Snippets

Baby button quail have a hive mind.  I hope you aren’t tired of sad stories about baby quail.  Our excellent parents Tennessee and Snow successfully raise five out of eight chicks, and sat on another clutch.  But this time one chick hatched way ahead of the others, and Tennessee stopped sitting.  I found two eggs with fully developed chicks inside, but apparently once they became too cold they stopped hatching.  The single chick had a good day running around after the adults, had fresh water he could get to but not drown in, and high protein food ground up really tiny.  But come nightfall, he couldn’t figure out how to get to where the adults were roosting.  I checked on him, and he was alive but barely.  He had grown cold.  The smart thing to do probably would have been to bring him inside for the night and get him warmed up.  Instead, I put him in the corner where the parents usually slept, hoping they would sit on him. I don’t know if they did or not, as they wouldn’t go back there while I was watching.  The next morning our solo chick was gone.  I believe that if he had had a clutch mate or six, they would have helped each other, and learned from each other.  Most importantly, they would have kept each other warm.  More knowledge learned the hard way.

No Bities!  I say this to my birds, but just as often to my cat.  There seems to be a rule that all my current pets be fond of puncturing my skin.  The birds are playing or just insane, it seems, but the cat is showing her displeasure.  Some years ago I read a book that said domestic cats do not need to eat meat every day.  Wild cats eat every two to three days, and put in a lot of effort to catch that meal.  Domestic cats become overweight due to being fed too much and getting very little exercise.  So Oreo the bitey cat gets canned food three times a week, and just dry food and a few snacks the other days.  I think that is still too much, but she disagrees.  By biting my arm or leg, and nose if I am being particularly inattentive.  I try to wear long pants and long sleeves on snack food days.  Currently I have a black spot on my fingernail where Bobo bit me, a skin tag that is irritated from Jake biting me, and scabs on my legs where Oreo bit me.  Could this be love?

I blame Disney.  My sister always identified with Cinderella.  My long-time roommate identified with Snow White.  I think of myself as Sleeping Beauty.   Now what other Disney Characters do my flock remind me of?  Jake the love bird is Goofy.  Yeah, one of the silliest birds you would ever want to find.  Bobo the African Gray is Maleficent.  But not all the time.  Kai the cockatiel is Sleepy.  Creamsicle the cockatiel is Dopey.   Esme the green cheek conure and Beeby the half-moon conure are Beauty and the Beast.  The quail are similar to Dalmatian puppies.  Wraith the Indian ringneck parakeet is any Disney character that started out female and ended up male.  Oh, wait.  That’s not Disney.

Birds love vegetation.  My outside birds are lucky because I can easily pull grass seed stems and plants out of the yard to feed them.  They get armfuls of weeds and eucalyptus twigs every week.  But the inside birds have to wait for veggies to be chopped and washed and sometimes put on a plate.  I have been experimenting with giving handfuls of “baby” carrots to them, easy to do and even with the peel removed still fairly nutritious.  So far it’s a hit with the cockatiels and the African Grays.  The conures are suspicious.  Jake the love bird also has his doubts that he is supposed to eat anything orange.  We are boarding an elderly female canary named Harry (don’t ask) and I know for a fact she will take a whole baby carrot and quickly reduce it to an empty plate.  She’s a joy to have around.

I can’t even remember how we got into the boarding of birds for friends.  Probably it was our friend who had an elderly lilac crowned Amazon parrot, blind and not very friendly to anyone but her.  She also had a pair of parrotlets, both girls, and a pair of canaries, Harry (the same) and a male whose name did not stay with me.  The Amazon’s name was Romeo, possibly in an ironic sense.  He did provide hours of entertainment because he ate only Nutriberries, and once he ate most of the contents of his food dish, he would curl up in it and sleep.  We kept his cage in the back room, so he wouldn’t be disturbed.

Mike and I normally stop in at the pet store at the mall to cute puppies, occasional kittens, and whatever avian specimens they have.  We were very surprised to see a lorikeet in the glass enclosure.  She wasn’t quite a rainbow lorry, but she was certainly beautiful.  About a week later, someone I work with was telling me about the bird they got at the mall pet store!  A lorikeet!  They named her Bella and she was mommy’s bird.  She would bite almost everyone else but not Pam.  I was tickled to know what had become of the bird Mike and I had enjoyed watching.  Then, out of nowhere, Pam’s husband Dana had a medical emergency and needed a transplant.  While he was on immune system suppressants, their pets would have to be elsewhere.  A bite from the bird could be fatal.  Mike and I agreed to take in Bella for the six months or however long it would be until she could go home.

Lorikeets have a special diet that consists of nectar powder and lots of water.  They can be given fresh fruits and some small seeds, but the nectar powder is key.  Some lorry owners mix the powder with water for their birds, but Bella seemed to prefer to dip her brush-like tongue into the powder, then into the water.  She needed fresh water a couple of times a day, but she thrived on this routine.

Bella was a talkative bird.  She would come out of her cage and chase our birds around, so she had to have her own out time.  When she was tired and wanted back in her cage, she would say, “Night-night.”  First thing every morning she would say, “Give us a kiss!”  But let the kisser beware!  Bella loved foot toys, and would hold one with a foot, then hop around her cage on the other one.  She made us laugh and smile a lot.  I know Pam and Dana were happy to have her back at home when the emergency ended, and we have happily enjoyed Bella’s company a few more times when they needed a sitter.

All in all, we have been very lucky when sitting for friends.  Romeo passed away when not with us, and his huge cage was no longer needed by his family.   Bella’s cage fell apart the last time she came to stay with us.  Through some networking, I got the two families together and Bella has a new cage.  Just like the ending of a Disney movie.

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