Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Turkey Day!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Cockatiel Daycare

This weekend, I got to put my "class" in handfeeding baby tiels to good use. A few weeks ago, Christy e-mailed me, asking if I would watch her babies for her while she took a trip out of town for a weekend. At the time, she had three pinfeathered babies but the number was subject to change as clutches always do. Three weeks later, the big day arrived and those three pinfeatherd babies were now four, nearly weaned! Man, time flies when you're a baby cockatiel. In addition to those four, there were two more. One just out of the pin feather stage and one about 9 days old (just opened its bitty lil eyes). So tiny it still has its yellow down and its' egg tooth. The smallest, is Christy's "darling". A baby that was rejected by Mom and Dad since it emerged from its shell and handfed by Christy since day one. This little one has never known the touch of a parents beak.

So, Christy arrived on my doorstep with a cage loaded with four juvenile cockatiels in various stages of weaning and an aquarium tank containing the two younger babies still needing the aid of a heating pad and covering to stay warm, on Friday night. After a demonstration with the youngest (Refresher course in handfeeding. Hey! It had been like, 8 months at LEAST since I'd seen Carey's demonstration), and a good visit w/Christy, I was on my own for 48 hours. My house suddenly exploded with birds. I went from 7 tiels, to 13! Okay, I know some people who have WAY more than that even, but to make that jump in a matter of seconds.. well.. HEHE! Anyway, it was fun!

The first feeding was a little hectic. I fed the older ones first and they wanted nothing to do with the formula. Well, they ARE older I thought, so I didn't worry. There was a precious yellow pearl who looked almost identical to Taxi, two dark gray babies that looked so similar to one another I had a hard time telling them apart, and a cinnamon that reminded me of Silver when he was a baby, only perhaps a little browner than Silver was at that age. Funny too, because the cinnamon is a full-blood sibling to Neo and Silver as its parents are none other than Jack and Ele. In fact, the only baby in the bunch NOT related in some fashion to Neo and Silver was the pearl baby, who is the offspring of Anna and Cricket (two pearl cockatiels Christy adopted some while back). Once I tucked the older babies in for the night, it was time to feed the youngest ones. First, I fed the babiest one.. (I called it "Downey" because it was still so soft and yellow)and I was amazed the formula went down without any problems. I did get an air bubble in the crop the first time around, but it was right on top, so I gently massaged it and it came right out without any reguirgitation. Next, it was the bigger babies turn. Also a gray baby, with his head just COVERED in pinfeathers. He ate like SUCH a hog! I couldn't believe how hard he jousted on that syringe! I thought for sure he was going to stab himself! Because he was bigger than the lil yellow Downey one, Kirsten wanted to call him "Zilla" but it just didn't fit in my opinion, because he was still tiny. He had this lil devilish beaky grin though, and he'd still beg after I fed him. Almost "gremlin" like. I almost got the feeling like, if I fed him after midnight, he'd turn into something else, so I got to calling him "Mogwai" because he reminded me of that cute little fuzzball in the movie Gremlins.
"Downey" in the tank
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"Mogwai" - Doesn't miss many meals
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Day two seemed as though it was going to start out rocky. Downey's crop wasn't empty in the morning and I thought I was going to have to give him some rice water. Just as I was about to offer him the syringe, he unloaded a poop bomb right on Kirsten (Hehe!) and whalah! His crop was empty! I waited about an hour and then fed him as usual. He slurped it down like a champ and every feeding there after was fine. Mogwai ate like a trooper but the older birdies were being rather testy. Perhaps it was because they didn't know me. I started calling the Cinnamon one "Cinnthia" and she was a little piggy. She begged off of her brothers and sisters and they fed her on demand, or at least, went through the motions of feeding her. She was the first one to eat for me, followed by one of the grays.
"Cinnthia" can't resist
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I nicknamed the grays "Pete and Re-Pete" ... and I figured the older one would be the more independent one, he was "Pete". The younger one ate well for me, as you can see.
Guilt! "Re-Pete" caved in and ate from the syringe too!
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Sunday morning, the youngest of the four (I learned later) the Pearl, which I oh-so-creatively nicknamed "Pearly" decided I was A-Okay and began pigging out on the formula as well.
"Pearly deciding formula is Good Stuff!
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Lil Pete never did take any formula. I was a good "take off" platform though, and a good elevator as well. :-)

Feeding babies every four hours (except at night because their crops need to empty out) was quite the chore, but those babies were SO worth it. I'm afraid Patchie and Silver really wanted in on the action though. The sound of babies begging and the chirping-hiccup sound they make when they suck down the formula drove them into a frenzy every time they heard it. I wonder if I've set the hormone monster into action again? We shall see. At any rate, it was AWESOME to have those six babies here, and I got bit hard with the baby bug. It was hard to give them back, but reality bit me too. The work involved in the care of the little ones would NEVER jive with my work schedule so its a nice dream, but one that will have to wait.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Another Candidate for the Loser's Club

Buzz is fitting in quite well. He's still shy of new things, but once he warms up to them, its with gusto. For instance, his new preen toy. I put it in his cage and he ignored it for a few days, but after I hung a sprig of millet on it, he began to preen it with love. Food seems to be the way to this dude's heart. In fact, he puts his "hearts" on for me and sings whenever I refill his food cup. LOSER!

He is quite an accomplished whistler when he wants to be as well. He knows parts of the Andy Griffith theme song, plus his own pretty little "tiel" song as well. He immitates the pencil sharpener and barks like a dog too. MEGA cute. He's got the "kissy cluck" down pat. He kisses to me whenever I open his door to give him new food. He also "says" Buzz, Buzz-bird and Good Boy. HEHE!

Speaking of new food, Buzz LOVES his pellets. Chalk another mark on Zupreem's list of convertees. I've seen him eat one after the other, (pigging out on them is more like it) so I've started decreasing the amount of seed he gets and increasing the amount of pellet at feeding time. Yesterday, he even parrot-footed his pellet. LOSER!

The other day, Buzz ventured out of the cage on his own for the first time. He's MUCH like Neo in that he does NOT like hands coming to get him inside the cage. He won't step up when I put my hand in the cage, but rather, panics and flaps all over the place. I REFUSE to chase him and destroy the fragile trust we're establishing, so I've been coaxing him to come out of his cage. Finally, he took the plunge! I had my camera ready too. Once out, Buzz allowed me to handle him. After a few attempts to fly from my hand (where I would then rescue him), he calmed right down and sat with me, chirped with me and kissy clucked at me. Now if I can only convince him that I can scritch his head as well as his water bottle can!

Buzz ventures out for the first time and checks to see if the coast is clear. "Hmm.. any of those darn photographers around?"
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Buzz catches me being the paparazzi but it doesn't seem to bother him much. "Well, if you're going to snap my picture, at least get my good side."
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Here, he even poses. "I'd like to thank the Academy, my loyal fans... "
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Gods Of War

Silver and Neo had to be seperated again. Reunited for just a brief time, Patchie's presence proved too much for the brothers to bear. Neo began challenging Silver for Patchie's "wing" in matrimony and Silver had something to say about it. A fight broke out, and though larger in stature, Silver lost out to "little guy" Neo.
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With a bloodied nare and a knock to the ego, at least Silver didn't lose his girl.

It was Mom to the rescue. I chastised Neo and put him in the cage with the hens, where he'll live out the rest of his days in bachelorhood, unless he "gets over it" once and for all and figures out that there's three other gals to chose from, but Patchie is off limits.

Silver needed a little more attention than that however. Some direct pressure to the nare didn't stop the bleeding right away, but at least there was no structural damage. Neo's beak must have made a direct hit, (poor Silver). He had a slow, but steady streem of blood coming from his nare for a while that I monitored carefully. Finally it clotted up and he looked like something from a horror movie. He wasn't having any trouble breathing or getting around, and was in good spirits so I held off on rushing him to the vet. It seems that was the right call because the next day, the clot fell off and now, there's only a bit of swelling at the edge of the nare. The hole itself is open and there's no more bleeding at all. He's been eating well and hasn't seemed to be troubled by the incident in the least. I'll continue to watch him in case an infection sets in from the wound, but as long as everything heals well, it will be unlikely.

Poor SILVER! Bad Neo! My bad for trusting the two of them together! Now I know better. Man.. that Patchie! What a man-killer she is. Wonder what it is about that lil lemon-yellow mohawk of hers that drives the boys so crazy?