This lovebirds pattern (you may need to register. it's free!) from Lion Brand was perfect. Basically the birds looked like simple roly-poly little egg-shaped things, and I thought I could handle that.
So after much cursing, and a TON of extra stitches and screw-ups and me saying, "Meh! Let's just see what happens!" I made a bird. It looks nothing like the ones in the photos on the pattern site, but who cares. It's relatively cute and holy smokes, I was able to read a pattern. This is a major, major achievement.
The tiny little tail nubbin just kills me.
What I did differently: I made rounded wings instead of half-circles, because I couldn't quite figure out the half circle thing; I had trouble sewing on the bill - my stitches kept getting lost - so I crocheted a larger bill by chaining a few stitches, slip-stitching them together, and sewing to the bird's body. I like the look of the smaller bill and will try again next time; and finally, I stitched on the eyes with embroidery floss instead of using plastic eyes.
I made a ton of mistakes with this little bird, but now I know what NOT to do the next time. I am officially addicted and making another as we speak...