Tag Archives: parakeet

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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Daily Drama 66 – The Chicken in the Bathtub

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Daily Drama 66 – The Chicken in the Bathtub

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The good news is that the wasps have vacated the Little Free Library! I had a big warning sign up and thought no one had come near it for a few weeks. When I took down the BEWARE OF WASPS sign, I noticed that someone had stuffed my library full of great books! As you can see, it is much larger than most Little Free Libraries, and the donator failed to organize them properly: non-fiction on the lower shelf, Children’s books middle shelf right, hardback fiction at the top. By the time I had them all sorted out, I realized there are at least 50% more books in there than what I seeded it with! It isn’t fancy (It’s a discarded china cupboard I found on the corner with a “free” sign on it.) but it is a success!

So here’s the part about the chicken. Conchita is one of three hens dumped at a local feed store back in 2012. Adelita and Conchita survived whatever took Bonita out, and rule the coop over the four other hens who put up with them. Conchita developed a bad habit of hopping over the 4 foot tall chainlink fence that keeps the bully drakes separated from the little white call duck hussy, Ping, and her dimwitted beau, Boxcar. I found Conchita whimpering at the base of the fence with a broken leg and now she lives in my bathtub. What a klutz!

Chicken in a cast.

Conchita and I went to the vet where they confirmed my diagnosis, pinned her broken leg, put on a cast, prescribed antibiotics and pain meds, and sent us home. She went straight into the bathtub, leaving me to contemplate the surprise vet bill.

Chicken in a bathtub

A week later we returned for an x-ray to evaluate her progress. Her leg was healing up dandy, she had finished her course of antibiotics, and only needed pain meds once a day. She was lonely for her friends, and I knew she would eat more heartily with the flock around her, so I took her out to the infirmary in the aviary. We were still having nice summer weather and there is a heated pad out there so it would be an easy transition from indoors. The following vet visit, they removed her cast. Of course, she couldn’t walk yet, but she was much more comfortable. And she was within conversational distance of her friends.

Chicken in the infirmary

The next vet visit was a surprise. It was another surgery to remove the pin. With a fresh wound where the pin came out, she was prescribed another round of antibiotics and pain meds. In addition, I was given a bottle of antiseptic wash to cleanse the wound. I read the post-surgery instructions while they were settling the bill. Anesthesia, lethargy, vomiting, loss of appetite, blah blah blah. Medications 1, 2, and 3 blah blah blah, clean wound daily for 10 days.  At the very bottom of the page-> Other Special Instructions: Recheck in one week   Keep Conchita inside to keep wound clean

INSIDE! Really? I was crushed. She had been so unhappy indoors. The Bartender is a good sport, but this is our master bathroom. Okay then. When I considered the daily cleansing, the twice a day meds, how well she was healing . . . it wasn’t a good idea to chuck her back outdoors, even though she would miss her flock while she was back in the bathtub.

Conchita knows it’s med time: that’s as far away from me as she can get.

A bit more serious about her indoor accommodations, I hauled out a stack of old cage blankets so I could freshen up her pen at a moment’s notice. I had noticed that she liked to sleep on her picked-over corn cobs, so I moved in a couple of sausage-shaped toys for pseudo ground perches. Set her up with a Ring For Service bell. Made the all-day trek to IKEA and bought her an abacus (which she loves) and a baby bug mobile (which she ignores). The rest of the crew made out like bandits: Dobby got new rugs to sully and a toy box to knock around. Fat Bonnie the rabbit got stacking cups to knock over and a basket of plushie vegetables to toss. The Guinea pigs got new floor blankets and a plushie pig to abuse. Even the rats got new sleeping bags.

Conchita began to stand on one leg, using the broken one as a crutch for balance. Ever the optimist, she learned to whimper every time we approached the bathtub: “Let me out of here! Please? Anyone?” The twice daily med routine was a groaner for both of us. The cleansing was a quick efficient affair once I cleared a path to the lost laundry tub in the far corner of the cluttered workshop better known as The Dungeon.

Another vet visit, another surprise: out of the wound they pulled an exceptionally clean and solid plug of pus the size of a checker. Then they stapled her, closing the pin hole for good. Whew! All finished! But wait, another round of antibiotics and pain meds. And of course, there would be one more vet visit to remove the shiny new metal staples.

She was very proud of herself for getting up there, but she was happy to get helped down in the morning.

She really started walking around after that visit. Climbing the short flight of stairs to the master bedroom, we began to see a Conchita head pop up as she greeted us. “I gotta get outta here! Please?” I decided to put up a little fence around the tub. It wouldn’t keep her in if she got active, but I hoped it would discourage any escape plans. The very next night at bedtime, we discovered her up on this perch! What do you think? Tall enough fence? Maybe not.

“Dang, that’s a tall fence!”

Poor Conchita, the next day I switched out her little fence for this big ex-pen. She hasn’t been up on the perch since. To tell you the truth, I absolutely cringe at the thought of her jumping up and down from anywhere. She did hop up there today when I cleaned her blankets, but she always waits for me to lift her back down. Even that night when she slept up there she didn’t get down until I lifted her gently down in the morning.

Chicken peek-a-boo

So this is what we see every time we climb the stars to the bedroom. “Please! I’m begging you, let me outta here!” She has a vet appointment tomorrow afternoon (those staples), and even though they might say it’s okay to put her back outside, I’m not sure I’m ready to do it. We’re going to miss having her inside. It’s kind of fun having a chicken in the bathtub.

Stevie Ray, still handsome

Little old Stevie Ray will be my next challenge. He used to be big and fat, but in April, the vet discovered an abdominal mass, undoubtedly the cause of his weight loss. At his age, surgery isn’t an option. She said he probably had another three months, and we discussed what that would mean for his buddy, Squirrel.

Stevie Ray still tussles with Squirrel for his salad.

At seven years old, Stevie Ray can look a bit rough, but he cleans up nicely after a warm bath, shampoo, and blow dry. It has been five months now since he saw the vet, and he even gained a little weight over the summer. Now, he’s starting to have some old-age problems, and he’s losing weight again, but his appetite is great and he doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable.

Cookie and Brutus have finally learned to share.

Brutus and the Cookie Monster are young girls that came my way shortly after Stevie Ray’s depressing diagnosis. They graciously donated the ex-pen you see here to the chicken. In return, they have Conchita’s lower grid fence. They managed to escape the ex-pen once, so I’m anxiously awaiting their escape from the short, lightweight fence. If they work together, I’m sure they could shove it around. Maybe they’ll push it near enough that blue Thomas the Tank Engine step (with the IKEA pig on it) so that they can make a flying leap escape. I’ll let you know.

Spitfire is so subtle.

Meanwhile, I have this great new blog helper. Spitfire the budgie is very inspirational if you like mirrors, paper clips, pieces of string, and seeds all over your keyboard. Oops! She just flew across the room. That’s how I know I’m at the end of a blog! Bye!

Daily Drama 53

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Daily Drama 53

Last month’s root canal is almost complete, it only needs to have a proper filling installed in the middle of my pretty gold onlay. It turned out my roots are tiny, curved with cute little bends at the ends, and one root had two canals (Surprise!) so two sessions of grueling endodontal procedures. A reclining position accentuates the viscous post-nasal drip that I usually ignore, but that pretends it can ooze down to clog my windpipe. With my mouth propped open to effectively prohibit gasping for breath through my mouth, panic increases in tiny increments. I retreat into an infantile version of myself. Like a baby strollered through The Fire Swamp, I trust I will survive. For two of the three appointments I have forgotten to bring my cell phone, leaving home in a hasty fury like a swarm of bees. Fortunately I have loaded my antique iPod with my favorite tunes, next time I’ll leave out the dance numbers. The music has spared me most of the technical discussion “a number 4 please” and if I close my eyes I don’t see the array of tiny drills, miniature brushes and vacuums, the wicked thingies that make everything hot or stinky. Now my jaw is sore, my hands are cramping from holding onto the chair for dear life, and I think my forehead muscles are sprained from frowning and wincing. Sorry, no photos.

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A consolation photo of me playing Scrabble while Dobby grazes.

A fanfare for the next topic!

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The chandelier installs itself! (Thank you, Connor.)

Six years ago, during major and sudden ceiling repairs, I took out the funky useless fan and made a space for a chandelier. I couldn’t find one I liked, except for one made in England that doesn’t do shipping. So I made my own. My handy-neighbor hung it and my life is now complete!

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Check out the reflections! Most of the glass was my grandmother’s, silver spoons were my mother’s, miscellaneous kitchen tools and worthless items are mine, of course.

I managed to convince The Bartender, one more time, to help clean Dobby’s Swimming pool. It’s a couple days of draining, a fish rescue, a couple days of scrubbing, an overnight to refill.

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Banished, for the time being

Oh, and two months of looking for the pump drain plug.

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It was still in the pocket of my winter jacket.

The weather has been reminiscent of my early California summers, but I suspect that is the reason for the devastating loss of fish this time.

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The reflection makes it hard to figure out what you’re seeing, but along the top arc you can almost see my beautiful goldfish. RIP my pretty ones . . .

A half dozen rescues under my belt and I have lost only one fish before, the overlooked victim of a bailing accident. This time I ended up with a stack of magnificent corpses, like carnival sardines or a horrific serving of sushi. You can’t tell me they are only 29 cent goldfish, I am heartbroken. Two lovely beauties remain, joined by several very vulnerable tiny newcomers who just better learn to swim deep, beyond the Mallards who immediately moved back in.

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Three hoses to siphon out, three reversed to refill

The water is so clean I can see duck poop on the bottom, maybe it was better when the water was opaque. At least they look healthy. My broken pipe repair is holding, but I fear for it and expect the pool to suddenly empty overnight when it is most inconvenient to re-think my methods. The too-expensive-to-replace-filter has been hosed down, per specifications, but the pores are so clogged with teensy bio-debris that circulation is minimal. A very lazy 3/4HP pump. And so the water is already fuzzy.

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Dobby went swimming as soon as I took down the barricade!

A month ago, I took in a pair of young budgies from the Petco “back room.” Like Spike, they had been treated by the veterinarian, were ready to go home, but could not go back out to the main floor for sale. The staff was thankful to have them come here because even after treatment, they are probably weak birds and the store is reluctant to sell them as certifiably healthy pets. Spitfire seems to have completely recovered from her ear infection and is all girl, a biter and a fighter. Poor Tank is still pouffy a month later. I have re-treated him through two more courses of antibiotics, tried a couple herbal remedies, probiotics, minerals and amino acids, special foods, and dandelion greens, fresh-picked twice a day. I got out my old copy of Stroud’s Digest on the Diseases of Birds and marveled at his diligence. I understand why the vet treated him and released him. Even though he has looked pretty rough a few times, I am amazed every morning I find him still alive. He lost a lot of weight, but has now started to eat everything in sight, so we shall see. A hungry bird is usually a bird on the mend. Tank’s a sweet bird so I hope he and Spitty will soon leave the infirmary and join the feisty flock in the kitchen.

My recycling bin is right outside Dobby’s kitchen door. Lately, when I toss out the empties, I have to be careful not to bonk the Possum that hangs out in there. He and his buddy come around to annihilate Dobby’s leftover corn cobs. They shred those cobs and leave little piles of cob sawdust. What in the world are they eating? The squirrels efficiently extract every kernel, then the hens perform a quality control check, and when the flock is put to bed, the resident mallards check over the cobs one final time. There can’t be any food left in them.

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Mr. P.

 The duckling story is increasingly complex, and probably incomplete. I will wait to see if the story has an ending and then I will write it up separately. It’s kind of like the Funny Farm version of the Memphis duck parade through the lobby of the Peabody Hotel.

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In this photo, the ducklings are in the pond next door, sitting on a log in the center of the picture.

Dobby has been a good boy lately, and I must face the fact that his kitchen protest statements are weather related. A rainforest animal who doesn’t like rain. Terrific. He is a funny guy, though. We played the Poop Game today, a game he always wins. I clean his pen, flush his Good Boy down his handy outdoor toilet. Returning to put away the scoop tools, I see him proudly indicating a fresh pile. He’s pouffy, nose nearly touching his product. I scoop it, flush it, and return. Pouffy again, there is a second pile, nearly as magnificent as the first! He’s pouffy and this time, he’s wiggling his ears. I praise him (it’s outdoors, at least) scoop and flush. Returning for the third time, he’s pouffy AGAIN! The last one is smallest, like an oversized Hershey kiss, listing to the west like it had too much sun. The “kiss,” I know, is the last, and so it was. Such a fun game, and I want you to know he made it up by himself. I HAD NO PART IN IT. Sheesh. What a guy. Sorry, no photos.

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Consolation duckling photo: Ms. Mallard and 5 little ones, a couple steps from my front door.

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 . . .