Our Yellow Parakeet
After determining that we had seen a Yellow Parakeet in September 2002, during October it started showing up regularly in our back yard, first feeding on the ground, and eventually discovering the feeders. We couldn't believe that he had survived as long as he did; as brightly colored as he was, he had to be an easy Hawk target. But he was a very capable flyer, and he seemed to know when to take cover. Most of the other birds tolerated him, the Cardinals even seemed a little scared of him. We did see a Brown Thrasher chase him off once, but he was back soon afterwards.
These birds are native to the Australian desert, and everything we read indicated there was no way he would survive even our relatively mild winter, so we had a dilemma... should we let nature takes it course, or try to save him? Well, some knucklehead was responsible for the bird being here in the first place, and that's not exactly nature taking its course. So we decided to try to capture it and find it a home.
So, how do you capture a "wild" bird? Jan bought a cheap birdcage, and we fitted it with a cuttlebone and Parakeet feed, and set it on a table near where he was feeding. If he was used to a cage before, we thought, maybe he would just climb back in, although we weren't sure how we were going to get the door shut before he flew out. Didn't matter, the bird never gave the cage a second look. OK, Plan B: We took down the tube feeder with mixed seed that he seemed to favor, and replaced it with the cage, packed with the mixed seed plus some more of the Parakeet mix. We left the ladder deployed under the cage, hoping that if he got in, we could sneak up the ladder and get the door shut before he got away. The results were predictable. We were going to have to get serious.
Rube Goldberg would be Proud!
On to Plan C: While Jan was at work one day, Pat was surveying available materials to rig some kind of trap. He finally came up with a hairbrained scheme that involved a screened dome, to protect picnic plates from flies, left over from David and Rebecca's wedding. A clothespin was screwed to the end of a three foot length of 1x2, and that was C-clamped to the stepladder, to put the edge of the dome, its handle clipped into the clothespin, about a foot off of the ground. This "assembly" was positioned where the bird liked to eat on the ground, and a saucer loaded with Parakeet mix was strategically placed dead center under the dome. About 40 feet of string was tied to the backside of the clothespin, the other end positioned just inside the back door. When Jan got home and saw the contraption, she cracked up, and for the rest of the evening addressed Pat as "Wyle" (as in Coyote). She said he forgot the "Free Bird Seed" sign. Engineering genius never gets any respect!
The ACME™ Super-Deluxe-Special-Extra Parakeet Catcher!
Just add string!
About lunch time the next day, the little guy showed up for a snack. We still had his favorite feeder down, so he was nosing around on the ground, and eventually found the mother lode in the saucer. Pat waited until he actually jumped on the saucer, to be sure that he was completely under the screen, and started pulling the slack out of the string. The other birds started seeing this string rise up from the ground and got scared and left, but the Parakeet just kept chowing down. Eventually the screen dropped, and the Parakeet didn't even seem to notice! He just kept eating until Pat approached with a fry pan splatter screen, to slip under the whole mess and complete the capture. He got a little upset at that point, but fortunately did not hurt himself in all his thrashing around. Pat eventually got him into the house, and into the birdcage. The hairbrained scheme had worked perfectly the first time! It was Pat's turn to gloat that evening. BUT, that was one pissed-off Parakeet!
A closeup of the business end...
We had asked around, and no one really seemed interested in taking the bird. It has been over a year since we lost Berf, the kids are all gone now, and we had been thinking about getting a new pet, although a bird had never entered our minds. Funny how things work some time. After we figured that the bird's new home would be ours, Jan got it a more suitable (larger) cage, and some toys and supplies, and named it PrettyBird. After more research, Jan has decided it is a female, so change all the "he"s above to "her". We now need to take her to the vet, and will probably get her wings clipped, at least for a while. She seems to be getting used to her new home, eating well, climbing around the cage, and even singing a little every now and then. She still doesn't want us too close to her though... that will probably take a while.
PrettyBird in her new home.
And so we start a new adventure!