Tag Archives: cockatiel

Daily Drama 70 – Vintage Bird

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Old Jorge is gone. Poor old guy. Have you ever had a pet where every morning he looked back at you, it was a miracle he was still alive? His arthritis was so bad I finally lined the bottom of his cage with a “mattress” so when he fell off his perch he wouldn’t get hurt. I bought him a little bird heater and he spent most of his final days huddled up to it, and I found a little corner platform perch so he didn’t have to worry about falling down. He had his own food and water at the bottom of the cage, and seemed happier to eat down there than up at the regular water and food dish above. At bedtime, he took forever to decide where to sleep: which one of his favorite places would it be? By his heater? Near the doves, at the top of the cage? Early years, he liked his swing. But this past year, I would say goodnight and wait by the light switch for him to decide. He’d slowly clamber up and down ladders and finally settle in, usually up by the doves. I would wait patiently, watching in case he took a tumble, and then I would turn off the light and go to bed myself. Now I just call “goodnight” to the birds, and go to bed. Sadly.

When Jorge was walking well enough to enjoy “floor time.” He never flew around much.

Jorge (pronounced Hor-hay) arrived here in 2006. My petsitter had rescued him around 2002. She heard him shrieking every day which is how she found him, a few doors down, in a cage in the carport, hardly a safe situation. The owner wanted to get rid of him, “How about $50?” Judy couldn’t afford him, and I couldn’t take him in, because at the time I had a cockatiel who was feather picking, and we didn’t think a screamer would be any help to my guy. Judy eventually bought him and cared for him four years. Until she developed ovarian cancer, when she asked me to take her birds. Jorge had never tamed down but we never blamed him for that, and respected his wariness. We suspected he spent time in an unpleasant situation, maybe worse than the carport. My feather-picker had passed and my remaining cockatiel, a rescue named Butterfree, proved to be a worthy companion for Jorge until he, too, passed.

Vincent doesn’t seem overly lonely, with the doves next door. He will surely miss the reciprocal grooming with Jorge.

Jorge was devastated by this loss. He wasn’t friendly to people, but he had bonded to beautiful Butterfree. I decided to look for an old male to become a companion to Jorge, and found Vincent. Vincent was a friendly older bird needing a new situation and he immediately bonded to Jorge. The two old males ate together, explored together, and groomed each other until Jorge passed last week.

Two old birds, out for a stroll.

When Vincent arrived, Jorge had a large cage outfitted with climbing ladders, swings, and toys. I thought they were about the same age, and they might have been, but Jorge seemed to age, while Vincent seems to be the same age he was when he arrived here 12 years ago. That’s not possible of course, but Jorge became a crotchety, stiff old man and fell off a perch one day.

Vincent doesn’t have to fight for “swing time” any more.

The second time he fell off his perch, I realized I was dealing with a much older bird who would need a safer environment. The tall cage was no longer suitable.

That’s a long fall if you lose your grip on a top perch.

By now I had a motley collection of birds: the two cockatiels, Spike the budgie, and two handicapped doves, The Pirate and her mother Snow White. Dobby was starting to eat the pink cloth “cage diapers” I put at the bottom of the cages to catch miscellaneous bird debris: he discovered he could get at the forbidden bird food by tearing open the fabric. The cages are in his area, after all.

I long ago learned that it isn’t the number of animals that creates the work, it is how many cages you have to clean. Note the torn pink “cage diaper” leaking bird debris onto the floor. Yep, Dobby.

My volunteer, Jillian, and I put together two new cages and we transferred everyone over. I divided Jorge and Vincent’s cage into two “flats” and Spike moved downstairs. (That’s where Spitfire lives, now that little Spike has passed.)  I made a fleece covered mattress for the bottom of the cockatiel cage and arranged ladders to accommodate Jorge. The handicapped doves had a new matching cage, also with a mattress. Everyone was surprisingly blasé about their new homes. It helped that the location and neighbors were the same.

The old switcheroo. The new black cage is all “birded up” and ready to move into the location of that white cage.

After years of mis-matched hand-me-down cages, it is nice to have new ones that I can customize. The ladders in the cockatiel cage allowed Jorge to climb to every perch, toy, food and water dish. The new cages are larger and easier to clean. The fleece at the bottom of the cages results in “bird laundry” to add to my rabbit and capybara laundry, but that’s why I have an industrial oversized washer.

The Pirate checks out the new cage. The last time I let them all out together was not a success, but flock dynamics change over time. Maybe it’s time to try again, but the doves can be shockingly aggressive. The budgies are even worse bullies. For the moment, everyone seems happy with separate “out” times.

Here’s a gratuitous photo of Dobby, checking out the new cages the following day. He notices everything. Poor Dobby, with no “cage diapers” to destroy, he soon learned to get directly into the bags of bird food stored below.

“What happened? Too many changes! Where’s my alternative food supply?”

The left cage is customized for the two handicapped doves: One can’t walk, the other can’t fly. If you can’t walk, you can’t perch, so The Pirate has a hammock at the top. She can fly up to it. The ramps are for the walker, Snow White. I lift her up onto a perch every night at bedtime, and in the morning she hops down onto the mattress below. Flying down is a lot easier than flying up.

One advantage to the new cages didn’t become clear until months later: it reinforced the flocking behavior of all the birds. Jorge and Vincent started to roost high on the left side, as near as possible to the two snoozing doves. They ate together, too, and eating my lunch in the kitchen was a signal for them to join me. Birds are funny that way.

Ramps, ladders, and hammocks everywhere.

About a year ago, Jorge began to spend more time on the floor of his cage, so I added a lower food dish (with supplements added) and crock of water.  On signal, when I brought fresh water, he would amble down the nearest ladder and take two sips. “Thank you!” Then came the wall-mounted cage heater and platform. He had been blind in his right eye for about the past six months and he took longer and longer to decide where to sleep. The seasons changed from winter to spring, yet Jorge chose to spend more and more time by his heater. His passing was unexpected, I honestly thought he might live on forever. I will spend the rest of my days wondering how old he really was.

 

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Spike the Budgie

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Spike the Budgie

The silence is profound and eerie. Spike the Budgie sings no more. Typical of a prey animal, he hid his illness to the end, and sang his heart out to cover his fear. The cockatiels, Vincent and Jorge, shrieked with his song, trying to alert me to his plight, but I did not see the signs soon enough. Now he is gone, and so is his ridiculous, ubiquitous chatter.

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Spike, the acrobat

Years ago, I had a handicapped sparrow who grew up to the incessant conversation of earlier rescue budgies closely resembling their namesakes, Jake and Ellwood. Minus the sunglasses. Of indeterminate age, they eventually passed on, one, then the other over the course of several months. Like now, the silence was oppressive. But it was more so, because the sparrow stopped singing, and over time, stopped eating or caring about anything. I was supply shopping at PetCo and the “Ask about our adoptable bird” sign on the budgie cage intrigued me. It is PetCo policy that once a bird has been treated for illness, it can’t go back out for sale with the others. It must be adopted out directly from their “back room.” He was a dandy little parakeet, friendly and gentle, a spunky sprite that looked me in the eye, fearless. At the checkout counter I filled out his paperwork, and where they asked for his name I wrote “Spike.”

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Spike is above the WOK, and Krumpit the sparrow’s head is just visible at the bottom corner of the green cage.

Spike started singing, the sparrow started eating and we were good for a few more years. Spike turned out to be a small but devilishly quick bird. For a while I kept his wings clipped, but he usually behaved himself and I eventually let him fly. I set up a bird playpen in the living room so he could watch tv with us, or maybe just admire himself in his tiny mirror. When he got bored, he would make a beeline for the open door of his cage, flitting through the dining room, taking a hard right at the kitchen, negotiating potted orchids and miscellaneous appliances on his way home. Unlike other birds I have had, he never dropped out of sight behind bookcases, hid from us high up on beams or hunkered into the folds of curtains. He did some hiking, which is dangerous when you are 3″ tall and the carpet is Persian camo. Most of his trekking was limited to the under-coffee-table area, with its chrome legs and unlimited supply of crumbs.

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Again with the acrobatics

This tiny green demon could be a monster, though. Pirate the handicapped dove also likes to watch tv with us, and he would perch on her basket and stare until she protested. His big cage door also opened to the cockatiel cage, and he liked to clamber up and terrorize the bigger birds, taking over the favorite swing, everyone screeching in protest. Sometimes he would visit The Pirate’s cage, making a note of her food dish contents. Worse, he was an obnoxious neighbor. I finally put up a sign to block his view of The Pirate. The sign reads: “WARNING     noise hazard level B     ear plugs required”

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Spike loved to torment The Pirate.

Mostly, though, we miss his singing. He is featured as background in many of Dobby’s videos.

We marveled at Spike’s ability to sound like dozens of birds carrying on conversations with each other at the same time. He was chatty and cheerful to the end, when I wish he had instead communicated his illness. But that is not the way with prey animals, and he hid it well. Too well.

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Farewell, sweet, silly Spike.

Daily Drama 46

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Daily Drama 46

More dramas actually mean fewer blogs. My dance card is full, but thankfully, my mother was right. She said “You always worry about the wrong thing.” The Koi/Goldfish Rodeo hasn’t occurred yet, for various reasons. Leonard the koi is still in his home pond. It is a bit like waiting for the other shoe to drop. The Three French Hens had a Happy Story at last notice. Their owner has sold her condo and bought a house where she can keep her hens! That is the best kind of story, isn’t it?

I am currently helping to rehome a sweet bunny whose foster mother is moving this month. Honey is a young male with meticulous litter box habits and he is available now, so if you are interested, please contact me! (Seattle)

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Honey the bunny

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Honey is a friendly, relaxed rabbit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No blog is complete without Prince Dobalob. (We’ll skip the guinea pigs, too. They have had their 15 minutes of fame.) Here is the Dobster, so we can get that over with, and we can move on to more obscure residents.

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Prince Dobalob, stealing the show

Like this dwarf African frog. There are two in a tank in Dobby’s Kitchen. The outdoor turtles are hibernating, by the way. We can no longer hope for any pleasant weather before spring.

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Bonnie Bunny is adjusting to indoor life. She isn’t one of those cuddly types, and she isn’t very adventurous, but it sure is fun to see her skid around on the slippery wood floors.

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Bonnie checks out Dobby’s kitchen area.

Bonnie enjoys a romp in Dobby’s territory once he has gone out for the evening.

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Bird’s eye view of a melted rabbit

She is getting very relaxed indoors.

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Peg-legged Pirate

The Pirate gets out in the evening, too. She has a special kitchen “nest” and a landing strip of her own but prefers to buzz my head to get attention.

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Vincent the cockatiel

My elderly cockatiels  seem to like having a rabbit in the house again. They have been wandering around more since she came inside. Spike, the Puny Green Thing, invades their cage as soon as they fly down to the floor.

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Jorge and Vincent go for a walk.

Wild mallards have invaded, as if to make up for the sleeping turtles. Feederwatch observations started up last weekend, but only 7 of these 24 ducks showed up on my count. I had a Kingfisher late last summer, and I’m hoping he’ll swing through on one of my count days.

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24 mallards in Dobby’s pool

My little flock is adjusting to the recent loss of an elder gentleman duck, Fabio. He is center back in the photo below.

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“Where’s our snack?”

He had a nice summer, but he was walking like a stiff old man and the other ducks were very deferential to him. Even Dobby seemed to acknowledge his frailty, though I doubt Fabio appreciated his nudges of encouragement.

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Little Lula

Lula has been on Metacam forever and settles on a lower roost these nights, but she is much improved from a year ago. The cats like to walk past and swat at her tail.

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I have known Jorge for 15 years, but he was probably about 5 years old when I met him.

Here is Jorge again, just because. I am his third owner, at least, but I think he is older than I originally guessed. He’s pretty frail, too, and his cage is lined with soft blankets because he falls off his perch. The Funny Farm is becoming an assisted living facility for elderly pets.

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Classic Combo: capybara and amethyst

How about me? I failed at retirement and started a new career as a paraeducator at the elementary school where I have been volunteering for the past four years. I’m also designing new jewelry for Georgia Dee’s Gift Shop, in my spare time, of course. You’ll be seeing that here in about a week. I have plenty more to write about my trip to Paris, too, but this is not the time. It seems to me I was writing a book, too, or three . . .

Daily Drama 42

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Daily Drama 42

In my fantasy blog, I am posting photos of my trip to Paris. Unfortunately, the daily dramas just keep coming, and no writing is happening at all. Are you ready for a summary?

Leonard the Koi: Negotiations continue, personalities emerge, and Leonard is still in his original home. I am trying to find this 30 year old, 24″ Koi fish the best home possible, so I am working with a local Koi club. This venerable fish is not a fancy variety, and of course there are quarantine requirements, but he will be examined tomorrow, and decisions will be made. I am secretly hoping that the “best home possible” is right here, but we will know soon.

The Three French Hens: The owner of these hens is not eager to part with them. At all. The homeowner’s association is equally eager to have her part with them. The bully pen is currently available, but nobody is in a hurry and that’s okay with me.

Dobby has been particularly goofy, and the dancing is non-stop! He seems to be full of energy, and yet, he spends a lot of time napping in the kitchen. This is a change from when he was younger and too wary to really relax in the house. At 6-1/2, he doesn’t startle as easily when someone breezes through the kitchen. He’s still a wild animal, though, and on guard when the wind blows and brings the scent of coyotes and deer into the yard.

Yes, the bully drakes are fully integrated back into the flock. They are so happy to be together I can hardly remember what it is like when they are all on the attack. You would think that the breeding season is over, but Carmen Miranda, the muscovy hen, is still laying eggs. I lost a sweet hen, Madonna, quite suddenly, after my return from Paris, but Lula, who is on daily metacam, is hanging in there. That leaves me one laying hen, Jello, or is the cat laying the eggs? I always find them in the cat carrier.

Kitty Hawk’s friend, Grover, was quiet after my return, and then suddenly started making gurgly sounds. I talked to the vet about him, and developed a strategy for capturing him so the vet could sedate him to do an exam. (He is still skittish, after 2 years, but he has just started to let me pet him.) We’d discuss medication later. I would take the next day to observe him for signs of recovery or, you know, the other direction. Grover must have overheard me, because he made the most remarkable recovery! Seriously, he’s fine, now. I have noticed that Hawk eats ALL OF THE FOOD, so now I play with him while Grover gets his share. Was Grover simply starving? I shudder to think, but really, Hawk just inhales his food, and Grover is such a gentleman, a dainty eater.

Bonnie Bunny recovered from her surgery and moved into the kitchen. She’s in her sister Helen’s old spot. She nearly chewed through the gate while I was away, so I’ve fixed that and will reinforce all the sides with an x-pen. She has always been hard-headed and nervous, but boredom and curiosity will prevail and I’m sure she’ll adjust to indoor life. It’s just very different from her gigantic outdoor pen, and I’m sure she still misses Wiley Wabbit as much as I do.

The Funny Farm has had a lot of visitors. Dobby and the Dude Ranch steal the show. The guinea pigs will be celebrating Carl’s 8th birthday next month! The cockatiels could star in their own Grumpy Old Men movie, with the tiny green budgie monster providing the sound track. I tried to write this blog post earlier today, but Pirate, the handicapped dove, had to be held JUST SO, nestled between my cupped hands. Try doing anything productive with a bird in your hand and the two in the bush start to sound very appealing!

On the human front, we have a full house again, well, almost. It seems fuller when kids come home with all their stuff and an entourage. I’m back at school volunteering again, my fifth year. I don’t want my fabulous trip to Paris to fade away, so I plan to relive every moment by posting photos and writing about it . . . but when?

Daily Drama 37

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Daily Drama 37

The daily dramas have taken me beyond the Funny Farm this week. I usually find time to write between disasters, but they are coming fast and furious, so this is a mid-disaster story whose end cannot yet be told. At the moment, The Bartender (my “significant other”) is stable, and so is The Mathematician (my son) so here is what is happening at the Funny Farm.

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Dressing in the dark and racing to the Emergency Room doesn’t leave much time for details. For un-matched shoes, I think I did pretty well.

Dobby is enjoying our fabulous but uncharacteristically balmy weather. Swimming season has arrived! It’s actually pretty cold outside if your swimming pool water is 49f (9c) degrees.

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“I don’t snore!”

Dobby spends a lot of time inside, napping. I have tried to get a video of his snoring, but he is too wary and always wakes as I sneak up on him.

We still spend most afternoons in the garden. Dobby grazes in the front yard, the poultry plays in the back. Lula the hen is on Metacam for her mysterious ailment, and she has even made it out to the back yard a few times lately.

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Garden Party participants, left to right: Penguin, Prince Dobalob, Jello, and Madonna (Squirrel photobomb, background)

Carmen Miranda, our newest duck, has proved to be very self assured. She is trying to claim the rabbit litter-box as a nest. Whatever.

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Carmen, get out of there!

In spite of everything, we have managed to make some improvements to the Funny Farm. We now have five birds in the kitchen: two doves, one parakeet, and two cockatiels.

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BEFORE

Our first goal was to acquaint the two doves and move them from two smaller guinea pig cages into one large bird cage. The Pirate cannot walk, and Luna Dovegood cannot fly, so the cage was equipped with landing hammocks and ramps to allow them to use as much of the vertical space as possible.

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So far, so good. Doves are on the left in the new cage.

The next step was to move two elderly cockatiels and the bullying parakeet into the other cage. I put a horizontal divider in the cage. Spike the Budgie is far too aggressive to share space with the older gentlemen. Plus, he doesn’t need the encouragement of being “Top Bird” so little Spikey gets the first floor apartment.

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Vincent the cockatiel explores the new cage.

Every evening for a week, I rolled the new cage into the kitchen for playtime. I coaxed the birds into their new spaces with treats, and they began to enjoy the new play area.

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The Pirate thought she was very clever to perch on top.

Luna can’t fly, and now that she has been here a while, we know why. She has an inoperable tumor on her left wing. It has grown very large, and she is now on Metacam. Her appetite is good, she moves around her new cage by walking on the ramps, and since starting the medication, she has been cooing a little bit, again.

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The tumor is really quite serious. It is on the other side and you don’t want to see it.

The gray cockatiel, Jorge, is probably older than I first estimated, and has started to stumble and even falls off a perch once in a while. A former pet-sitter adopted him from her neighbor who had set his cage out in the carport while attempting to find a new home for him. Judy had him about four years before he came to me (she died of ovarian cancer) in 2006. He’s just “old.”

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Jorge finally checks out the new cage.

Like the dove cage, this one also has a mattress-like floor to accommodate unexpected plummeting. Instead of ramps, it has ladders so that Jorge can get back up to his perch. Vincent is about 14 years old, but still gets around just fine and has been very comforting to Jorge, who is one of those bird-birds, not a people-bird. Or maybe Jorge was traumatized at some point. I will never know.

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AFTER

Happily ever after, they are all in their new, improved cages. I still have to hang a curtain between Spike the budgie and the doves, though. He is such a pill.

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Shipping goose eggs

It is egg-laying season, so I am constantly raiding nests. The last thing I need is more poultry to care for. I shipped off the first goose eggs, but I have decided to keep the rest and blow them out. They are really very cool.

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Georgia Dee’s Diary

One of my biggest distractions right now is my Mom’s diary. She was 13 years old when she started writing in it in 1940. It goes through 1944, and her personal story is so well told that I would like to share it. I have transcribed it and I am adding photos, a World War Two timeline, and a few footnotes where clarification is helpful.

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A 1943 Eversharp pen and engraved bracelet

Seventy years later, I am discovering artifacts mentioned in the diary. Most of them were gifts from her boyfriend, Andy. She kept them for fifty years and I have had them twenty. It is my mother’s diary, but it is about Andy, and I am certain she would want his memory kept alive in this way.

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Andy

I have contacted his nephew Randy, who is also interested in the project. Depending upon the response I get from my group of previewers, I plan to publish it. Please let me know if you would like to participate in this early review and I will send you a link to the private website in April, when I hope to have it ready. (Comment on this post and mark it “private” if you don’t want it published. I’ll just add you to the list.)

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Dobby isn’t certain he approves of he new cages.

My drakes are fighting, my capybara is amorous, the turtles are out of hibernation and basking, and the wild birds are flying around with beaks full of twigs. It must be spring!