Saturday, June 03, 2006
KEEPING THE BIRDS
I've been babysitting my grandbirdies all week. If one parakeet is entertaining, two are a two ring circus. They are like two disobedient children, constantly quarreling but lost without each other.
The younger and smaller one--Clay--has an aggressive personality and has concluded that he can take the older, larger, and more passive FRET. If FRET decides to visit the seed dish, Clay is suddenly hungry and edges FRET off the feed dish perch. FRET hops up onto the cage bars and then gingerly places one foot on the perch, waiting to see what will happen. If there is no response from the eating Clay, FRET hops down and attempts to eat, for which he sometimes gets angry twitters and sometimes angry pecks in response. At other times FRET is successful in getting dinner, but if not, he simply has to wait until Clay is no longer hungry.
Then there is the business of doing laps around the cage by hopping from perch to perch. Clay invariably starts it by hopping onto the perch occupied by the passive FRET, and moving in for the tag. FRET comes to life and hops onto another perch with Clay in pursuit. Round and round the cage they go. If FRET tires of the game, Clay bites.
One day Clay got very aggressive and FRET was helpless to stop him, so I took Clay out of the cage and held the back part of him under the faucet, scolding and soaking his back and tail feathers at the same time. Then I put him back in and placed FRET on the outside top of the cage so that he had the dominant position (something parakeets particularly like) . FRET settled down into his normal passive state and took a nap. Meanwhile Clay went nuts down below crawling upside down all over the cage top looking for a door. After they'd been in that state for an hour or so, I put FRET back inside and they behaved like long lost brothers for the rest of the day.
Another trick that has kept them peaceful is putting one of their toys in the exact center of the topmost perch so that each bird has a "room" on one side of the toy. The two of them can sit there contented for quite awhile that way, just like two children who have been sent to their room to sulk.
The birds love to be outside, so whenever they're here, I put their cage on the deck railing if the weather permits. I was reading the other night when the notion popped into my head that I should bring the birds in. I rejected it and tried to go back to reading, but it kept returning, and I couldn't concentrate. Finally I put the book down and went out to do it. No birds. No cage. I looked in the kitchen to see if my husband had brought them in. Nope. Crossing over to the railing and looking down, I saw the cage on its side in the flower bed with the top off and the birds gone. To make matters worse, it was starting to get dark. After a short while I found Clay sitting in the middle of the backyard inviting whatever cats might be around to come over and play. Typical of him, he was having an adventure. Scooping him up, I took him inside where I put him in a large box and got the flashlight and "grandpa" to try to find FRET. We looked all around the backyard in the shrubbery and finally did find him hiding under some flowers. Unlike Clay, FRET had the good sense to stay out of sight. What he didn't have was the knowledge that his chosen hiding place was right in the path that the neighborhood cats follow when on their prowl. Fortunately we beat them to FRET.
This little event sparked some very long moments of considering how I would have broken the news to my daughter that all that was left of her pets were a couple of feathers. The best I can figure out is that one of the squirrels was curious enough about parakeets to crawl up on the cage to investigate, and knocked it over in the process. That's what I get for feeding squirrels. After that little crisis, the birdcage was placed on the floor of the deck for the remainder of their fresh airing. I will NOT be telling their "mother" about their little adventure.
At least this time neither of them thought it would be entertaining to see what is behind the fridge!