That was Close!

Living with a lot of birds means you are going to lose some through old age, accidents, or illnesses. And then there are the times when you think, “Wow! That could have ended badly!” Unfortunately, these close calls don’t always make us more careful after a couple days of no repeated incidents.

For example, I give Maynard (Double Yellow Headed Amazon parrot) free run to the house most afternoons. The doors are closed to rooms he can’t be trusted in, but for the most part he can climb up on the dining room chairs or the fruit basket stand, he can get on the ottoman and chew on his favorite toy (a shoe string knotted to hold beads).

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He can also get into narrow spaces that put him in the mood for mating and nesting. Sometimes he’s just in the mood to follow me arround. Now, Maynard is not often a quiet bird when he is out of his cage. I usually know where he at all times. If I need to find him, and he is being quiet, I just have to call his name, and he will make some noise.

But sometimes I am in the kitchen, loading the dishwasher, making a bit of noise of my own, and I turn around to find him standing by my foot. Uh-oh! In all the time he’s been here, I have only come close to stepping on him once. I only stepped on his tail feathers, but he sulked for days.

Maynard also has issues recognizing me if I look different. Say if my hair is wet, or I change shirts. If I don’t think about that, and I let him out of his cage, he will run to attack me. Not only is it dangerous for me, I get depressed when I can indulge in my Maynard time, which I love so much.

Fin, my special needs lovebird, knows our morning routine. He sits with me until I say goodbye to Mike, then I return with a snack to share with him. If Fin thinks I am taking too long, he will jump down and come find me. As long as he is on the white tile, I usually see him before I step on him. But if he is still on the rug in the office, and few lights are on yet, he runs the serious risk of being crushed.

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I do let my cockatiels, conures, ringneck, and rosy Bourke parakeet have out time for a couple hours most mornings. I try not to go outside much during that time, especially after my disastrous loss of Jake in July. When the time is up, most of the birds can be coaxed back into their cages. Hermes, a cockatiel, has deep issues about this, because his previous owner’s wife hated to let him out, so he spent a lot of time in his cage without another bird or human interaction. I usually end up netting Hermes. Edith, the Bourke, is really sweet and smart. With just a little encouragement, and seeing that I really mean it this time, she will fly back into the large cage. But she has to use one particular door, and she has to be ready.

Sometimes I leave that particular door open, and go do something else while I wait for Edith to get ready. A number of times, I have forgotten that the birds aren’t all safe yet, and will go shopping or run errands. Hermes will take advantage of any chance to get back outside the cage, and his sweetheart Mallory will follow him. Edith eventually goes back in, most of the time. But I have hauled in one load of groceries, left the front door open, and gone out to haul in the second load. And then realized I just endangered two or three or more birds.

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These days I put a door hanger up to remind myself that I have birds still out. This hanger I used to use on the outside of the front door, so that anyone coming in would be extra careful, and I could say to salespeople that I could not open the door. To date, as long as I remember to use the hanger, I get the birds safely back into their cages.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.

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