Monday, March 3, 2008

Flock dynamics

With the emergence of Beeps as a proficient flyer, we've noticed a change in flock dynamics.

As I've mentioned before, none of my parrots interact much with each other. Occasionally Max and Calypso will call back and forth (which saved Max's life a few years back), although months can go by without this happening. Rocky's screaming will incite the caiques to beep and squawk (although it's hard to hear them over Rocky!) When Max is in a particularly jealous mood, she may buzz Beeps or Rocky, especially if she thinks they're getting too much attention from Thomas or me. We noticed that she'd never buzz Calypso, no matter what attention he might be receiving. And despite the fact that they're both caiques, Beeps and Calypso almost never interact, verbally or physically.

Beeps's flight skills have increased his confidence, which is a delight for us, and probably an annoyance for Max! Instead of staying on his stand, he'll fly over to her stand. To show her displeasure, Max will try to hit him with a hanging toy, or dislodge it and drop it on him (in the picture, you can see that there is no toy hanging from the top of the circle -- she unscrewed the quicklink and tried to drop it on Beeps). A side note -- she also takes things out of her foraging bucket and throws them at Thomas when he's playing video games near her cage. She has decent aim.

We used to intervene as soon as we saw something start to happen. However, we noticed an increased frequency of irritation. Maybe they needed to work things out for themselves? And so they have. We were always supervising, so that we could stop them if anything was getting out of control. There was one mid-air tangle when they ended up falling out of the air and onto the floor; feet entangled.

During the past couple of weeks, they have reached some sort of understanding. They are able to share a playstand most of the time. Max will occasionally run Beeps off, but she just needs to make her way towards him and he'll fly off. This is very similar to when Calypso runs Max off of his cage (usually he's willing to share, but sometimes he must want his cage to himself!)

The reason we decided to allow them to work things out for themselves is that they are of similar size and we know their personalities. I would never allow any of my other birds access to Daphne, for example. Plus, since they are both proficient flyers, they had an easy escape method.

In other news, the shelter where I volunteer had 13 more budgies surrendered last weekend, which brings our budgie total to around 60. And supposedly there are 20 more coming from another house in the next couple of weeks. Among those 13 were 7 babies (unintentional breeding -- started with 2 in a rather small cage and soon had almost 30 in that same cage. Others were surrendered in February). One of the babies was suffering from a foot injury. I was so close to taking her home as a companion for Daphne. I was rationalizing it by saying that since this was a baby, she'd learn to get along with Daphne. And then I could keep a close eye on her injury and make sure she recovers properly.

But then I remembered that Daphne really didn't seem to take to Jeff Saturday. Was that a personality clash (or her instinct kicking in since he wasn't well) or a genuine desire to be a sole budgie? She is molting now and has a ton of pin feathers, which my human fingers struggle to free. A budgie companion could take care of her with ease. But would Daphne allow it?

Thomas said he'd leave the decision to me. I know he doesn't want to add another bird at this time. But I've been having a hard time getting that little girl out of my mind and he said if I'm going to be obsessing about her, he'd rather she come to live with us so I can think of other things.

I'm still not sure what I'm going to do, although I'm leaning towards letting things stay the way they are. Now I just have to try to forget about that baby, and hope she's found a home by the next time I'm at the shelter.

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