Category Archives: budgies

A Montage

I had so many clients in the last couple of weeks (YAY!) that I got a bit overwhelmed with the rest of my world like blogging. So, here are a few things that happened during that time at Pippin and Clementine’s (and The Budgies, of course).

I sat with Clementine on my knee at the kitchen table while he groomed himself happily and I noticed that Pippin had finished his peanut butter on rawhide (favorite!) and was kind of sadly sitting by himself. As he gazed forlornly in the distance, I picked up Clem and went into the living room and sat down next to him and gave him belly rubs. He was in belly rub heaven! He rolled around in bliss while Clementine eyeballed him. Pip’s head was near my feet where Clem was too and Pippin started sniffing him. Clementine puffed up his feathers, opened his mouth in a hiss and tried to fend off the affront. Pippin was so happy with the belly rubs that he licked Clementine on the face!!! Clementine did NOT know what to do with himself. He puffed out more, stomped back and forth and tried to shake the spit off of his face. I was hysterical! I thought it was one of the funniest, greatest things I’d ever witnessed. And what was even more interesting was that instead of running up my legs and hopping up my arm and onto my shoulder to the utmost safety point, he remained at my feet. He continued to stomp back and forth and if Pippin moved to quickly or came to close, he’d go into his stance, but he remained there, watching and waiting for his next move.


I’d like to point out that yes, that is bird poop on my leg. One thing you get used to when working with birds is that they poop on you all the time. Ah, the hazards of working with these awesome little avian creatures.

Next up, one of the budgies is yellow and is one of the newer pair. The first pair was bonded and the second were just acquired at the same time. While his (or her) counterpart has adapted to the other two and fit right in with the bickering, the all yellow one tends to be a loner. I’ll often find him in Clementine’s cage during the day, hanging out and eating his food. I’ve never really seen him on top of the cage with the others, although I have had the unfortunate experience of trying to get him back in the cage once. He’s just as hard to get ahold of as the rest of them. So, again, I was sitting at the kitchen table while Clementine groomed himself on my knee. He likes to hop down from the table and take up residence, while he’s not busy flinging things off of the table, another favorite past time.

I looked over at the cages and it was nap time. Yes, they do nap and it’s really funny to watch them fall asleep because they do the same thing that a child does with the eyes open and slowly shut and OPEN and slowly shut and open and slowly shut and closed. Clementine falls asleep on me sometimes and I find it to be an outstanding experience that he trusts me enough to do it and super cute to watch up close. But back to yellow budgie. So he’s asleep and he’s upright, like most birds are, and he’s got budgies on all sides (one of whom is outside of the cage right across from him on a perch but is awake), and I notice that his two feet are gripped on the cage and that he’s not leaning up against anything and is practically hanging backwards, meaning that his body is heading toward prone, and he’s ASLEEP! I grab my camera and get closer and while his body doesn’t move from the position, he’s awake due to the click of the camera. So, here’s a few shots of him, the first closer to sleep, the second definitely not, and please keep in mind that he’s not touching the perch that you see behind him. Birds. Weirdos.



A bit more on the budgies:

As I’ve mentioned, I have a somewhat tormented relationship with The Budgies. Last week, while Clementine showed continuous support with his unparalleled affection, I watched the budgies as I often do. They’d spent the evening alternating between pleasant chirps and flat out screams. They ran around and around the top of the cage disagreeing over who knows what. At one point, one of them sat in the snack plate, beat it’s wings and squawked at the one who’d pissed it off. Food and feathers flung themselves in the air and they continued their persistent struggle. Sometimes they just full on chased each other around yelling.Very complex little creatures.

It was time to leave and three out of four budgies were still bickering on top of the cage. Were I my client, I would have just grabbed them up in my hand and plopped them back in their cage. I am not she. I have gone as far as to seek out a step ladder to gain access to their level. It doesn’t help. Once I reach a hand in their direction, they dart off. Another attempt leads the budgie to deftly shoot down the side of the cage and then over out of the reach. No matter what angle I attempt, they are masters at knowing the best way to allude me. And all of it is accompanied by shouts of defiance. They’re like little protesters at a rally, shaking their fists at my giant hand, growing hoarse yelling slogans about oppression. And they are spectacular at it, winning every time. So, gone are the days where I flail around on my hands and knees trying to coax a rogue lost one out from below the giant wardrobe that acts as a pantry. I am done going back and forth and back and forth and BACK AND FORTH attempting to grab one. Now I just repeat the mantra and remember that they have a permanent door open on their cage and that even though there is a sheet blocking it at night, they know where their food is and happily the two shall meet.

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Birds are kinda my thing…

and yet, I had absolutely no idea a year ago.

When I walked into a new client’s house to meet her family’s collection of pets, along with two dogs and a snake (a new one for me), there were two bird cages. One had a couple of budgies in it (a small colorful semi-wild bird) and the other had a cockatiel named Clementine. The snake was pretty self-sufficient in the sense that all I had to do was give him fresh water, my client or one of her sons would handle feeding him before she left, so no big deal. But I was completely intimidated by the birds. What if one of them flew out of the window? What if I squashed one trying to grab it to get it back in the cage, something my new client did with amazing ease. Just grabs one up in her hand and puts it away. I promise you, the dances I do with the (now FOUR) budgies are comical and frustrating and they are about as big of fans of me as I am of them. Usually when I walk in the room, they start shouting in terror. Come to think of it though, that’s how they talk to each other as well. Always bickering. LOUDLY. As my client kindly put it after getting a note from me that said, “The budgies are out due to non-compliance on their part.”, “Don’t worry. They’ll get in. Or they’ll sleep on top of the cage. Whatever.” And then she decided that she wanted my note laminated. She’s a very laid back woman and I am a HUGE fan of hers.

But then there was little Clementine. Oh my darling. I had absolutely no idea that birds could be affectionate. I remember my aunt once telling me a story about the small birds she’d grown up with and how incredible they were and thinking, really? Now I understand this deep obsession. Clementine loves to sit on my shoulder and cluck in my ear and peck really lightly at me, giving little birdy kisses. He’ll sit on my finger and put his head down. This indicates that he’d like to be pet, please. Yes, pet. He moves his head all around your hand and shows you that he is in bliss. Another top habit of his is that when he hears you come into the house, he starts shouting at you and keeps it up until he sees you. He hops around in anticipation that you are going to hold him. If you go into another room and leave him, if the shouting doesn’t bring you in, he’ll fly into see you. And instead of flying all the way over to you, he’ll land on the ground and RUN the rest of the way!!! This is one of the greatest things I have EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE!!! And then he hops on your legs and climbs up you. I cannot emphasize how surreal and awesome this is! So, Clementine has become the ambassador for birds with personalities for me.

Now, Clementine is very delicate. When he asks me to pet him, sometimes I get nervous that I might hurt him. When you pet the back of his neck and move the feathers around, they go really deep and I think his neck is very very small. I never hold him fully in my hand. I always let him climb on and off, sometimes with prodding as he always wants to stay on and never wants to go back in his cage.

We haven’t seen each other in a number of months and I came singing into the room on Friday night and he was quietly sitting in his cage. I leaned down and put my head close and said hello and he ran over to me and practically tried to squeeze his head through the bars. And he danced around and around. The next morning, when I had time to take him out, he was on my shoulder in a matter of seconds and when he first reached my head, he placed his forehead firmly against mine and just sat there for a minute. A bit later, I was on the ground giving Pippin, the now solo dog (r.i.p. Maddy-Love, I miss swimming with you), giant hugs. So while Pippin was licking my face with my arms wrapped around him, Clemmy was so excited to be around me that his face was 3 inches from Pippin’s and he didn’t even hiss at him! Today, he took a jaunt around the kitchen floor and when he was finished, he climbed up my leg, back to his perch. When I was leaving, I put him on the door of his cage and usually he’ll grumpily stay there as I leave. When I reached the kitchen door to close it, I realized that he was flying full speed at my face and he was about to become the cartoon wherein he smacks into the door, feathers fly around and stars circle his head. Catching him right before it, I promised him I’d be back soon. And although he’s pretty persistent and often threatens to do just that, he’s never actually attempted it. Major attachment on both sides.

Back to Noelle, my new feathered friend, when I got a call from her parents and they mentioned that they have a racing pigeon, I got really excited. A different kind of bird! And what a bird she is! She’s white with beautiful reddish spots. And she’s SOLID. Whereas Clementine is delicate, she is hefty. Where I stick one finger out for Clem to “step up”, I have to stick my hand out flat for Noelle. And where his pecks are not felt at all, she can pull off skin. She certainly has moments where I will attempt the “step up” (Step up is the phrase that Clem’s family uses to get him to “step up” onto their fingers.”), and she’ll start pecking at my hand and I’ve learned to abandon ship for the moment. She’s less confident about being on a hand. Clementine was hand raised at a pet shop so they spent a great deal of time socializing him and acclimating him to being held. While Noelle would have had physical contact with her racer, it might have been just business. (FYI, the reason they know that she used to race is that they found her in their garage and she was tagged.) So sometimes when she’s on my hand, she shakes like crazy. And where Clem is all about the head pets, he’ll bite you (his version, of course) if you pet him on the back. I’m working on petting more and more of his back and have been told by my client that I can get farther than they have been able to when she watched me one time. With Noelle, I can actually pick her up by her body and she doesn’t mind back pets at all. One thing I discovered in my first set of visits to the house was that if we sat out in the living room on the couch, when she got spooked and flew around the room that if I held my hand high in the air, that she’d land on me again. She will climb all over me a lot like Clementine will do. We’ve been having less interaction with Mai-Tai around which is bumming me out but I am thrilled that she is actually is out so it’s hard to get frustrated about it.

Both birds have strong personalities, but with Noelle’s size, she’s capable of bringing more to the table. Clem can talk the talk all he wants but when it comes down to it, he’s about 4 inches long not including his tail feathers. And he only has a couple of them. The other morning, when I was putting Noelle back in her cage, she decided that she was in fact, not going back in. So, she spread out her wings and made herself too big to fit through the substantial cage door. Then she’d jump back on me, then run down my back and stay just out of reach of my hands. Smart lady! We repeated this for about five minutes and she’d alternate between puffing herself out, pecking at me, and dodging me. I thought it was hilarious.

Her coup d’etat was when I cleaned her cage. I was so proud of myself because I used all sorts of folding techniques that would make the newspapers a more unified front. I came up with a cleaning schedule that would include the day of my client’s return so that they would see just what a power house I am in terms of organizational pet area cleaning. I was completely ready for my title of “awesome”. I went into the other room and had my encounter with Mai-Tai and returned twenty minutes later to put Noelle back in her cage. Twenty minutes later!

Are you KIDDING me???

And there she was, in all her beauty on the top of the cage, going, “Yeah, I did it. What are YOU going to do about it?”

Oh well. Cleaning dreams shattered. Now I just have to figure out a way of having Noelle in the room without Mai-Tai running for cover at the sound of her wings. I’m up for a good challenge though.

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Filed under budgies, clementine, pet sitting, photography, racing pigeon