I’m taking care of my younger daughter’s two budgies until May, and have learned a lot about what pleases them.
BB Birdie has always been a social bird: she enjoys getting close to me to chat. She actually prefers me to her breakfast. We sometimes exchange tweets, even rooms away. As I made beds yesterday, she squawked loudly that things needed to happen. The hall echoed the sound: I responded by going in to fix what needed it. This one meant ‘we are hungry again; more food, please.’
Gray, though, is much more reticent, and perpetually aloof. She has avoided my hand, and indeed, has rarely acknowledged me, preferring to mutter to herself as she drapes her feathery body over her perch, mimicking a poufy rug. Or, she’ll look in her mirror to exchange views with Other.
But recently that behavior has changed. A few days ago, when I entered their room waving two succulent spinach leaves, and then sat in the upholstered chair and began to call them over (including Gray, as usual, just for politeness), she watched BB fly to my hand and immediately begin feasting.
Just as always.
More annoyed than usual, she complained to Other for a small while, and then, throwing inhibition to the wind, flew out of her ‘safe place’, straight to my other hand, to look at me and squawk.
‘Didn’t feel like it before, so there.’
Astonished, but pleased, I began to sing a ‘Gray’ sort of song (she stiffens whenever she hears her name, so I can almost swear she knows it) while she ate her spinach leaf as fast as she could. BB was startled, too, but after sending a few old fashioned tweets her way with no response she settled down again to continue devouring her own vanishing leaf with equal enthusiasm.
Gray nibbled hers three-quarters gone, but then, in a frenzy of- pique? Suddenly began to slash the rest into ragged chunks, which she threw all over the place. I found bits seven feet away. Wow! That birdie’s swing could satisfy the Detroit Tigers!
Noting the growing mess I spoke a quiet “no,” as I raised my hand to get her attention. She rode it up to meet my eyes, squawking defiantly, then flew around the room twice before landing behind me on the chair’s high back.
A ten-second silence while she plotted her next move.
Then, before I could gather my wits she flew from behind me straight at BB, who was still perched on my other hand, eating. She grabbed BB’s much diminished leaf as well, and quickly slashed it to bits, expertly tossing the remains everywhere.
BB didn’t seem to mind the snatch-and-grab: she was nearly done anyway, and so simply gaped at Gray in astonishment. Gray, ignoring her, gave a satisfied squawk and flew to the smaller food cage to began cracking seeds, as though nothing had happened.
So, just as casually, BB flew off to join her and they fed together.
For about ten seconds.
Gray suddenly charged at BB, who flew off, squawking with surprise, Then, having claimed that whole feeding station, she ate in solitary triumph. Unruffled, BB lighted on another station, though, and carried on feeding, faintly mystified, I thought, but too flighty to work out why she’d been vanquished. (This is interesting behavior: Gray is truly tiny- a third smaller than BB.)
After some thought, I decided Gray was finally over her ‘fear of The Giant:’ henceforth, she was declaring that her three-ounce Force was one to be reckoned with.
A final, interesting observation: If I come in singing a birdie song, and then sit down and call them both, she’ll fly straight to me. But first she’ll hover above my hands. If they bear no gift, she’s a gone girl. I’ll be ignored during that visit.
BB will remain, though, trotting around atop my hairy head, murmuring endearments. She’ll lower herself down my collected hair strands to groom my eyebrows.
BUT, if I come bearing (finely diced) fruit or other yummy treats, Gray will fly over with BB, hover to inspect, then light and feed happily. She’ll eye me briefly before munching- and sometimes she’ll toss a tart tweet my way-
Like me to visit you?
I do feel faintly crestfallen, and maybe a bit embarrassed that I’d thought she had accepted me. Naw, it’s not my winning personality... I am a conduit. Nothing more.
OK. I’ll settle for that.