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Pay attention to your pets!

By Gary Bogue
Friday, March 10th, 2006 at 1:44 pm in Parrots, Pets, wild birds.

We have a very special little green person in our family who runs our household. Nikki is a 7-inch tall half moon conure, a green parrot that normally lives in jungles south of the border. Nikki entered our lives almost 15 years ago when a friend at work asked me if I could help him find her a home. My friend was getting ready to move and couldn’t take the parrot with him. As is sometimes the case when I try to help people find a home for their pets, Nikki came to live with us.

For her size, Nikki is a powerhouse. Noisy, irritable (stick your finger in her cage and it is gone forever), and bossy pretty much describes her. Our Abby cat, Tut, immediately hated Nikki. He stands on the arm of the couch about a foot from her cage and tries to intimidate her by glaring. She responds by screaming, "Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!" at about the 90 decibel level until Tut’s ears can’t stand it any longer and he jumps down from the couch and runs away.

Early this week, the house was suddenly, oddly, quiet. When I got home from work in the afternoon, I noticed it immediately. I had a little trouble figuring out what was going on until I spotted Nikki sitting silently on her perch. When I walked over and at great risk (I thought) reached into the cage and touched her beak, there was no response. Uh-oh.

There were also no droppings on the bottom of the cage. Nikki apparently hadn’t eaten anything all day. Not a good thing for any bird. In fact it really scared me and reminded me of some of the injured wild birds I had lost during treatment when I used to be in the wildlife rescue and rehabilitation business.

I immediately cut an apple, a peach and part of a pear up into beak-size pieces. and started hand-feeding the pieces to the silent bird. It took a bit of rubbing apple all over her beak before she took a bite, and then another bite, and then another …

I fed her slowly off and on for the next two hours, letting her take or deny the food at her own speed. Not good to rush things on a potentially starving bird. Later she had finished eating a lot of the fruit. Next I carefully picked the bird up on my index finger and lowered her to the bottom of the cage where we kept her seed dish. I placed her on the side of the dish and removed my hand. She immediately began to search through the dish for her favorite seeds and eating them.

I backed off and let her eat on her own. When she finished, I got a large tablespoon, filled it with room temperature water and held it up to Nikki’s beak. She emptied it with slow little sips in about 15 minutes. I figured that was a good start on ending her  dehydration.

It was three hours later and she was back to climbing around her cage, defecating like crazy on the paper towels on the cage bottom and giving me an occasional twitter. Whew. Don’t freak me out that way, little bird.

The next morning my wife, Lois, called (I go to work much earlier than she does) to say Nikki tried to bite her when she went to clean her cage.

"Wonderful!" I replied. "Please don’t take that the wrong way!"

(Moral: Pay attention to your pets ALL the time!)

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2 Responses to “Pay attention to your pets!”

  1. Pat in Antioch Says:

    Hi Gary,
    Nikki is one lucky little bird! This was a lesson I learned years ago with my cat Max. Unfortunately, his was not a happy ending. I’ve never quite forgiven myself, and, in my heart of hearts, I’ll always feel I let him down by going to work that morning not realizing how sick he was. The lesson was an invaluable one though; it has not & WILL NOT ever happen again!
    Now make us all feel better & go stick a finger into Nikki’s cage to make sure she’s still her feisty old self!! :-)

    Pat in Antioch

  2. anonymus Says:

    Dear Gary…I have tried to reach you on your e-mail with no luck(I am not the most literate computer wiz!) but I wanted to tell you what happened at work & get your opinion.
    I work at the Danville Safeway(hence the “anonymus)…we had a little bird visit us in the store and he decided he liked it and didn’t want to leave. We left the doors open trying to herd him outside with no luck.( Now I understand the health issues involved here) he made himself at home for probably a good week or so…helping himself to bags of birdseed etc. and he had a bowl of water available to drink from and occasionally splash around to freshen up in. He seemed to be somewhat “human oriented” meaning that he was very curious as to what we were all doing, watching us all and visiting us very close, not afraid to make sure I was ringing up the customer correctly and helping us to keep the floor clean(floral).
    Anyway…Monday nite Safeway brought in an exterminator…with a pellet gun!!! You guessed it. They proceeded to shoot the little guy twice…however they gave up and just left him injured…blood all over the kiosk…said he would go somewhere dark and die…well he lived most of the next day…he landed on a wood beam and his wing was hanging down…he jumped down to sit in the water for awhile and then disappeared…never to be seen again.
    Is this the proper and humane way to solve this problem? I can’t believe a hired exterminator would leave an injured animal!!! I get sick to my stomach and tears come to my eyes every time I think of that little guy!! He was friend to many and was named Mr. Bojangles.

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