A brand of panic hit our household the other morning. Among the shifting kaleidoscope of pets that comes with having children, my daughter stuck with birds. Gerbils and fish came and went along with tadpoles and butterflies. The dogs are mine. My husband prefers the dogs but stands on the sidelines on this one. Anna and her brother have their birds, cockatiels to be exact. We recently lost two friends of eight years due to age and diet problems. The dramatic teenage angst escalated until they bought a replacement. This replacement has a fancy name relating to a Japanese onamonapia, but I call him Eggbert. We have Eggbert and Mrs. Eggbert.
Eggbert is a sorry sight. He underwent extreme wing clipping at his pet store and the result is scraggly. Feathers are growing back or falling out. He has one particular feather atop his head which sticks straight into the air. A single long feather on top his head—I kid you not—he is a unicorn bird. When he tries to fly, he plummets. The other morning, something startled our new Eggbert. He bit the turf in a most undignified manner. We picked him up and set him back on the desk. My daughter likes the Eggbert couple to keep her company when she’s on the computer.
I was writing when I heard screams. “Mom! Mom! Come here NOW!”
Mr. Eggbert flapped his wings and blood went everywhere. Later, I found it on the carpet, two different set of walls, the computer screen, all over the desk, my daughter’s hair. God knows, I’m afraid to check the ceiling. Brand new Eggbert had broken a blood feather. In bird language this is a severe hemorrhage. Birds don’t clot, period, end of story. Unless you stop the bleeding, they die. A few grams of weight, there isn’t all that much to them.
|Eggbert before feather horn
I ran for the flour, a known clotting ingredient (look it up). My daughter went into full panic mode a la three stooges. “Oh! Ah! What do we do! There’s blood on me!”
There’s one thing I’ve learned from nine years spent in a classroom. Don’t show panic. Don’t even think about it.
We dipped that Eggbert in flour until white clouds circled out heads. He had broken a wing feather. It was deep, tucked under other feathers and close to his body. Hard to locate. Birds do not like being dunked upside down to get at the inside of their wings. More flour flew. More bleeding. We switched to corn starch. Half a day later—what—it was only thirty minutes? Okay. Thirty minutes later, Eggbert was on the road to recovery. Daughter happy. Mother cleaning. All well.
Just remember, you never know what form or shape a crisis can take, nor how serious it could be. We can be tested at any time. In writing terms, consider how your main character would react. Books are full of crisis, large and small. Is your character ready for them? Will they be Cool Hand Luke or the Three Stooges?