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The Finster Log
Archive — August 2005
R.I.P. Peppercorn (Mélènge)
Posted on: 08/29/05, 18:29:40 | | link
Peppercorn (Mélènge) died sometime between 11 pm and 1:30 am, we'll call it this morning. He would have accepted Warm Toasties last night, but mostly because he was so weak. It didn't seem fair to take advantage of that, so I left him alone.
I spent quite a bit of time hovering over him these past couple of days, seeing if he was eating, seeing if he was still alive, giving him more snacks. I fear he suffered at the end, that he starved to death. Finster Guilt. Even though I did everything I knew how. Maybe not guilt so much as sorrow.
He got the nickname Peppercorn (Squeezin's) at the end, since all he seemed to eat was corn, and that got pretty sticky. I thought about taking a picture, but having a corn kernel stuck to the tip of your beak is hardly a dignified way to be remembered. Besides, the camera's flash might have bothered him.
He was a good bird.
R.I.P. Peppercorn (Mélènge), ? — August 29, 2005.
This Magic Moment
Posted on: 08/28/05, 13:34:13 | | link
I took Peppercorn (Mélènge) back to the vet today, since he seems to be fading. These past two days I've hardly seen any food in his crop, he seems to spend more time eating — and apparently not really succeeding — and he seems a little less coordinated. As I'd feared, he lost weight since the last visit: 11 grams down from 13. The vet didn't have any new ideas about the cause, particularly since the antibiotics (last dose tonight) didn't do the trick. But she sent me home with a painkiller, just in case that makes it easier for him to eat.
You know, somehow.
It's times like these that I wish I could learn how to tube feed a bird. But even if I knew how, and could give a sick bird a quick little pick-me-up of food, it's not a good choice for long-term care. It always comes down to the quality of life issues. Getting food stuck down your throat can't be very fun.
I had a lovely moment with Peppercorn (Mélènge), though. Actually, a lovely half hour or so. After we got back from the vet's office I took him out of the travel cage and put him back into the hospital cage. But instead of hopping right away from me, Peppercorn (Mélènge) stayed in my hand, and slept there for half an hour. It's the first time I've ever been able to give a Finster Warm Toasties. I'd love to try that again tonight!
Posted on: 08/23/05, 13:44:13 | | link
Peanut has spent the last half hour on his little table eating oat groats, a sunflower seed, two flakes of granola, oat groat dust, sunflower seed dust, granola dust, and who knows what else. He's a very thorough eater, but his table is a mess. Partly because, you know, I don't clean it every day. By a long shot.
The situation is made worse — much, much worse — by the very large poop, covered in bits of oat groats, sunflower seed hulls, granola dust, and who knows what else, that's STUCK TO HIS BACK TOE.
You see, I can't touch his toes. NO ONE CAN TOUCH PEANUT'S TOES. No one.
If I'm lucky, he'll fly home, dust-encrusted poop intact, and clean it off in the comfort of his cage. I'f I'm unlucky, he'll land on my head.
Peppercorn (Mélènge) Is In The House
Posted on: 08/20/05, 16:49:00 | | link
...the hospital cage, that is. Actually, I'd noticed a nearly-naked Spice finch doing a lot of sleeping on top of a nest box before I left, and assumed that it was Nutmeg. But as it turned out, the sleeping bird may have been (or may also
have been) Peppercorn (Mélènge). With Nutmeg dying so suddenly, Bruce turned the heat lamp on just in case, and there was Peppercorn (Mélènge) sleeping in the light.
Or trying to. You see, a very nicely-feathered Spice finch — probably Cinnamon, since he's the prettiest male — has been trying to establish his territory by mounting all the other Spice finches. Especially the naked ones. This is fairly typical behavior from aggressive birds, and I've been noticing it in the Finsterium for the past month or so. It must be mating season in Cinnamon's head.
No doubt, his behavior contributed to Nutmeg's stress levels, and it was certainly making it hard for Peppercorn (Mélènge) to rest in the light. So we caught him up first thing yesterday morning, while it was still nearly dark, and took him to the vet. Normally, I might have just popped him into the hospital cage for a nice, quiet rest, but with Nutmeg dying so suddenly, we weren't in the mood to take chances.
(Um, no, I still haven't buried her. Weird, I know, but it just makes it so final. Soon. Really. Really.
The vet had no new clues: his eyes and mouth looked good, his lungs sounded good. But he was very
thin. To be honest, the vet didn't seem very optimistic about his chances.
So he's back home, on a course of antibiotics, a little bored, but surrounded by all the tasty things I can think for him to eat. There are so many tiny dishes of food (caps from vitamin bottles work well) that he can barely get to them all. Soaked seeds and corn remain the favorites, but he also has egg food, quinoa, spinach, moistened crumbles, and anything else I can think of.
Since he has a lot of feather damage around his neck, it's pretty easy to tell if his crop is full — although he's probably a little annoyed that I keep looking at him all the time. "Not much rest here!" he's probably saying. His crop often has food in it when I look, but he's still thin. I can feel his breastbone, which is a bad sign.
Posted on: 08/17/05, 18:43:00 | | link
Although it's a little alarming that we're down to only four tubs of tasty seeds, from the original 16 1/2
, the really
sad part about this picture is that Nutmeg's dead and frozen body is in the plastic bag on top of the seeds.
She died suddenly, without warning, while I was out of town. Which has left poor Bruce with a terrible amount of Finster Guilt. But it wasn't his fault, I'm sure. She was the nakedest bird of the bunch, clearly at the bottom of the pecking order among the Finsters, and still scared of me after living here for almost a year. Any illness she caught would have hit her pretty hard. Since I was away, Bruce put her in the freezer, to wait for the burial. I've put it off so far, it's so final. She was a sweet, shy bird. I hope she was happy here.
Being the apparently weird person that I am, I've taken a picture. Not the first time
. Nothing too gruesome. Just a photo of her very long toenails
(pops). Those Spice finches sure know how to grow nails!
R.I.P. Nutmeg, ? — August 16, 2005.
Birds In The Neighborhood, Update
Posted on: 08/13/05, 18:02:00 | | link
The baby sparrows on top of the Wilkinson Luggage store sign fledged (left the nest) a couple of days after I wrote about them
. Good thing, too, because the Wilkinsons left Main Street, and the old shop is being refurbished. But there are still newly-fledged sparrows around town, begging Mom and Dad for tasty snacks. I watched a baby getting lunch in a park for a few minutes: mouth open and wings flapping, babies cheep incessantly for the parent to stuff bugs and things in their mouths. You can click here for a close up of wing-fluttering goodness
. Note that different species of birds beg slightly differently, although incessant cheeping is usually involved.
Or, you can click here for one of the most amazing collection of baby bird pictures
I've ever seen. Roy Beckham of eFinch.com
has taken some wonderful pictures of very young finches with their mouths open, begging for food. Mouth markings probably help parents find their chicks' mouths in a dark nest. They also help aviculturists identify different species, since the markings are unique to each species. The babies in these pictures haven't fledged yet, and are still mostly pin feathers. Any bumpy yellowish bits you can see around the necks of these birds are their crops, filled with food that their parents have regurgitated for them in the past half hour or less.
Checking It Twice
Posted on: 08/09/05, 18:46:09 | | link
After reading my post
about the seed stuck under Bruce's spacebar key, Jen
reminded me of a similar experience she had
about a year ago, with the letter "P" and a single birdseed. Which got me thinking that there are a few instances where people really ought to keep birds in mind when they make up their rules and regulations. For example:
Official list of things for tech support to check on when someone has a problem with their computer:
- Is it plugged in?
- Is it turned on?
- Are all the cables connected properly?
- Have you read the f*ing manual?
- What, are you still using IE?
Item that should be added to the list:
- Are there any seeds stuck under the keys?
Official list of things for hair care specialists to check on before they offer to put product in a client's hair:
- Do you have any allergies I should know about?
- Do you have any skin conditions?
- Can you afford this?
Item that should be added to the list:
- Does your bird sit on your head and preen your hair?
Airplane pilots have already figured out that birds should be included in their checklists. Now, checklists are really long, and include things like making sure the oil and fuel levels are sufficient, there's no water in the fuel, the tires are properly inflated, the brakes are in good repair, there are no dents in the fuselage, all the fasteners are in place and secure, control surfaces are properly attached and move freely, and there are no oil leaks or obstructions in the engine compartments. And when they say "obstructions," they mean, among other things, bird nests. Really.
These hidey-holes make good nest sites. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) even has pictures
of one (and collisions, too, sad to say).
Maybe pilots pay attention to birds because they know that Birds Rule The Sky
I'll Eat That!
Posted on: 08/08/05, 07:46:35 | | link
After six days of being without access to the internets at home, Bruce had very little patience for any additional technical glitches. So when the space key on his keyboard stopped working, he was ready to run out and get a new one.
He spent a couple of minutes checking it out, first, though. And discovered not one, but two sunflower seeds stuck underneath the key. The keyboard works much better now, and Peanut got a nice snack!