Balding For Babies (And Some Rinck)

I have exciting news! It’s exciting on a couple of levels, actually.

As background, in case you do not already know of our pet situation, the Fiery One and I have three finches: Elliott, the Male, and the Female.

We have had Elliott for approximately three-and-a-half years. He used to have a gay cagemate named George who sang like a meadowlark, but Elliott would have nothing to do with his attempted wooings and showed no signs of grieving when George went belly-up last Christmas. The Male and the Female came into the picture when one of my old bosses, Man, was looking to unload the last of his two finches. Man had gone all crazy filling his house with birds, but the constant chorus of squawks, peeps, and twitters from tens of birds eventually began to grate on his nerves. He stopped mourning the little headless corpses his cats would leave for him in the living room after work and realized that perhaps it would be better if he distributed his pets to loving homes.

Thus, the Male and the Female came to live with the Fiery One and I. The Fiery One was away on an extended business trip at the time, and I decided to hold off naming them until he returned. The trip had been overly long and terribly exhausting, so the naming was put off some more, and then just calling them the Male and the Female became habitual. I’ve never really cared for the lack of proper names, but so it goes.

While the Fiery One and I were away for the holidays, we had Friday and P take care of the critters. Near the end of our stay in Cosmopolis, I received a very worrisome e-mail from Friday. Apparently, according to P, the Male had plucked out most of his body feathers. This is not a good thing for little finches. It generally means one of three things: the Male is stressed out to the point of denuding himself (either from our absence or through his annoying cagemate), the Female is pulling out his feathers (either because she’s evil or she finds her cagemate annoying), or the Male is ill and doing very poorly. I was quite worried about him all through New Year’s, and my mind kept skipping back to thoughts of his poor, naked, little self throughout the evening (until I became too intoxicated due to my champagne allergy to think much at all, but that’s another story).

When we arrived home in Cityville from our vacation in Cosmopolis, the first thing I did was check on the wee pets. The Male looked awful. He looks more like a miniature vulture than a zebra finch. His neck and back have been picked clean.

I noticed, though, that the feathers on his wings and belly and head were fully intact. This was not quite the pattern that a neurotic bird or a sick bird would necessarily follow. It looked quite certainly like someone had been picking at his back and neck from above. I had always had my suspicions that the Female’s quieter and slightly more nervous demeanour was likely only a ruse to obscure her darker motivations.

Because we had just arrived home and disturbed them quite a bit, I decided that I would wait to clean their cages until today. The Male and the Female are generally in the larger cage, and Elliott is in a smaller cage by himself. When I was taking a look at their cages to see how much scrubbing I was looking forward to, I noticed that the Female was sitting in the blue, plastic cup mounted on the side of the cage. It was the first time I have ever seen her doing that. I never put food in that cup and only leave it hanging there as an extra perch. I decided to take a closer look and peered down at her from the top of the cage. She looked up at me a little nervously, but didn’t move. It was then that I noticed a light-coloured object hanging out from under one of her wings. Was that an egg? It must be an egg!

I ran out into the living room to tell the Fiery One about my discovery. An egg! Man did not know how old the Female really was, but he told me that she and the Male had never had eggs before, so it was unlikely that we would have to worry about that sort of thing. The Universe is really big on procreation, so I should have known that something like this is always more likely than we think it will be. I dragged the Fiery One back over to the birds to show him, and the Female jumped out of her nest to reveal four, that’s four, pale blue eggs.

I spent a portion of the afternoon cleaning out the two cages and, oh, yeah, you might be wondering what all this has to do with her pecking the hell out of the Male. I was cleaning out the cages, and I dropped several pieces of wool yarn into her “nest”, because she had no nesting material. When I got a closer look, I saw why the Male was being so hard done by. The Female is obviously quite resourceful, because when she found herself lacking appropriate nesting materials, she only looked as far as the Male’s back to find an excellent resource of fresh bedding for her eggs. She’s a bit mean, I think. I would never pluck out all of the Fiery One’s body hairs one by one in order to weave our offspring a onesie.

At any rate, I am very excited about these eggs. I have no idea what we would do with a brood of baby birds, although I think a pet store might take them, and the likelihood of them actually hatching is a bit slim anyway. I think I just like the idea of nests and nesting and little blue eggs nestled in chocolate-coloured wool.

I’ve put the hen-pecked Male into the smaller cage by himself, and it is now dubbed the Hospital Cage. He can recover there without having the Female stealing all his much-needed feathers, and he can also eat and drink in peace. Since moving him, he has been hopping about and singing a lot, so it seems like a recovery is possible. Elliott is now in with the Female, because unlike the Male, he is larger and successfully fends off the Female’s nitpicking, or so it seems so far. I have the two cages pushed up right next to each other, so the Male and the Female can sit next to each other and visit through the bars. They seem to like that.

Does anybody out there know what to do with nesting finches? How about squirmy little baby birds in blue plastic cups? Do any of you know approximately how long it might take a finch to grow back a third of a body’s worth of feathers? Any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks.


Disembodiment” by Monika Rinck


I’m happy to meet the grumpiest girl in the room!

Blogfaces makes me giggle. It’s weird somehow.

Read a cartoon at Something Positive. The funny part is that my birthday came after the date of this strip, and I received a puppet as a present that looks remarkably like the one pictured.

Elan Morganlinks, pets, listsComment