Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me

( 17 )

Overview

A gift from an overseas relative, Graycie, an African Gray parrot, arrives in the Gardiner home not long after the birth of their first child, adding the responsibilities of parrot-hood to their newfound parenthood. Jenny Gardiner and her husband were hoping for a docile, beautifully plumed, Polly-want-a-cracker type of companion—but patchily feathered, scrawny, ill-tempered Graycie was the furthest thing from what they envisioned..

In Winging It , Gardiner shares in vivid and ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers and in stores.

Pick Up In Store Near You

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (41) from $1.99   
  • New (8) from $2.83   
  • Used (33) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 7 of 8
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$2.90
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(988)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
Hardcover New 1439157618 Friendly Return Policy. A+++ Customer Service!

Ships from: Philadelphia, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$2.92
Seller since 2011

Feedback rating:

(798)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 1439157618 SERVING OUR CUSTOMERS WITH BEST PRICES. FROM A COMPANY YOU TRUST, HUGE SELECTION. RELIABLE CUSTOMER SERVICE! ! HASSLE FREE RETURN POLICY, SATISFACTION ... GURANTEED**** Read more Show Less

Ships from: Philadelphia, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$2.92
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(455)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 1439157618! ! KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! ! ENJOY OUR BEST PRICES! ! ! Ships Fast. All standard orders delivered within 5 to 12 business days.

Ships from: Southampton, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$2.92
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(739)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 1439157618! ! ! ! BEST PRICES WITH A SERVICE YOU CAN RELY! ! !

Ships from: Philadelphia, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$2.83
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(2487)

Condition: New
2010-03-16 Hardcover 1st Printing New 1439157618 Ships Within 24 Hours. Tracking Number available for all USA orders. Excellent Customer Service. Upto 15 Days 100% Money Back ... Gurantee. Try Our Fast! ! ! ! Shipping With Tracking Number. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Bensalem, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$16.50
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(14)

Condition: New
Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 240 p. Audience: General/trade. Brand New-Gift Quality In a plastic cover

Ships from: San Jose, CA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$45.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(187)

Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing 1 – 7 of 8
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

A gift from an overseas relative, Graycie, an African Gray parrot, arrives in the Gardiner home not long after the birth of their first child, adding the responsibilities of parrot-hood to their newfound parenthood. Jenny Gardiner and her husband were hoping for a docile, beautifully plumed, Polly-want-a-cracker type of companion—but patchily feathered, scrawny, ill-tempered Graycie was the furthest thing from what they envisioned..

In Winging It , Gardiner shares in vivid and hilarious detail the many hazards of parrot ownership, from endless avian latrine duty to discovering the multiple ways a beak can pierce human flesh. Whether she’s swearing at the dog, mimicking the sound of the smoke alarm, or bobbing to the beat of the kids clapping for her amusement, she brings the family joy, laughter, and, sometimes, tears. So why would the Gardiners subject themselves to the crazy behavior of this parrot for so long? Well, because, as the Gardiners realize, Graycie is a part of the family, and just like in any relationship between living creatures, things do not always go according to plan..

A mix of hilarious pet hijinks and a poignant story of family commitment, Winging It is a reminder of the importance of patience, loyalty, and humor when it comes to dealing with even the most temperamental members of the family..

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Initially delighted when she and her husband unexpectedly received an African gray, Gardiner finds that her fantasies of a docile, loving bird are quickly dashed with the wild-born and tenacious Graycie. Gardiner chronicles how two frazzled but committed parents raised this obstinate bird over the span of 20 years along with three children and a menagerie of dogs and cats. VERDICT Often comical and sometimes tragic but never dull, Gardiner's memoir proves that the hope of having a model pet (or child) is usually not realistic. It will speak to animal lovers and offer fair warning to anyone considering the 40-year-plus commitment of owning a parrot.—Judy Brink-Drescher, Molloy Coll., Rockville Centre, NY
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439157619
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 3/16/2010
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Jenny Gardiner is the author of the novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver. Her writing has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, the Washington Post, and NPR’s Day to Day, and she has a column of humorous slice-of-life essays that runs in the Charlottesville, VA Daily Progress. Jenny lives in central Virginia with her husband, three kids, two dogs, one cat, and, of course, a gregarious parrot.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


The Man in the Yellow Hat

“Look. Don’t blame me because you were kidnapped from the jungles of Africa.”

This sounds like something the man in the yellow hat might say to Curious George. But in my case, it’s a mantra. Something I repeat daily—sometimes ten, fifteen times—to Gracyie. In fact, it’s a wonder she doesn’t repeat it back to me.

Graycie has been a member of our family, albeit a reluctant one, for over nineteen years. She was a gift from my brother-in-law. A gift, I’m fond of saying, that keeps on giving.

Our African gray came to us at Christmas in 1990, shortly after we’d moved into our very first home in Springfield, Virginia, a bedroom community of Washington, D.C., four months after the birth of our first child, who was still waking every two to three hours at night, thereby assuring a personal mental incoherency unmatched since. This was back when we were still cloaked in the stupor of new parenthood, bleary-eyed and sleepless, unable to get a handle on one needy two-legged individual who counted upon us for virtually everything, and suddenly we found ourselves with yet another. Only this one had beady gray eyes, a beak that could snap my finger off, and a wingspan that would eventually extend a full eighteen inches.

It’s not that we didn’t want Graycie. We did. But as parents of a newborn, we were already wondering if we could trade in the exhausting baby for a pretrained child with good posture and even better manners. We couldn’t deal with the parrot starter kit that would require multiple all-nighters for assembly: we wanted this sucker neat, sweet, and ready to tweet. We needed a maintenance-free bird—one that would regale us with its uncanny mimicry and not make too much of a mess. I realize now that this is like expecting a baby who never cries.

We probably owe our fascination with parrots to my husband’s childhood in Rio de Janeiro. Scott lived with his sister Laurie, brother Mark, and parents Mia and Keith in Brazil for several years after his father’s job took him to South America in the late 1960s. While there, Mark got a green Amazon parrot for his thirteenth birthday. Mengo was a beloved family pet whose untimely demise prompted Mark to stuff the thing and mount him so he could be perpetually remembered. Now we live in central Virginia, outside a small city that is surrounded by plenty of quiet countryside. Because of that rural influence and commensurate hunting culture, it’s not at all uncommon to encounter all sorts of dead critters on display in folks’ homes: deer, squirrels, rabbits, even the occasional bear. But I think I can safely assume that Mark’s visitors routinely did a double take upon encountering the corpse of his soulless parrot staring down at them from the wall of his D.C.-area home, back when the cadaver used to be on public display.

I suppose I came to the relationship with a modest interest in parrots thanks to my uncle Bill, who bred parrots years ago and had raised a stunning aquamarine-colored macaw from an egg. This parrot was imprinted from birth by my uncle, and despite his imposing size—macaws can grow to be a foot and a half long with a nearly four-foot wingspan—was an extraordinarily gentle creature. Billy took that bird with him everywhere: to the retail store he managed, on joyrides in his convertible, on the golf course. He loved it as if it was his child, and the bird reciprocated those feelings: Billy was its father, for all intents and purposes.

So perhaps when Scott and I ended up together, we were both just curious enough about parrots that it was inevitable that, with the help of one generous relative, a feathered friend (or foe) was in our future.

Scott and I met through mutual friends while undergraduates at Penn State. We were dating other people at the time and didn’t start going out until we were both living in the D.C. area the year after we graduated. I was working on Capitol Hill as an assistant press secretary for a U.S. senator, and he was working for a federal government contractor for the Agency for International Development. Before we actually started dating, we’d run into each other at social functions all the time and say, “Hey, we should get together sometime!” But each time we set something up one or the other of us would cancel plans at the last minute. Such was the lifestyle of young professionals in D.C. When we finally got together we realized all we had in common; we couldn’t figure out what took us so long.

Early on in our relationship I realized that Scott hailed from a pet-friendly family. When I encountered the menagerie of crea tures at his parents’ home, where he was living when we first started dating, it included two old and smelly golden retrievers and a couple of cats. Then I met his brother’s latest venture in parrothood: some type of green Amazon parrot named Plato who had the personality of Sheetrock and entertained no plans of talking. Plato was best known for cowering and trembling in a corner of his cage. He did not talk, coo, growl, chirp, whistle, or sing. He simply existed. Oh, and crapped a lot.

Meanwhile, I was living with my sorority sister and good friend Tammy in Alexandria while working on the Hill. We had a fabulous time rooming together, occasionally threw amazing parties, and greatly enjoyed our yuppie lifestyle. But after over a year of dating it became apparent that it made more sense for me to move closer to Scott, who’d moved in with his two best friends in Arlington. When I wasn’t at work, I was spending my free time at his place, and my costly condo rent on a very meager congressional staffer’s salary didn’t do my wallet any favors. It didn’t take me long to relocate. I learned that a room had become available in a group house where Mark lived, just minutes from Scott’s town house. The house was cozy, cheap, and a quick commute into the city, so I jumped at the chance to move in; once I became pseudo roommates with Scott’s brother (he lived in the basement in a separate unit), I got to spend plenty of time around Mark’s parrot.

Each morning as he left for work, Mark would turn on a parrot training tape for Plato’s education/entertainment. Poor Plato got to listen to that tape, on which Mark had recorded two words on an endless loop, for hours. Even I got sick of hearing “pretty bird” as the words drifted up through the air ducts, and to this day I can still hear Mark’s voice ringing in my head saying that mind-numbing phrase.

I’m fairly certain that Plato had been driven insane by the time he moved in with Scott and Mark’s parents when Mark moved to Africa to work in the embassy in Zaire a couple of years later. And when Mark eventually got married, Plato—still alive, but without much of a life—was soon relegated to Mark’s isolated upstairs office, where he was left to keep company with Mengo, high atop his death perch. Of course Mark was very fond of Plato, but after a while, what do you do with a scared bird who won’t come out of his cage?

The icing on our parrot-shaped cake came a year or two later when Scott’s parents celebrated their thirtieth anniversary by taking the family (by then Scott and I had married) to the Caribbean to sail on a hand-hewn schooner, skippered by a prototypically bearded captain named Ed and crewed by a sleek white cat and a yellow-naped parrot with the improbable name of Barnacle Bill, who did a damn good job of replacing a television in our lives during that week on the high seas.

No better or simpler amusement can be found than being in the company of a gregarious parrot. I think the sheer unexpectedness of conversation from a lipless creature enhances the entertainment factor. Barnacle Bill had the requisite parrot patter that any seagoing parrot worth his salt could say: Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum, Polly wanna cracker, and the like. But his repertoire reached far beyond the basics. He had us all in hysterics as he repeatedly sang “A Pirate’s Life for Me” and the refrain from “So Long, Farewell” from The Sound of Music, complete with the Doo-doodle-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doodle-doo-doo-doo-doo. (I admit it. I filched the idea from Captain Ed.)

Captivated, we simply had to have a parrot. Scott and I were like young newlyweds upon seeing a tender baby sleeping peacefully in a mother’s arms. “Oh, how sweet,” we said. “We definitely need one!”

Those words would come back to haunt us. Upon returning from Mia and Keith’s anniversary trip, I set out to buy my husband his very own parrot for his birthday. Back then, unsavory merchants conducted a steady trade in wild-caught parrots, and only the really ethical vendors went to the trouble of breeding parrots domestically (though unfortunately today parrot mills are common). Raising birds from eggs is tough work. In fact, not too long ago they could only determine the sex of birds surgically, so it was a bit of a project even to impregnate a parrot. Once hatched, infant birds have to be fed practically hourly by dropper. If you think a newborn baby is hard to keep alive, just think about nursing a scrawny, naked, defenseless little parrot.

So I researched the big purchase and found I could get an imported bird for roughly the price of a really expensive dinner out, which worked with my limited budget but not with my morals. I couldn’t have it on my head that I’d contributed to the demise of a species, as these inexpensive birds were caught en masse by poachers who clear-cut trees in the jungle to get baby birds still in their nests. The mortality rate was high, as was the suffering: birds by the hundreds would be jammed into small crates with little food or water, ultimately bound for clueless consumers in the United States who, like us, wanted an amusing pet.

Well, I couldn’t support that. I’d have no part in gratuitous cruelty for the sake of the almighty buck. Alas, there was no budget for a hand-raised parrot, which would cost roughly the same price as our week in the Caribbean.

So instead, we got a dog.

Unbeknownst to us, there was still to be a parrot in our future. Just not quite the type of parrot we had envisioned.

© 2010 Jenny Gardiner

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2010

    Amazing book!

    Awesome book, I just happened to pick it up and fell in love with it. A must have for any pet owner, especially parrots. I can identify with so much. Jenny's humor is great and kept me laughing the whole way through. The book draws you in and makes you feel like a part of her family. FANTASTIC!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 22, 2010

    Hilarious!

    In her hilarious and thought provoking memoir, Jenny Gardiner flings open her door, invites us into her home, and introduces us to Graycie -- the family's feisty and quirky African gray parrot. With lots of wit and moments of pure exasperation, Jenny tells the unadorned truth about what giving a home to a bird such as Graycie really entails, and it's not what I ever imagined.

    Besides being thoroughly entertaining and downright funny, Jenny's memoir speaks of things that translate into lessons we all need to remember in our daily lives: tolerance, patience, and compassion, just to name a few. As an animal lover myself, I really appreciated how Jenny and her family are committed to keeping Graycie for the entirety of her life, no matter how snarkey and unpredictable she can be.

    A great read that I highly recommend!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 15, 2010

    A Fun Read

    Winging It is an entertaining story of the author's family and their experience with an ornery parrot. Anyone who thinks they want to buy a parrot should read this book FIRST. Although I never had a large bird (as many as 21 zebra finches), I understood her description of the mess that birds make and the methods that bird owners will devise to keep the mess easier to clean. The author is very honest about her difficulties with caring for this demanding bird while at the same time dealing with difficulties within her family. She also discusses adopting birds from a rescue group. Winging It is written in a very lighthearted way, but there are many touching moments of crisis within the family. I enjoyed her story very much.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012

    LIFE WITH PARROTS & THEIR CRAZY HUMANS

    You will fall in love with Graycie just like Elvis (my cockatiel) & I did :))

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2012

    Wonderful!

    One of the best books I've read in a long time. As someone who recently found themselves in "parrothood", this book is all too real! Although so true, it was funny as much as it was warm hearted. Great read for everyone!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 19, 2011

    Great book!

    This is a fantastic book! I own a Grey and a Macaw. I reccommend that anyone who is thinking about aquiring one of these birds read this book first. It also shows how far we have come in the last 20 years in the knowledge of parrot care. It is a very funny tale that had me laughing so hard I was in tears more than once.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 7, 2010

    Winging It

    "Winging It" is a refreshingly delightful, informative, easy and enjoyable book that should be made mandatory reading before entering into that perfect union between man and parrot. I have an 8 yr. old Greenwing Macaw that I raised since he emerged from his shell, and if I could articulate the total experience, the lessons learned, the good and bad, it would be as it is in this wonderfully written book. BUY IT ... a great gift when you're done, though I doubt it will leave your shelf.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2014

    To all

    Willowspark is now leader. Eaglestar is grounded so she wont be on for a while. ~Eaglestar's friend

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2014

    Runningtree

    Softly chants "brairpaw

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2014

    Willowsark

    She cants the name

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2014

    Amazonfall and Falconrise

    Amazonfall touches noses with Briarpaw. "I will train you to the limits of my abilities." She promised. Falconrise cheered for his sister.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2014

    Willowspark

    BRIARPAW!BRIARPAW!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2014

    Briarpaw

    Touches noses with Eaglestar, eyes gleaming

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2014

    Eaglestar~ Briarpaws Mentor Ceremony

    He jumped onto the tall glittering black granite rock named the Star Rock. "Let all cats elden enough to hunt gather beneath the star rock for a clan meeting!" H let them gather below. "Briarpaw, i made you my apprintice. But it is my fault I cannot train you with the duties of a leader. So, it is now time to name your new mentor. Amazonfall, come forth. You will be Briarpaws new mentor. Use your intelligence and uplifting spirit to train Briarpaw into a fine warrior," he meowed, letting he name be chanted. "Clan dismissed!"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)