It's all her fault.
I would still be blissfully birdless if it weren't for Stub. Now, I admit that before she came into my life I would periodically fondly remember the budgie I had when I was eight and consider getting another one. That thought would pass, though, long before I had a chance to act on it. Then, suddenly, I found myself acting on it - and fast.
I put a bird feeder on my fire escape after spotting a tufted titmouse in the park across the street. They are very cute wild birds and I thought watching them up close would brighten my day. None ever showed up. Sparrows did. So did pigeons. Occasionally I would spot a house finch. The most exotic bird that ever showed up was a kestrel, which dined on the sparrows and house finches (a friend of mine started calling it my "bird of prey feeder").
While staggering into the kitchen to make my coffee one morning I noticed a long blue bird tail on the feeder. The bird itself was hidden by the device, but I knew it was a budgie. "Poor thing!" I thought. "It can't survive out there."
I went to the kitchen window to get a better
look and, to my horror, I saw that the poor little thing was missing most
of her upper beak. That limited her ability to survive even more.
The chances of catching her were pretty slim, but I had to try.
I opened the kitchen window very slowly and, hoping she was finger trained, extended my hand to her. She wasn't finger trained. She flew to another part of the fire escape. I gave up. After all, she could fly and I can't. That gave her quite and advantage in this situation.
As I sipped my coffee I watched her try to sleep as sparrows pecked at her. That was too much. I had to try again. My dog watched anxiously (we were supposed to be going for a walk, after all) as I crawled out onto the metal slats of the fire escape. The bird flew to another fire escape. The attempt was over, or so I thought. My dog got her walk.
When we returned from the walk I noticed that a group of pigeons were feeding from the pot I had under the bird feeder to catch spilled seed. They were violating my strict "No Pigeons" rule, so I opened the window and brushed them away. There, under the offenders, and in the pot, I found a very grateful looking budgie. She hopped to the edge of the pot. I put some seed in my hand and offered it to her. She began to eat it. I pushed my fingers under her tummy and. to my amazement, she hopped on my hand. I pulled her inside.
The rest of the day was a rush of buying bird stuff, trying to learn as much as I could about caring for my new pet and convincing the dog that she didn't really have a new flying toy. She was happy to get in the cage, and even happier to get real budgie seed. I made the mistake of listening to the kid at the pet shop as to what I needed for the bird. I spent too much and bought stuff that I didn't need. For example, he insisted that her beak condition was due to scaly face mites, so I bought some toxic mite cure. When I read the instructions that said "Do not use near mouth or nose" I realized that I wasted 10 bucks.
We went to the vet the next day. Stub was about 10 weeks old. Her beak was lost from a trauma of some sort, but there was enough left to allow her to eat. She was in great health, otherwise.
The vet thought that she was probably born in the wild, but I have another, more cynical, theory. I think she was in a pet store, lost her beak somehow, couldn't be sold, so they let her go.
I've had stub for over four years now. Her beak has grown in, but there is no underlying bony structure, so it looks a little wrong. She keeps it amazingly beak like, though. She keeps a little point on the end and it's usually just about the right length.
She's a wonderful bird. Of all my birds, she is the tamest. At night she goes to bed last and when everyone else has been put to bed she yells at me. She want's me to play a game I call "mean hand monster attacks the defenseless little budgie bird." I wiggle fingers at her in menacing fashion and she jumps on them and "attacks" back. The more I wiggle, the more she bites (softly). After a while she stops biting and starts tweeting softly and regurgitates seed onto my fingers (a gesture only a bird person could find endearing).
I'm so glad that stub chose my bird feeder
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