May 25 2009

A Lesson Learned

Published by at 11:06 pm under Musings & News

Budgie in the budgie trap before I let her go (photo by Kate St. John)I had her, but what I hadn’t counted on was that she had me… as you shall see.

When I got home this evening I checked the budgie trap and saw that the birds had eaten all the food in the seed cups, both inside and outside the cage.  Excellent!  I refilled the seed cups and went indoors.

Just before dusk Budgie arrived to feed as she usually does.  She perched on the outside seed cup so I walked up to the cage, keeping my head low and talking to her as I came.  When I got close she flew into the cage. Oh my!  I closed the door.  I had her.

She was immediately frantic, flying wildly inside the cage, poking at the corners, back and forth, back and forth, trying to find a way out.  I took the cage down, set it on the back deck and sat nearby, waiting for her to calm down.  My cat watched from the window but Budgie was oblivious to everything but the possibility of escape.  She continued to beat against the cage.

I was beginning to feel bad and I was doing a lot of thinking.  Budgie had had a taste of outdoor life and already felt safer in my neighborhood than in the cage.  She had been having the time of her life though it meant she’d probably die young and abruptly.  The wild birds had accepted her and I could hear them making alarm calls as she struggled inside the cage.  That made me feel even worse. 

If I was her, what would I want?  I have to tell you that I love the outdoors.  Today I spent the whole day hiking at the Clarion River.  If every day of my life could be as beautiful and every day included time outdoors I would be happy even if it shortened my life.  I decided I would rather die suddenly and happy than be stuck indoors.  

I looked at Budgie and asked her what she thought.  She wanted out.  I put the cage back on the branch.  I took her picture in the dusk.  And then I opened the door and let her fly free.

We both learned something today.  Budgie learned not to trust me and I learned that I prefer to see her outside my window.

p.s. Thanks to Veronica Snyder for loaning me the cage and to all of you for your helpful suggestions. I have learned a valuable lesson, though it’s not the one I expected to learn.

(photo of Budgie, temporarily captured in my backyard, taken at dusk with my cell phone)

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “A Lesson Learned”

  1. Dianeon 26 May 2009 at 7:00 am

    I think you made a good decision for Budgie. She sounds very unique. Who knows…..maybe she will become more cautious about predators. If not, at least she is living the life now!

    What a great story and a very happy ending! Let us know if she continues to eat at your feeder.

  2. faith Cornellon 26 May 2009 at 7:03 am

    Well this morning as I read your story I was brought to tears. But such a learning experience. Thank you for your telling it. Life’s lessons come sometimes when we least expect them & in rare moments. Your heart should be warmed because mine is. We all watch & wait as the wild peregrines continue to flourish & be free so we should rejoice with a free budgie. Faith C.

  3. Nancy Ton 26 May 2009 at 8:28 am

    It never ceases to amaze me what we learn from animals. Well done! Quality is always better than quantity.

  4. gloriaon 26 May 2009 at 9:33 am

    Hi Kate: I’m not panicked this time; I am assuming that it is “banding day” at the COL, as the nest is empty?
    Just a sidebar: Hurrah for the budgie!!!!… he/she will fly free for the rest of its days, however long that might be. Good Luck to Her/Him…..
    Thanks for your input.
    Gloria

  5. Tracion 26 May 2009 at 11:35 am

    What a powerful story. I’m glad you left her be free and listened to her spirit.

    Also, I also saw the empty nest at the COL and now there seems to only be three chicks? or is one hiding in the corner? I hope all four are healthy?

  6. Pandion 26 May 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Wow. That choked me up. Maybe Budgie has been living outside for a while and just happened upon your yard and liked it? She might have been someone’s pet once, but maybe she’s been outside longer than her behavior indicates. She’s a lucky bird, not only because she has survived outside, but also because she chanced upon someone who understood her. Please post about her when next you see her–she’s got a little fan club going here!

  7. Stephenon 26 May 2009 at 1:46 pm

    The chicks are there, all four it seems, but I haven’t seen the parents at all yet today, and the nest is still very clean. Just a bad hunting day, I hope? And incidentally, it is amazing how much they’ve grown in three days. The 15 second cam (which is where I get the images to my Google page) went down a few days ago. I left four white puffballs last week, to be greeted by four brownish birds after the holiday weekend…

  8. Jon 26 May 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I thinking maybe a lot of the white down was already very loose and just got brushed off while they were being checked over and banded. It seems like they have a lot less white than they did even yesterday. And like Pandi said, judging by the Budgies reaction to being caged, it sounds like she may have been out longer than previously thought.

  9. Kate St. Johnon 27 May 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Budgie update, Wed morning at dawn:
    I didn’t see Budgie for more than 24 hours after she was trapped in the cage. I’m not surprised she stayed away for a while. This morning at dawn she came to the feeder – the good old feeder – with a flock of house sparrows. After she ate she left for who knows where.

  10. Kate St. Johnon 27 May 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Budgie update, Wed evening:
    Budgie has gotten over her fear of my yard. When I got home she was chirping from my front yard tree because two house sparrows and starlings were eating a hot dog on the street. She checked it out but wouldn’t eat it.
    Around 7:30pm she dozed on the backyard feeder perch and kept sleeping even when the house sparrows came to feed. The house sparrows got into a fight, she woke up, preened and ate. She left at nightfall. Perhaps she roosts with the house sparrows.

  11. gloriaon 28 May 2009 at 6:52 am

    Kate: What will happen to her/him when the winter weather comes back to Pittsburgh? Will she be able to survive?

  12. Kate St. Johnon 28 May 2009 at 6:59 am

    I don’t know – but I can tell you that in general birds survive the winter if they have enough to eat. (I wrote about this in January 2008: http://www.wqed.org/birdblog/2008/01/04/coping-with-cold-food/)
    I believe Budgie’s bigger threat is predators.

  13. gloriaon 28 May 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I put out “wild bird seed” all year long… for the inhabitants of my neighborhood…. usually very early in the morning …. as I walk my dogs every day at 5am… but the resident birds know the drill and the seed is always gone (or near gone) by the time I leave for work.

  14. Patsyon 17 Jun 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Kate was just scrolling through the blogs and came across the one regarding the Budgie. Have you seen it lately?

  15. Kate St. Johnon 17 Jun 2009 at 9:33 pm

    I haven’t seen Budgie for about two weeks. I hadn’t put it together until a day or two ago but a Coopers Hawk began to frequent my neighborhood about two weeks ago. It flies in every morning from the opposite hill, arriving about an hour after dawn. From the way it flies I believe this hawk has a nest about a mile from my house. Hmmm.

  16. Dwighton 10 Apr 2011 at 2:43 pm

    For goodness sakes, if you see a parakeet in your yard, pls. try to catch it! Parakeets and other pet birds do not belong in the wild. Their instincts are adapted for their homelands like Australia and South America. Their life experiences are limited to the indoors where the family cat or dog is either friendly or tolerant of them. They have no preparation for dealing with hawks or other animals that can harm them or knowledge of what to do in the event of bad weather. In fact, unless we are talking about a larger parrot, these birds will not survive a winter in the northeast.

    If you catch them, you can turn them over to organizations that can find homes for them. If you doubt me about their survivability, I challenge you to ask any specialty bird shop or ornithologist. Setting them free is about as smart as dropping a recovering drug addict off at his dealer’s apartment. In other words, it’s negligent!

  17. wildheartmuseon 07 Sep 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I live in MA and have been visited by a blue budgie for a week now. I keep my feeders full and he is always here. He seems to have hooked up with the sparrows so I call him “Libby” as in Liberace…..he is so gay and colourful compared to his friends.

    I have tried to catch him, cage, net, standing with my hand full of food and chatting sweetly to him…..to no avail. Winter is coming and I wish I could catch him but since I can’t I keep him feed and have put up a larger home made feeder with a roof and three sides so there is shelter…….he likes it in there.

    Will keep trying to catch him for his survival but in a way I agree with Kate, he is loving the wild, where he should be. Quality or quantity……is it really my choice?

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