|Our First Baby! "Apache"
My husband, daughter and I were browsing in the pet shop one afternoon, looking
at the Budgies. My husband didn't seem impressed. None of them seemed to be "the right one". None of them
seemed to "stand out" to my daughter either. I heard an excited cry from across the bird room. "Mom, LOOK!!!"
My daughter was pointing to a cockatiel, sitting alone in a cage. Such a
pretty bird, a pied, with the sweetest little expression. I drifted over in a trance and said softly... "Oh... a cockatiel.....
" The price tag was quite a bit heftier than the budgies of course, but I didn't even have to turn "puppy dog" eyes
on my husband. He joined us at the cage and said "Now THAT is more like it. If you want to get a bird.. get something
more "parroty". I reminded him that budgies ARE part of the parrot family but he sniffed and said "But that is more
of what I had in mind!" Excitedly, I called my friend on my cell phone and went down over a "health" checklist with
her. "Yes, the bird's feet were pink, vent was clean, nares were clean, not puffy, seems alert." (Honestly, I was grateful
I had a friend who knew enough about birds so I could call her and check for signs of health before plunking down
a chunk of money! A big THANKS to you! You know who you are!)
My husband and daughter were running up the isles to get a cage and accessories
selected while a staff member met me at the checkout counter with my new "baby" in a tiny take home cage. I named her
"Apache" for her "mohawk" and her orange cheek patches. A-patch-ee. Soon, Apache was settling into her new home
and cockatiel mania in my home began!
Not long after Apache came home, my friend called me with an offer I couldn't refuse!
She was interested in purchasing a breeding pair of cockatiels from a lady who had some for sale. The lady was also
selling this pair's 9 week old baby. She hoped my friend would buy all three birds with two cages (one for the parents
and one for the baby) for one lump sum. Since My son's birthday was right around the corner and Apache had become
such a pleasure to have around, the thought of having a "friend" for Apache was very appealing! My son (who was turning
13) was excited to add to our bird family and promised to help care for his new pet. My daughter made up a welcome
sign and taped it to the sliding glass door to welcome home our new arrival.
The baby had never been handled, nor had Jack and Ele.
(the parents). He'd never been away from his parents either. He was so lonely for them at first, it nearly broke
my heart. He was extremely wary of people but with that little lemon yellow mohawk and his pied markings, how could we
not just love him to bits. After some deliberation on what to call him, my son decided his tummy looked like a bucket
of swirled Neapolitan icecream. It "stuck" and the name was quickly shortened to "Neo".
Jack and Ele wasted no time settling into their new home at
my friend's house and quickly started a new family! Within a month, they'd laid a clutch of four eggs, and 3 weeks
later, 3 of the four hatched into healthy beautiful chicks! They were almost identical triplets! By this time, my friend's
budgies had finally had some clutches of chicks too, so she offered my daughter her choice. She could choose either a baby
cockatiel or budgie. Since we had two cockatiels already, my daughter decided she would like a tiel of her own.
While the babies grew, Kirsten (my daughter) received
progress reports from my friend on how they were doing with frequent pictures and little stories. 9 weeks
is a long time for a ten year old to wait for baby cockatiels to wean, but my daughter spent the time by preparing a cage,
reading "cockatiel care books" and deciding which of the three was the "cutest". It was too hard because they all three
Finally, the agonizing wait was over! The babies were weaned
and ready for new homes! We made the 40 minute trip out to my friend's house one Saturday afternoon. My daughter
was in hog heaven as she surrounded herself with baby tiels. One was just as cute as the next! Finally, she made her
decision by which baby stayed perched on her finger the longest.
Long and hard, Kirsten debated on a name. She wanted a name that could suit either gender
since (at 10 weeks old, there was no way to tell if it was a boy or a girl). Finally, she decided on the name "Silver"
because of the light gray coloring Silver inherited from "Whiteface Mom as opposed to Standard gray Dad's darker coloring".
Silver came home and though friendly at my friend's house, seemed very shy in new surroundings. Although
my daughter doted on Silver, it was obvious he missed his brothers and sisters and wasn't used to being alone in a cage.
We counted down the days of quarentine until Silver could join his new flockmates, Neo and Apache!
|And Then There Were Three!
A month later, Silver was intoduced to his new flock mates,
Neo and Apache. Though Neo was "techincally" a big brother, he didn't seem overly thrilled with the new addition.
Apache didn't seem bothered one way or another. Apache and Neo had grown accustomed to one another and shared a cage,
and Silver's cage was seperate, placed next to theirs. They played (or fought in Neo and Silver's case) together.
After a brief "who rules this roost" contest between Neo and Silver (who we believe to both be male), things settled down.
Now they are caged together as a unit and get along fine. My family and I are learning how
to interract with these wonderul parrots as indivuals, and as a flock. Its fascinating to watch the "cage dynamics"
develope. Each bird is unique and I have a strong bond with each one. I was told having multiple birds would
decrease the amount of "people bonding" my birds would want with me, but I haven't found that to be the case. Sometimes, maintaining
a level of personal interraction with each bird, seperate from the others is a challenge because they get jealous of each
other. Its amazing that such a small creature, with a brain so reletively small in comparison with ours, can be so intelligent!
The next pages are dedicated to each indivual bird. Each one has a "story" that I only
touched on briefly in the introduction and each has a personality so big, there's no way to sum it all up with one picture
and a little paragraph! I hope you enjoy reading about our birds as much as we enjoy spending time with them!