For the Birds

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For the Birds

By Paula Deen

You may not know it, but I have a daughter.  She just turned 21—drinking age, if she was so inclined—and she is mean as a snake.  She hates women.  Detests ‘em.  If another woman is around, she will just about tear me up from jealousy.  But when it’s just the two of us, she falls all over me, practically eatin’ me up.  Her first word was “Momma,” and it still melts my heart whenever she says it.

Her name is Ladybird.

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For all the Right—and Wrong—Reasons
This beautiful blue and gold macaw has brought me so much pleasure, but I was in a very dark place when she first came into my life.

I had just lost my little Shih Tzu, Magnolia, of cancer and my first marriage had ended.  I was brokenhearted and so terribly alone.  So I said to myself, “I’m gonna find me something that I don’t have to worry about leaving me”—that’s how bad off I was. And I had heard birds lived a long time, so I got me a bird.

I found a man nearby who raises birds.  He had a 3 ½ week-old bird for me.  To be honest, from the look of that creature, I didn’t know if maybe I was getting a chicken hawk!  She had no feathers—she was all beak.  Her little eyes were not even open yet. But she needed me, and at that point in my life I needed to be needed.  I brought her home in a shoebox and pumped food into her mouth for six months before she could eat on her own.

Another Mouth to Feed
Then, like any good momma, I worried Ladybird needed a sibling to keep her company while I was busy starting up my first restaurant, The Lady.  So I got another bird.  This one was a yellow-tipped umbrella cockatoo named Dixie.  Oh my goodness, he was so sweet and just loved pretty girls.  And don’t think he didn’t know the difference between a pretty one and an ugly one!  My niece Corrie and her girlfriends would come over and Dixie would look them up and down and say, “I love you girl.  I love you girl.”  They would shimmy their breasts at him and he would just go nuts.  Needless to say, Ladybird merely tolerated him.

I put those birds in bed with me.  Ladybird slept with her head on the pillow next to me and Dixie buried himself in the sheets. That’s how lonely I was.  Then, by the grace of God, Michael came along.  And he might sleep with one “bird,” but he sure wasn’t sleeping with three!

Dixie passed away suddenly a few years ago after coming in contact with a roach that was carryin’ a bad infection.  It was one of those freak accidents.  I could never replace Dixie, so now I just have parakeets and finches, and Ladybird doesn’t bat an eye at those little birds.  I guess she figures they’re hardly the woman she is.

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My Strong-Beaked Baby
And what a woman she is, y’all.  Michael is scared to death of Ladybird.  One time I said, “C’mon now, hold her!  She’s not gonna bite you.”  He was shakin’ he was so nervous.  So if he ever gets acting up on me, I tell him that I’m gonna let Ladybird loose on him.

I adore her, but she is a pain in the butt.  I did not realize the huge commitment having a bird would be.  I certainly didn’t realize that I was going to have to provide for her in my will!  But she has truly been a loving and loyal life partner.  And in spite of all the squawkin’ and fussin’ she does, no mother could turn her back on that.

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Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:

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We love our birds, too, but seem to have a lot of trouble with them staying alive. We feed and water them and play with them, but I guess when we buy them, they are already too old to live very long. We buy them from a very well respected Pet store but have no luck. Maybe you could share some tips on something to help us figure out what we may be doing wrong.

By thressia woodfield on February 22, 2014

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I loved the story of your Blue and Gold. We have 7 parrots, and just built them a BIG room of their own. Yes, they are a lot of work, and extremely noisy. But we really love them. Never saw anything as jealous as a parrot. So smart too! So glad you're a Maw to that precious bird!!!

By Bonnie Parsons on September 21, 2013

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Love these pictures of you n Lady Bird. I have always had birds, and just yesterday got a Jenday Conure! She's sweet, about 3 years old, so sorry to read of your Dixie, that's a shame. They are a little work, but the rewards are very good! Love ya, Sandy

By Sandy on September 15, 2013

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Love you, Paula. Since all this crazy flap has hit the news, I have been buying your books. I hate the way they choose one person and stigmatize them to death. It's ridiculous. Anyhow, I digress... I have to tell you how much I appreciate your story about your birds. I love them so much, but I developed an allergy after hand-feeding them and raising several clutches of baby cockatiels (cannot spell that word for the life of me). Anyhow, I loved reading about your birds. They are very special friends. I sure do miss them. Every so often, I will go to a pet store just to talk to the birds. They are great companions.

By Kathy Bannister on July 30, 2013

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Roastted brussels sprouts with bacon and pecan's show me how to make it.

By Donna marie eichhorn on January 25, 2013

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THANK GOODNESS FOR ONLINE, FOODNETWORK NEVER MENTIONED THEY WERE MOVING JAMIE DEEN;S HOME FOR DINNER TO SUN. NO WONDER SOME OF US HAVE BEEN MISSING HIS SHOW. WHO GETS UP AT 7:30AM ON SUNDAY ANYWAY. WHAT WAS WRONG WITH SAT. OH YES, THEY HAD TO PUT THAT STININ PIONEER WOMAN ON. TAKE HER OFF. I AM ORIG. FROM OKLA. AND SHE MAKES ME WANT TO PUKE. WHAT A WASTE OF TV. TIME. I JUST TURN HER OFF. GIVE ME THE DEEN FAMILY ANYDAY. WELL I WILL TRY TO GET UP SUN. SO I CAN WATCH JAMIE. NOW BOBBY DEEN ,SON U SURE HAVE POOR TASTE IN GIRLFRIENDS. WHERE DID U FIND THAT LITTLE BIMBO. U NEED TO LOSE HER FOR SURE. OK WILL WATCH FOR JAMIE ON SUNDAY AT 7:30AM FROM CT.

By R.Herdman on October 13, 2012

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Hi Paula! If you ever get to Charlottesville, Va. please stop a try a place called Michie Tavern (pronounced Mickey Tavern), near to Monticello, where President Jefferson lived. They have a wonderful colonial Virginia buffet menu, and one of their recipes is for stewed tomatoes. I've never seen you do a recipe like this one; we eat it all through Virginia! It uses sugar and crumbled biscuits and is really good! I found out i was diabetic about the same time you did. At first i was really annoyed, but now i have learned to live with it. My previous style of cooking (which i love to do) was just like you cook. Now, i have to watch the bread, rice and pasta. But that's not so bad! I can still eat just about everything i like, only in 2 hour increments! I have recently found some sugar blends to bake with and am starting to experiment with those. While your son Bobby is presenting a lot of lower fat options, i find that his recipes, in general, are not concerned very much with carbohydrates, which is sugar, and what diabetics have to count, since carbs ARE sugar! Would love to see you do "normal" meals/foods that give the carb counts, and stay between 15 - 40 carbs per serving. I try to use regular foods, b/c when i eat out or at someone's house, they don't cook like that, so i have had to learn how to work around these offerings. Anyway, blessings to you and your family!! Fondly, JoyceK

By JoyceK on October 13, 2012

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I KNOW HOW U FEEL PAULA, WHEN I WAS 13 I HAD A BLUE PARAKEET, HIS NAME WAS BUCHY, I TAUGHT HIM TO TALK, I HAD HIM SINCE I WAS 11, MY DAD PASSED THAT DEC. AND THAT SPRING THINK IT WAS PALM SUNDAY I NOTICED MY AUNT HAD NOT REMOVED HIS NITE COVER, CAUSE HE HAD PASSED ON. I THOUGHT MY WORLD WAS DESTROYED. SEPT. 25, OUR PET CAT MISSY WHO WAS 14 AND SUCH A JOY TO MY HUSBAND WHEN HIS WIFE PASTED IN 2001. MISSY WAS IN SO MUCH PAIN AND HER EYES BEGGED US TO LET HER GO. WE WERE WITH HER THROUGH THE PROCEDURE. GRANDCHILDREN WAS SO PRECIOUS AND SENT LEWTTERS TO THEIR GRANDPA. THEY LOST MISS SOPHIE FEW YEARS AGO. BUT WE KNOW TYHEY ARE IN RAINBOW HEAVEN. THEY ARE PART OF OUR FAMILY AND NOT A DAY GOES BY THAT WE DON;T MISS THEM. AT THIS STAGE IN LIFE WE JUST CAN;T BRING OURSELVES TO HAVE ANY MORE PETS. WE HEAR LADYBIRD WHEN WE WATCH YOUR COOKING SHOWS AND I KNOW WHAT U MEAN AT TIMES THEY CAN BE A PAIN IN THE BUTT, BUT OTHER TIMES THEY FILL SUCH A VOID. DON;T KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON, DID THEY TAKE JAMIE;S SHOW OFF ON SAT. IT WAS NOT ON LAST WEEK, THAT STINKING PIONEER WOMAN WAS ON. I AM ORIG. FROM OKLA. BUT SHE MAKES ME WANT TO PUKE. ROSIE IN CT.

By R.Herdman on October 09, 2012

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TWO very pretty ladies!

By Martha in KS on October 07, 2012

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I needed that this morning. Thanks for sharing!

By Anonymous on October 06, 2012

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Dear Paula, I live in Israel and sometimes (not nearly enough) we have your shows on the "Food Channel"...I watched them always. There is just something about you (not only the food you make) that just clicked with me. I receive your newsletters and recipes and am very happy with them. I LOVE cooking. I was born in the beautiful Island of Jamaica to Israeli parents and at some point in time came to live in Israel. I consider both these countries my home and love them both the same. So I have been open to many types of foods and tastes between the two from a very young age. Your last newsletter really "hit home" with me, you tell us about your "daughter"...well, I have a "son"...his name is Jack and he's an African Grey Parrot...I got him as a birthday present when he was 6 years old...i've had him for the past 26 years and adore him. Yes, he can also be a pain in the butt from all the squawks, but when he begins to sing (I play the piano) Beethoven or Bach or whatever he hears me play, I love it...he talks non-stop..knows a very large vocabulary of words and is all in all a "good guy". You see i'm totally crazy about animals, my profession is a Primate Keeper and although I had to leave it, I worked with Apes and Monkeys for 30 years and they are all still my "kids". So I really "got it" when you talked about your parrots sleeping with you. I'm not in a relationship today, but there was always a bit of a problem when I was and I wanted them all in bed at night with me (including my guy...hehehe...) and the guys never really liked the fact that my dogs/cats/parrots moved HIM out of the way in order to be near me...funny nights. Today, there are less animals in the house because i'm taking care of both my parents (my Dad 87 and had a stroke last year so he is bed-ridden) and my Mom is fine but getting old too and need alot of help, I brought them back from Jamaica and they live with me now and I love being with them, however, I just dont have the energy or time for anything else. And so when Heidi my darling dog died at the age of 20!! last year, and my cat, Taya died 2 years ago when she was 19, I didnt take any other dog or cat and now all I have is Jack the parrot and a huge aquarium. And Jack as you well know will probably live after me, i'm 47 years old, he is 32, so we'll see who outlives whom...hehehe...I did try to bring him a companion, working in the Zoo gave me some opportunities to bring home all sorts of parrots, but he never really wanted to befriend any of them, he's a spoilt brat who thinks that i'm all his and his only (with dogs or cats its different, he gets along with them) but with other birds, well, jealousy is right up there. I have canaries and finches, but when he is out of his cage, flying or running around the house, i have to be careful that he doesnt get too close to them...thats it, i just wanted to write this to you, hope you dont get too bored...Love ya...Edit

By Edit Zusmanovith on October 06, 2012

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Such a wonderful story and beautiful Macaw! I want to tell you about my Orange Wing Amazon that my late mother bought me in 1986. His name is Savannah. Yes, as in Savannah, Georgia where he was quarantined from his home in Brazil. Savannah is a great bird and very jealous, too! I love him dearly and call him my pretty green bird!

By Janice Seigler on October 05, 2012

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Miss Paula deen, what a comfort to open my e-mail today & see your story of birds. this was a trying day. my daughter lives in St Louis,Mo. 2 hr drive from us, call me the (grandmother) & says that the daycare is taking her baby boy(Miles ) who will be the big one next week to the hospital because the daycare provider trip & feel, & Miles was not responding, what a scary feeling for a young mother. prayers going up fast, and answered, God heal him & he is fine, I'm at work on needed some calm so get on e-mail to see your story , thanks

By Catherine Gipson on October 05, 2012

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Paula, I so enjoyed reading about your bird as I have seen it on your show. I too have a 20 yr. old greenwing macaw named rio. You are so right about the commitment and being a big pain in the butt. He does love my husband almost more than me. He has his own room and lives on his cage and not in it. he talks up a storm and is more intelligent than we will ever know. When we give him a treat and ask him if it good? he comes out with uuhmmm!

By glenda hollister on October 05, 2012

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Thank you for sharing your story. Enjoiyed reading about Ladybird. Colleen

By CololeenB. on October 05, 2012

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Dear Paula, I just love your article about your bids. Ladybird is so lucky to have you. I'm planning on a trip to your home town next October (2013) and would very miuch like to visit "Lady's and Sons" restaurant. My daughter will be accompaning me on this trip. It has been my wish for a long time. I'm 76 years of age and have always wanted to meet you some day. My husband passed away last year and he said this trip would be my gift from him. I watch all your shows and enjoy them so much. Take care and have a wonderful day.

By Carolyn Loftis on October 05, 2012

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Paula! I just love reading your stories! Our pets are precious and a huge part of our families! And, I do love to hear Lady Bird squawk on your show. Its wonderful to learn a little more about her.

By Amy on October 05, 2012

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I love your birds. I have Parakeets, Finches, Canaries, and Cockatiels. I love watching them. It's better than TV. You go, Paula! You're the best. God bless you and your birds and your family. Love.

By morekare on October 05, 2012

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What a sweet story. I have never felt lonely yet. With 4 children and 9 Grandchildren, I have been blessed. Love those kids. Love to watch you and your family on TV. I record many of your shows. You always have soooo much fun. We're close to being the same age, but I am older than you by a few years. I don't really like to cook, but I do a pretty good job doing it. We have stopped in your restaurant (Lady and Sons) twice now and your adorable store. We travel down to Florida each year and did two side trips there. What a beautiful area. Loved going over that huge bridge and finding nothing on the other side. We just laughted !! Keep laughing and lovin!! Ya'll come up to Michigan sometime. Your missing some beautiful lakes! Patricia

By Patricia Schroeder on October 05, 2012

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What a lovely story. We too had birds and I adored them!!! Ladybird is beautiful. She is very lucky to have such a nice momma!! Love these heartfelt personal stories from Paula. smile

By cathy on October 05, 2012

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