Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I've never been that big a fan of having birds in the house, but ever since a vacation trip to Sisters, Oregon I kind of changed my mind. Sisters used to be one of those towns you passed through and if you blinked, you missed it. Since then it has become quite the tourist attraction with lots of antique stores, specialty art galleries, and so on.

Back when I first visited the place, oh, say 2o some odd years ago, it was easy to find a parking space and then wander up and down, meandering in and out of the shops that lined the main street, and occasionally take a trip down a side street. Good luck finding a spot in the summer time now!

Anyway, back on that trip my husband and I were walking in and out of each store, with no particular agenda in mind, when we went into a store that had sort of antiquish furniture and accessories. And then I saw what has since never left my mind.

Scattered throughout the store were dioramas, each about 18" deep, maybe 3' wide, and about 2' tall. They were made to look kind of like a window, so while you were looking into the box, it appeared as if you were looking outside. Each box had a different "scene", and residing in each box were a pair of finches. The most striking to me were the Lady Gouldian finches, who were in a tropical setting. I had never seen such exotic birds up close before.

At the time we had no place, no plans, and no means to take a box of birds home with us, but those diorama boxes intrigued me ever since.

Eventually we had our children and as pet friendly, animal lovers, eventually we went through the obligatory guinea pigs, hamsters, lizards, mice, etc.

One day my husband was out in the large back yard doing some yard work when a cockatiel flew onto the fence near him. It was exhausted and made for an easy catch for him. We promptly went out and bought an appropriate cage for it, along with food and toys. We looked in the newspaper for "lost bird" ads, but nothing ever appeared. I'm sure I know why.

I guess it's in their nature, but that cockatiel was the noisiest, messiest bird ever! It had the most ear drum piercing screetches that would go on and on. I'm sure whoever owned the bird before probably set it's cage on a picnic table outside and "forgot" to lock the door. After a couple of months we just couldn't stand it any longer and I begged my sister to please take the bird. At the time she had a couple of cockatiels that had been given to her, so I figured she must not mind so much.

She lasted a bit longer than we did, and eventually found homes for all her cockatiels.

Then it was time for our Sonny Bunny's birthday and he wanted to go to Petco (where the pets go...). I steered him away from the giant hissing Madagascar cockroaches (just gross) and talked him out of an iguana (those get really BIG). We headed for the bird room.

There we looked at the various canaries, finches, cockatiels (boo!), parrots, and parakeets. He was leaning towards the parakeets, but since I knew I would be the major cage cleaner, bird feeder and waterer I "talked" him into getting a pair of finches. They weren't the Lady Gouldian finches of my remembrances, but they were small and cute. I think they were either a society finch or a type of zebra finch. (I looked on the internet and I can't really tell.)

One of the birds died suddenly not long after we got it so we were able to trade it in for a new bird. They were out of that same type so we got a spice finch. We've had this pair now for probably going on at least six years. We put a nest in to see what would happen and boy did they get busy. Unfortunately all the tiny eggs were infertile and nothing ever hatched, despite their best efforts. We took the nest out because it was too sad for me to see them keep trying and trying with nothing happening. (I think the eggs were not fertile because although they are both finches, they were two totally different types of finches.)

I love their cheery (and quiet) chirping as they flit back and forth and take their daily bath. The cat enjoys watching them when she's inside too!

The birds get along well to this day. About once a year I have to trim the nails on one of them. For some reason the other one doesn't have this problem. But it must be done otherwise the poor bird starts getting stuck in the wires on the cage. It's not hard at all to do, but it must be done with a gentle hand or the delicate bird could get hurt.

The Spice Finch (notice his long nails).

A bad picture of the Zebra or Society Finch (not sure really what type this one is).

Here's a good view of the too long nails.

If you look carefully you can see where the vein goes in the toe, about 1/3 in the total length. We want to cut just outside of that or the bird will feel it and it will bleed.
I use the same trimmers I use on the dogs' nails, or you could use any sharp scissors.

All nails are trimmed and here's what I got for my trouble!

Ungrateful creature! Oh well, he was very nervous and I can't honestly blame him.

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