This weekend was dedicated to all things bird related. If you read my little "about me" blurb in my description or you've ever called my house, you know that I have 5, yes 5, cockatiels. Below the pictures is the story of how that came to be if you're interested to know***.
Basically though, it was time for a major cleaning of the cage this weekend. I clean it once a week but this weekend the cage got a major scrubbing and a fresh coat of paint on the walls (since they've managed to make the walls look disgusting with their birdy blood from minor injuries over the last few years that turn into major messes). I fear that someone will call bird dyfus on me if they see this post but really, I am a good mommy!
Below you can see the before and after shots for yourself. Please note in the group shot that there is a little dot of blood on the wall already! I don't know which bird has the night terrors but someone was causing a major ruckus the other night and managed to pull a feather out and mess up the new paint job. The birds are fine, really. I know this probably sounds like the worst house ever with all of the bleeding that goes on but it really does just comes with the territory when you have 5 crazy toddler-like birds under one roof.
Before (sans their toys and perches)
Birds on the porch enjoying the sunshine
Knitting my mid-August dish cloth on the porch enjoying the sunshine and watching the birds listen intently to all of the sounds of nature
The whole famn damily! Idgy, Amelia, the Nameless Duo and Cosmo. The Nameless Duo have no real names because they were supposed to find new homes three years ago when they were babies. I didn't name them so that I wouldn't become attached. Now I can't think of anything that truly seems to fit them. These are some of the names I do call them:
Spazerella & Mootsies Tooties (she the only one who uses her foot like a hand. Few cockatiels do that)
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dumb of course
Eleanor & Hillary (my friend JJ calls them that after her 2 favorite 1st ladies)
Mary Kate & Ashley (I had to rush one to the vet who forced me to give a name and Mary Kate popped out of my mouth - I don't know why)
Idgy & his Papa (Cosmo)
Later in the day I was walking around the yard and saw a few doves hanging out. As I went to get a shot of the dove on the garage roof....
...something stopped me just before I walked face first into this hanging off the clothes line
Can you see it? It's a big ol' spider web blowing in the breeze. My whole yard is crawling with all sorts of crazy-ass spiders right now. Every where you walk is a new adventure. Here's one of the two living in the flowers on the front porch.
***Birdies, birdies everywhere and not a drop to drink!
Six years ago my neighbor (and my friend's Mom) saw from her kitchen window a cockatiel in her backyard. She went outside, extended her hand and the little bird jumped right up on her finger and asked to be taken inside (ok, she doesn't talk but she does make a lot of cute faces). Having had 5 cats at the time she called me, the animal lover/sucker to see if I could hold on to the bird until we could find the owners. Of course I can. But of course, no owner ever surfaced and so Amelia (named for Ms. Earhart who was also lost in flight) became a part of the family. I would not have ever described myself as a bird person, but as I said I'm a sucker for all things cute, and especially the under-dogs. And so we became fast friends. She spent very little time in her cage because she was good about coming to me (even when I didn't really want her sitting on my shoulder while wearing a new shirt) and she would often nap on my hip while I watched TV or sit on my shoulder preening my hair while I tried to nap. She even laid an egg on my chest one evening while we watched TV. She also took over a dollhouse I used to have (used to because it became a giant chew toy for her, but I digress...)
Ok, ok, this is getting way too long. Anyway, my younger brother, loving Amelia and having a recently deceased parakeet, asked for his own cockatiel. This is how Cosmo came to join the family. Cosmo's a little slow and whacky but a good hearted bird even if one toe does face in the wrong direction. Cosmo though, immediately became enamored with Amelia and cried for her constantly. Amelia could not stand Cosmo. But, he cried and cried and begged and pleaded and was eventually permitted to move in with her. He then proceeded to spend all day and night wooing her while she spent that time trying to avoid him at all costs. But, finally, out of boredom or shear exhaustion from saying "not tonight, I've got a headache", Amelia finally gave in to Cosmo's advances. And eventually a family of baby birds hatched in my bedroom.
Yes, I had 4 baby birds (one found a new home, the rest are still here) hatch in a birds nest perched on a shelf next to the TV! It was so much fun to watch these odd little squeaky mini-dinosaurs blossom into birds. But then I had six birds, practically overnight.
(see how fast they grow in just a day or two?)
AHHH, this is way long, frig it, if you're still reading great, if not, just enjoy the pictures.
So there I was with all of these babies and on the last hatch day (one hatches every other day and EVERY single egg hatched!) little Idgy was born. Being the youngest and therefore smallest, he took a bit of a beating and got knocked around inside the nesting box as his older siblings blindly hunted around for mom or dad to feed them. During all of the commotion Idgy suffered a nasty injury to his leg causing it to stick straight out to one side. Being the busted up runt didn't bode well for little Idgy and mom and dad stopped feeding him. The vet said he'd never make it and that he could dispose of him for me. I thanked him, scoped up the sad little bird and headed home. Thus becoming his new mommy.
Every few hours he had to be hand feed with a syringe by me or one of my very loving, very patient family members. I would feed him with Amelia sitting on the table watching me so that she wouldn't reject him from the nest and eventually she did resume her Mommying duties. Oh, and because of the bum leg, he also had to wear a split that the vet made for him (we saw the vet an awful lot back then). Mom and Pop bird did not like that thing on their kid in the least, and proceeded to rip it off every night. My Dad made him a newer (and better) rip proof splint but Idgy hated it (of course) and flapped like a loon inside the nest until his wings were cut and bleeding. And so he is now permanently disabled. And yet not. He can even get up and down the ladder like a pro using his mouth and swinging his bum leg up to the next rung.
With the new rapidly growing family we had to quickly upgrade the cage for two to a master condo that my father was kind enough to build for them - including a handicap ramp for Idgy. He also built all the nests they've used over the years. Thank God my Dad has lots of tools, skills and imagination because I really can't imagine how I would have pulled off making them a proper home from a cardboard box and duct tape.
And so there they have all lived for the past 3 years. These little critters have found some very interesting and creative ways to injure themselves over the years and never fail to surprise me with a new mess in what should be a fool proof home. Let me tell you though, birdy blood is not easy to clean. I get the birds cleaned up ok but the walls of the cage look like the set for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was just too much. So once again Dad came to the rescue and repainted them for me this weekend while the birds and I sat on the front porch enjoying the sunshine and knitting.
Next weekend, nails & wings are getting clipped and then everyone gets a bath! Most of them like bath time even though it is a big wet mess (for me) that leaves them smelling like a mild version of wet dog. Geez, it sounds terrible to have birds now that I re-read this but really they are quite a lot of fun to have around. How boring my house would be without someone randomly whistling "shave & a hair cut" or cat calling me while I'm trying to get dressed in the morning. You can't put a price on that kind of amusement :-)