If your bird seems sick, take him or her to an avian vet immediately! Check your local phone book or Vet Lookup, AAV, Avian Vet.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Adopting a New Friend

Miss Prissy has told you that we adopted a cockatiel, and I'm glad that she enjoys his company. If it had just been myself, I would have probably waited quite a while before thinking about getting a new feathered friend, but I was very worried about Miss Prissy. She has never been without another cockatiel in her life, and I knew that after a few days looking for J.L., she would probably get sad and depressed. The Cool One said the same thing; he told me that she would need a new companion, the sooner, the better.

A while ago, J.L. compiled a list of links on adopting a bird, which was very helpful. I did not want to buy a bird from a store, because there are too many birds who are in need of a good home, and I hoped to find a rescue bird. Petfinder.com was especially useful in compiling a list of tiels. When I checked, there were 198 cockatiels in the U.S. and Canada looking for good homes.

However, none of them were in my state. The closest one was over 300 miles away. The local rescues did not have any tiels, and even if they had, I would have had to go through a lengthy application process. I would not have minded doing that, of course, and I commend the rescues for checking applicants so thoroughly to make sure the bird has a good forever home. In my case, though, time was of the essence; Miss Prissy needed a new companion right away, and there was no way she would have made it through a 4-6 week waiting period.

So I checked the local newspaper. Sometimes, tiels outlive their owners, and nobody in the family can or wants to keep them. Other times, an owner realizes cockatiels and not for him or her, or the family circumstances change and the owner feels that giving up the birds is the best option. I hoped that I would come across a tiel in these circumstances.

There was only one advertisement for cockatiels: 2 males, one pied, one pearl, handfed, for sale. I was still too upset to call, so the Cool One made the call for me. It turned out that the owner realized that cockatiels were not the right kinds of birds for her. She had bought the two thinking that they were a pair, but it turned out that they were both males. The pearl had already been sold, but the 15-month-old pied was still there.

The Cool One and I went there right away. The cage was in a basement room that did not get much natural sunlight. The little bird was happy to see people, and he got on the Cool One's hand right away. I picked him up and set him on my shoulder, and he preened my hair. It was clear that he was supposed to go home with me. He enjoyed the ride in the car, looking around and basking in the sunlight, and he responded with melodic chirps to every new sound.

Both he and Miss Prissy had been used to sharing a cage with another bird before, so they got along right away without any animosity. They checked each other out and then went about their own business around the cage. He started eating birdseed right away, and he was fascinated by the honey treat and the millet spray. Of course, it will take a while for them to get acquainted. Miss Prissy is still looking for J.L., and she will probably continue to do that for some time. But she has a feathered friend, and she won't be alone.

The little bird got plenty of interaction right away. I picked him up several times and let him climb around on me, and the Cool One came over a few times to play with him as well. Our new friend is very interested in all the sounds and sights he is now exposed to. He chirps at birds outside, listens to the dogs barking, makes a melodic sound every time I pass by his cage, and vocalizes every time the phone rings. I don't think he got a lot of attention or stimulation in that basement, but since he was hand-fed, had a buddy, and spent less than a year there, he was not traumatized like LeMone had been. I am glad the owner realized relatively quickly that she was not the right match for the tiels; that way, he and his buddy had a chance at getting a good home.

I know that usually, a new bird should be quarantined for quite a while before being introduced to the bird(s) at home, but in this case, it was not an option. Miss Prissy would not have lasted that long alone, so I had to take that chance. Besides, the little one and his friend were basically quarantined in the basement for a year, so I was pretty sure he was free from disease. I do think, though, that if a bird comes from a place with many other birds, or if you have many birds at home and are going to introduce a new one, quarantine is the best choice.
J.L.'s passing greatly upset me, not only because I lost my best feathered friend, but also because it happened when it did. Since cockatiels have a life span of 15 years or more, and since he appeared to have died of natural causes when it was his time, I realized that he was probably much older than I had thought. That means that he spent much more time than I thought in a bad situation, or in many bad situations. No wonder he was so distrustful when I first got him! I wish the breeder and/or owner(s) had taken the time and made the effort to make sure he had a good home.

The reason so many birds are in need of a good home is that too many people don't take the time to find out what it takes to take care of them. Many also don't realize how long pet birds can live, and they don't understand they need to be prepared to take care of the bird for 15, 20, 30, or even more years, depending on the kind of bird. Too many birds end up neglected or passed from one home to another. Pet birds, especially parrots (and cockatiels are part of the parrot family), need plenty of attention and interaction. Feeding them and putting a few toys in the cage is not enough. They need time with their humans, and they need a stimulating environment. Based on my experience with J.L. and Miss Prissy, I also believe they need at least one companion of their own species.

If you would like to own a bird, or any kind of pet, you should research its needs carefully and see if your lifestyle is a good match in the long run. The pet store should be your last stop; you should check shelters and rescue organizations first, then the newspaper, and then breeders. J.L. wrote several posts about pet adoption, with things to look for and questions to ask, and I agree with his recommendations. He was one smart little bird!

As I'm typing this, Miss Prissy is on my desk looking for J.L. in his hiding spots, and our new little friend is preening on my shoulder, getting used to his new life. I'm not quite ready to name him yet, but in time, I will. The important thing is that Miss Prissy won't be alone, and that the little tiel found a good home. We will keep you updated!


triple Bs said...

I feel sad for Miss Prissy, still looking for JL. I'm so glad you got her a friend though. That will help her through the rough times. You are a very caring bird mom and it's good to see that. You are right about people not understanding what they get into when they are getting a bird. I have had birds for many years and I can't imagine my life without them. They are very high maintenance pets though. People have to understand that. It's obvious that you do.

T-man said...

Ooh, now my mom is thinking we need to get a companion for CC-man! He probably wouldn't like sharing his cage though since he's lived alone in there for 17+ years! He does enjoy when his girlfriend, Sunny, comes over for visits. Maybe we'll have to get another cage!


The Tall One said...

Triple Bs,

Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad to hear that you have birds, too, and that you take good care of them. I've found that, the more I learn about birds, the more I realize how much I still need to learn.


Yes, I think CC-man might enjoy a companion. Since he's been by himself for so long, I would definitely start out with two separate cages. It's good to have a second cage around anyway, for transport or cleaning. They will probably start visiting each other and then become friends. Right now, Carrera and Miss Prissy are going through some rough spots, so it's good to have a second cage at hand. I'll let him tell all about that, though.