When you get a new dog or cat, and already have pets, vets generally suggest a quarantine period to ensure that the new animal doesn't have worms, or something equally contagious, that your current pets could catch. This usually lasts for a couple of days.
Birds are a different story. Vets used to require a six month quarantine for birds. This was partly because birds used to be caught in the wild, so they could have all sorts of diseases. Even now, though, vets often suggest 30 to 60 to 90 days. Why so long? Partly because they're susceptible to diseases with long incubation periods, partly because they're good at hiding illness, partly because the stress of a move — and the incubation period itself — can lower a bird's immune system enough to make a latent illness "take," and partly because avian medicine is relatively new. Well, that last one is partly my frustration talking, but it's not entirely untrue.
The thing is, the only proper
way to quarantine birds is to have separate airspaces. No matter how careful you are about washing and/or separating everything in between the two groups of birds (and this means bird paraphernalia, your hands, and your clothes), if you don't have two separate airspaces, you can't do a proper quarantine. Needless to say, I don't have two separate airspaces in my 800-square-foot apartment.
I've been lucky in the past, with a couple of new sets of Finsters, and Peanut. But after doing more research with Harley, I've realized that luck really was part of it. The good news is I haven't gotten any new finches in a long time, and I know where Harley comes from: two known sources makes quarantine less crucial. Another bit of good news is that Harley's blood work came back clean. (Oh yeah, Harley is big enough to get blood work done!)
In my more vulnerable moments I'm still worried, wondering what else I should test for, how much longer I can stand having a rash on my hands from washing them so often, how much longer I can possibly subject the poor Finsters to the tiny dungeon of the hospital cage, how I'm supposed to be able to tell if a bird I've only known for about a month isn't feeling well, how I'm supposed to be able to tell if the Finsters aren't feeling well when they're in a tiny dungeon, etc. But fingers crossed — the Finsters moved back to the Big House yesterday!
The transfer went about as expected. We lined the two cages up, and waited. But apparently, having been in the tiny dungeon
hospital cage for so long, the Finsters pretty much forgot what the allure of big, open spaces, giant water dishes, tasty corn, and nest boxes were all about, so they just sat there, occasionally looking at the connecting doors. This doesn't surprise me — while they were in the tiny dungeon
hospital cage they completely ignored the little door I left open countless times while I changed their water. Apparently, the hospital cage is tiny, but safe. (To be fair to myself, I was giving them fresh water three times a day, so had many opportunities to forget. But still. I literally lost count of how many times I left that door open, to come back and still have five birds. Thanks, Finsters!)
Bruce and I weren't about to wait three hours for them to come out
, since we really missed having the Finsters in the kitchen. So after about 15 minutes, we took the entire front grate off the tiny dungeon
hospital cage. Still no takers. So after another 20 minutes, Bruce reached into the cage to shoo them out. Success!
The Finsters are all showing signs of having been in the tiny dungeon
hospital cage for awhile, but apart from being a little less capable of acrobatic flying, they seem to be doing well. And Harley seems pretty interested, although he hasn't quite claimed them as his Finchy Minions yet.
Oolong spent quite a bit of time singing and chirping at the nice shells in the brown dish. Harley thinks she's pretty cute. Well, who doesn't!