Update on my birds…

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my little angels..just thought I’d give a quick update on my life with my flock.  Where to begin..well, I’ve recently developed asthma (since April, and quite suddenly I might add). I saw an allergist after a couple of months of being convinced of my imminent death.  And it turns out that I do have a slight allergy to my parakeets.  I was convinced that it was my cockatiels, since allergies to cockatiels are as common as allergies to cats. They produce quite a bit of dander, but surprise of all surprises, it turns out that it’s my parakeets. No matter, I’ll never get rid of them.I came to this conclusion after much agonizing, and a reminder from my vet that there are too many birds out there who are emotionally devastated because folks seem to think that birds are just throw away pets who are emotionally devastated every time you just give them away.  It sometimes takes months or even a year before they come out of the depression that losing their family causes them.

I did move them out of my bedroom and into my son’s room, which took some getting used to for them. They don’t seem to care for change much. You’d think that I’d moved them into a new home as much as they pouted. It took them two weeks to come out of their cage. Now life is back to normal, my little fighter jets are back at it and flying around like mad again. And Oscar’s (my newest addition to my parakeets and only other male in our flock) wings have FINALLY grown out. He is becoming just as agile as the girls. Well, he’s doing his best to keep up anyway. At least they can’t knock him to the floor anymore while ganging up on him. Women, they sure can be cruel to the poor little guys in the flock.  But Oscar IS a chicken, not a parakeet. Of this I am convinced. Talk about species confusion..poor guy has spent his life as a chicken in a parakeets body.

Oh yeah, Carter built a birdhouse in shop last year and I put it on top of the flight cage to see how my babies would like it . Snowball has laid total claim to it. No one else had better mess with her bird house. Whenever i can’t find her, i have finally learned that she’s probably just hanging out in the birdhouse. I stopped panicking and started looking there first. And that is where I find her every time. I just hope that she isn’t trying to nest in there (as I said, owning these complex creatures is a learning experience and if I end up with babies I guess I’ll deal with it, and take the damned bird house away).

What else? My poor little Zeus got sick a couple of months ago. I took her to the vet and she had a sore throat, fever and was just feeling rotten in general. Ten days of antibiotics and $230 later, she was just fine. I’m figuring out just how expensive owning birds are, especially sick birds. Lets just hope that we don’t have anymore sick birds for awhile.

Last but not least , I can’t write this blog without giving an update on the famously spoiled, obnoxious and favorite scooter, can I? He still loves “Uptown Funk”, by Bruno Mars and makes me play it for him 3 or 4 times every day. He sings and dances to it (he also makes me sing and dance along with him). But once in awhile he decides that it’s his show and I’m stealing it and he’ll attack my face if he decides he wants to sing alone. I’ve finally (FINALLY) broken him of sleeping with my husband and have gotten my bed back. He now prefers to sleep in his cage, and you do not dare stick your hand into said cage once he is in bed for the night. Unless you want your finger taken off, of course. He still sits on my shoulder 8 hours out of the day, until my son gets home that is. And then when my husband gets home my son and I are both forgotten…and he has decided that my sister is part of the flock now. He actually associates her with his music. And so when he sees her “uptown funk” is a must. He has also become a bully with my female cockatiels..he can’t seem to decide if he wants to mate with them or terrorize them. sometimes he does both, simultaneously. Men! Right? If there is one thing that I’ve figured out, they are all the same in the animal kingdom. Big babies, bullies, demanding and genetically spoiled. And so this is my update…more later 🙂


New Flight Cage

flight cage

This is the new flight cage that my husband bought for my birds. As you can see, I am not the only one who spoils them. He blames it all on me, of course, but secretly he buys them things and lets everyone believe that I am the “crazy bird lady” who goes overboard and buys them anything and everything.  This cage is big enough for 50 birds, and that is probably not an exaggeration. When I bought my poor little parakeets in the bird store there were probably 25 or 30 in a cage 1/10 this size.  And so I’ve moved my cage yet again…remember when i told you that my parakeets ran my cockatiels out of their cage? Well the moment they laid their eyes on this newer, bigger cage they ran them out of this one and decided that they could have their old one back.  I now let everyone hang out during the day in this cage, in my sons room. I put the cockatiels back in my room at night in their old/new cage because of frequent night frights. I don’t want them to have them and sleep through it. It’s happened several times now and it terrifies me. Scoot hurt a wing a few weeks ago during an episode in the middle of the night. Thank God it wasn’t a bad one. But anyway, just wanted to share with everyone my birds deluxe mansion of a bird cage 🙂

What’s new with my birds…

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my babies.  My cockatiels have come such a long way since we first got them back in December. They are just starting to feel at home in their new home. It definitely takes lots of patience when you decide to adopt adult cockatiels who’ve lived in multiple homes.  But the journey has been well worth it.

Of course my baby, Scooter, whom I’ve had since he was seven weeks old, is as spoiled as ever.  He is becoming a hormonal teenager, however. The word bratty comes to mind… He still thinks that my shoulder is supposed to be his permanent perch, and he still sleeps with my husband most nights. My girls, however, have decided that they like to sleep in the bed on occasion as well. My beautiful lutino kept having night frights last week, and so I put her in the bed with us. She slept soundly on my pillow for the rest of the night.  They are so like children.

It has taken six months to even begin to gain their trust. I’ve only just begun to be allowed to hold them. They are such emotional creatures. I know that I tend to anthropomorphize my animals, but they really do experience a whole range of emotions. They can be moody, jealous, and just plain mean at times. They have good days and bad days, just like us. But most of the time they are very sweet.  Zeus, my pied cockatiel, was much easier than Crazy, my lutino. She was much more trusting right from the beginning. But it definitely took Crazy  longer to gain her trust. She was a very sad little bird, almost as if she grieved for her previous family. I never thought I’d see the day when she would want me to hold her. But that day has finally come, and some days I wish I hadn’t started that habit. Walking around with three jealous, fighting cockatiels on your shoulder can be quite daunting, especially when you are trying to do housework. When they decide that they don’t want to be put down, they will bite.  No one has drawn blood yet, thankfully. Well, not with me anyway. My poor mom is a different story for another day 🙂  Scooter loves her big cloud of white hair. He loves to sit on her head for some reason.

We did get a new male parakeet, Oscar.  Males are definitely different from females. He is much more vocal, and he wasn’t hand tamed. And he is definitely a little meaner. He can bite! Hard! Our breeder was going through a very stressful time in her life and just didn’t have the time to hand tame this clutch. And so here we go again. I bought my first two parakeets from a pet store, which i said I would never do again. I’ve had them since September, and they have only started to let me near them in the last few months. I can get within inches of them, and sometimes they’ll even flutter inches from my face as if they are deciding whether or not they want to perch on me as well, along with my cockatiels. I’m convinced it has nothing to do with me, however. They just like to torture my cockatiels, which have to be the biggest wimps ever.  Sometimes at night, when they are sleepy, they’ll let me rub their tummies. And so I know they aren’t frightened of me. They just don’t want to be touched, but I’m still holding out hope that someday they’ll allow us to handle them. And so back to Oscar…our breeder did clip his wings. I’ll never do that to another parakeet again. He occasionally tries to take off and fly with the other parakeets, only to land on the floor pretty hard. I think he sometimes forgets that he can’t fly. Poor little guy.  And did i mention that he bites? Really hard? Ouch.  Cockatiels aren’t agile flyers like parakeets. They fly into walls and everything else. Parakeets are very, very agile. I never worry about them flying into windows or walls. And so i really see no need to clip them. They stay in my bedroom and never go near an open door, so I don’t worry about them escaping. My cockatiels, on the other hand, do occasionally like to walk around the house perched on my shoulder.

And so this is my update….hopefully I’ll have something else to write about soon. They are such fascinating and intelligent animals. And entertaining. I can sit in my room and watch them for hours and just laugh. Oh, did i mention that Scooter has started to speak? He laughs at me, and he says “what are you doing”? He wolf whistles, and mimics my parakeets (which can be really hard on the ears) and a multitude of other birds outside. He makes these noises and I’m never quite sure if it’s a normal male cockatiel vocalization…and then i go outside and recognize the sounds that he makes coming from the wild birds outside. He’s definitely very vocal. And adorable, of course 🙂

Should I get a cockatiel that isn’t yet weaned?

I can’t honestly say that I would raise a baby cockatiel all over again anymore than a brand new mother could say that she would gladly have another baby while she is still being awoken to screams in the night, sleeping very little,  in the throes of labor, or watching her two year old lying on the floor of the grocery store kicking and screaming because he’s been told no while your face must be at least 10 shades of red because you swore that your child would never behave like THAT! I look at my two adult cockatiels, and I know that one day my baby, Scooter, will get there. But in the meantime!

I think that cockatiels are among the sweetest, gentlest animals ever created. But they can behave like mischievous children, especially when they are young. I will never claim to be an expert on avian behavior, but I certainly did enough research before I decided to have birds in my home.  I thought that I would at least be prepared.  Let me tell you that no amount of reading can prepare you for these amazing, complex and at the same time simple creatures. They each have their own personalities, much like children. As I sit here writing this, for example, my little guy is running up and down my keyboard trying to help. I guess he wants to have some input on what I have to tell the world about his behavior 🙂

This morning I learned a thing or two. I’ve been trying to figure out for days why he keeps banging his beak on me and my belongings.  I’ve read that it is typically a male behavior, displayed to show ownership or dominance over something or someone. Not so with my baby. He does it out of frustration. We recently taught him how to wolf whistle.  I thought it would be cute. But he now uses that whistle to tell me when he wants something, constantly. And sometimes it can take quite awhile before I figure out what it is that he wants.  If I don’t figure it out quickly he starts banging that beak on my head or on whatever surface he may be sitting on when he can’t get to me. This morning he simply wanted a nap. It finally dawned on me what all of the screaming, wolf whistling, and beak banging was about when he couldn’t hold his eyes open any longer. And thanks in part to my husband, his naps are taken ON someone. Once I layed down with him he sprawled out on my chest and out he went! I’ve never seen my other birds sleep so deeply and so it actually startled me a little. I do have a sneaking suspicion that the bit o’ honey he got into this morning had something to do with his hysterics (we’ll be more careful with sugar in the future).

And so what would I tell someone if they asked me if they should get a cockatiel who isn’t yet weaned? I’d say that if you want a bird who is going to bond with you just as your own child would, then yes. The feeding experience is definitely a bonding one. IF you are prepared for having a child who only weighs a few ounces dictating your life in the same way that having an infant dictates your life. If you are prepared for such a tiny little thing to raise so much hell..The temper tantrums, the screaming, the getting into things…then by all means get a bird that isn’t yet weaned. But you will also have a bond of complete trust and love. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.  And so just like a new mom I don’t think I’m prepared to do it all over again! Not yet, anyway.

Yes, birds REALLY are lactose intolerant, lol

And last night my husband finally learned that lesson.

As he was eating his bowl of cereal, he kept letting Scooter have a  little. I kept telling him “don’t let him drink that milk”. Of course, he doesn’t listen to me. Ever. And so thirty minutes later,  he learned this valuable lesson.  He described it as “an explosion that covered him from head to toe”. It got in his hair and my son was eating a piece of fish lying next to him. I’ll say no more.

Please, when you are told that birds are lactose intolerant, do yourself a favor and just believe it! 🙂

But on a serious note, it’s OK to give your bird yogurt and cottage cheese. These are dairy products, but they contain a live organism that consumes the lactose.

The difference between cockatiels and parakeets..

This morning has been parakeets are still in the cockatiels cage, and so my cockatiels are still hesitant to go in and out of it. This morning Zeus and Crazy managed to climb into the parakeet cage and now are afraid to come out. They perch on my finger, they WANT out, but when it comes time to come out of the small door, they panic and fly back up onto the perch. And so I’ll have to take the top off of the parakeet cage to get the poor things out 🙂

My baby cockatiel, Scooter, has twice now decided to ride my dog like a horse. The other day, for the second time,  I had to chase my petrified 70 pound dog all through the house while the bird was on her back.  It wasn’t easy catching her to get him off. Oh, the joys of bird ownership.  I’ve decided that the true difference between owning parakeets and cockatiels is this… If you want a bird that reminds you of the kid at school who was big and dumb but gentle, lovable and sweet, then a cockatiel is for you. If you want an extremely intelligent, crafty but very naughty  bird whose constant antics will keep you in stitches, then get a parakeet.  The trade off is that they aren’t as cuddly.  I know that this isn’t true off all cockatiels or parakeets, but it certainly is the case with mine.

And so my day begins….