Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

November 22, 2013

Little Lost Bird, Big City... Big Hearts

Wow, 4th blog in a week!!!!!

A little while ago I took notice to a post on a birding message board for Southern Ontario about a Budgie visiting someones bird feeder in Toronto.  Now as many of you know, Angie and I have a soft spot for these birds ever since we caught two in our own yard and brought them inside.  Misfit is going on 7 years and Moonie is going on his 3rd year in 2014.

So every time I see a report of one flying outside, I get a pain in my stomach.  That bird came from someones home most likely and I hate to think someone loved that bird and it escaped in some kind of accident.  We lost Misfit on her one year anniversary in this house.  She returned to her cage in the backyard 2 hours later.  How lucky we were and it showed that Misfit really belongs with us.  But without any sort of band on the bird, who knows where it came from, whose family it was with, and how can they be reunited.  And of course there is the whole part on catching the bird before any of that stuff.

I contacted the man who made the report of the Budgie at his feeder and we discussed in great length about what to do about it.  At first the idea of leaving her outside to fend for herself was ahead of any other ideas.  As exotic looking as these Budgies are, they are pretty tough birds and real survivors.  Misfit is testament to that.  She lived out back for at least 4 months, through heavy thunderstorms and attacks from Blue Jays and Hawk strikes.  But it was late May to mid September and the warmer temps were on her side.  As first frost hit that September is when I said she needs to come inside.

I've heard of Budgies in Toronto in January, being at peoples feeders for a few weeks but never once heard of them still being around come Spring despite the steady food supply.  Who knows what happened to them?  I personally think they couldn't stand the sub zero temperatures for so many weeks and eventually died.  But that's just my guess.  Maybe someone else caught them and they lived happily ever after in another home?  For me, I don't want to chance that for any of them and will do my best to help them whenever possible.

This bird arrived at this man's feeder on October 2nd.  And when you have a bunch of plain ol' House Sparrows visiting you, getting something unique as a pretty little blue Budgie is pretty cool!

In my communication with the gent who had this guest, his name is Howie just so you know, I made the gesture of trying to help him catch the bird as the weather turned.  I think it was late October by this time.  I know Howie's concern for the bird grew as the days got colder but there was some reluctance because of stuff like how does one catch it, how does one contain it and what does one do with the caught bird afterwards when it's not in the cards to keep the bird?  Nobody wants to go spend money on a bird cage just to house a bird temporarily.  And placing a bird is another issue for sure, especially when you want the best for the bird, and not just have any stranger come and take it off your hands.  Too often the wrong family takes in a free "pet" because it's free and never thinking about the responsibility of having the animal.  Even little Budgies need lots of care from regular cage cleaning to daily interaction as birds are very social creatures.  Sticking them in a cage and leaving them there is not a great life for a bird.

We have a spare bird cage at home.  Its been used to temporarily house other birds over the years.  It was the cage I initially caught Misfit in.  I left it outside all summer long and Misfit used it often when the bird feeder was full of Jays and Blackbirds (Misfit knew her pecking order).  And lately that big bird cage has been a community play ground for our Budgies.  There are lots of toys and baths in there and bird treats.  Misfit and Moonie will spend all afternoon in there together.  We don't keep them together 24/7 as Misfit likes "her space" and will act out when she wants it.  We don't need Moonie getting hurt when this happens.

I made the offer to Howie that I would come out one day and try to catch the bird.  If it didn't happen, I would leave him the cage for the time being and hopefully he could catch her.  Howie thought this was wonderful!  Here's a guy (me) living about 30 kms away but it's mostly city driving which can be easily a 45 minute drive offering to come out and help.  And since neither of us really know each other except from bird posts over the last few years, we still are strangers.  But hey, its a bird in need and I'm willing to try, and Howie wants to help this bird too, so he's willing to let some stranger come to his home.  Animals can unite animal lovers.

I met Howie a couple weeks back now.  I should have gone for the bird upon first sight of her at his feeder, just throwing a towel over her and hoping that would be it.  You know, before she even knows what is going on, just do it.  But I was hesitant, observing her and trying in my head to figure out the best way as to not hurt her in the process, what with the feeder and pole in the way.  But a few attempts came up empty and by now the little girl knew well what I was up to and wanted no part of that.  I guess it was an hour and a half later we watched the Budgie fly up over the neighbour's house and disappear.  It was cold, the rain was moving in, so we gave  up.

 I left Howie the cage and wished him the best of luck.

A few days later Howie contacts me that he caught the bird.  She sleeps in a shrub out back, not much more than eye level and near the edge.  He walked out there and grabbed her in her sleep.  I bet that was a shock to the bird.  And he put her in the cage, covered her up and put her inside for the night.  He called me immediately and I was out there the next morning.

It was nice to meet Howie a couple times that week and I hope to see him again out there in the wild world enjoying the birds and whatever else we may cross paths with.  And NOT chasing Budgies in the city.

The bird was clinging to the side of the cage when I got there.  Howie believed she spent the whole night like that.  And as I drove towards the west end again, the bird stayed just like that.  She wasn't keen on moving onto a more comfortable perch or going for a nibble of the seed in a dish.  I took Steeles across to get back to the west.  It was near noon and I was feeling peckish myself.  I wanted a Timmies coffee and had a hankering for an apple fritter.  We started our journey in the Bayview area and it was not until after Jane St before I found a Tim Hortons with a drive through.  I have no issues with going in a Tim Hortons for my coffee, usually its faster than the drive throughs, but I just didn't want to leave the bird.

I got my coffee and apple fritter.  Little bird is still clinging to the side of the cage.  She's actually upside down the whole time, hanging like a bat.  Its funny because Moonie does this on occasion too, and this bird could be Moonie's twin.

I'm pulling onto the Hwy 400 now, got the apple fritter out and am beginning to eat it.  It was at this moment the bird suddenly changed her whole demeanor.  She focused on me eating.  Her head would turn from side to side, looking at me.  She then hopped off the side of the cage, onto a perch and still watched me.  The head kept twisting from right to left, going sorta sideways in curiosity.  She let out a couple little tweets and next thing I know, she's in her food dish, eating with me.

For me, this moment was just pure awesomeness!  We had a breaking point here, she wasn't a stressed out little bird wondering where the hell she was going, who she was with.  Stressed out animals really don't eat when in distress and confusion.  So to me, this was a truly special moment with this bird.  Of course now she's suddenly warmed my heart right up and I love her already and want to keep her with us.  Unfortunately taking in another bird in our tiny house just isn't in the cards.  But that don't mean she can't stay with us temporarily while we find her a good home.

We got home and I put her in the upstairs area.  Its one room across the top of the house.  It used to be the attic.  The windows are small so I put her near the front window so she had natural daylight.  It was a mild day so I knew she wouldn't be cold.  The insulation up there is poor since this used to be the attic.  But I knew it would be better than any given day outside for her in November.  I let her chill out and rest.  A few hours later I brought her downstairs and let her mingle and be in our company.  She tweeted lightly and I believe she liked the company.  Once Moonie heard her, he went into freak outs of excitement and joy.  Moonie loves all other birds and any songs or tweets from Jays, Sparrows, Cardinals, Chickadees, whatever send him in a spree of shrieks and supposed Budgie songs.  Misfit was indifferent really.  She gave little acknowledgement of the bird.

Angie arrived home a couple hours later and met the little girl.  She adored her almost immediately especially when she began to tweet so softly.  We were pondering how to make this work, keeping her, but both knew it should not be.  But we were going to help her.

I had put a plea out to friends on helping find this bird a home.  A few offers came in and one was just so perfect for the bird and us.  We knew in this home, she'd be in the best of hands, with an experienced Budgie owner.  And the bird would have a couple feathered friends which is great for when the humans are busy, the Budgies have each other to talk to.  Angie and I cannot thank our friend Chris enough for taking her in.  Its one thing to find a home for an animal but words cannot describe when you know the animal is going to a great home.

Its been almost a week now since the bird arrived in her forever home.  She's doing very well and took little time adapting to her new surroundings.  She talks to her friends, she eats spinach which is something our birds never do...   eat anything but seed that is.  And most importantly, something we couldn't wait for, was this little girl was given a name.  Her name is "Belle".

Who knows how long Belle was out in the wild?  And imagine if she could talk, the stories she could share, much like our two birds.  All I know is I am grateful there are lots of caring people in this world, from Howie taking notice to this bird and wanting to help her, Angie and I for what we do, Chris for opening her home to this sweet little girl, and the many many others in this city, with their own stories.

Animals enhance our lives if we so choose to let them and make us better people.

All photos are courtesy of Howie, used by his permission.

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