About a month and a half ago I opened up the window to my office where I keep my two cage-free budgies, having gotten them up for breakfast. I looked out the window to see a little cream-colored bird in my garden. This was no native wild bird, so I headed out and saw from a distance that it was a little budgie - a lost bird.
I approached slowly and saw it was an adult female, very pale cream color, and she was eating grass seed from weeds that grew on the edge of my garden. I approached very slowly, talking in my budgie love voice. She moved away when I got very close, so I pursued her back and forth between tomato plants. She only hop-flew just a few feet at a time.
To make a long story short, between my husband and I, we put her in a travel cage in a separate room from our other two birds, with seeds and water. She was very unsteady on the perch and could barely hold on. We watched her and finally, she came down and took a long drink, and then ate. She perked up within half an hour. Good thing we picked her up when we did, because I heard the neighborhood Red Tail Hawk calling overhead not an hour later.
She is a very pale Lutino, almost completely white, with pink eyes and white cheek patches, and no ankle band. My husband named her Cream. I asked around the neighborhood and looked online for lost birds, but after reading on this forum I decided not to put out an ad for a found bird.
After eating and drinking steadily for a week, I took her to our qualified bird vet, Dr. Speer, one of the best in the USA. Cream was underweight at 30 grams, but otherwise in good condition. Her fecal sample was negative. As far as her age, well, at least 1-2 years but we can't tell beyond that. We kept her quarantined for 30 days per the vet's instruction.
We soon realized that Cream had not been socialized, and was very jumpy when we got close to the cage. She would flinch at the slightest thing, even the pronunciation of the "P" sound. Well, naturally, since she had just been through a traumatic experience and almost starved to death.
Per Dr. Speer's instruction, we used Dr. Michael McDowell's traffic light guide to behavior for taming. Red light = the bird tries to get away; Yellow light = neutral; Green light = the bird comes to you.
We should have named her Roxanne because she kept putting up the red light. Mature birds are much harder than young birds. My husband sat with his hand in the cage, a bowl of seed in his hand. Cream had not yet eaten that morning and was holding onto the upper left corner of the cage. It took half an hour of moving around the cage to figure out how to get to that seed without getting close to the hand, but finally, she came over. By this time, my husband's joints were killing him and his hand had gone numb. Cream took ONE seed and was back up on the cage wall.
Yeah. One seed.
Half an hour later, he tried again, and Cream ate. This went on for a while. After a week, I was able to get Cream to eat out of the bowl for me.
The next step was to get her on the finger. That took a lot of patience, but as long as there were bars between her and us, Cream appeared pretty comfortable on the finger.
Meanwhile, the birds knew about each other, as they chirped back and forth. We felt bad for poor Cream being isolated, but we had to follow the quarantine, and we had to get her to the point where we could bring her out of the cage and she would sit on our finger.
When my husband brought her out of the cage the first time, she flew all around the room. Her flight was pretty weak. Finally, two weeks after the quarantine ended, Cream was ready to join the flock.
INTRODUCTION TO THE EXISTING BIRDS
Sunny is 4 1/2 years old, and is now starting to act like her old self after Shayne had died last December.
Twilight is barely an adult, and wants to interact with Sunny, and is frustrated by being rejected so she bullies laid-back Sunny.
We brought the travel cage with Cream into the office at 9:00 am yesterday - Sunny and Twilight were cage free and out and about. They flew around and chirped. Sunny didn't want any part of it, but Twilight kept flying around the small cage.
We opened the door to the little cage after an hour. Twilight continued to fly around and landed on the door, but was off again, and Cream flew out. Initially, Cream was overwhelmed and stayed on the blinds only. Twilight tried to greet her immediately, but Cream nipped at her.
Millet springs were clipped to the top of the cage, where they normally eat. It was about noon when Cream came down to the cage and attacked one of the sprigs. Twilight tried to assert herself but Cream would not be chased away.
By 7:00 pm, Cream and Twilight were flying in unison.
At 9:00 we put them to bed. I removed the travel cage and put Cream in the cage with Twilight. We have two cages, as Shayne had trouble being egg-bound (girl bird with a boy's name), so the vet had us separate the two to avoid more egg production.
Cream immediately hopped onto the swing. I could see Twilight - from her posture... 'Wait a minute... this is MY cage and that's MY swing!" There was posturing fluttering of wings even after we covered them up. But in the morning, Cream had been victorious.
Cream's flight has already gotten stronger. She has consistent wing beats now like the other birds, and immediately took to the Zupreem pellets I set out for breakfast. Seed will be given at 10:00 am., once per day.
Cream and Twilight are posturing for who is going to be top bird. I see them beak bump but then kiss. Sunny withdraws from them. They are not Shayne. We expected this, but Sunny is getting better.
Cream is now part of the flock, and we will continue to socialize her. She has recovered from the shock of being outside the safety of the cage, and I suspect has aready started to enjoy being cage free.