Sunday, March 01, 2009

My First Birds, a Pair of Cockatiels

I now had a large cage for birdage and so was keen to fill it thus with flapping chirping creatures covered with tropical plumage, or so I imagined. I asked Divine to stop by the pet shop and pick up a couple of large brightly feathered birds that she thought might be interesting. She returned later that day with a small cage containing two birds that looked like miniature cockatoos. My buddy Pete later told me they are indeed called cockatiels.

I went out to the screened porch and sat for a while in front of the cage containing the two birds with their pointy "feather-do's" where Divine had set them on the coffee table. For a time they simply sat side by side on the center of their perch, but then they came to a consensus that they should start the most God-awful squawking, no, it was more like a plaintive screeching and it went on and on. I was decidedly unimpressed.

Turning to Divine I announced, “If this is all they do all day, make that horrible noise, they will not stay here for long. I’ve never heard uglier sounding birds. Maybe next time we get some smaller ones with chirpier voices?”

She nodded agreement, cringing along with me everytime they made another high pitched birdy complaint every few seconds.

I hoped that the pair was just nervous about their new surroundings and decided to give them a chance. I took them out to their new home hoping for the best.

Placing their 2X2X2 foot cage on the ground I latched open the little sliding door and stepped back. Nothing happened; they just continued to perch, seemingly paying absolutely no attention to the open door. I got bored and left them like that, thinking that they'd figure it out on their own.

I checked every few minutes from the porch but they contentedly stayed right there in their miniature jailhouse. I supposed that they had never experienced anything as expansive as their new home would be, if they ever ventured out, and on top of that, I guessed that they probably had always been caged with at least a dozen or more other birds.

Eventually, I got tired of wating for them to discover the “great outdoors” on their own and after an hour I went back in to help them do some exploring. Squatting in front of the cage they became visibly disturbed at my presence.

“Come on out you two!” I told them impatiently. I put my hand against the cage opposite the open door and immediately the drab gray female made good her escape. She popped out the door and with a great deal of mostly ineffective beating of wings and loose feathers she flopped awkwardly into the air.

It was one of the ugliest (and shortest) bird flights I’ve ever seen. I began to think it was probably the first time she’d ever flown more than a foot in her entire life. Of course, she’s probably only been alive for a few months so that's not such big a deal.

Completely panicked, she crashed into the green net mesh about 4 feet up on the metal gate and stuck to it like a spit wad to a wall. Her wings were still half spread from her body and pressed tightly to the net, feathers all askew.

In spite of myself I had to laugh at her miserable efforts. I hoped that she’d be able to adjust to a point better than what I was now witnessing. In the meantime she was pretty pathetic sight as she desperately clung to the netting while visibly gasping in fear for air, obviously completely out of her known element.

But at least she was out and trying, unlike her terrified mate who still cowered in the safety of his "comfortable" little world of the tiny cage. Seeing how wretched the female looked I decided to leave the male alone. He’d come out when he was ready and eventually he did for the company of the other bird. I doubt seriously that they were mates yet at that point, since they were grabbed randomly based on gender from a cage filled with similar birds.

I really presumed that they would glory in the relatively gigantic space that I had provided for them, but surprisingly it was just the opposite. For days they seemed lost and forlorn in there, but at least they mostly kept their beaks shut. I guess they were too miserable to make any more of those obnoxious screeches.

I hoped that my next bird purchases would provide more satisfying viewing, because I certainly I wasn’t impressed with the two cockatiels at all.


KA said...

i can't get over my fear of bird shit falling on my head...

PhilippinesPhil said...

Some how I doubt if that's really on your list of neuroses.

And yes, it does occasionally happen. No biggy. I do think though, that its one of the reasons I prefer the smaller birds; smaller birds mean smaller...

Ed said...

I would have guessed the lost feeling initially but after days of being in there, I would have guessed they would be right at home.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Ah, you KNOW your animals farm boy. You would be right.

Anonymous said...

There is a possibility that the pet center has clipped back their flight feathers. Without these feathers the birds can't fly and they may not be used to having them. They will grow out and soon they do they will be flying all over the place enjoying their new experience.

Anonymous said...

It pained me to read that ): next time you want to buy a pair of birds, make sure YOU'RE the one buying it because you're the only person who really knows what you want... Also, taking care of birds is really hard and requires a lot of patience! If you can't wait for them to adjust, then I don't recommend buying birds at all ):