April the 13th was the day selected to see if the new boys would like to come out of their quarantine cage. This would be their first time out of a cage for at least a year (possibly longer). It is always a bit nerve-wracking, wondering how they will react and behave!
Their cage door was raised at 10am, but though Frediano & Finkleberry knew something had changed, they did not appear to understand what! After a couple of hours of no movement on their part, I started down the temptation route by pegging up some spinach by the open door. The folding cage has a few doors that slide up, so I was experimenting with different combinations.
The spinach leaf certainly caught their attention & both approached & ate a bit, but still no venturing through the open door… until around 13:20, when both attempted to eat the spinach & Finkleberry found himself on the outside of the cage, then flew off! So one out, one to go!
After four weeks of quarantine, Frediano & Finkleberry were brought into the lounge to meet Moriarty (10th April).
For a few days prior, at intervals, I opened the room doors between them, so they could hear each other, in the hope the actual meet and greet would be less of a shock! Once again, Frediano & Finkleberry would be experiencing a change of surroundings. Moriarty would suddenly go from being a lone bird to having two feathery friends again.
On wheeling the new boys in, Moriarty went silent & was clearly surprised. Frediano and Finkleberry were also intrigued. After about half an hour, when the initial shock had worn off, I offered my hand to Moriarty to see if he wanted to go over to see his new friends. He tentatively accepted & I took him towards their cage. It did not take long for him to discard me (!) & focus on Frediano & Finkleberry. He mostly ran about on top of their cage, peering in, then flying off & returning with a flourish as he landed.
Moriarty, Frediano & Finkleberry
Moriarty, Frediano & Finkleberry
First meeting of Moriarty, Frediano & Finkleberry
Frediano & Finkleberry had mixed reactions. After all, it had been just the two of them for at least a year & now here was someone else. There was a little jostling between the two of them as they tried to get prime position. I moved their cover across the back section of the cage to provide a safe area underneath where Moriarty was not prowling above. Other than that, they all seemed okay. Certainly Moriarty was delighted to have feathery company again! If I had any doubts over my decision to increase the flock then seeing Moriarty’s reaction would have eased them.
Finkleberry & Frediano
Moriarty & Frediano
Moriarty, Frediano & Finkleberry
My plan was to have a few days of them getting to know each other through the bars before getting Frediano & Finkleberry out. Initially, I had to put the cover over Frediano & Finkleberry to get Moriarty back to his own cage so I could go out, but Moriarty soon realised they would still be there even if he retired to his own cage.
So, all was going well. The next phase would be the face-to-face meeting!
Here are some videos of that first meet & greet:
Morning after first night in the same room together – Moriarty is keen to go over & see his new friends:
It is always interesting during quarantine to see how birds cope with their new environment, what they make of new things & experiences. Frediano & Finkleberry were certainly in a bigger cage than before, with more toys, so any signs of curiosity or exploration were always good to see. Here are some of the milestones I witnessed during their quarantine weeks.
Finkleberry was the first to check out the dried grass.
It took awhile, but the curly paper was finally accepted as an absorbing activity.
Frediano was the first to try out the see-saw swing & liked to sit there & preen.
Frediano was the first to touch the cuttlefish & later actually tried some. I have yet to see Finkleberry have any. The salt lick was totally ignored.
The fresh green spinach leaf was immediately investigated by Frediano who was delighted with it! Finkleberry followed suit later on.
Frediano tries spinach
Finkleberry with spinach on beak
Finkleberry tucking into spinach
Finkleberry with foot on spinach
Frediano likes spinach
As for other vegetables, broccoli & fennel were touched but not eaten. Baby corn was happily shredded by Frediano – it is debatable if he actually ingested any!
Frediano & Finkleberry were in quarantine, in my bedroom, from the 14th of March until the 10th of April.
The change in surroundings & routine would be significant for them, but at least they had each other. I always think quarantine is easier when there is more than one bird, & that it is particularly difficult if the budgie was with others, but is then suddenly alone. So, I felt reasurred that Frediano & Finkleberry had each other, especially as I was initially spending time with an unwell Lennie & then later, a solo Moriarty. So, unlike other quarantine times, I did not spend as much time with them as I would have liked.
My first impressions were that Frediano & Finkleberry were fairly quiet & only really moved to get something to eat or drink. Given they had been living with predators (cats), I felt that, for survival, they had learned to not draw attention to themselves.
Quarantine is usually a good time for taming but in this instance, I felt that their previous lack of interaction with people meant a lesser goal of them not panicking when I changed food/water & the bottom paper, was more appropriate. The first few times, when I changed their seed pots, they flew to the other end of the cage in fright. Later, they calmly moved to the other side of the cage, then gradually they were comfortable staying put.
As a precaution, I had booked a home vet visit for the 20th of March for Lennie, but as he was no longer with us, I decided to keep the appointment for the new boys, particularly as I had some concerns. One of my concerns was the extensive rust on the mirror toy I was given by the previous owner. I showed it to the vet so she could bear it in mind during her examination. I also noticed that Finkleberry often sat with his head bowed quite low & wondered if that could be a health issue or just behavioural.
My bedroom is not set up for flying birds, so in case either Frediano or Finkleberry escaped from the vet’s grasp, I did some rudimentary bird-proofing of the room, in particular covering gaps at the back of larger, harder to move furniture. (Not sure what the vet thought when she saw the bubble-wrapped room!)
Frediano was first to be examined. He weighed 55g – the vet thought he was on the chubby side but suspected that was due to lack of exercise/flying, so hopefully would remedy itself. He also had a temperature but the absence of any other clinical signs made her think it was temporary & stress related. His toenails needed to be trimmed (previous lack of perch variety), so whilst the nurse located the clippers, Frediano was put in the small carrier cage whilst Finkleberry was examined. Finkleberry weighed just 32g, which the vet thought was right for him as he is naturally a small bird. She could feel his heart, which suggested it was enlarged – this could be congenital or diet-related. Finkle got his toenails trimmed & tidied up, as did Frediano, who also had a beak trim too.
It is worth noting that when Frediano was put back in the cage with Finkleberry, Finkleberry immediately started preening Frediano’s head – it was the first time I had seen this. (Previously I had seen it happen the other way around on a couple of occasions).
Finkleberry has a closed, black ring on his right leg & the vet confirmed it reads “NB 19 OU PG 17”. We believe it means he was the 17th chick hatched in 2019. An internet search confirmed that black leg rings were issued for 2019, so he is older than expected. Assuming he hatched towards the end of 2019, he is over 3 years old – possibly very similar in age to Moriarty.
As a precaution, I collected their droppings for 7 days, to be tested for Chlamydia, which fortunately came back negative.
After the disturbance of the vet visit, I felt we could truly begin to make progress with Frediano & Finkleberry becoming relaxed & comfortable in their new home.
Please say hello to our two new boys, Frediano & Finkleberry!
Frediano & Finkleberry
As mentioned in my previous post (click here), on Tuesday the 14th of March I rescued two birds. At the time, they were to be friends for Lennie & Moriarty, after the loss of Perry. The advert for them caught my attention as it said that the birds were ‘not getting on with the cats‘. They were apparently a male & female, though the photos were not clear enough to confirm.
Photo in advert
Fredi & Finkle in travel cage
The handover was a little stressful as they were transferred into my travel cage whilst two cats prowled around the open plan room. Information about them was vague but I gathered they had had them for about a year. Due to the cats, they had not been let out to fly. Seed was their only food, of which I took some home to help with the transition. I was also given a mirror toy that I threw in my bag.
At home, the folding cage was already set up for quarantine in my bedroom. Their seed was low quality so I did not mix it with my own seed. Once in the quarantine cage, they quickly found the seed & were eating it without any problems, so I discarded the box I was given. They also found the millet spray. The boys seemed relatively okay, but quiet. Oh, & yes, it turned out they were both boys!
Frediano found the seed pots
Fredi preening Finkle
Finkle and the millet
Because of the radical change for them, I left them alone as much as I could, so they could ‘decompress’, only disturbing them to change seed & water & change the bottom paper in the pull out tray. As it turned out, Lennie became ill at this time, so my attention was focused on him.
I think you will agree that they are very handsome boys!
Since 2012, I have operated a policy regarding increasing the flock.
The idea is that when the flock is reduced to two, I increase it. The purpose is to not have one bird left on their own. This was born out of a situation decades ago, when I had two budgies, Albert & Pete. When Albert died, Pete suffered grief & it took him about six months to overcome it. Certainly, each bird is an individual & will react differently to losing a friend, so that needs to be considered.
Since starting this blog, it was when I lost the two girls, Atilla & Raspy, that I decided Cagney & Bezukhov needed ‘backup’, at which point I introduced Phineas. We have been rolling along on that policy since.
On recently losing Perry, being left with Lennie & Moriarty, I knew it was time to increase the flock. Given their characters, I could not see either of them coping well should one of them be left on their own. So, 16 days after Perry’s passing, on the 14th of March, I rehomed two new birds. Lennie & Moriarty were unaware of their presence as they were immediately put into quarantine in my bedroom.
As readers of this blog know, on the day I brought the new boys home, Lennie became ill, sadly leaving us three days later. This left Moriarty on his own, still unaware of his potential new friends in the other room. Moriarty has proved to be resilient, but definitely sad to be alone. In times of bereavement, I try to keep routines the same, but it was difficult & clearly nothing was the same. It took Moriarty about two weeks before he ventured into Lennie’s empty cage. He flew less & less. His obsession with mirrors increased to the point he spent most of his time sitting holding onto the purple mirror. It was hard to keep his spirits up. Although he has always been happy to interact with me (liking any attention), he clearly needed feathery company.
My Policy was never needed more. I was glad I had already brought it into play, though quarantine, in the present circumstances, could not be over quick enough.
Following on from my previous post (click here), we had a 1pm appointment with the vet on the 17th of March, which meant another 50 minute car ride which seemed extra bumpy this time (click here to read about the previous vet visit). On examination, Lennie had lost 2g (now 60g) & also had a temperature. This mirrored when he was ill in October 2021 (Click here to read that post). This time, along with a crop feed, the vet administered antibiotics & an anti-inflammatory to get his temperature down. I was also given these medications to give to him from the next day.
We arrived home around 14:20. I got Lennie back into his cage where he settled on the triangle perch. Moriarty briefly went in to say hello, but seemed to understand that Lennie did not really want to be disturbed. It was about an hour later when I noticed Lennie was on the platform perch. I was not too concerned as he used to like to sit there & play with the chewy toy. At one point, Moriarty went over to the platform perch to chat with him. However, as time went on, something did not seem right. It looked like Lennie was there because the flat platform was more comfortable than a perch. By 4pm, I was seriously worried.
I will skip over the more distressing aspects, suffice to say, I knew the end was coming. By 16:45, I was holding Lennie in my hands & telling him that we loved him. I told him that I had loved every second of his stay here. I thanked him for being such a wonderful boy. I did not want him to prolong any agony by resisting the inevitable, so towards the end, I told him it was ‘time to rest’. At 17:10, he died.
My beautiful boy left us. Just 19 days after his beloved friend Perry.
While this was happening, Moriarty was in his old cage, beside his mirror, completely silent. Immediately after, when I went over to him, Moriarty looked concerned & worried.
He knew he had lost another friend.
Moriarty & Lennie eating dried grass
We love you, Lennie.
So sorry you could not stay longer, but at least you are reunited with your best friend, Perry. 💙💙
When Perry left us, Lennie decided he was not going to eat from the seed pots. He carried on eating, just not from those pots. This appeared to be an initial indication of grief.
Birds do indeed feel grief so I kept an eye on both Lennie & Moriarty’s behaviour. Lennie had been with Perry all his life & had never spent one night away from him. Equally, Moriarty loved Perry & would no doubt miss all the flirting sessions & sharing of food. Rightly or wrongly, I tried to keep to the original routine as much as possible.
Four evenings after Perry left us, just before 10pm, Lennie seemed extra restless in his cage. Both were locked up for bedtime (separately – sticking with the old routine), with the big covers over them. I wondered if perhaps Lennie was ready to stay overnight with Moriarty. I lifted the covers & opened the small doors on both cages. Immediately, Lennie ran in to be with Moriarty. This was a big step for both of them as Moriarty has always slept overnight on his own. Maybe this was the time? I recalled the difficulty Bezukhov had on losing his best buddy Cagney, not wanting to sleep alone, but struggling to share with Phineas (Click here to read that story).
Both Lennie & Moriarty seemed a bit surprised & subdued by the sudden turn of events. Unfortunately, Lennie did not fully settle & at around 23:15, I opened the cage doors again, to give him a choice to stay or leave, & with no hesitation he ran out. It clearly did not feel quite right for him. However, he got to his door, peered inside, then turned around on the door platform so he was facing the room. He looked up at me with a confused expression that seemed to say, “I don’t want to be in there alone.” It broke my heart. He did not feel at home in Moriarty’s & now he did not feel at home in his own cage without Perry. With some encouragement he went in but though he continued to feel unsettled, he never attempted another overnight stay with Moriarty.
Some days after the above events, Lennie also developed a strange head movement that was most noticeable when he ate millet that I offered. You can see this in the video below:
It is with great sadness that I report my beautiful boy Lennie has left us.
We had returned from a vet visit. Shortly after, he rapidly took a turn for the worse. He died in my hands. In his last moments, I was able to tell him how much we loved him… That I loved every second of every day that he spent with us… What a wonderful companion he was… I thanked him for everything, for just being Lennie.
My only consolation is that he only spent 19 days without his beloved friend Perry.
His loss is great.
The loss of both Lennie & Perry in such a short time is hard to bear.