1. Since Miles cannot fly, some fledglinghood disease which stunts the wings and tail, he has trouble following El. One day, El flew up to the top of a picture frame and sat there - perhaps hoping to get away for a short vacation. But Miles would have none of that. He found a metal ribbing of the window which went right up to the top of the picture - or close to it - from the floor. So foot over foot holding on with every muscle he had, he started up. I was amazed - watching him and his determination. He got to picture frame level and stopped. The distance between where he was and the frame was a little too far. If he let go even one foot, he would fall. So I quickly put a stick from him to the fame and across he went and sat there with El looking very pleased with himself.
2. I opened the cage one day and Miles as he often did, "flew" down to the floor for a short stroll. From the next room, I suddenly felt that something was wrong. It was deadly silent on the enclosed porch where the budgies are. I raced in and found Miles literally frozen to the spot on the floor facing in towards something under the piano. We had had a lizard or rat, I don't know which, in the flat before and I figured that this was the face off. Miles was petrified. I put the cage down and he made a bee line for it, up and in through the cage door. I guess he felt as much relief as I did. After that, he did not go out of the cage, even though we took all pains to make sure that there were no more intruders. One of these days I hope he will feel free enough to go out once again. Instead I am going to provide a runway along the window sills so he can go out on an upper level.
3. Miles talks a lot - many different sounds - I have not counted them but I swear that there are 200 different sounds which he strings together into streams of sounds. I am convinced that if he were human, he would have written 40 books by now. She answers him occasionally during his talks, but the answers are short as if to agree or to encourage him to continue with whatever he is saying. Some days, he won't say much of anything and then there are days where he talks most of the day. He usually talks to her but sometimes I find him in a corner facing out and talking as if he is speaking to himself or to the wall.
4. I walked into the room and El, the female, was doing something she hasn't done for over a year - she was pecking at a perch, and then I saw that it had fallen from its place. As I stood there, Miles immediately went over to another perch of the same type but which was in place and started doing the same thing. Obviously they were trying to tell me that the perch had fallen. There was satisfaction all around when I put it back in its place.
5. When the female budgie flew off and did not return, the male (Miles), to whom she had been like a mother since I got him, cheeped incessantly - calling day and night. I finally went on a mercy run to find a new female - which, after 1 1/2 days also flew the coop. You can imagine Miles - he was beginning to get a complex - and very depressed until I promised a new budgie. When I put our present female in the cage, he took one look at her and apparently it was love at first sight and has stayed that way ever since. Now he talks all day to her and only calls (it is my guess) to tell everyone else to stay away.
6. Miles has invented a new way of getting from the upper to lower levels - and fast. He grabs on to two of the upright wires of the cage with both feet and slides down to the next level where he gets off with great aplomb.
7. One day after Cleo and Ella number One flew away, Miles in what must have been desperation decided to follow. Well to make a short story even shorter, with his nondeveloped wings and tail, he "flew" off the second story porch and plummeted to earth beating his wings as fast as he could. At least it cushioned his landing. Fearing CATS, I raced down to the yard and picked him up, and talking to him all the way upstairs, with his heart beating like it would burst the rib cage, got him back in the cage. - he was not used to being picked up and the fall must not have been pleasant. Needless to say he did not try that again - well, we didn't give him the opportunity.
Miles has stopped looking in and feeding the mirror image after two years of doing so. All other behavior is normal so it must be some new realization that he has come to. El has never done this and perhaps she finally persuaded him not to do it, or he suddenly realized that it was not another budgie or El became jealous, or any one of a hundred other reasons - I really don't know.
When I lost Louie, I understood for the first time that you don't appreciate something until you lose it. I loved him. He was small for his age and did not have enough feathers or long enough to provide wings and/or a tail but he got around the cage and the room with great agility. He had an enthusiasm that few of us possess. When several months after we got him, he suddenly got sick and just lay there, I rushed him to the vet and everything was tried to save him but to no avail. The vet told me that he had been sick (malformed at birth) from the time I got him, but whether that was true or whether he said that to make me feel better I will never know. I remember, with self accusation, the time that he was heading towards a cactus plant to eat one of the leaves and I prevented him from doing it thinking that it would be harmful. Now, I often think that had he eaten it he might have been able to save himself knowing as I do now that the particular cactus was medicinal. Perhaps he knew this at some level and I had stopped him.
She had a form of diarrhea for about 5 months combined with a lot of water but she appeared very healthy in every other way. Recently, she had been drinking more water than previously. Miles did not appear to be effected by it. When I finally went to the vet, a microscopic examination was made and the determination was that perhaps she had worms but this was not a sure diagnosis. In any case, worm medicine was given once from a dropper to both her and Miles (although he had no signs but just in case) and no follow-up treatment or medicine prescribed. Miles successfully spit out most of his but El got the full dose. I suggested a blood test for zinc but this was turned down. The diarrhea continue for another 5 days and I thought that perhaps it was all of the fruit and parsley and lettuce that I gave them even though Miles never showed any adverse signs. This was a time when corn was not available on the market, so they ate only seed for two days. I had given them a very large seed and honey stick for cockatiels, and they finished it off within 2 days although at the end there were no seeds left, only the material holding the seed to the stick. I noticed at the end of the second day that El's diarrhea had stopped but then noticed that there was little or no droppngs. By this time, El was attempting to regurgitate as I had seen her and Miles do when they were feeding each other once in a while, or when Miles was giving food to his image in the mirror. This attempted regurgitation increased and it appeared that her crop was swollen. Suddenly she went down to the bottom of the cage (something she had never done before) and started eating the shells of seeds at a very fast rate. She did this often during one day and continued to attempt regurgitation even when she was apparently sleeping. I thought that she had constipation. I noticed, however, that she had a dropping once and I decided that the food was going through. I called the vet and he suggested I put sand in the bottom of the cage. I immediately bought prepared grit for budgies and gave soft food (egg prepared by the pet store) and fruit. The next morning she was laying on the floor of the cage. I picked her up. She was still alive. I did a healing and prayed and stroked her. She opened her eyes and looked at me and then closed them and died. I felt the crop. It was totally empty - it had apparently burst. When I advised the vet of what had happened, he said that an autopsy would have to be done to establish if she had a virus or not, but I had buried her in the garden the previous day.
What have I learned from this?