Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Telling birds apart

A few days ago, one of my friends reported that she was looking at a web page of cockatoo classifications and was shocked when she realized the picture of a Ducorps cockatoo was her bird.

This led to a discussion of, when interacting with or seeing pictures of a bird that's the same species as one of their pet birds, can people tell the difference?

For me, generally, the answer is yes. When I read of Nani's antics and look at pictures of her, for example, never do I think that she looks like Beeps or Calypso.

However, the one exception to this, for me, is the bird that I've had the longest, Max. To me, some timnehs look nothing like Max. But others... I've just started reading about the adventures of Harley, and although he does many things that remind me of Max, when looking at his pictures, I am not confused.

At the rescue where I volunteer, I'd guess I've seen around 20 timnehs surrendered over the years. When handling most of them, I never got confused. But there was one exception. He was a male timneh, interestingly, also named Max. They looked identical, and had very similar mannerisms. I narrowly avoided a lip bite once when I was bringing Shelter Max up to my lips for a kiss before putting him in his cage. This was a reflex, as My Max has come to expect this. I had never done this with any of the other timnehs. Luckily I saw his eyes flash as he approached my face, and I remembered I was dealing with a bird I didn't know well. As I pulled him away, he struck, hitting air, and I was spared.

I also cannot tell the difference between Max and her sibling in the baby pictures I have from the breeder.

I know this is Max, because all of the single-bird pictures I have are of her:And, after we'd decided on buying Max, her breeder sent us this picture because it made her laugh. She was trying to take a picture of Max's sibling to send to his new owners, but curious Max stuck her head in there. She labeled Max for me:But in the rest of the joint pictures I have, I have no idea who is who. At the time, I'm sure she identified them in the e-mail, but I no longer have those:I've never confused Stella with another congo, quite possibly because of her unique plucking pattern. And Daphne, with her unusual coloring and 1/2 English background, looks not even remotely similar to any other budgie I've seen. But the rest look pretty much like all the other fully feathered specimins of their own species out there. I just think it's interesting that I don't get confused by them!


Sugar Selections said...

When I bought my sugar gliders, I was so worried about not being able to tell them apart that I bought unrelated joeys who had obvious differences in coloring, even though both are standard grey. Of course, now I can't imagine why I was ever worried about it because, to me, they look and act nothing alike. I can immediately identify each glider based on his markings, actions, vocalizations, etc.

Mary said...

I had the same worry when we brought our second caique into our house. I'm sure they look very similar to other people, but, as you said, their behavior, along with subtle marking differences, is so unique that I don't get them confused.

Max and her sibling, on the other hand... I wonder if I'd be able to tell them apart if I saw both her and her sibling in person now. I'd sure like to think so!

Pamela said...

There's a photo I found months ago on the internets, that I can't find again, that showed an evening meal at an African Grey conference. Many people had brought their birds with them, and the birds were all walking along the table, snacking on salad and other tasty treats. I discovered this before I had Harley, and at the time I didn't think I would have been able to tell the birds apart.

Even now, having had Harley for more than a year, I'm not sure how well I'd do! But I haven't seen too many Greys in person - that might make a difference.