Continuing from last week with 16 through 30. Oh, by the way, I don’t really live at Facebook.
16. Words – Be careful what you say around some of the Flock. Mike and I don’t use much profanity. So when one of the parrots spouts off with the F bomb or some damn thing, we laugh uproariously. Which only encourages the bird to say that again. And it doesn’t have to be profanity that causes the laughs or embarrassment. Jordan, a Timneh grey who no longer is part of our flock, had picked up his former owner’s way of calling an albino cockatiel. We never knew when she was gonna say, “Hey, white girl, come here!”
17. Someone to Talk To – Yes, the parrots do carry on happily on their own, but now and then they talk to each other. And even more rarely they will talk with us. Such as when I get home after work, Maynard says “Hello, Maynard!” To which I often ask, “Were you good today?” “Good boy Maynard!” He assures me. When I leave the room, he starts yelling, “Ma! Maaa-aa!” “I ask from down the hall, “What do you need?” “Help!” Well, we knew that.
18. Dreaming of Hand-feeding– When I have to carry my baby birds to someone else to hand feed, that breaks my heart. I don’t really know all the ins and outs of hand-feeding, but I have lots of resources. I’m only missing the practical experience. Because I work an 8 hour day with an hour lunch and anywhere from an hour to three hours of commute time, trying to fit in caring for tiny birds at this time is not practical. And my office in winter is unbearably cold, so no. Even with a heating pad, I have to pick them up out of the brooder to feed. But some day, within the next year, I will be retiring, and I will be breeding and hand-feeding the baby birds. Something very wonderful to look forward to!
19. Jake asleep on my keyboard – Some of my individual birds have special relationships with me or with Mike. I love them all, but when Jake, my purple love bird, joins me in the morning for breakfast, then preens on my shoulder for a while, I feel very special that he is so trusting with me. He is not allowed on my keyboard, but there is a wide section just beneath the keys where he comes and sits next to my left hand. If I am playing a game that only requires the mouse, he can sit there asleep for long periods of time. I hate to start typing sometimes, because he wakes up and gives me a little nip. But mostly because he won’t be there forever, and I love these moments.
20. Bo asleep at my feet – Our toeless African grey, Bo Dangles, threw herself out of her cage last week, while Maynard was out. Unfortunately, Maynard is very territorial, and had no qualms about walking over to her and attacking. So he went back in, because Bo hasn’t been out much lately. And I pulled the lap blanket I use at my desk for her to sit on. The next time I looked down at her, she was asleep! This bird still doesn’t like to be handled much, bites more now because she resents Maynard, and is nearly defenseless when on the floor. But she trusts me enough to sleep by my feet. Sorry, I have some dust in my eyes.
21. Maynard on walk-about – Our Double Yellow (DYH) Amazon Maynard can easily climb out of his cage. He likes to go up on top most of the time to the play area, but sometimes he goes to the floor to forage, or to see where I am. He has come into the kitchen, but we had to put him back. He liked the taste of the floor mats too much. Recently he attempted to mate with my feet. Yes, he’s a DYH pervert with a foot fetish. Who knew? Some day I hope to have Mike film this event because the noises the bird makes are very entertaining. I discourage the practice, however, because he’s already too territorial (Maynard, not Mike) and flares his tail to charge at anyone who wanders too close to me. I know I shouldn’t, but I like the fact he picked me and is so fixated on me.
22. Creamy always happy to see us – Creamscicle was hand fed by a friend, and I intended to donate him to my bird club for the opportunity table. But in the end Mike and I could not part with him. We have so many cockatiels, you would think one more wouldn’t stand out. Well, they each have their own habits and personalities. I think that’s why I never get enough. And Creamy always wants to be with us. Even if a month goes by when I can’t find time to take him out for interaction, he is as excited as ever when I do or Mike does. By comparison, Mallory, an albino female cockatiel, was hand fed by someone other than Creamy’s foster parent, and was pretty tame when we first brought her home. But with lack of interaction, she has turned half wild again. That’s the usual pattern, and a risk I know we take with so many birds to take care of. What I am so thankful for is that Creamy hasn’t changed. He’s a soft, sweet, loving little guy. And maybe his gender has to do with it.
23. Cockatiels Mom, Ash, Zippy, Elmer – My two best breeding couples of cockatiels. Mom and Ash were given to us, and produce some beautiful silvers and albinos, as well as pearls. (You can find out what those mutations look like here: http://www.cockatiel.org/mutations/) Zippy and Elmer have babies that are pearl or yellow faced and the occasional normal grey. They are good parents, don’t seem to be bothered too much by the times we pull their babies, and are very willing to raise the kids if I don’t have a hand feeder lined up.
24. Button Quail, Happy and Sad – I love my button quail, I love when we have chicks, and I love that I have managed to raise some clutches to maturity. But sadness is a part of the world with these birds. We’ve lost more chicks than we have saved. They can fit through the wires of the aviary, they don’t do well in the brooder inside, and can drown in a tiny amount of water. Our cat seems to believe we raise the chicks just for her. Luckily she only gets the ones that find their way out of the aviary. Then there are the losses of adults through aggression, illness, and accidents. My very best hen, Tennessee, left us this past week. She got her wing caught in the wires of the aviary, and we did not find her in time. (We named her Tennessee, not because we named the dog Indiana, but because her coloration type is known as a tuxedo button quail.) She was the best broody hen ever, and if the weather wasn’t too cool, she could bring those babies through to maturity. When she sat on eggs or chicks, her small body spread out like a pool of feathers. I miss her, but I am so thankful to have known her.
25. Dani – Our orange front conure, Dani, is a special needs bird. All my special needs kids are special to me, but Dani is someone special out of that crowd. She is splay-legged so severely that she appears to be doing the splits all the time. Using beak and feet, she can get around her small cage, and hangs in one particular corner most of the time. She eats very little, but is plump enough. Recently she started tasting more of the fresh foods I stuck in her seed dish. When Dani first came to us, we were lucky that the surrendering owner told us about Dani’s sleep habits. A towel is always on the floor of the cage, and at night, Dani lays on the towel, pulls a corner of it over her, and sleeps on her back. She also snores. She appears to be a past parrot when seen in this position. Some kind person (actually, one of my hand-feeders) gave me a bag full of bird tents. One of the tents seemed just the size for Dani, but it would do her no good if we suspended it from the top of the cage, as they were designed. With a little thought, I put a chain through the top of the tent, set the floor of the tent on Dani’s sleep towels, and secured the chain to maintain that height. Dani loves it, and sleeps in it every night. In fact, some mornings, she can’t be bothered to say good bye to me in the morning. I’m thankful for this sweet, loving parrot and being able to enrich her life.
26. Share them with others – Yes, if you come to visit, you will probably be able to hold Jake or Dani or Creamy, maybe Sunny if she’s in the mood. I’ve taken Sunny and a cockatiel named TJ to an event at a library and a small health fair at a church. I’ve even taken them to my weightloss support group to talk about healthy diets. I have photos of them on Facebook, at my desk, and in my house. Sharing is caring!
27. Trade Birds – I often have excess birds of one gender or type, and need X number of birds of a different gender or type. Not always having money readily to hand, I have a huge group of good folks who also raise birds and are willing to trade. Win-win!
28. Take in Birds – I’ve turned down macaws and cockatoos, but rarely budgies, cockatiels, conures, African Grays, love birds, Bourkes, canaries, or finches. The Amazon was a fluke, and if he hadn’t picked me, I could have said no. I’ve taken in birds because the owner died, the couple had a baby, the kid went to college and didn’t want the bird any longer, the bird wasn’t entertaining enough for the kids, the neighbors found it and thought it was ours, someone I work with found it and thought of me, and we agreed to sit the birds over the summer for a school teacher, and they never claimed them again. It’s all good.
29. Rehome Birds – We are only human, and we are subject to the economic crises of our times. Sometimes the sheer number of birds is unhealthy, especially when there are others around who would like to have a companion bird. My favorite deal is to give the bird to a child, with the parents’ consent, along with constant assistance by phone. Kids who learn to care for pets are healthier and more secure in the long run. Yes, often they learn to deal with the death of the pet, but why not learn about it with an animal rather than a person in their life? I feel it’s a better situation, and can open lots of doors for spiritual conversations.
30. The Diversity – My flock comes from Australia, Africa, South America, and Asia. They eat seeds, berries, greens, insects, eggs (cooked), and veggies. They are red, green, blue, violet, pink, orange, yellow, white, gray, and brown. Some are single, some are monogamous, some are homosexual. Some sing, some shout, some are very quiet. Some like to be with people, some like to be with other birds, some like to be alone. They are my flock, I love them, and give thanks every day for their presence in my life.