Sabrina, Sabrina

August 18, 2011 § 17 Comments

I admit that I have, on occasion, entertained the idea of relinquishing Sabrina.  Translate: I’ve thought about rehoming Sabrina.

There, I said it.

Have I made an plans to do it or am I actually going to do it?  No, probably not, or at least not at the current time.  I’m definitely committed to trying my best to make it work.  But I needed to get this off my chest.

Rehoming is not something I take lightly, at all.  I definitely think of myself as my birds’ forever homes, and brought them home with the attention of keeping them forever.  They’re more than pets to me; they mean the world to me.  But I do understand that there are many valid reasons to rehome a parrot.  I have always thought that for me personally, it would only happen under one circumstance: both that the parrot was causing a serious upset of a violent nature in my household or flock, and that I could find the parrot a better or more suitable home than that with me.  Both parts of the equation are very important to me, since I don’t take the adoption or bringing home of a parrot lightly, either.  If I made the decision to bring him or her home, I made the decision to give it all I’ve got to making it work.  I know that parrots don’t take rehoming easily and that the bonds, trust, and relationships broken aren’t easy on such a sentient creature.  So it would very seriously not have to be working for us, and I would have to have a clear alternative that would be better for both my flock and the parrot in question.

With Sabrina, I would say that with her recent developments, we definitely have the first condition fulfilled.  She has posed a serious threat to Charles in the past two weeks.  Her chasing him and pulling his tail has escalated into full on beak fighting, pouncing on him, biting toes and feet, and other very aggressive behaviors.  I don’t allow them out of the cage together anymore, but the problem is that even when I allow her out, she immediately goes to his cage and starts provoking him through the bars.  The other difficulty is that she absolutely hates me now for trying to break up her squabbles, and completely runs from me.  She used to be very good about stepping up, but now it is literally a thirty minute ordeal when I need to get her back into the cage.  On the one hand I feel that it is so utterly important for her to get out of cage time, but on the other, I really can’t do that as often as I’d like to if she is going to literally make me chase her around the room from high to low for half an hour.  It’s good exercise for me, perhaps, but sometimes I have other things to tend to and can’t afford to leave her scrambling about the room by herself– especially considering that she has discovered that she can fit through the cage bars on Lola’s cage and likes to terrorize Lola, too.  (Talk about a kamikaze budgie.)  So she’s getting less out of cage time now, and neither of us are happy about that.

Then there’s the other half of the equation– finding her a better home.  I’m just not sure about that half right now.  I’m a big advocate for budgies.  I adore them and I always try to treat them with the same dignity and loving adoration that I treat my Cape Parrot, despite the wide difference in price tag.  But would most people spend the money on a welded swing to protect Sabrina’s toe nails– a swing that cost the equivalent of a pair of budgies at the pet store?  I’m not sure.  She gets freshly chopped veggies and sprouts every morning, as well as a freshly cooked meal nightly.  All of it is organic, and I even tie up a big, organic leaf of chard or kale or broccolini in her cage as well because she likes to eat and climb at the same time.  She wastes a lot of it, but she has a lot of fun in the process.  She throws food up to four feet away and she screeches like a banshee.  Finally, she bites indiscriminately and has a beak like a razor blade.  She’s a whole lot of budgie and a whole lot of effort.

I have considered finding someone or somewhere with an aviary setting for budgies only, where she could be with other budgies and join a flock and just be a bird.  But I’m not sure that that would necessarily be what she wants.  She is kind of a menace to other birds and she also needs an inordinate amount of toys to keep her busy.  I have never seen a budgie destroy like she can.  She saws through willow wood!!  She is also an avid metal chewer and I wouldn’t trust her with anything but stainless steel.

So therein lies my dilemma.  If I really, sincerely thought she’d be happier somewhere else– well, it’d be hard, but I would strongly consider rehoming her.  But I won’t let her go to just anybody, anywhere.  I’m also hoping that maybe, just maybe, we can turn it around.  I’m sincerely hoping that the new cage helps.  I guess I should finally write an official entry on it one of these days.

Why am I writing about this?  I guess on the one hand, it is somewhat cathartic for me.  But more importantly, I don’t feel that I talk about the “downs” of parrot ownership enough.  I love bragging about my birds.  I’m definitely guilty of that.  They are gargantuan sources of joy and even learning in my life.  But not everything is peachy keen, not even for my small flock of three.

We’ll see.

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§ 17 Responses to Sabrina, Sabrina

  • Ming-Ming says:

    *hugs*
    I definitely know how you feel.
    The first part of your requirements is filled here, but like you I didn’t feel like anyone could offer the care and love that I give Kyoko here… not saying that there aren’t any bird owners as awesome as me (modest much?) but at least in my care, I know she is getting the best of care that I can give.

    If i were to rehome her, i’d probably worry so much, and expect like daily updates, haha. I thought it would be easier just to keep her ❤ Plus I love her way too much!

    • Coco's Flock says:

      Thanks Ming. I thought about you while writing this. I know what you mean about the “best” care possible and wanted constant updates and things. I just don’t think I’m ready to give her up yet and feel good or even comfortable about it.

  • Nicolette says:

    I hope things turn around fast. Maybe you can try keep her cage in another room like your bedroom to train her a bit and then re introduce her to Charles. Good luck!

    • Coco's Flock says:

      Thank you! The problem with separate rooms is that Sabrina contact calls Charles incessantly and throws herself against the cage if she can’t see him. She does actually like him and is very concerned with his whereabouts and activities; she just has a funny way of showing it.

  • Meg says:

    Oh I am so sorry you are dealing with this Coco! I totally absolutely understand your problem. If you go on my blog and look in the archived posts for ones about Peter and Ava, you will see that. The only difference is that Peter and Ava were a pair up until Peter, erm, snapped. Really not sure what happened. Now he cannot be with any other parrots, which is why my parents agreed (happily, they do love him) to take him. However, they also baby sat my guys some this winter, and while Peter was in a different room always, they did not notice any calling between the rooms or discomfort on any party hearing the other, so I am thinking about trying to bring him to my new house and keeping him in my bedroom or the spare bedroom, away from the other guys. I really have missed him, so I would love it if I could take him back, but I only want to do that if it is best for all involved.

    And as someone that loves working with small parrots, it is extremely hard to find a home for them. I will admit that my standards for a foster home are different than the standards I would require for one of my own birds. Meaning that I accept that most homes are not going to get rid of absolutely all fragrances and chemicals, and are not going to feed an organic additive-free diet, and that is ok as long as the bird is happy and doing well health wise. My own are used to that care, though, and I would hate for them to no longer receive it. I hope that does not sound too terrible, but that is the hard truth in rehoming.

    I even understand your frustration with getting her back in the cage! My quickest solution for those problems is to let them out before meals, so they have to go back in for them.

    Anyway, this is waaayyy too long for a comment, so I will end here, but please write me if you ever want to talk about it, as I would love to! Budgies are a passion of mine, and I can feel your pain in this situation. Not to mention the fact that I would buy an expensive swing for either of my budgies if that is what they needed and wanted!

    • Coco's Flock says:

      I didn’t know about Peter… I will look for those entries today!

      I totally agree. I think that there are tons of GREAT bird homes out there, but we all have different standards. I wouldn’t want Sabrina to experience not only a different home but also a totally different diet, quality of air, cage, etc.

      Thanks for the sympathy. Budgies are a passion of mine too.

  • HungryBird says:

    I completely understand where you are coming from. It does sound like Sabrina is pestering both Charles and Lola. I agree that it is unlikely that most people will take as much time to care for Sabrina as you do. Of course most people don’t take as much time to care for their human babies as you do for your birds but that’s another story! There probably is some sort of budgie sanctuary out there that would be a good fit for Sabrina but it doesn’t sound like you really want to give her up yet. I would try sticking it out for a while and seeing if things improve. I know you are probably concerned about her driving Charles and Lola crazy and also about her getting hurt by Lola. I would be nervous too if she was squeezing in between the bars of Lola’s cage!

    What are you doing with the cage(s) Charles and Sabrina are currently living in after you get the new one? You could keep Sabrina in the old cage and put Charles in the new one. Is there another room in your house or do you have a studio? Or are you still in NYC?

    • Coco's Flock says:

      Haha, thank you 🙂 I am definitely going to stick it out, at least for a few more months. I do think there is hope for us and we’re not yet at the point of no return, but she is making things a little bit more frazzled here.

      I was actually considering keeping Charles’s old cage, but the problem is, Sabrina is the real crazy bar chewer. I want her in the stainless one. I think that the acrylic divider will work wonders though, and the space isn’t horrible at 24″ wide by 18″ deep. Hopefully I can also give them a lot of time out of the cage too.

      I’m back in Virginia now and I do have other rooms but I like them in the same room together. Sabrina gets very anxious without Charles in sight.

  • Except for the names and the individual circumstances, I could have written this exact post about my budgie girls. I LOVE them and think they are amazing birds. But the agita they cause, for myself and for the rest of the flock, is completely out of proportion to their tiny size! They are absolutely fearless and will challenge any size bird – I have no doubt that they would fly right up and harass a macaw, given the opportunity.

    So, like you, I find it a huge challenge right now to give them safe out of cage time… short of enclosing everyone else’s cages completely in plexiglass, it’s extremely difficult. Even covering the cages with sheets (which is unfair to the others, even if it is only for a short period of time) doesn’t work, because they’ll find any way possible around it so that they can harass the inhabitants.

    But the same thoughts go through my head when I think of the ramifications of re-homing them. And even *if* another home provided them with the same level of enrichment, and with the variety of food that I do (their daily breakfast plate of home-cooked goodies makes them SO happy) . . . they’d be, for lack of a better way of putting it, taking up spaces in that hypothetical wonderful budgie haven that are needed by less fortunate budgies. I see so many budgies and cockatiels on sites like Craigslist, with the majority lacking even a minimum of enrichment and space, that I know good homes for the little guys are sorely needed.

    Ideally, I’d be able to provide them with their own aviary, away from the other birds, and take in some other needy budgies as well. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but I do hope to be able to move my bird room to a larger room in the house within a few years, so maybe then I’ll be able to provide them a walk-in aviary in the bird room so that they can have more flying space without causing such aggravation to everyone else..

    • Coco's Flock says:

      That’s exactly what I’m hoping for, eventually! The cage I’m getting for them is expandable… It will be 3 ft by 2 ft but I plan on extending it one day to 3 ft by 4 ft, or maybe even larger if possible. Eventually (in the distant future right now), I’d like to have a dedicated bird room with one part screened off for them so that they can have their space to fly freely.

  • Irina says:

    Coco, I am sorry you have such a tricky situation on your hands. But have you tried altering her diet and maybe increase her sleep time if possible? How about cutting out all sprouts and tops for now and just stick with seed and occasional leafy green? Budgies in the wild as far as i know sometimes go for months just eating dry seed, so a short deprivation won’t harm but it could calm her down a bit. Maybe replace her water with weak chamomile tea too for a couple of days a week. Her behaviour could be due to hormones raging inside, she wants a nest and babies but doesn’t know how to do it and expresses it in this mad kamikaze behaviours, just a thought :). But good luck with whatever you decide and I hope Sabrina realises what she may lose if she continues like that and turns back into a good girl 🙂

    • Coco's Flock says:

      Thanks Irinia 🙂 I have recently been reading about the benefits of chamomile and am thinking of offering her some. I am a bit leery of manipulating the photo period as we stick by the sun as closely as possible, but I appreciate the suggestions!

  • HungryBird says:

    I noticed that over time Romeo and Juliet started getting along much better. They came with one another so they knew each other before but they used to fight over food dishes. Really it was Romeo being a jerk and not wanting to share.

    Maybe since you do have other rooms you could let her fly in one of the other rooms? It would be less stressful for you, Charles, and Lola. You would still have the problem of getting her back in but you wouldn’t have to worry about her bothering the others or getting hurt by them. I’m not sure if that is possible though, it depends on how your place is structured. But it might be easier to take her out of the room they are all in just for flying purposes.

    And no one is as good of a bird owner as you are! I completely understand you fretting over whether other owners would give their tiny budgies the same quality care they give their other, more “exotic” birds. The answer is usually no. I get kind of annoyed when people give one bird lots of toys and another one doesn’t get anything. I’m kind of weird about that though. I insist on treating all animals fairly and I get teased quite a bit about it because, according to everyone else in the world, animals don’t know what fair is. I disagree. My dog knows when I give another dog a treat and not him it is very unfair!

    Does Charles ever enjoy her company or is he 100% afraid of her? Gosh I’m so mad at her for being mean to him! He is so sweet and she is being a bully. I can’t believe I care so much about birds I’ve never met. I’m constantly updating my boyfriend on Charles and he thinks I’m crazy but acknowledges that Charles is an exceptionally handsome budgie.

    • Coco's Flock says:

      Thank you 🙂 That is so sweet!

      I did actually let Sabrina fly around in my living room the other day but the problem with her (and Charles actually, and even the late Theodore) is that when they are in rooms they aren’t familiar with, they are totally frenetic and crazy and fly into the walls and windows repeatedly. That room has a ton of big floor-to-ceiling glass windows and sliding doors and considering that Theodore passed away from flying into a wall, I’m terrified of what might happen to her over there 😦

  • Saemma says:

    So sorry to read that Sabrina’s being such a bratty. If only she knew how good she has it. Just throwing this out there but would you consider hiring an avian behaviourist? How about starting her on some kind of training program? I have a feeling that you have one naughty but very intelligent budgie. Maybe even try contacting Barbara H. to see what her thoughts are.

    • Coco's Flock says:

      I am considering training, but to be honest, I’m not sure if a behaviorist would be necessary. From what I gather from more experienced budgie owners than I am, she is actually quite the typical female budgie and that’s just simply how they are… feisty little sprites. I think it’s more that I have to get used to her personality than she has to change for me.

  • anita says:

    Bah! Female Budgies… Spice is very similar in that she’ll terrorize Apple’s life in both affection and aggression. I have posted about rehoming her in the past due to this same problem!! But I decided I couldn’t trust anyone else with my little girl, just like how you feel.

    Nowadays I just deal with it.. It got a bit better.. Good luck to you and keep us updated! 🙂

    Ps- I now have your blog ad an app on my iPhone

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