My inspiration! A Galah I named Nemo

If you were to ask me who has inspired me the most in my life? One of my answers would have to be a Galah I named Nemo.

A few years ago a friend was driving on a dirt road in outback Australia when he found a Galah on the side of the road, a beautiful pink and grey cockatoo.

He stopped to check it was ok, it was lying on the road alive, but unable to move. So he picked it up in a jumper and bought it home to me.  I named him Nemo, for his broken wings.

The next day I took Nemo to a local veterinarian who examined him and told me he had two broken wings.  He said it’s almost impossible for a bird to heal from two broken wings and suggested I leave Nemo with him. The vet wanted to keep Nemo in a cage out the back, to be used for blood transfusions for other birds who came in for surgery.

The thought of this horrified me!! I couldn’t allow a beautiful wild bird to be caged, broken and used for blood! The thought still sends shivers up my spine!

Instead I asked the vet to do what he could to fix his wings.  The Vet advised it will not be worth the money I spend on him, I said to do it anyway.

I left Nemo there and picked him up the following day, both his wings bandaged in little miniature casts.  I took him home and put him in a cage I bought to keep him inside the house while he healed.  The cage had an opening at the top I left open so Nemo could climb in and out.

Nemo adjusted to his new life extremely well, I was constantly amazed and impressed at his adaptability and his resilience.  He would climb all around the cage, inside and out.  He would let me pat him and eat seeds out of my hand.  He could say his own name, Nemo, and he would practice flying with his broken wings, always crashing into the wall or onto the floor.  This didn’t deter him, he never gave up and kept practicing and climbing.

After six weeks Nemo had pecked and shredded his bandages, I decided it was time to take them off completely.  Instead of taking him to the vet I thought it would be easy enough to hold him and cut the bandages off with scissors.  This sent Nemo into shock, my friend held him and I cut, Nemo stopped breathing and went rigid, it was an awful moment! But he came back and we managed to get the bandages completely off.

What an amazing and beautiful sight when he first stretched his wings out! I can only imagine how he must have felt!

I put him back on his cage and as the days turned into weeks he continued to practice his flying around the house.  He could never fly far and would often crash or his wings, still weak from being broken, would just give way and he would fall to the floor.

He never gave up.

I then moved to a house with a big back yard and trees.  My friend wanted to build a large outdoor cage to put Nemo in, but it didn’t feel right to me, I felt like he should still be free.  He was a wild bird and even though he lived inside with me he was never a pet.

I started putting his cage outside under a tree with the top open so he could climb on the tree, after a couple of days of looking at the tree he climbed onto it.  He would sit on a branch not far from his cage and watch the other birds, in the evening I would call him back to his cage and take him inside.  There were a lot of cats around and his wings were still not strong enough to fly far.

He started climbing higher and higher and flying from branch to branch, then he started flying from tree to tree and in the evenings he wouldn’t always come straight away when I called.

Then one evening I went to call him in and he wasn’t there, I called and called but he didn’t come.  He was gone and I felt a mixture of sadness, awe, respect, happiness and gratefulness.  For two more days I would look in the trees and call for him, he didn’t come.

On the third day I saw a Galah circling around the backyard, he circled a few times, chirping.  I knew it was Nemo, I waved, I said goodbye with love and wished him well. Then he was gone.

Now whenever I see a Galah I’m reminded of Nemo, I’m reminded of the broken wild bird who never, ever gave up.

And I never gave up on him, I could have listened to the vet and left him to be used for blood transfusions, I could have kept him in a cage all his life to keep him safe knowing his wings might be too weak to carry him.

Whenever I feel like life is too hard, I think about Nemo, I remember his determination, his resilience, no matter how many times he fell and crashed he got back up and tried again.  And he never gave up on being a wild bird, he belonged in the wild and that’s where he returned.  He stayed true to himself.