Monday, August 8, 2011

For the Birds

I am now officially the proud parent of the two most precious baby birds, Lenny and Squiggy. Squiggy is a wee little parrotlet, still naked and his eyes are only beginning to open. Lenny is an adorable lutino cockatiel graciously granted to us to help me learn the art of handfeeding. He is a week older than Squiggy and already has a good bit of feathering--quite the contrast to his new pink featherless brooder-mate. I wonder if Lenny flaunts his featheredness to his naked friend? Not to worry little one—you’ll soon see pin feathers too, I promise!

Michael and I headed down to my old stomping grounds in Verona yesterday afternoon to pick up our new charge at a local birdie flea market. We were awed and amazed walking through the crowded warehouse, seeing beautiful scarlet, and blue and gold macaws, a gorgeous umbrella cockatoo, as well as a sampling of colorful conures and lovebirds, along with a myriad offering of toys, perches, and cages. Birdie shopping paradise! I was excited and nervous, looking for our friend, Jenny, who was kindly entrusting us with her precious cockatiel baby for the next few weeks to help me gain more confidence as I learned the skill of handfeeding these tiny birds.

Lenny is much bigger than our teeny parrotlet, and an eager feeder so it doesn’t take much on my part to get him fed. He gobbles down his formula as fast as I can give it to him! I got to feed him twice yesterday before I pulled Squiggy from the nest box at bedtime. I’d get to face the challenge of feeding him in the morning. Meanwhile, he quickly scrabbled under Lenny’s tummy, looking for the comfort and warmth he’d always known snuggled under his mom and dad in the nest box. And so we all said goodnight and drifted quickly off to sleep.

I set my alarm early so I’d have some time to wake up before I’d need to feed the babies, and, as always, I woke up before the alarm. I thought I had shut it off and snuck quietly out of bed, hoping the dogs would at least sleep in a little longer. I walked softly out to the kitchen to turn on the coffee pot when I heard my alarm going off, piercing the peaceful quiet and waking my sleeping pooches. Great. Got them up and out the door, followed by treats and trick rehearsal with Tucker who still has a couple weeks left of puppy school. Then they all found their way back to bed soon after,  four a.m. is a little too early for them to want to stay up—it is still dark outside, Mom!!  

Finally it was time to feed the babies. I contemplated waking Michael to see if he wanted to help, but decided it’d be better to let him sleep so he wouldn’t end up tired and cranky later on in the day. I’d fly this one solo. I fixed up the formula, making sure the temperature and consistency were just right, lined a bowl with a kitchen towel to hold the babies in while they were eating and went to get our little charges out of the brooder. They were already wide awake and excited to eat. Well, Lenny was excited. He squawked his squeaky squawk at me as I nestled him into the bowl along with Squiggy, who again quickly scampered underneath the warm darkness of Lenny’s belly. There he sat the whole time Lenny gobbled down his breakfast, not at all perturbed by the bigger bouncing bird sitting on top of him. Then it was his turn to eat. I struggled with finding the right way to hold him up in my left hand while trying to pry open his tiny little beak with the syringe I held in my right. Squiggy lapped a bit of the formula with his tongue and must’ve decided it tasted all right and quickly guzzled a good bit more. His crop filled up like a little pink balloon and he was done. I offered Lenny another nibble but he seemed satisfied as well, so washed the two formula covered munchkins off, showered them with kisses and tucked them back in the brooder to nap until their next feeding later this morning. I think we just might do all right at this!
Where'd Squiggy go??

Squiggy 2wks, Lenny 3wks



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