Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Changing Friendships

Well it’s been several months now since I put Rocky and Bluey together in one cage and the change in the behaviour of both birds has been quite apparent. The first few weeks were tumultuous, with Rocky trying desperately to impress Bluey, but she wasn’t having any of it and suppressed most of his advances with a swift peck!

Now though, both birds seem quite happy in the company of each other and there is much friendly gesturing between them, with only the occasional sharp peck from either bird if there is some jealousy over a piece of food, or me making a fuss of one without the other. My initial fears never materialised, and I should never have worried about putting them in together, in fact I just wish I had done this sooner.

There is a downside to all this though. The main difference is in the attitude of the birds towards me. Where Bluey at one time would mostly flee in my presence, she still does on occasion, but sometimes she is quite curious and will come towards me, and often does the wing lifting and standing on one leg, which is usually a sign of acceptance and often given when receiving praise. Rocky on the other hand has decided that he likes his new found friend more than me, or so it would seem at times. At one time he would always come out of the cage if I had some fruit or raw vegetable pieces. He would also come out of the cage on an almost daily basis and have a fly around. But now he just doesn’t seem interested and appears content to stay in the cage with Bluey. The only time he will eagerly leave his cage now, is when it is bath time – usually once per week, where I splash him from the tap with tepid water, and he loves it!

Of course, this means that I don’t have to spend so much time keeping either bird amused like I used to have to when they had separate cages, as they make their own entertainment between them. So I suppose it is good in a way that they each have another bird to interact with, but for me, it’s a little bit like your best friend has put you on the back burner. But both Rocky and Bluey still answer my whistles, and Rocky will still talk away to me albeit from behind the cage bars.

I still love having them both around though, despite the mess they sometimes make – it is not unusual to find a seed husk in your tea for instance, and you can wonder how the heck it got there!

So all in all, things have changed, some for better, some for not, but I would not be without them.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Rocky And Bluey Go Green

Until recently, I’ve always used sand sheets for the bottom of Rocky and Blue’s cage. But having had three different cages over the years, there never has been one size of sand sheet that is the right size and I’ve ended up having to trim bits off at one end and put a bit in at the other.

Then one day, I ran out of sheets, so had the idea of cutting up the empty packet and used that instead. It worked a treat. Then instead of buying more sand sheets, I tried kitchen roll, but that sort of went soft and soggy in places, especially where the birds splashed the water about, and it tended to break up or stick the bottom. I thought about using gravel or sawdust, but ruled this out to be too messy, and then eventually thought of cutting up old magazines.

This later idea proved very effective, as the glossy pages didn’t disintegrate with pea or poops and seemed to hold together where water dribbles were concerned. Also, neither of my birds ever goes down on the floor of the cage anyway, except when Bluey falls off her perch sometimes! So now, any old magazines that I have are kept specially for this purpose, and it actually saves me some money into the bargain by not having to make the trip down to the pet store to buy sand sheets. It is also very ‘green’, as the soiled pages can be rolled up and put into the compost bin where they will rot down and be part of my home made compost.

And of course, depending on what magazines I use, whether it be Which Digital Camera, Women’s Fashion or the RSPB subscription magazine, both Rocky and Bluey can keep up to spec with the latest digital cameras, women’s fashion and what their country cousins are getting up to!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Is My Budgie Going To Kill Me?

I have always known that sometimes people can catch illnesses from birds, but thought it to be rare and have never given it much thought. Well, that is until recently when I came across an article in our daily paper, where a middle aged woman was diagnosed with allergic alveolitis. Her condition has worsened over the years, from at first breathlessness, to having to rely on a constant supply of oxygen just to be able to breathe anything like ordinary. It transpires that she kept a budgie at one time, and now her doctors have linked the diseases to her beloved bird.

Allergic alveolitis is caused by microscopic dust particles of animal or vegetable origin, which get into the lungs and clog up tiny little air sacs called alveoli. One of the most common causes though comes from bird droppings, and is often referred to as 'bird fancier's lung'. Unless the disease is diagnosed early, it can lead to chronic shortage of breath and even death!

After further research, I read that the government advises us not to kiss our birds for a number of infective reasons.

"Not to kiss our birds!" Good grief, I have been kissing budgies for years now and never thought anything of it except my love for the animal. I have nudged my face into the bird's feathers and shared my food with them. I've blown the husk out of their seed, and breathed the dust from the trays when performing routine cage maintenance. I've done all this, and never a thought that any of it may make me ill.

So what am I to do? Do I keep my birds at arm's length and wear a mask when I clean them out? Or should I just carry on as normal, with the thought that if I am to catch something nasty, it is too late now, as I have been exposed to possible infection for years, and if I was going to catch something, then I would have done already by now.

But wait a minute, I did experience flu-like symptoms a year or so back, and get breathless after a lot of physical exertion (both symptoms of the disease), so maybe I have it already. Oh no, I feel quite poorly now, I think I'll go and have a lie down!

No but seriously, I think I will take a little more care in future. I still love my birds and will care for them and interact with them as before, but in the back of my mind, I will still remember that my budgie can kill me, or at least make me very ill.