The other day I was talking to someone about our Zebra Finches, Humphrey and Calliope, and they asked “So what exactly do finches do?” Good question. Hopefully the brief video will give you an idea. I give you “Humphrey & Calliope: A Day in the Life of a Finch.”
We’ve had our finches, Calliope & Humphrey for several weeks now and they are fun, busy little birds.
Reasons why Calliope & Humphrey are awesome:
1. They like to nest together. We have these two thatched houses that we bought at Pet Smart because the “pet specialist” informed us that finches like to nest. For awhile, our finches didn’t seem too interested in the nests, but then we moved them for better access, and the other night they were both peeking out of the nest. They were adorable.
2. They like to groom each other. Our finches definitely have a morning routine. I come down and uncover their cage and they begin to chirp and bounce around the cage. After a few minutes of flying about, they settle on a perch and begin to clean each others feathers.
3. They love to play with hay. We have a hay ball, another suggestion from the “pet specialist” and the birds love to pull all the hay out of the ball and they carefully pick specific stalks and use it to pad their nests.
4. They eat together.
5. When they get tired, they sit very close to one another on a perch and snuggle. Love.
To say that I am an animal lover would be an understatement. I’ve had dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, chicks, ponies, fish and now birds. I started eying the Zebra Finches at PetSmart about a year ago. I love song birds and the busy little finches were really fun to watch. I didn’t want a parrot or a parakeet or a cockatiel. I wanted to little finches, so I started reading about them and talk to RJ about them, and yesterday we brought two male Zebra Finches home:
|Welcome Calliope & Humphrey to our home.|
As is the case with most pets, birds need certain amenities to make them happy:
|Our cart at PetSmart.|
Finches like to build nests, so we needed hay and little nesting houses for them. We also had to buy finch food and a cuttle bone. The cuttle bone is literally a bone that the birds can peck on throughout the day. It provides them with calcium. They like to have several different perches at different levels in the cage and they like to bathe, so we bought them a little bathtub. After their cage was properly outfitted it looked like this:
While at PetSmart, the young lady helping us made the remark that our finches were “lucky birds.” If you know anything about our dog or cat, you know that we’re professional pet spoilers, so I don’t know why the finches would be any different. We were careful to buy all the necessary accessories, we read up on Zebra Finches online and we chose a perfect spot for the cage. However, we failed to get one key piece of information. How do you get the birds from this box:
|Like a mini cat carrier.|
Into the cage. We figured we could slowly open the side of the box and hopefully the little finches would fly right into the cage. Well, finch #1 definitely flew out of the box but he thought our kitchen looked much nicer than the cage. After a minute of carefully following the finch around our kitchen, we were able to catch him and coax him into his new home. Learning from our mistakes, we just reached into the cage and scooped up finch #2.
|Safely in their new home.|
I love to watch them and listen to their little chirps. They seem to be settling in nicely and I’m sure there will be more finch stories to come.
A few weeks ago I hung a bird feeder up that my mother gave me for Christmas. It’s in the shape of a little white house with Plexiglas sides, so when you pour the black sunflower seeds inside, it looks like a little black and white cottage is hanging off our garage.
I waited patiently for days for the birds to arrive. I peeked out the windows at every chance. I was even quieter exiting my back door in the morning (careful not to let the screen door slam too loudly) just in case a small bird was enjoying his/her breakfast. But after several days, no birds. Upon trolling the Internet and pestering my resident avian expert (my mother) I was relieved to learn that it can take up to two months for birds to discover a feeder.
Therefore you can imagine my elation when R pointed out that there were sunflower seed shells peppering the snow beneath the feeder. Shells must mean birds, right? Wrong. I was somewhat dismayed to find several large squirrels had discovered my feeder and were gorging themselves on the seeds intended for my birds.
Admittedly, squirrels are annoying. At my parents house, my mother unwillingly feeds Fox squirrels that are bigger than most cats I’ve known. They are loud. They are fat. They are gluttons. I swear at them. I stomp my feet. I yell and I clap. They chatter and swish their squirrel tails, which I think is a the equivalent of giving the finger.
The squirrels resiliency/stupidity/ courage was truly proven earlier last week when they were confronted with a beast whose brain capacity probably rivals theirs. Yes, they came up against our dog. In fact, one of them did not survive the encounter.
It is important to note that even before the squirrels started dining regularly at my feeder, they had a antagonistic relationship with our dog. He barks at them. He attempts to chase them and he even jumps up against the fence in hopes of knocking one off. He’s not messing around. This pasts summer he managed to catch one and only dropped it when I yelled and startled, the stunned squirrel dropped from his mouth. The squirrel was easy to identify over the passing weeks because he was missing a large patch of fur from his back.
Apparently, squirrels do not have a good social network because they continue to frequent our yard, which brings us to the most recent event. Because we like to give the squirrels a fighting chance, we try to scare them off before letting Kweli (our dog) outdoors. However, Kwe is fast and agile (despite being hit by a car as a puppy) and he uses our back porch as a launch pad. All of these things combined made for squirrel carnage as R opened the door, Kweli took off, and the squirrel made a fateful mistake. Instead of making for the fence like his buddy, he scrambled back up the garage and tried to hang onto the metal hook the bird feeder is attached to. He slipped. He fell. Kwe pounced. It was over in a matter of seconds.
Some people may say, “Oh! The poor squirrel!” or “What are you doing to do?” while peering at my panting, hairy dog who is looking very pleased with himself. What am I going to do? Nothing. As you may or may not have noticed, squirrels are in abundance. More to the point, dogs kill things. Wait, scratch that. Animals kill things. My Labrador used to dig moles right out of the ground and mangle woodchucks. My childhood cat used our front doorstep to display a diverse array of noses, ears, tails, and feet (you can’t eat those parts). I’m not squeamish and if you don’t think your dog might do the same if given the opportunity, put it in a fenced yard with a squirrel sometime.
Needless to say, there are still plenty of squirrels in our yard. Also, because I am an animal lover, I do try to warn them before sending Kwe out to patrol the perimeter.
So, did the birds ever come, you ask?
Yes, they have finally discovered the feeder and when I looked out the window today, they were perched on the feeder feasting and the squirrels were cleaning up the seeds from below.
*I’m thinking of poems…
Some of the birds visiting today: