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Jessica and I decided to add a member to our flock, so Belle and Sparty now have a very little companion named Dodger (aka Little Blue). Dodger has similar markings to Belle but is a different blue color. We think he might be a male based on his cere (nose) color but we’re not sure.
I’ve already posted a little bit of video on the pacificpelican.us oggcast, but there he was just adjusting to the house from inside a cage. Now in this video we’ve let him out to explore, and as you can see he can be very wild but Belle is a good influence on him.
Jessica and I had a wonderful Christmas together–our first as a married couple–and given our love of birds, we decided to add plenty of bird ornaments to our tree.
But our parakeets decided to enhance the tree even more by flying around and taking a peek at the decorative birds, including the wedding birds ornament we used to top the tree.
We got Ava several weeks after we got the other three parakeets. Jessica decided that we needed another bird so we could have more of a group dynamic in the flock–at the time Belle and Striker mainly stuck together, and Sparty mostly walked alone. And it worked–the flock now have a much broader world, and we’re all the luckier to have “Ava the Aviator,” the most impressive flyer of the the group. Ava’s flying is graceful like Belle’s but also aggressive and daring in a way that makes her a true aviation pioneer–for example, she is the only one to ever fly up to the top of a picture frame on the wall and grip on to it. Ava also led the way in landing on curtain rods and on top of kitchen cabinets, behaviors the other birds have imitated. She also has the most rare color of the group–a kind of army green that seems to be very uncommon on parakeets.
Ava is still a pretty shy bird–she is often the last to be coaxed out of the cage for playtime or a treat, and sometimes grips onto the inside of the cage. But Jessica has been doing some one-on-one work with her, and we’ve already seen some progress.
We think Ava is female, but I can’t say we’re totally sure yet. She is only the second smallest, after Belle, but she is dwarfed by the burly Striker and the big, tall Sparty. Nevertheless Ava is loath to back down in a confrontation–she’ll make “neener-neener” sounds with the best of them, and will rarely step off when someone else (usually Sparty) demands something that she wants like a good perch or a good chewing spot on a millet treat.
But most of the time Ava is a good buddy to Striker and outside the cage is a frequent flying partner with Sparty. Relations with Belle tend to be a bit cooler, but lately I’ve seen them playing and chatting a little here and there.
When it comes down to it, Ava is a valued member of the group now–for example, during a recent thunderstorm Striker, Belle and Ava all crowded together on one of their swings and leaned in close–and even Sparty was just next to them on a perch.
In terms of making our birds a well-rounded flock, Ava has been the right addition. Plus, she has a great personality which we are really just now getting to know.
Our bird Sparty has a very charming and unique personality. We’ve always seen this in her, but it took a long while for her to feel relaxed around us, in contrast to Belle and Striker who had almost immediately taken to us. Sparty would flap around the cage when we reached in and asked her to “step up,” or sometimes literally scream at us with short bursts. Part of this may have been gender confusion–we thought Sparty was a male for her first year with us, but as her cere (i.e. nose) has turned to a bright pink over the last couple months we’ve realized our error–even to the extent of usually calling her Sparta now. Part of it was just her acclimating to her surroundings and the other birds.
But even before we (especially Jessica) got good at handling our big yellow parakeet as we are now, we always enjoyed her charm and beauty–and creativity. I remember early on noticing that Sparta would pick up a loose feather while the birds were molting, and just hold it in her beak with a contemplative sort of look. Another time I took her upstairs into a room that was half-filled still with half-opened moving boxes, their contents spilled around the floor, when Sparta decided to burrow down in the stuff, crawling and digging in a way I’ve never seen a bird do before but reminded me of the hamsters that I had when I was in college.
I know pet people are a bit keen on their animals usually, but Sparta (along with Ava, Belle and Striker) is surely the kind of bird that anyone with an appreciation of parakeets would love.
Lakewood, Ohio, June 2009
gulls flying around a parking lot in Parma, Ohio, 4/17/2009