"Mister Frodo, what is that bird doing there by your foot?," asked Sam. Frodo was totally oblivious to the inquiry, but glanced to his left to see a yellow hook-beaked bird looking up at him, expecting some sort of attention. Frodo slowly extended his arm and index finger toward the feet of the bird, and it promptly roosted on his finger. Thus began the odyssey of a new species residing in the Shire.
"Peeper" was later identified as a Lutino cockatiel which, according to the Vet, was worth about $80. The Pet Shop increased the capital investment exponentially, since cages, toys, food, treats, vitamins, and medicines for avian residents were not part of the pet arsenal. The lovely lady spoke her name most distinctly, and was quickly accepted by all residents. Rocky and Punkin', the feline contingent at the time, thought she was interesting, but of little consequence to the monarchy. Everyone else just admired her graceful swoops throughout the kitchen area, and watched as she taught Frodo how to play the "Peepie Game" (during which she would open her mouth in a yawn, then wait for Frodo to respond in similar fashion, before her beak was agape again, again, and again).
Distress built around the eggs, however. Peeper would lay two or three eggs, and then act every bit the expectant mother over the infertile progeny. Time and time again, until both Frodo and Sam realized that she required companionship more than popcorn. The Pet Shop owner identified Frodo on sight and immediately began computing the cumulative numbers now required for the purchase of a top-of-the-line Cadillac. Although Peeper was probably four or five years old at this point, the Pet Shop only carried younger birds. The predominantly grey cockatiel to be known as "Sydney," (reflective of his native land) was only six-months old.
There are probably laws which apply to the sexual exploitation of juvenile birds, then again Peeper was only training Sydney to develop the necessary skills of parenthood. At least that could be a valid argument. What was truly unique about the relationship that developed was that Peeper would never again talk to Frodo, or to Sam. Peeper and Sydney, although they would never raise a family together, became inseparable mates in the cage. They would groom each other for hours on end, and over the years it became obvious that Sydney had discovered a purpose for all his tools.
The inevitable occurred one morning when Peeper was found at the bottom of the cage. Frodo and Sam had worried about this moment, and were sure that Sydney would begin to grieve uncontrollably. After the ceremony in the Garden of the Shire, Sydney commenced his daily routine. It was almost as if nothing had changed. That is, until Sam noticed Sydney bowing his head alongside the yellow feeder in the cage, waiting for it to begin grooming him. He squawked in frustration. Whenever he felt the need, he would bow his head alongside the yellow feeder.
Over time, Sydney realized that he could perch on the shoulders of Sam or Frodo, and eventually one of the dullards would begin to groom him with a finger tip. He also discovered that Rocky, the aging and harmless remaining feline in the Shire, was a warm pillow next to the water dish on the floor. The historical enemies became a source of comfort to each other. Fiona and Mick, the Wonder Dog, began to realize that when Sydney landed on a table that meant he had spotted something edible. He, to this day, will pick up whatever it may be, and carry it to the edge of the table and drop it to the floor below for the enjoyment of his flightless friends.
The loss of Rocky, and the entry of Mr. Beau Neau as his replacement has changed the rules somewhat. The cat does not know what to make of the fearless aviator who seems intent on sharing his bowl. Frodo and Sam are very wary. The biggest change has been the loneliness. Sydney, when suddenly he realizes that he is all alone, will begin to scream until someone, anyone, comes to pay him homage or to cover the cage promptly at 6:15 regardless of the time of year. The subsequent discomfort for Sam, who is home while Frodo toils at Mount Doom, is too much to bear. A declaration has been issued that there will be no further avian additions to the Shire.
The exception to the rule would be in the event that a baby mourning dove should fall from a nest. That, dear reader, requires an explanation for another time.