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.
The parakeets like to fly from one side of the house to another, as you can see them doing in pacificpelican.us podcast 46. Often one of them decides to fly and the other will follow along as they yell and flap around. But there are certain actions that make Belle and Sparty both stop what they’re doing and take flight instantly. They will take off the second that they see me wave my Michigan State flag. You can see this in action in the video, as I say “Go State” just as I pick up the flag–they tend to fly away as soon as I touch the flag, I don’t even have to wave it anymore usually.
As I have struggled to cope with the loss of my much-loved birds Ava and Striker, I have been consoled by the many nice things people have said about them, and how much they inspired me–this photo makes me think about how I always loved capturing their beautiful greens with my camera.
Striker is our parakeet with the “wild type” coloring–green with some yellow and some black stripes around the head and wings. Of course, every bird will look different but Striker looks more or less like a wild budgerigar in Australia, making him unique in that way among our birds.
We’ve thought he was a male, for some reason, all along. As he’s grown his cere (i.e. nose) has turned a purplish blue that seems to indicate that he is, in fact, a boy.
A friend to all three of his flockmates, Striker seems to be the social connector in the group. He has always been comrades with Belle (they had lived at the same pet store together and have always had an endearing, affectionate friendship), and they groom each other often. He was also the most welcoming to Ava when she came in to our house. Ever since Ava has loved to follow Striker around and perch quietly next to him–hoping that Striker might feel like some food sharing or mutual grooming, which he often does. As for Sparty, Striker has been important in helping bring out the affectionate, intelligent bird that Sparty has become. The two of them like to share food, and sometimes they get into a behavior that I call “dinosaur wrestling” for lack of a better term.
Actually Striker’s dinosaur ancestry seems to be on full display whenever I see him leading the flock around the room on the floor–they run in a group, all changing directions or modifying speed instantly as soon as Striker does. He’s also most likely to be the leader of a flying expedition–in the air, Belle is usually a reliable wingman.
But you can’t mention Striker without also mentioning how human-friendly he is. While I’ve gotten much better at coaxing the birds out of their cage for a treat or some playtime (and Jessica has gotten better than me at it), it can still be a challenge to get them out, especially if Belle is being clingy, Ava is being flighty, or Sparty is being squawky. But Striker–well, he just jumps up on your finger when you say “step up” and comes right out, ready to fly or hunt millet treats, or whatever. That’s how he is–always ready for an adventure, bold, and even talented: Jessica has even gotten him to imitate her and say several words. Striker has impressed visitors with his responsiveness to commands and outgoing nature, and we’ve always been impressed ourselves with how friendly and intelligent such a small bird can be.
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.