and then miracle of miracles, Peep the prodigal bird returned two hours later, without so much as an explanation and with two other Mynah birds in tow who took off when they saw humans. Peep was back.
During the cyclone Peep was doing okay. It had food, us and of course the guinea pigs it liked to preen every now and then, and it hopped from shoulder to shoulder but it did get more frantic. We had to put it in its own room as we did not have a spare portable cage. After all Peep had little use for cages except his large bird penthouse at bedtime. And it was really crazy when the tree came through the roof with a loud THUD. We took Peep with us to the bathroom which we had decided to flee, but left him and quail and the guinea pigs there. It was so hard for the kids to say goodbye to them but impossible for us to carry all the animals and the cyclone geear and kids.
So off we went into the night leaving them there. Our guinea pigs (another story) slept through much of the cyclone. they were much calmer than Peep. They only needed the occasional pat, although we were worried for them. All through the night I wondered how they fared.
The next day we went back to the house. They seemed okay.We kept them there, and came back to feed them until we had found somewhere to stay that we could move them. Peep seemed okay. We visited each day and fed all the pets.
It was only a day to the new home, and then sadly a phonecall from my friend were Peep was staying, Peep had died. We do not know exactly what killed him, perhaps it was shock from the cyclone.
I went off and cried. My eldest was angry for a few hours at the whole situation that had happend for his bird. We went down to the Cassowary Coastal Recovery centre and I cried on the way in there. In the end some Lifeline people came and sat with us and we could speak a little about the loss of the bird.
Then we went to pick up Peep’s body. It was a brilliantly sunny day. We took him to bury him at our old house. We dug a hole and took the box he was in and put it under a tree. David asked that Peep’s spirit protect the trees from future cyclones, and we said some Baha’i prayers. The wagtail, that might have been his friend, looked on. What was left of the trees was not much but the lorikeets went looking through them for food.
Some of the staff from the school saw us and came over to bring us some chocolate cake. They saw we were in the middle of serious proceedings and waited. Goodbye little Peep, to fly for evermore through the forest, no longer considered a pest, but our little hero bird.
Why is Peep a hero? Because it bought such joy to our family, tried to save two other mynah birds, survived the cyclone, and because it was Peep!
(c) All rights reserved, words and images, June Perkins