At the time my family had the parakeet in the kitchen, we also had a hummingbird nest in a bush just outside my sister’s bedroom window. Hummingbirds by themselves were amazing creatures, but to watch one lay eggs, sit on them, and hatch both babies was enchanting. She fed the babies and they grew up and flew away. That started a life-long enjoyment of hummers and all wild birds.
My niece started an interest in parakeets and cockatiels about the time I got my first pair of zebra finches. At the same time, as a thank you gift, a roommate bought my first cockatiel for me. We went to a bird farm to select him. I asked the young man working there if the bird I had selected was male or female. He said there wasn’t a way to be sure, and then stuck his finger up the bird’s vent. “This one is male,” he told me.
For some reason, the bird never liked hands after that. I named him Palafox, because I worked as a clerk for a temp agency, and saw that name frequently in files I handled. I worked with him off and on but never got him to do more than sit on my shoulder and nibble on my hair. He was friendly enough but would not step up on a hand. A different roommate thought it was funny to open her mouth while he was on her shoulder, and let him look around in there. Okay, it was mildly amusing.
Back to my niece, her birds were being cared for more by my sister than the teenager who wanted them so much, so Sis rehomed them. I took a lutino female who had been named Chipper, but I called her Paradise, another name from the files. She and Palafox never really got along well. They tolerated each other in the same cage, but didn’t cuddle or preen.
I always shook my head when Paradise would back up into the corner of a dish to pleasure herself while Palafox was rubbing his bits on a perch. Sad to know how much happier they would have been if they had realized they could do that together.
These birds lived long lives, with Palafox making it to 21 years. In the mean time, I had several different pairs of zebra finches, and a pair of untamed lovebirds. These two were my worst nightmare at the time. Their high-pitched calls hurt my ears, and they would bite the feet of the cockatiels if they landed on their cage. I had no idea that I could have given them a nest box and hand raised babies. I didn’t have the equipment or time for that, anyway. I found a better home for them with someone who bred peachface lovebirds, and thought I would never have lovies again.
Then, while walking around Balboa Park one evening, I noticed one of the buskers had a lovebird tucked into his jacket. The sweet little guy was looking around at the people, but not leaving his human’s warmth. I asked how he got the bird to bond with him. His succinct response: Only have one bird. Ah-ha!
So there you go, that’s how I got back into lovebirds and eventually handfeeding. Next time I will wrap up how I got into ALL THE BIRDS. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.