August 18, 2014
I feel a need to type something out about Budgies today. It seems more and more there are people finding Budgerigar birds coming to their bird feeders or flying around local parks. People want to help but don't know what to do.
I can't offer much in way of suggestion for a bird in a park. Put your hand out and call to it, if it was a hand raised bird, you just might luck out and have it come down to you. If it's sitting low, try and throw a shirt or towel over it, then gently scoop the bird up.
But if it's coming to your backyard and visiting your bird feeders, you should have a better chance at catching it. Well, that is, if you care to catch it. Should you or shouldn't you? I say you should, and just because you have caught it does not mean you have to keep it. I think some people get that bit in their head that they are then stuck with the bird. There are many animal rescues around that may help out, and in some areas there are specific Parakeet or Parrot rescues that may take the bird in. I had one Parrot place offer to take in a little blue Budgie last fall if we didn't find a home for it. Another good place is a site like Kijiji as people post lost pets on there and maybe that Budgie's family posted an ad as they'd like to have it home again?
Any regular readers here know we have two Budgies, and both are backyard rescues.
First is Misfit, who is going on 7 years with us now.
She showed up in our yard all those years ago around late May. She lived outside, visiting our feeders daily until mid-September, when I finally caught her and brought her inside.
Misfit certainly was a survivor for all those months out back. Sure the weather was warm but we had some wicked thunderstorms that summer. Angie and I would sit out on the deck on weekends come first light, and wait to hear her. She slept in a neighbour's huge tree a few doors over. She seemed to wake up later than the other birds. But weather wasn't her only threat, there were the Blue Jays. The Jays knew she was foreign, something that should not be here with us, and they would chase and scream at her often. So many times we would see Misfit fleeing from one of the Jays, flying for her life. One would think with such aggression from other larger birds that would kill her if they caught her, that Misfit would give up and move on to another area for food. But not Misfit, she hung around. She learned her pecking order with the wild birds. If the Jays came in, Misfit left. But them little House Sparrows who can be terribly aggressive... Misfit just knocked the hell out of them and kicked them off the feeders.
Long story short about her capture. A friend of ours gave us a bird cage and we left it outside for most of the summer on the picnic table near the feeder area. We figured Misfit came from a bird cage and would hopefully recognize one and remember there is food in it. If nothing else, it would be a safe place to go and feed when the Jays and Blackbirds came around. It didn't take very long for Misfit to figure it out. The funny thing is the Blackbirds and Chickadees caught on, and many times throughout the day we could see these birds in the cage at the seed dishes and the millet sticks.
So, come September, the thought of bringing her in as the weather turned cooler was becoming more apparent. And finally one day, while she was in the cage, I snuck up to the cage and shut the door on her. I had to be sneaky in my approach. Our lot is 25 ft wide and the cage was on the left side. So I walked in the direction of the cage but made my way towards the right side of our property. Misfit kept eating but would always be on watch. My approach was not aggressive so far, and she was used to me being around by now and didn't feel I was that much of a threat. I could never get real close to her but close enough as now. And in the next moment that she put her head down to take some seed, I rushed over and shut the door on her. Of course this totally freaked her out. She was terrified and in a rage. It took months to calm her down. A lot of understanding and patience was involved over the next while. We didn't force anything on her, just let her get her bearings of being in this house, gave her space, and showed her respect (didn't try to handle her at all).
Now after all these years, she is a very sweet bird. While we still don't handle her, there is a unique bond between us and one helluva story which I left out a lot of bits. I guess the most memorable and touching is when she got sick due to a mishap during her egg laying days and one broke on it's way out of her. You can read it all here, it is still my 5th highest read blog of all time.
Next up is Moonie who just celebrated his third year anniversary with us yesterday. His story is quite simple, which suits him just fine as he is a very different bird than Misfit. He is simple to say the least. Not stupid, just a lot less care for anything, a very go with the flow little bird. I always say he's not worldly like Misfit and it shows. He flew in one day and within 20 minutes he was in the house with us. See even his capture was real simple. Angie does a great re-telling of him and that day here. I have my bit as well, see here.
I don't think I can ever be brief on anything in my blogs especially if its something I have passion about and there are stories to share.
So, three different Budgies mentioned above and three different ways of catching them if you opened the links.
A cage is great but not everyone has a bird cage kicking around. Most of us do know someone with one sitting around, just start asking around. If it's summer, the bird is visiting the feeders, then I suggest trying this. Have the cage up off the ground, near the feeders and see what happens. With it being summer, time is on your side (and the bird's).
If you can get really close to the bird, the shirt or towel toss is great. It's heavy enough to bring the bird down but not enough to hurt it. Just be sure when you are gathering it up to be careful, be gentle, as you don't want to harm the struggling bird's wings. Also be sure you have a place to put the bird after catching it.
Take time out to monitor and think about the situation before making that attempt to catch the bird.
I've heard a few times people say something along the lines of it being cruel to take a Budgie out of the wild, and putting it in captivity. I get it, the free bird bit. But a Budgie in Canada is not a wild bird. They do not live and breed here. A captive raised bird somehow gets loose in the wild and suddenly must figure out how to fend for itself; it is scared and will be hungry in no time at all. Not all of them are lucky enough to find food fast. And not every bird feeder out there has suitable food for a Budgie. This lost bird has little knowledge or experience of the outdoors and can be easy pickings to a predator. And if somehow, it manages to find a food source, and survives all the dangers through the warmer months of the year, the weather eventually will catch up to the bird. A Budgie will eventually freeze to death with our winters. So you tell me what is a more cruel fate?
Someone even once said that "cruel to catch them" bit who kept other exotic birds. Hashtag #WTF?!?!
I had Budgies as a kid and then a few decades without. I forgot how social of a creature they are and require lots of stimulation. Both our birds have some favorite toys which they play with for hours on end. We don't keep ours together for more than a few hours a day, but even being next to each other, they have each other. We give them the chance to fly, if they chose to. Misfit still likes to go for flies, and Moonie we have to entice to stretch his wings. We take them out in the yard with us on the warmer days of summer. They love the heat. We keep them out of full sun though. And they love being out back with the tweeting Sparrows. An open window on cooler days have them singing away with the birds outside. When outside with us, we never leave them unsupervised as anything can happen in an instant. A friend of mine lost his two birds to a cat coming in the yard and knocking the cage over while he went to the garage for something. He tried to get the birds back over the next 3 days as they were hanging out in a nearby park. Unfortunately some Crows took notice to the birds on that last day and chased them out of the area; just like the Jays, knew the Budgies did not belong here.
Okay, hope this will help someone out there in the future. Best scenario would be no lost or escaped Budgies flying around Toronto but we know that will never happen. It would be great if they weren't $15 pets. Easily disposable when they become a nuisance to someone. And remember, they do NOT make great gifts! I am saddened at the Christmas season when I see pet stores advertising Budgies as Christmas gifts. Hell, even Big Al's aquarium place was advertising them one year! They had a photo of a Budgie with a Santa hat on. And Big Al's is a fish place. Why the frig did they go to selling Budgies for Christmas?
Taking a Budgie into your home, it is not just a pet, but a family member. The bird will see you as part of it's flock. Be appreciative of that... we are. We love our little feathered kids!
Here is one other link that someone with a Budgie or two, or temporarily helping one out, may find useful. It's a Budgie forum full of Budgie lovers. Check it out here. I am a member but don't get on there much myself.