Why Doing Things The Easy Way Is Sometimes Harder – And More Dangerous!


I feel it is important to admit to and talk about my mistakes. It is a learning experience for you readers, and a humbling reminder for me. Yes, even we who spend our days trying to coach you on the whys and whats of bird ownership blow it from time to time. In a classic idiot manoeuver, I indirectly caused an injury to one of the Womach budgies.

The smallest birds live in the house upstairs in what I call the spare birdroom. My cockatiels and quaker are still a bit wary of the Womach’s flock and we keep them and the budgies separated inside. Theo (my goffins cockatoo) has her night cage set up in that room as well and she is moved back to her main cage in the morning.

This morning I went about cleaning the cages in the upstairs birdroom. The budgies upstairs cage, which I saved for last, needs to be dismantled to be cleaned thoroughly. When it came time to do that cage I decided to put Nikko and Visa inside Theo’s empty sleeper cage for the few minutes it would take to run downstaris and wash their grate and bottom tray.


I distinctly remember hesitating when I put them into Theo’s cage. I was very aware that the bar spacing was far too large to contain a budgie, but I ignored  my concerns and opted to just shut the door to the room in case of an escape. I did not take into account other possible hazards to them. I expected they would just stay put until I got back. Wrong…well, half wrong. Visa stayed put. Nikko flew over to the cage top of Libby, my quaker, and landed.

Quakers are very territorial. They don’t like anyone invading areas that they regard as a nesting site – primarily the cage – and certainly no other bird species are allowed. Through the bars of her cage, Libby went after Nikko’s tiny feet, although I have to say, not with the deadly force she could have imposed.

When I came upstairs, Nikko was, for reasons beyond my understanding, still on top of Libby’s cage. Libby was at the bottom looking guilty. I could tell in an instant that something was wrong just by the puffy appearance of Nikko feathers, and, sure enough, there were small woulds on Nikko’s left foot and an abrasion on one of the toes on the right.

Wet budgies

Fortunately, all the injuries were minor and treatable at home. I know that bird’s feet are very susceptible to infection following injury and took preventative measures against that. All in all, it turned out much better than it might have, given the difference in size of the two birds.

BUT there is no excuse for my lapse in judgement. This was not Nikko’s fault for escaping an inappropriate cage. It was not Libby’s fault for defending her territory. I am entirely to blame. I knowingly put the budgies in a cage that they could get out of, in a room with larger birds that could injure them, because it was easy. I certainly know better than that, and have, in the past, warned other people about making that same mistake.

So, the moral of the story is this: take the necessary time and action to do things the right way. Be aware of ANY dangers in your bird’s environment, and never assume your bird will stay put and avoid those dangers in your absense – no matter how shart a period of time you might be gone.

Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987. 

1 comment

Michael Bogert

While we are on this topic I have to point out that sometimes we put our animals in danger by our loving tendancies to save orphans of different and sometimes competing species. A dear friend of mine watched her cherished bird be consumed by an animal she brought in to the house and trusted. If it was not for this example, I probably would be taking in two wonderful cats that recently lost their human and who I have known and bonded with for a couple of years – putting my uncaged flock at great risk.

Michael Bogert

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