A Flock of Feathered Friends

By Linda Johnson
Transcriber, Radiology Service
BluePearl Veterinary Partners – Florida

Have you ever had the idea to release birds as part of a ceremony?  Someone at the cemetery my husband works did.  On the evening following a daytime service, they purchased 10 parakeets, brought them to the cemetery in a 1′ x 1′ x 9″ cage, and released them at the burial site.

Only one flaw with this idea – the bird’s wings had been clipped! There was no “soaring”  for them.  Unable to fly and abandoned during the cold season, they huddled in the corner of the as yet un-sodded grave site.

Upon arriving at work the following morning, my husband was informed by other staff members of their presence.  After locating the cage they had been brought in, he easily got them back into it (they put up
no resistance) and then called me regarding what to do next. 

I called the Audubon Society, but they were not interested.  I then called the Nature Conservancy.  They expressed interest and sent someone out to pick up the birds; however, upon seeing them and determining that none
were injured, declined taking responsibility for them.  With no other option available following a day of trying, the best (if not only) alternative seemed to be bringing them home –  which is exactly what my husband did.

I’ve taken care of dogs and cats and fish, but I’d never considered having one bird, let alone 10.  One of the first things I did upon their arrival was contact the Avian & Exotics Service at BluePearl-Tampa.  They talked me through the basics (all I knew from childhood was that birds liked to be covered at night).  Now I know what a cere is and what “healthy birdy poop” looks like.  With the knowledge that I had BluePearl’s support and willingness to teach, I felt confident enough to take care of the entire flock.

So, I went out and bought them a much larger cage – with perches, perch covers, cuttle bones – and toys!  I then found a veterinarian who not only made house calls, but had avian experience.  Apparently these birds had found home.  (Did they know I had an “Every Birdy Welcome” slate near my front door?!?!)

Five years later I’ve still got six of the original 10.  They are housed in not one, but two, 1’9″ x 2’8″ x 2’11” cages.  There were some “bloody birdy battles” taking place after a few months, which took me completely by surprise.  After learning that a quick spray of water (which they really like) would usually stop them, I brought them into my office and kept the sprayer bottle right at my side.  An easier way seemed to be to get another cage and separate the ones that were not getting along, so that’s what I did.  It’s since worked out very well.

One of the birds has a beak that grows much quicker than the others. His name is Unicorn and he gets to go see the vet once a month for a beak trim (“microsurgery” is what the vet calls it).  I bring Uni in the small cage that all 10 of them were once in.  He doesn’t seem to mind at all.

Much thanks to the Avian & Exotics staff at BluePearl.  I couldn’t have done it without them.  Yes, I have birdy feathers everywhere, but they just float around the house along with the fur of the dogs and the cat.  I don’t mind that at all.