Tag Archives: doves

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.

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Daily Drama 49

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Daily Drama 49

I wasn’t busy enough, so I am now officially not retired. Sixty-four is an odd time of life to start a new career, but my volunteer status no longer adequately describes my activities, so I have been hired. Coincidentally, my wildlife photography, my non-stop blogs, and my stunning cinematography have been derailed. The dramas have no respect, and continue to unload at an alarming rate. Currently, the blog-waiting room at the Stacy’s Funny Farm Station is taking numbers, but all of the clerks are out to lunch.

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Miss Honey Bunny, looking so very innocent

For instance, there is still a rabbit at large in the guinea pig room. I am losing confidence that Honey Bunny will be reunited with her owner in the near future, but she is a lot of fun for now. Other than the fact that she has started to mark the carpet. My own Bonnie Bunny has previously attacked a rabbit- her own sister!- so I don’t dare introduce them.

Snow White, the dove, is finally perking up. I had brought her inside and she did well at first but then languished. I still don’t want her to have direct contact with her daughter, The Pirate, until I am certain she is healthy. For the past four days, I have been wheeling her cage into the kitchen so they can “flock,” and they are eating together (from afar) and Snowy is suddenly showing signs that she will completely recover. Next I will let them interact, supervised, and determine whether they want to share a cage. Snow White probably thought she was doomed to flock with guinea pigs. Oh, the horror of it!

In fact, the guinea pigs are a fine little herd. Carl’s eight year old legs still scurry with the youngest of them. He honestly doesn’t seem any older than the other dudes. Speaking of old dudes, my antique cockatiel, Jorge, still occasionally falls off his perch onto the padded cage floor. I’m beginning to think he is a LOT older than the sixteen years I know about. I’m his third owner, and he’s been annoying me here for ten years.

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Jello the hen, bathing beauty

The new hens are settling in, laying eggs, begging and underfoot. The flock dynamics are fascinating: little Bianca is now shunned by the two hens she arrived with, and old Jello seems happy to have her as a new companion. And yet, the roosting positions vary from night to night, with Bianca randomly sleeping near the two and then Jello. Little Lula sleeps below, but still manages to get off the ground. She has been on Metacam for a year, and if she ever dies we might discover what her problem is. She is a sweet happy hen, comes when I call her each morning for her medicine.

We had 11″ of rain in January, almost 1/3 of our yearly rainfall. Even the ducks are sick of it. Norman’s feathers are in poor condition, and the Muscovies look pretty bad on wet days, too. They have a heat lamp and whole wheat and cracked corn treats, but we’d rather have some sun.

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Quasimodo, not eating his food because it’s FEBRUARY

Quasimodo the turtle has been out a few times this winter. He’s been here since 2009, and each winter I wonder whether I should bring him in or let him hibernate. In this photo you can see the bulge at his right cheek, a calcium deposit he’s had since before he came here to live. I feed him when I see him, but he really isn’t interested in eating during winter. Dr. Pepper has emerged a couple times, too, but not for long.

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Lotsa mallards . . . oh boy, look at the steps. Will they make it to summer?

The crazy wild mallards are proliferating. There were 26 one afternoon last week, right at the time of day my flock generally emerges for the Garden Party refreshments. A couple of the mallard ducks march directly into the aviary, turn right at the turtle tank, enter the barn, and help themselves to the poultry food! I now have to make a sweep for mallards before I secure the gate for the night. One morning last week, a drake surprised me by flying off the roof onto the ground in front of me as I walked out with the breakfast treats. Entering the aviary I was greeted by a female mallard, merrily swimming in the duck pond. She was reluctant to leave, though her drake was mighty relieved to have her released.

My tomcats vacillate between boring and completely frustrating. Grover has decided to discover whether it is possible to actually perish from hairballs. Kitty Hawk is easy enough to handle that I occasionally grant him the privilege of walking the circuit around the house. Those days are over as he apparently strayed across the street. I figured that out when I heard the distant cat fight- who could that be?

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Prince Dobalob “I’m bored!”

Dobby, my precious angel, has been saving “gifts” for me, letting loose in the kitchen as I return home for school. He’s so thoughtful. I keep telling myself it’s the weather. You might think a rainforest animal would like the rain, but no. He seems to disapprove of rain, though honestly, in winter he disapproves of almost everything except corn-on-the-cob.

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Mr. Wooly Bear

There has been a tiny visitor at our front door, and I have almost stepped on him twice. The second time I brought him in for a photo shoot. It’s spring when wooly bear caterpillars appear, right? Summer is surely coming!

Daily Drama 47

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Daily Drama 47

Oy vey, December was full of glitches. The month is nearly gone and and in spite of all the schmoozing, or maybe because of it, the blog posts are just not happening.

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Prince Dobalob supervises Norman, the Flock Manager

The Funny Farm has its ups and downs but still provides sanctuary for about 50 animals. A couple are pets, like Dobby, but most are rescues. I don’t think I need any more actual “pets” with so many second-hand pets in need of homes.

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Cubicle is glad that the Prince of Schlock is out of the aviary for a moment.

The story of Leonard the Koi is still unresolved, and I don’t know whether he will ever come here or not. Or when. Once he is settled, the goldfish will come here. I’m not holding my breath, but nothing surprises me any more.

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Carmen Miranda poses, Romeo flashes his crest, and Lula takes refuge under a bench.

Winter can be rough but at least Romeo, the putz, behaves himself. Lula hen has been on Metacam for almost a year now, and is much improved since last winter. The vet isn’t certain what ails her, but the meds are effective for all of the possible diagnoses, and she doesn’t kvetch about it. When I call her, she comes over to get her medicine. We can’t eat her eggs, but she doesn’t lay many any more.

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Kitty Hawk (face in food bowl) and Grover, showing off their tipped left ears.

The tomcats, Kitty Hawk and Grover, are busy and happy. Unfortunately, the vermin they chased from my aviary had the chutzpah to take up residence in the crawl space of my house, and were checking out the basement and attic, too. That is a fun holiday project I would rather not have to deal with.

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Prince Dobalob strikes a pose.

On the bright side, Dobby has new hens! They arrived at dusk so they went straight into my infirmary. He got pouffy every time he saw them for the first few days.

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Behind the fence: Conchita, Adelita, and Bianca. This side of the fence: Jello.

The bully pen is available this time of year, so the hens spent their first few days in there. Jello the hen was not nearly as impressed as Dobby.

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A little bit pouffy about the new hens.

Seriously, The Prince was very excited about his new hens. They haven’t really noticed him yet, though he’s hard to miss. They will soon discover that he is a klutz and will become more wary.

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Bianca likes to sleep UNDER Adelita and Conchita!

One evening I discovered they had decided to perch on the fence, in the rain, within stranglehold distance of the overhead screening. Raccoon bait.

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Dobby loves his hens.

Back to the infirmary for the night. I didn’t get the door quite shut and found them wandering around the barn in the morning, sticking their schnozzes into everything.

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Trio of trouble.

Nobody was paying any attention to them so I decided to leave them out with the general population.

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Fearless Bianca

Bianca is a banty Americauna and lays these crazy blue eggs. She was very quick to discover the laying boxes and kick-cleaned them out for future use.

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The eggs are a pale robin’s egg blue.

The next night I shlepped the hens into the infirmary to roost before they could do anything foolish. Dobby was fascinated by the roundup and helped me out by laying right smack dab in the most inconvenient location possible.

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The Dobster is serious about his hens.

The following day, Bianca cleaned the shmutz out of a box for Conchita. Cleaning up is her shtick.

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Conchita

Conchita and Adelita are Welsummers and lay chocolate-brown eggs.

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Milk chocolate, not dark chocolate

I finally figured out that Adelita has been laying her eggs way over there → away from the boxes in a hard-to-reach spot but I’m onto her now.

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Jockeying for pole position on the favored roost

Suddenly the next night, the three new hens decide to roost up with Jello the hen. There are several configurations possible, though Jello (aka J.Lo) prefers that they roost way over there ←. It seems to change every night but they aren’t out on the fence in the rain any more.

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Kick it out, Bianca!

When I took my volunteer out to show her the new hens, we discovered one of the doves at the bottom of the cage. She is a weak bird, Pirate’s mother in fact, and spends a lot of time on the ground, but seeing her there, I realized I had not seen her up on a branch for a couple days. I tucked her into my jacket, and as we finished up outdoors, I went through my spiel on why new birds are put into quarantine.

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A couple of doves

Sure enough, once I brought her in and looked at her with my glasses on, she went straight to the dusting bin. One week later, she is looking pretty clean. She is still not recovered enough to kibbitz with her daughter, though.

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Ms. Snow White

Snowy dove shares upper space in the guinea pig room, while another transient shares floor space.

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Handsome Carl, Fred in the box, and Stevie Ray playing turkey in the straw.

Honey the bunny is staying with us while her owner is in transition.

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Honey, uncharacteristically at rest

Unlike my own Bonnie bunny who is afraid of her own shadow, Honey excitedly examined every inch of her space, tasting, digging, and testing the traction of the carpet. I followed her around, securing barricades, tucking away wires, and strategically locating new toys.

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Honey poses between her litter/hay box and her night cage.

Honey is friendly and trusting. She has very tidy habits, and quite a healthy appetite! Maybe that’s because she was once a feral stray.

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“Excuse me!”

From the first day she would run straight up to me, begging for treats, and she still runs around my feet when I am in her space. Now that the novelty of her situation has passed, she is just as likely to flop over and stare away from me in the standard rabbit mode of disapproval.

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The flop

Will Honey bunny ever meet Bonnie bunny? Bonnie has a history of aggression toward other female rabbits, so I just don’t know yet. Honey is only here for a short while, but you never know, do you?

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 40

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Daily Drama 40

‘Tis the season, and the origin of the term “pecking order” is in full Demo mode. I now have six drakes in the bully pen and only three drakes remain in the common yard with the geese. Emilio is the worst and picks on Vinny and Sal (V&S). Tony can protect them against Boxcar and Boondock (B&B), but not Emilio. Tony picks on poor old Fabio. When I put Tony away, B&B relentlessly chase V&S up onto a brushpile supported by a stump.

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The brushpile also conceals illicit activity of a more devious variety: Carmen Miranda is sitting on a nest. I yank a couple eggs every time I see her off the nest. The last thing I need is more Muscovies.

Shamrock is in the bully pen because he is a jerk. He joins in every fracas and encourages any kind of aggression, like a puny feathered cheerleader. Plus he follows Cubicle, my female goose, around everywhere, which annoys the heck out of Norman. Romeo, the gigantic Muscovy drake is in time out because he is after my hens. I think earlier this spring he actually murdered my older hen, Penguin, but no one’s talking.

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Shamrock the Terrible

They behave themselves in the garden. I’ve been letting Romeo out for a couple hours in the afternoon, mostly to give the rest of the bullies a break.

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Cubicle, Romeo, and Madonna. You can see that Romeo has got his eye on the hen.

It’s much quieter in the aviary with everyone locked up. Norman still takes his job as flock manager very seriously. There’s not much to manage, though.

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Norman on patrol, Cubicle swimming. Grover at the fence, Kitty Hawk hanging back, Winky blending in behind.

Vinny and Sal are still shy about venturing beyond their brushpile, and they won’t go out to the yard with the hens. Once their confidence is restored in the aviary common yard, I’ll let the bullies back out, one at a time. Maybe.

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Sal and Vinny, checking out the pond. Jello the hen in the distant yard. And that’s Norman’s neck and head, mid-photo.

Dang it. Time to lock up Romeo. He’s huge, but surprisingly easy to grab. Muscovies have really sharp toenails, so it’s all about technique.

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Sal averts his eyes as Romeo attacks Madonna the hen.

This is when I threw down the camera and made things right. Darn you, Romeo!

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Romeo, professional thug

It‘s really no surprise that the meekest of the ducks are shy about reclaiming their territory. Old Fabio, named for his head pouf, has been here since late 2006. He’s at least nine years old, and walks like your grandpa. His head pouf disappeared about when he lost his curly drake feather. He’s always been scared to death of me, and now that the six ducks he came in with are gone, he’s kind of lonely. B&B are very protective of him, but they attack V&S so they are locked up. For now, Norman looks after him.

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Fabio, Vinny, and Sal hanging out near their friends in the bully pen, just out of the photo, stage left.

The other drama queen is Lula, my poor little hen. We aren’t certain what her problem is, but it has been going on now since spring 2014. She’s on Metacam daily, and while she walks like your grandma, she is walking again. She has a hard time getting up to her roost at night, so I have been helping her up if she asks politely. Tonight she did. Other times I discover her up there already.

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Lurking Lula

One problem is that we can’t eat her eggs because of the Metacam (meloxicam). She is a very sweet hen, and comes over to get her medicine when I call her.

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“Don’t eat my egg!”

So I went back inside for the evening and I think I’m through dealing with bullies. But, NO! Here is tiny Spike the Budgie, terrorizing The Pirate, my handicapped dove. She put up with his pacing and haranguing, and then she suddenly lunged at him! He took off, flew to the kitchen via the dining room, landed right in his own cage! Nice flying, Spike!

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“BACK OFF, puny green thing!”