We just rescued another bird and I drove 794 miles less than I did for the last one.
Of our bird-related calls, most are people seeking to acquire a “new bird”.
We will always refer them to the closest bird rescue in their area.
Yesterday (2/11/20) we got a call from a woman in Cedar Lake about 6 miles from our new place in Lowell.
(Talk about a bird rescue near me)
Catherine answered the phone.
The woman, E related that she had gotten this beautiful blue Quaker through a third-party that knew of an elderly woman who passed, much like how we got Keto, with no directions as to who should care for the bird after her death.
Chili had been in her home for about 8 months but was quite vocal especially when she left the room where Chili’s cage resided.
E suffers from migraines and when Chili vocalized his “demanding” chirp, the pain in the back of her neck got excruciating.
Catherine came upstairs and related the conversation that just ended with the woman and asked me to call E back.
I did, she was at work, I got her voicemail and left my number.
60 Minutes hadn’t gone by when the phone rang and I saw on the Samsung’s screen, it was E with the blue Quaker.
My first question was “Can you handle the bird?”
We love Keto but we can’t physically handle him (yet) because he will lash out if you get within 1 inch of his beak.
I didn’t want another bird neither one of us could hold.
We ended up rehoming Peaches our Senegal because of her biting.
Peaches would bite me in the neck while on my shoulder if I came too close to Catherine.
When Catherine came into the room she would divebomb her, aggressively seeking to bite any open flesh.
After I brought home Keto, the first time I let the two of them out of their cage simultaneously, Peaches immediately lashed out against the new bird.
The situation was untenable for the four of us.
We talk a lot about bird rescues but we really don’t talk about the process and the environment.
Peaches entered a private rescue at six months old.
The typical story of the boyfriend buying a bird and the girlfriend saying “its the bird or me.”
We had been on a bird list for a few years and heard about this lovely (surgically sexed) female.
We did not want a big bird so the species of Poiscephlus, fit the bill.
The rescue owner happened to have been in the city that day and was gracious enough to drop the bird off.
The bird’s name was Michu, which but we changed her name to Peaches.
By the time she came into our home she left the cage for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening for six years in the rescue.
She also stayed with the smaller birds, small conures, and cockatiels because the sound of bigger birds in the other room was stressful to her.
For lack of a better term, she came to us damaged.
Something we thought we could fix with time energy and love.
You already know how that movie ended so I was very concerned about bringing a new bird that we couldn’t handle, into our home again.
I was mildly skeptical because I’ve handled a number of Quakers and usually they were nippy.
I stayed positive.
We brought a 32-inch wide A&E elegant cage from the front porch, rolling it into the kitchen so Catherine could begin cleaning it.
The late afternoon was cold like in the high 20s or low 30s so I grabbed Keto’s travel cage and two birdie blankets.
Once in the running car, I put the E’s address into WAZE which is when I learned she was precisely 6 miles (14 minutes) away.
The route was the one I take to Crown Point on a regular basis which is a lovely country drive with little traffic even at rush hour.
WAZE got me to the front door easily in the older subdivision, about a block away from the big (Cedar) lake.
I parked my car in front of the neighbor’s driveway across the narrow street.
They didn’t appear to be home but I left my flashers on.
Evon greeted me at the door with her two little shaggy dogs who wanted to be out in the yard and I went up the four steps into the kitchen area where Chili was on top of his smallish birdcage.
She offered the small beautiful blue bird her hand and he promptly stepped up to her outstretched fingers.
I didn’t hesitate to offer my hand and he leaned over and “beaked” me without biting then stepped up to my index finger.
I put him back on top of the cage stepped away then offered my hand again.
He not only stepped up but immediately walked to my shoulder.
He is a shoulder rider.
E went on to repeat the story of her headaches saying that she had reached the point today that if she could not find a home she was either going to make Chili chilly by stuffing them in the freezer or letting him go out of doors.
I told her I was thankful that I come by and he would be well cared for.
She had read about us on the Internet and was convinced we knew what we were doing.
By the time I got home Catherine had installed most of the bird toys, accessories, and perches so I knew our bluebird of paradise could walk straight into his new home.
The video went terribly awry probably because we were worried about any animosities that Keto might manifest.
Ironically the new bird seems like a non sequitur for the old bird.
We spent the first evening giving each bird 30 minutes out of the cage individually.
Chili, when given the opportunity would hop up on one of our shoulders.
We practice what we preach and the light over Keto’s cage turned off at precisely 7:30 PM.
I was working across a room with my two big 40 inch monitors which provided enough light so the new bird would not be in total darkness while adjusting to the big new cage.
I could see he was having a hard time finding a place to sleep.
He kept moving under a fuzzy toy enjoying the contact of the toy onto his back.
I remembered that he had a large sleeping hut in his old cage.
After verbalizing that thought, Catherine ran downstairs, pulled one out of inventory, and installed it, right to left.
On the right, he could easily access the sleeping area from the right side.
Chili walked on the cage wall behind the new Snuggle Hut but had a hard time making a U-turn from the back of the cage into the left side of the new sleeping hut.
She added a short Booda soft rope Byrdy Bush, to the left side of the Snuggle hut which is apparently where he spent the night.
Chili will stop his chirping if he has human contact while shoulder riding.
Anyone who reads our blog regularly knows that we are advocates of flighted birds.
Keto is an excellent flyer in spite of having some damage to his right wing.
My theory is that he bit someone very hard who then shook him off causing him to hit the floor or wall hard enough to cause a permanent wing injury.
I know this because he’s done it to me and I try to keep the presence of mind to not fling him.
It ain’t easy.
To that point, Chili came with his wings, and toenails clipped.
If he had not arrived in that state we would’ve clipped his wings anyway to give him the time to learn his surroundings.
I’m sure you’ve heard bird people talk about teaching a bird who had not flown in a while or never to flew after his or her wings grew out.
We don’t have to teach birds how to fly, they’ve known how for about 120 million years.
What birds need to learn where and how to land.
When Keto is downstairs he’s never out of the cage because exterior doors are always opening and closing between customers and deliveries.
Upstairs if somebody is with him, his cage door is open.
We’ve identified landing zones for him after a couple of years he’s slowly beginning to know where to go in our big open upstairs loft (it’s 50 feet long).
In three or four weeks I will start standing a foot or so away from Chili’s cage and gently insist that he leave my hand and land on the top of the cage.
That’s the first step.
You don’t want a newly flighted bird to land onto the front of a cage because they can put themselves at risk by banging their head or beak upon landing.
That’s the first where and how.
Next, something I have not done because of the biting birds in our history – is to play catch with the bird.
Starting at one or 2 feet away from the other person, toss the bird then reversing the process while slowly encouraging longer flight.
However since Peaches wanted to bite Catherine, I tossed her onto the bed so she could learn to land safely.
I’ve also started putting Chili on one of the new play stands that we will encourage him to land on.
We have five play stands set up throughout the upstairs space and eventually, we would like the birds to feel comfortable landing on any one of them or returning to the tops of their respective cages.
Written by Mitch Rezman
Approved by Catherine Tobsing
Next up Chili’s first full day under our roof. (stay tuned)