Tag Archives: The Pirate

Daily Drama 70 – Vintage Bird

Standard

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.

 

Advertisements

Daily Drama 49

Standard
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.

20151223_145232_w

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.

20160110_110607_w

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.

20160112_112916_w

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.

20160111_153427_w

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?

IMG_0341_w

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.

IMG_0370_w

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 46

Standard
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)

rabbit 1

Honey the bunny

rabbit 2

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.

20151024_135554_w

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.

IMG_9969_w

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.

20151021_213314_w

Bonnie checks out Dobby’s kitchen area.

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

20151103_002647_w

Bird’s eye view of a melted rabbit

She is getting very relaxed indoors.

IMG_9940_w

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.

IMG_9952_w

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.

IMG_9932_w

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.

20151021_154826_w

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.

20151024_173851_w

“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.

20151020_181118_w

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.

IMG_9963_w

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.

IMG_9976_w

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

Standard
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 40

Standard
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.

IMG_5128_w

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.

IMG_5111_w

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.

IMG_5105_w

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.

IMG_5067_w

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.

IMG_5142_w

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.

IMG_5144_w

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!

IMG_5164_w

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.

IMG_5168_w

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.

IMG_5160_w

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.

IMG_5121_w

“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!

20150711_213932_w

“BACK OFF, puny green thing!”