Sunday, July 13, 2008

Unrequited Love

Flash and Sugar Franklin are both on the back of the couch. Flash has moved to about 8 inches of Sugar. Any closer and she hisses and snaps at his tail. Sugar thinks she's a human and doesn't want to be bothered by some "bird." Poor Flash. She's just snapped at him so hard he flew off to stand on her cage with Nicholas. Even from there he watches her.

Nicholas is a different story. When I first saw Nicholas he was in the lobby cage at the avian vet's office. He looked like no cockatiel I'd ever seen -- grey with all his feathers curled up, and he was very thin. But with bright eyes and a lot of energy. I asked what was wrong with him and everyone said they couldn't find anything wrong with him, and I knew my vet wouldn't put him in the lobby if he was sick.

He always shrieked at Sugar Franklin, and when we would leave the clinic I would hear him call after us in the parking lot. Poor thing was in love with Sugar, I thought.

A year or so later one of the vets asked if I wanted him. His curled feathers had molted out to be replaced with a sleek soft plumage, and he still proclaimed his love for Sugar loudly. She, of course, ignored him.

The vet assured me there was nothing chronically wrong with him; he'd been through all the tests. He was thought to be 13 to 15 years old. One of the vets had rescued him from a woman who bred cocktiels but never cleaned cages and smoked two or three packs of cigarettes a day and kept him on a seed-only diet. Poor thing should have been dead. He weighed about 68 grams.

So I took him home in his old ratty cage, which I threw out as soon as I got him settled in one of my nicer ones.

Once he realized Sugar was "not interested" he eased up on the shrieking, and just a few months ago I learned he was given to me because he shrieked at everybody. And here I thought it was because he loved Sugar.

He always calls a different call when someone pulls into the driveway or steps onto the porch, even if I can't hear him. He's better than a dog about that. He's up to 78 grams now and is still bright-eyed and rarely stands still. I've had him several years now, and I love him dearly for his enthusiasm and optimism. He has loud calls and moderate calls; he loves to do the wolf whistle, only he messes up the first two notes. Charli doesn't like Nicholas' loud calls, and she'll chirp loudly at Nicholas to shut him up. Which rarely works.

Sugar Franklin, by the way, is drinking her special water but only when she's so thirsty she can't avoid it. She'll take a drink, look up at me, and then back away from the dish. Poor baby. I tasted the water and there is a very, very slight trace of vinegar.

I'm sure Flash would rescue her from water with vinegar and honey in it, if only she'd let him.globe_blogs.gif

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