Ava

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.

Striker

Striker

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.

Sparty

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.

parakeets in and out of the cage

Striker, Sparty and Belle out of the cage

I’m a big fan of birds, so just having birds around seemed like a cool idea, but I have also found my parakeets to be highly entertaining and very loving companions. Jessica and I have had lots of fun playing with them and working on socializing them. Recently I decided that they are ready to roam a little more freely in the house, and I’ve put a ladder (i.e. re-purposed CD holder) near the opening to their cage. These videos should show you what I’m talking about.