I think it might be fallout from a particularly hormonal spring season, but recently I have read an abundance of comments from people who feel at their wits ends with their birds. It’s not uncommon to be reading complaints following breeding season, but they are usually tempered with a sense of relief. Not so much this year.
I was absolutely floored to hear that a long time bird-pal was thinking about giving up her flock because she just didn’t think she had another spring season in her. Even though I and few others went to work to talk her out of it, I completely feel her pain.
This season was tough on me and my flock. I mentioned in a previous post that I somewhat recently moved into an apartment with only two rooms in which I can keep the birds. Since I have four different species living here, I labored over which bird goes into which room.
As fate would have it, the move was timed to coincide with this year’s breeding season and my perfectly laid plans fell to ruin. Linus chose this year to suddenly become aware that he was sharing his room with a girl – something that was overlooked in the past. Theo was sending him over the hormonal edge and I had to remove her from the room altogether.
Unfortunately, this meant she would temporarily be sharing a room with me which she made as difficult as possible. She flatly refused to sleep in the cage I set up for her for reasons I was never able to determine. Spending the afternoon in this cage was not a problem, but once the lights went out at night she screamed until they were turned back on. I tried letting her stay on her play stand for the night but that did not meet with her approval either. The only place the little stinker was content and quiet was curled up under my chin or draped over my shoulder.
If I couldn’t curb her night time screaming quickly Linus would get frustrated and join in. I had visions of the neighbors waiting for me at my car with shotguns in the morning. I was out of options. While I didn’t relish the idea of breathing in her dustiness all night, I had to risk letting her sleep with me until Linus got his hormones under control. I don’t think I got a single decent night’s rest the entire time – I worried too much about rolling over on her in my sleep.
I tried to comfort myself with the idea that it would be short lived. Of course, I was wrong about that too. Here it is July, and Linus’s temperamental hormonal outbursts have just only diminished enough that I can bring Theo back into his presence without him becoming alternately stimulated and aggressive.
I have been waiting for months to return Theo to her own cage in her own room and as usual, the plans aren’t going off without a hitch. Theo is no longer interested in her own cage – not when there is a warm neck to sleep against. Still, I have to do what has to be done.
So, knowing that Theo would scream and set Linus off, and knowing that there is nothing I can do to avoid this fact, I sent them both to bed early last night with the expectation that it was going to be loud for a while, but arranged for it to be loud at a time when it would not disturb the neighbors’ sleep. This is the only predictable behavior my birds have offered up in months – I expected “loud”, and that is exactly what I got. I plan on more of the same for a day or two. I am surviving on deep, calming breaths this week. I love my birds…I love my birds… I love my birds…
We have to go to great lengths to devise creative solutions to problems and once we do, then we get to try to make them happen the way we envisioned. Birds being intelligent and willful, and a little snarky, make that extremely difficult at times. Sometimes our frustration is profound – and in that frustration it is easy to lose sight of why we have kept our birds in our lives for so long.
When you are suffering through bouts of difficult behavior and giving up feels appropriate, remember to give consideration to their good behavior. Your birds have earned a place in your heart for a reason and it will help you to recall their most redeeming qualities:
Of course, there is their beauty, their intelligence, the laughter they inspire. It’s hard not to feel a sense of quiet awe when you are with your bird. These are things you can count on experiencing every day like the sunrise.
But also remember the personal touches: how quiet and thoughtful they are when you are sick and how they intuitively know when you need cheering up. Remember what great company they have been during lonely times. They are not required to be there for emotional support, yet they are – everyday.
Your birds have been faithful friends and you don’t walk away from friends when the path gets rocky. It is perfectly normal to get frustrated with your birds at times, we all do, but it isn’t a reason to give up on them. This too shall pass.
Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.