Saturday, April 17, 2010

Goodbye All

We have had a great run of Budgies, Budgies and Hedgies, and Budgies and Friends. You have all been great (except for the recent spammers). It has been really hard to give up the budgies. I have only one more task; find Mia a new home since her adoptive family don't want her anymore. My terrible allergies have resolved since getting rid of the budgies; they were definitnely the cause of my severe itching, though I could never admit it. It is terrible to miss the budgies so much. This happens particularly when I see lovely greens in meadows or in the supermarket which I know they would love. I also miss them when I read about birds, see their pictures, or talk about them. I hope that they are all happy in their new homes. Someday when I have a different living situation, where I can have an outdoor aviary, I hope I can get some budgies again.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A quote From Victor Hugo (via M. my cousin)

"Be like the bird, who halting in his flight...on limb too slight to bear his weight, feels it give way beneath him...yet sings, knowing he hath wings." Victor Hugo

Monday, January 11, 2010

Thanks Hannah (comment, last post)

Hannah made some very good comments re: the last post. Not all pet stores are tarred with the same brush. Some (in my experience, like Petco and Petsmart) do not treat their birds kindly; others, like Hannah's, are very good to their birds.

Hannah also points out the hassles of adoption. This was addressed in an earlier post in this blog; it is just ridiculous how high the bar is set for adopting a budgie, or any animal. First, they made me visit the bird. Then, one of their animal adoption people come check out my house (who do they think they are to check out MY house? eh?) and then, I can finally come get the bird. For a $30 adoption fee. Talk about disincentive! A budgie can be bought from a budgie bin, such as at Petco, for about $20. No wonder adoption lists of available animals are long, and birds continue to to sold via budgie bins.

Maybe it would be good if I would promote pet stores which really cared about budgies and other parrots and animals generally, and maybe also it would be good if some common sense prevailed at these adoption shelthers. That way, people who bought birds would have well socialized birds, and ideally, really get some education about them, which would reduce the birds up for adoption.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Stop Selling Budgies in Pet Stores!

Jan 1, 2009, Petco (and many other pet stores) stopped selling rabbits in pet stores. However, they continue to sell budgies and other parrots (and birds). They stated that it was "good for animals, good for business" and cited their relationships with animal rights groups as an important component in the decision.

Budgies and other parrots are highly intelligent, arguably sensitive, animals. There are also a significant number available for adoption. Mary Ann was adopted, for example, via the Montgomery County (Maryland) animal shelter. At the time she was adopted, there were eight other budgies waiting to be adopted (granted, six of them were in a "custody dispute").

There are many wonderful, healthy birds out there; a search today on Petfinder had 1624 hits for adoptable birds. Searching only for budgies, I found 88 available for adoption.

My impression is that birds in pet shops are often inbreed (ref Lola and Mia), raised in tiny miserable cages, get little interaction, and as such, become psycho. I think budgie interest groups could serve a great function if they would undertake a campaign to convince pet shops to stop selling birds, and push for adoption, first. One of the problems with rabbits was that people would get them and consider them "disposable", and just get rid of them when they got tired of them. This is the same situation budgies are in now in pet shops. It makes me sad; and it makes me, and should make you, gentle reader, mad as well.

I belong to a facebook budgie interest group--I will raise this issue with them and see what they have to say. If every one of the budgie fanciers on facebook contacted Petco at I bet it would make a difference.

(photo from lili.chin flicker collection, available to anyone photos--thanks lili.chin!)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kitty N Budgies

Surprisingly, the kitty is only moderately interested in the budgies, and has made no attempts to stalk them. She does watch them from time to time, intently. We keep the doors to the room they are in closed whenever we (humans) are not home, and at night to avoid leading the kitty into temptation. However, last night, she was delivered from evil, as a door to their room was left open, yet she didn't spend time in there; she slept sweetly the whole night and did not vary in her routine of sleeping through the night, and awakening K with a sweet lick on the chin about 10 minutes before the alarm goes off. So far, so good.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another Great Parrot Video

This parrot is just fabulous! I love the way he looks right into the camera at one point.

Easy Come, Easy Go

Gypsy is gone: I gave him, and the cage, to the guys fixing our fence. They are Hispanic; it seems, at least in our neighborhood, that a lot of Hispanic families like budgies. Budgies are a more common pet in Hispanic families, it appears, to me on casual observation, then in Caucasian american families. However, I don't have substantiated data on this; it is merely anecdotal.

Anyway, regarding Gypsy, and comparisons to Magoo, as "Reston" recently commented: both male, both "wild type" green, and both prone to flying away rapidly and getting into less than ideal situations. Both, apparently, in need of a mate. They are not the same bird; Magoo was more pale,a nd I would know him anywhere. Gypsy had more blue on the belly and tail. And Gypsy was not as sweet. However, both are evidence that testosterone can be toxic, especially in the large doses of which teenage birds (and humans? other species?) are exposed.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's True-Nature Abhors a Vacuum

I have been sadly missing our sweet Magoo....but must admit the budgies are getting along better, cage maintenance is WORLDS easier...
However, as our gentle readers know, it has been said that Nature Abhors a Vacuum. And now we have further evidence that this is true.
Today, when enjoying the budgies outside on the front porch of our LBB (little blue bungalow), J noted that underneath the netting around the cage, there was a budgie. J said "how did one of budgies get out?" He looked more closely, and realized, none of the budgies were out: a NEW budgie had crawled in toward the cage, trying to get food! A lost budgie! An escapee budgie!
So we only just gave away our beloved baby Magoo-only to have this budgie arrive. J believes he is male; but I am not sure--I think it is very hard to tell sometimes, and this may be young budgie. S/he (we'll just say "he" in the future for convenience) is a wild-type (green) budgie, with darker markings than Boo or Magoo, and a bluish tone in the tail and underbelly. He is missling his tail fetahres...and looks a bit rumpled generally. There is evidence that he has been clipped but is growing back. I'll post an ad on Craig's list and also ask our neighbors, the Clampetsino's, to see if one of their budgies has escaped. I hope so; I really don't want to have to keep him...but, I have named him "Gypsy". Naming him is likely a mistake.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Budgie Care List (for adoption of Budgies, in this case, Magoo)

Magoo is being adopted by a very nice person who works with K. She is excited to have him as a pet, and will take good care of him. It is a necessity as he and Sutcliffe are fighting badly, daily. Someone will eventually be hurt. They are knocking each other off perches and pinning each other down on the ground or side of the cage.

I wrote this list of Budgie Care Guidelines for the new owner. Readers are welcome to add! of course there are lots and lots of things to know about taking care of budgies. I wanted to go over the basics here. More re Magoo's adoption soon!

Budgie-General Care

Our vet is: Animal Avian Hospital of the Village, in Rice Village. They are really into birds. 2422 Robinhood, Houston, Texas, in the Rice University Village. 713-524-3800. He doesn’t really need any care, unless you want the vet to clip his wings for you.


It is good to give them food that has a mixture of seeds and pellets. We use “eggcite” but other types are also ok.

Regular feedings:

They need their bowls filled every day. Even if it looks full, the empty husks are left on top by the budgies and they can’t find food underneath the husks; therefore, some budgies starve because their owners think they have plenty but they really don’t know how to get at it.

However, if you want to leave the budgie(s) alone for several days, leave plenty of hanging “snack sticks”. About ½ stick per day per budgie seems to be the right amount. We have left the budgies up to a week with these and while the cage is a bit messy on return, the budgies do fine.

Special foods:

They shouldn’t get treats every day, as that will make it harder to train them. Use millet seed in your hand to tame the budgie. You will have to be patient but if you try every day, in a couple weeks or so the budgie will eat millet seed while sitting on your hand!

Vegetables and fruit:

They like cilantro or lettuce, and you can give that as often as you like. (Once it is wilted it has to be removed or they get runny stools). They also like strawberries, but even ½ strawberry is more than they can eat. I usually put ½ in the cage and then when they have had it for a day, take it out before it gets gross. Apparently they aren’t supposed to eat avocado. If you want to try a new fruit or vegetable, put it in every day for a couple of weeks. The budgie will ignore it for a while then get used to it and eat it with joy.

If the budgie can’t reach his beak to get at the food, then they won’t eat it. Ditto for water bottles. So the food has to be hung near a perch at “beak height” or so.


Fresh water is important. I use a hamster style bottle. Some people use water bowls/trays. I also give them “showers” with a spray bottle about once a week. They really like it! Of course the spray bottle should be used for water only.


It is important to have wooden perches, as budgies like to chew to keep their beaks clean and trimmed. They like pecan or maple or any fruit tree branch. Don’t use cedar or magnolia. You can also buy wooden perches. Some plastic perches are ok too, but not all perches should be plastic as that can irritate their feet. It is important that perches are placed so that they can easily stand and access food and water.


Sprays that smell like cleaning sprays, fluids, are dangerous. Budgies are very sensitive to chemicals (remember the “canary in the coal mine”). Sometimes they can get a toenail caught in something in the cage, so any wires used should not have loose ends sticking into the cage. Doors on the cage should be closed with a “twisty tie” so the budgie doesn’t escape. Some human foods are dangerous; check on the internet before trying if you are unsure. If they are out of the cage, getting slammed in a door, stepped on, etc are all dangers of course.


Budgies like to be talked too. They seem to know their names, maybe. leave the radio on for them during the day to prevent loneliness and give htem something to sing too. A quiet “jngle” means “danger” so the sound makes them feel reassured. They also like to be talked to.


With a lot of attention, a budgie can get very tame, especially if talked to. Also budgies get tamer if they are the “only bird” as they see you as their flock. But don’t be fooled by affection; if the budgie gets away outside, he will fly away (mainly due to getting disoriented). The most elemental training exercise is “finger sitting”. If a budgie is not paying attention, “finger ladder walking” is a good way to help him focus.

Other thoughts:

We put the birds out in the AM (weather permitting) and inside in the PM when the weather will not go below 60 degrees. Below 60, it is too cold for them. I also like it as then seeds don’t make any mess during the day. They do throw seeds around when they eat, because they “hull” (peel) the outside of the seed off and discard it (drop it). The hull is very fine so it floats down. I use a netting around the cage that you can get at the pet store to cover the cage and it helps quite a bit.

Budgies combine urine and feces into one type of elimination. Normal is white with blackish/green middle, more or less.

History of Magoo:

Magoo was hatched in 12/07. You can see a lot of documentation about him here. and other places on the blog (ie, this blog!!!).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

....and FRIENDS?

Dear Gentle Readers, I realize we have been absent for quite a while, but it's been hectic.

The budgies greatly enjoy the outdoors by (cage goes out to hang from the the front porch in the am, and goes in at dusk). That is not an uncommon practice in my neighborhood. Interestingly, most of the people who have budgies here are hispanic. Parrots seem quite popular as a pet in that demographic it seems.

Also, keeping the budgies on the porch during the day keeps them away from their new "friend", a kitty named Shania. As a dear friend said (and dear sister imitated by saying) "its can't reverse thousands of years of evolution". True, but we can make things work. Furthermore, this begs the question, "Is biology destiny?" The biggest problem, is that Shania doesn't realize that the budgies are PEOPLE just like her, and me.

Finally, note that Hedgies is gone from the title; it is now Budgies and Friends. I just can't think about getting another pet now, while I am working with two sets of creatures now. Perhaps a hedgehog will be in the future, but that could be far into the future.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Budgies Like Hanging out on the Porch

Gentle readers, I am sure you have been missing the budgie updates and worrying, needlessly as it turns out, about the cat.

The cat has gone through three stages: 1) not noticing the budgies 2) noticing the budgies and acting like Sylvester 3) being indifferent to the budgies (very similar to 1).

When the cat first started noticing the budgies, she got sprayed with the water bottle. At this point, she doesn't even seem to look at them. They get put out on the porch every morning, around 7am, and come in around 8pm. They seem to love this routine. Although in the house they had a closed room to themselves, there was just too much risk for a door being left accidentally open and mischief. They clearly prefer the porch (as manifest by singing, jumping around, preening). This may be because it is more light (and smells good) outside. Also, there are neighbor budgies who make the loud "ChIIRRRP" noise to our budgies. The neighbor also has his budgies out in the AM, inside in the PM. The other day, a mockingbird was in the yard making budgie noises. My heart leapt up with joy.

In the evening, myself, the cat (Shania) and the budgies all tend to hang out in the same room together. It is very peaceful. The cat and I play, or the cat sleeps while I read or watch TV, and the budgies wind down from their day. The cat shows no interest in them; she is more interested in her toys now. I hope it stays this way.

I have had to switch from the lovely victorian style cage to the more ordinary cage; it isn't as beautiful, but it is much, much lighter, which is key since I have to lift the cage, with one arm, twice daily.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hanging a Cage

Despite warnings via our gentle readers, and others, we have acquired a cat. She is about five months old and she is very sweet (to us). Towards the goal of protecting budgies from the new kitten, we have a new cage which is large and has a curved top which will help it be hung more easily (I hope). (The new cage is pictured here on a table, but, it was not on a table when the cat arrived). J is an engineer, and has crafted a hook from the ceiling that is so secure, it will still be solid should the rest of the house fall down. The drawback to this set up is that it feels quite precarious to stand on a stepping stool every morning to feed them. Also, they are in a room which is shut all day against the cat. At night, I sit with them and the cat in that room (it is where the tv is). For the first several days, the cat didn't seem to notice the birds. Now, however, she has noticed them and watches them in that "Sylvester" way. She gets a squirt from the squirt bottle every time she pays them attention, and she hates it. Her Sylvester-like actions seem to be at a minimum. She has not made any attempts to figure out how to get near the cage, and her options are virtually nil in that regard as it is too far to jump from any furniture. The main risk are the venetian blinds--if she learned to climb those, she could get close enough to jump onto the cage. However, the cage has been covered with gauze, so hopefully if that happened, she would promptly fall off.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tiny Genome, big Personality

Hummingbirds have the smallest genomes of all birds, report T. Ryan Gregory and his colleagues in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Apparently, genome size is related to metabolic activity...having to do with red blood cell function. I don't quite understand this, since, most red blood cells don't contain DNA at all. But perhaps in birds, they do? In any case, hummingbirds, which we all know beat the wings incredibly fast, 50-200 beats per second! That has got to take a lot of energy.

Budgies frantically flap their wings, while stationary, once in a while, but not at a particularly impressive speed. I reckon their genomes are pretty big, if that has even been determined. I couldn't find any scientific literature on the subject, though a number of viruses affecting budgies have been sequenced...

People have studied the genetics of budgie color to some degree in a mendelian fashion though not moleculary: there is a good discussion of this on wikipedia.

For a great picture of an Anna's hummingbird, check out Black Cormorant's recent post!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The new cage-suitable for hanging

This is a picture of the new cage. As you can see, it is the perfect shape for hanging from the ceiling. I hope to hang it in a room that will be closed off to the kitty (yet to be adopted) by day, and then, opened when we all hang out as a family. I will train the kitty then to not antagonize the birds. We'll see if that is possible. Additionally, I'd like to hang the cage outside, on the front porch, on some weekend days when I am working in the yard. I suspect they will enjoy it. There is a squirrel around who seems pretty feisty, and also, the neighbors cat "Mr. Cajones" (this is what I have nicknamed him, because he isn't neutered...I don't know his real name).

The other day, I heard the distinctive "cheEEEP" "cheeEEEP" and "brawk, brawk brawk" of budgies emanating from next door. I can't see the back yard of my next door neighbors, but I was sure; they have budgies, and they were outside! I asked my neighbor (Frankie, the owner of Mr. Cajones) if he had budgies, and indeed, he does. He said they put them outside during the day, in at night. Every day, every night. I asked him how he kept Mr. Cajones away from them (Mr. Cajones is pretty wild from what I have seen). He said "oh I gave him a bonk and after that he stayed away". The basics of classic conditioning reduced to its elemental terms, I suppose.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Yum! Basil today!

The new yard has basil, rosemary, and oregano growing in it. Almost every day, the budgies get some fresh treat! Yum! They get very animated whenever greens are introduced. I wish humans could get that excited about healthy greens! Even better, today the budgies got a wonderful shower! Boo in particular really got into it. Her feathers were totally matted down and she chased others out of the direct spray...she HAD to be right in the middle!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bills and...Kitties?

It has come to the point where we want to get a kitty. The reasons are various, the simplest being, K has always had a cat (more or less) and really wants one. J as usual indulges her. So the questions are:
1. How to train the cat to not antagonize (or harm) the birds? (sub-question-is a kitten best?)
2. What cage is best?

I have been researching Q#2 this evening and think an acrylic cage might be just the thing. Of course, Mary ann, and the offspring (Boo and Magoo) were essentially free, and Sutcliffe cost $20. But pets are the gifts that keep on giving. These cages aren't cheap! (aren't cheep, hahaha).

Here are two options: . This isn't a very good website, but it might be a good habitat.

and (scroll down to see the side klean version...simple design...).

The sub-issue/question for the acrylic cage is: now that the birds are so happy climbing around on the side of the cage, will they be bummed out by an acrylic sided cage? this could be dealt with by a ladder/climbing system along the sides (have C and B and their kitty Lily inspired this ladder thinking?...gee the puns are bad tonight!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I recently got the budgies a rather large "nest" made of grass, straw, and twine. I didn't expect them to nest in it...but I wasn't quite sure what they would do! Because of its size, I was worried it would be intimidating. They ignored it for a few days (as budgies do, with novel stimuli) but since then have been having what appears to be a blast tearing it up. The females are the most vigorous at chewing and tearing, but everyone has been having a go at it. There are really only two good tearing spots (spots where the budgies can pull it well) and that is on a wooden clothespin on the side of it, and from a perch adjacent to it. Sutcliffe has been quite creative in pulling it apart while sitting on top of it. I am glad they are enjoying it! It is good exercise for them and hopefully also good for keeping them from being bored! Oh, and by the way, Happy Boos-day, everyone!

Friday, July 10, 2009

We're back!

The budgies arrived in the new house a few days ago.  We don't have a radio set up and the house is largely quiet other than completely new strange noises (the clothes dryer, the air conditioner).They are currently staying in the mudroom.  Naturally, the budgies seem a bit aprehensive, or at least, a bit more quiet then usual.  I hope to let them sit on the front porch (pictured) a bit this weekend to see if they like the neighborhood!  However, there are squirrels and I have heard the neighbors have cats so we'll have to be careful. Any advice re: budgie porch sitting in this setting? (Extra credit: Grammar: did we use "then and than" correctly in this post?Sitting and setting?)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Riot of Parrots

Check out the artwork of Guus Kemp, a local Houston (Houston Heights!) Artist, whose painting, "riot of Parrots" is reminiscent of morning at our house. Out of respect for the artist and copyright, I won't try to put that picture here, but check it out at the link!

Missing the Budgies

What is the reason that we bond so tightly to our pets? I really miss the budgies! People may say that this is the innate parenting tendency, which may well be part of it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Budgies in a Kennel

Our evil landlords won't let us go month to month while we are (currently) in the process of buying a house, and while J has to work two time zones away (as a "stimulus worker, thanks Obama!), and as a result, for the next several weeks K has had to move into a hotel, and the budgies have had to be kenneled. Naturally we miss them terribly. However, the place boarding them seems very loving and highly competent; Animal Avian Hospital (Rice Village). They seem to really like budgies as well as other animals. I hope to go by and visit the budgies even though they are being housed. I was very reassured that they took pictures of all 4 of the budgies and gave me little magnets with the pictures in them. Sure, its a smart marketing gimmick, but the person who took the pictures was really excited about how cute they were.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Un-Fun for Budgie Owners-Is there an Art to It?

Anyone who had never owned a pet and reading this blog (can't imagine those two categories cross-sectioning, but perhaps, an animal lover who is in jail or something)...anyway, as i was was saying...errr....(starting over). Anyone who HAS owned a pet, knows that there is the un-fun part, which is, usually, dealing with 1) things that come out of their butts 2) things that have to do with their food after being eaten (clean up, or a mess) and 3) shedding (be it fur or in this case, feathers). Budgies, by far, are much, much less un-fun in this way than any dog or cat. while it would be ideal to clean the cage every day (just like for a cat owner, cleaning the litter box daily would be good..yeah right!), I suspect that once a week is pretty standard, and also, pretty acceptable. This doesn't apply to seed dishes-if they have only hulls in them, and no new seeds, or it is hard for the budgie to reach the seeds under spent hulls, the budgie could starve. So, seed dishes should be emptied and have new seed replaced daily.

I like the current set up for the bottom of the cage, having tried lots of "litter". The corn cob litter is safe for budgies, and looks ok (not that I spend a lot of time looking at it...). And because budgies have their favorite perches, and, favorite spots on the favorite perches, they tend to, er, accumulate "waste" in particular spots. I put timothy hay under those spots, so I can easily and quickly clean those areas, and not have to do a total cage change as often. Additionally, timothy hay smells good. Also, it can be pushed up against the edge of the cage, which can be hard to clean, and keep that from getting soiled.

So, if you've read this far, you're either 1) totally bored 2) as obsessed with budgies as I am, to the point where you are interested, even in their poop 3) one of those animal lovers in prison mentioned at the beginning or 4) all of these.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Magoo Gains on Boo

Boo has long been the favorite. I adore all the budgies (of course) and all have their very special features and personality traits. I can't imagine if I had to give any of them up. When we first brought Magoo back home, I admit I felt burdened. I had hoped friends would adopt him. Now, however, I would find it very hard to let him go. He is so cheeky and brave! For example, tonight I left the door of the cage open, while I went to get cilantro. He steps right out, looks around, explores. When new food is in the cage, he and Sutcliffe both very eagerly try it (Magoo must be a flock leader in training). Magoo sings a lot, and if one of the budgies were to learn to speak, I think it might be him as he is the most responsive to verbal cues. He is tame, and if not so involved with the flock, would probably become very affectionate. Ok, Boo is also playful, Sutcliffe sings beautifully, Mary Ann is tame, but Magoo may be the whole package. But I am almost afraid to even say this, as I love the others so much too and I don't want to bring any bad luck down on any member of the flock!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Unkind But True: There are "Schizo" Birds out there

It makes me sad to say, but some budgies just haven't worked out. It is quite clear to our readers that both Lola and Mia are gone. I feel guilty and sad about that, but neither of them adjusted to the flock. Lola (pictured on the L, closest to the nestbox) was one of the first two budgies I have had, since she and Sutcliffe were purchased from the "Budgie bin" at a PetSmart at the same time, almost three years ago. She was very young, or at least, very small, and her wings had been severly clipped. Sutcliffe also had been severly clipped, but he was a bit larger, and a bit less crippled by it than Lola. Perhaps this was why she was always nervous and skittish. Sutcliffe gradually learned to eat millett seed while I was holding it, but Lola never learned to ever be comfortable with "the hand". She was pretty much untrainable. Mary ann was mean to her. Mia (pictured to the R) was also exceedingly skittish. She was so terrified of a hand in the cage that she would flap with crazy vigor to the point where she would fall off the perch. She was so terrified, she was at risk of hurting herself whenever a hand came near her.

Are some birds virtually unable to become comfortable around humans? If we were not around, would Lola and Mia found a good role in the flock? Or were they just too damn crazy to every be a happy or a part of things, due perhaps to inbreeding? I hope they are both very happy as "only birds" wherever they may now be. I know that Lola was adopted by a very loving family via Craig's list. I don't know what has happened to Mia--I'm afraid to ask the Ringo adopters, as they really didn't want to keep her but we couldn't take five budgies in our rental apartment. I really wish that both of them have happy lives. I wonder if this is the kind of thing that is not uncommon ("Schizo" budgies?). Since we have had two, it seems possible. Notably, both of them were from "Budgie bins".

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


In this economy, most of us have had to cut back in some way or another, some of us, in significant ways.  This is also true for the budgies.  As you can see, their large palace is gone, and the smaller cage is back.  Why?  We have to move, our landlords won't extend our lease to month to month, (so evil!) while we shop for a house to buy, so, we have to prepare for K to move to corporate housing and J has a job in another state.  Where does this leave the budgies? It's not clear; but K is going to try to bring them to corporate housing with her.  If they won't allow four then, she'll bring two to work and try to have two stay at corporate housing.  In the meantime, it is pretty clear we can't move the whole palace to corporate housing, so, its time to downsize and get rid of the larger birdcage in preparation for the next steps.  The budgies seem perfectly happy, actually, in the smaller cage.  They really mostly used the upper half of the large cage, anyway, so it was probably more space then they needed.   They aren't fighting any more than before, and they seem able to maintain their 1 and 1/2 budgie length distance or greater from each other, which seems to be important.  They are happily eating, including greens.  The only major loss is that their favorite toy doesn't really fit in the cage anymore.  Still, it seems a bit sad to me that they have had to downsize.  Perhaps I am projecting my own sadness at the inconvenience of having to move and my concerns and fears regarding how it is all going to work out during this period for the budgies, and for us.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Budging a Budgerigar

Budgies don't like new things, or at least, while they are still "new".  In early days, I would often introduce greens, or strawberries, or a new toy, and the budgies would ignore, or more likely, avoid then new item.  I would conclude they didn't like it and remove it.  Now I realize that it can take days, weeks, or even months for budgies to warm up to something novel.  Once they do, though, they can go wild with their enjoyment.  Budgies are step functions, when it comes to acceptance of something.  For example, I had to put strawberries in the cage for several days (after a day in the cage, they would be replaced with new ones) until the budgies would nibble on them.  Now, they will often simply devour them (and make a bit of a mess flinging them, as well).  Ditto with various types of greens, and treats.  Magoo is by far the most adventurous, followed by Sutcliffe.  This may be another "flock leader" behavior of males.  If you have budgies, I recommend being patient in introducing new foods.  Put the food in every day, and remove it when it wilts/gets old, and just do it regularly.  It could take a week, or more, but the budgies will try it eventually and if it is greens or strawberries, probably like it.  And if it is a toy, they will enjoy banging on it, when they don't get their way, after a few months. At least, this latter was true for Mary ann.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Magoo Update

Magoo is a very wonderful bird.  He is energetic, playful, and very brave, sometimes even foolhardy.  He has always been like this--after all, his first flight ended in near disaster as many of our gentle readers well recall!  He has no fear of wandering outside of the cage, he is perfectly happy flying back to the cage from a finger--even if he lands on the floor, he will climb right up the cage from any angle and get right back in.  He has found his role in the flock, and he is no longer courting Mary ann nor challenging Sutcliffe, but he is by no means subdued.  He is tame but "bratty", he likes being the "decider" about what he is going to do, and finger sitting isn't always on his agenda!  He was the first to play with the bell toy, while the others observed the toy with distrust for several more days.  How much of this is his being young? How much is just testosterone? How much is Magoo's special unique personality independent of these other factors (I am convinced that personality diversity is just one more genetic trait that promotes survival of the flock).  While it was stressful and not easy to organize, it really is nice to have Magoo in the flock, as he is clearly very happy and integrated well.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Singers and Song Preferences

A person I once knew said to me that bird songs are not actually expressions of joy, but expressions of stress (he was really sort of a negative person anyway, in retrospect).  I told him that I didn't think that could be true, because the bird's glee is so clear in their songs.  I now also realize that when stressed out (by having the cage cleaned, or when Nikko the cat was nearby during the budgies trip through KY), the budgies are very, very quiet.   However, in addition to being complex beings when it comes to food or perch choices, as noted in the prior post, budgie vocalization choices are also more complex than simply expressing either "joy" (or stress).   Budgies have at least the following repertoire of song types:
  • Singing for singing's sake ("Grooming song"):  This consists of rather long, varied songs, usually executed by the males (Sutcliffe or Magoo) or less often, Boo, and least often, if ever, by Mary ann.  When one of the birds is singing in this way, the three other birds tend to groom.
  • Chirping to mate/flock: This vocalization is a loud "chHHIIIRRRPPP! chhuuuirrPPPPP" which is executed when any gender of budgie is separated from the cage/flock.  When Sutcliffe or Mary ann are the isolated budgie and one of them makes this sound, their mate replies in kind.  However, this reply may or may not happen if one of the other budgies is in the isolated circumstance (brought away from the cage and into a different room).  The non-mated budgies are also less likely to make this noise when in isolation.
  • Singing after trying new food: This is largely Sutcliffe's realm.
  • Singing along to the radio or when one of us is on the phone: All participate.  the favorite songs are Toby Keith songs.  They seem to like K's calls to Oma.
  • Greeting the day and the night: Budgies (all) sing with vigor, varied songs, all at once, first thing in the morning and when the sun goes down (or the lights in the house are dimmed as we all wind down).  It is a joyous sound!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rethinking Budgie Priorities

As noted in the prior posting, as well as elsewhere, we had previously defined budgie priorities as: the flock, the highest perch, and millet seed.  I think we need to reconsider these--discussion is open if any of our fine readers are willing to weigh in.  A few issues:
The flock:  It remains clear to us that the flock remains very important.  Being close (but not too close) is the budgie goal regarding other budgies.  However, it is clear that Sutcliffe really just wants to be near Mary ann.  Therefore, the flock is not homogenous in it's appeal.

The highest perch: The budgies seem to use most of the perches in the cage, and the lowest perch does not equate with low on the social totem pole per se.  Budgies do have a fear of what is overhead and strongly dislike having activities (such as human hands) over their heads, but, sometimes seem to like to hang out on the lower rungs.    The perch preference does not seem s simple as once thought (on this blog).

Millet seed: it is true that treats, including millet seed, are highly motivating.  As a metaphor for treats, millet seed remains.  But I think that other treats, especially, very fresh grasses with new seeds, certain types of greens, and strawberries rank highly.  And, budgies have preferences.  Some prefer greens, others, strawberries.

Not mentioned as a true passion of budgies in this list of three is showers.  Other posts have commented on budgie bathing, and perhaps it deserves to be listed along with these other budgie favorite things.

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple
Sutcliffe and Maryann in early 2007