Grounded (for now)

Published by GrahamLewis in the blog Reflections on My Golden River. Views: 131

I've talked here a few times about my lovebird companion, who we've had for seven-plus years. We've never clipped his wings, and let him out a few times a day to flex his wings. Usually he flies around a bit, checking things out, then settles onto his perch or someone's shoulder.

Last night I had him downstairs with me, in my writing area, in the fully finished quarter of our basement. I was writing, he was sitting on my shoulder, staring into space, meditating I think. Then I moved in a way he didn't like, and he took off intending, I presumed to perch on the door until he was sure I was being still again. I kept writing.

Suddenly I heard him "screaming" from the other room. The light had been off in there and he rarely ventures from light into darkness. I jumped up and turned on the light. He had managed to collide with a fly-catching apparatus that hangs from the ceiling, a circular piece of cardboard covered with flypaper. He was struggling to get free but the more he struggled the more caught he became. Sort of like the Tarpaper Baby in the Old Uncle Remus stories (I wonder how many of you catch the reference). The tube had quite a few feathers stuck to it.

I got him free and he sat on hand a moment, then launched himself into space, but fluttered to the floor. He had apparently lost enough feathers (likely some wing feathers) that he was off-balance and non-areonautical. I took him upstairs, put him into his cage, and called the university veterinary school emergency clinic. The emergency tech I talked with listened patiently, went through a litany of things to watch for, then laughed slightly. "This happens more than you might think." She told me to keep in in the cage a couple days to calm down, then go back to normal -- or as close as possible, since it will likely take a few months to re-grow the feathers.

All in all, I'm relieved. I recall seeing that old flycatcher hanging there, but never got around to removing it. And I know the stories about how easily and often these inquisitive little birds get into trouble, hence the fact that letting them have their wings is a calculated risk, balancing the enhanced health and fitness of making full use of the wings vs. the safety of keeping them under control.

I still think we made the right choice, and fully intend to let him fly freely again once he is able.
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