The Power of the Flock

Blue, turquoise, and yellow parakeets perch on a branch

My experience with birds was limited to feeding the birds that visited my yard, and the hi/bye game I played with my friend’s parrot when she brought him to my house for Reiki. I knew very little about parrots until Finnegan flew into my yard.

Four years ago, on a Sunday afternoon, I was outside looking over my grapevine- wild birds love to visit it and dine on grapes. On this day, I noticed a large, blue bird that was unfamiliar to the yard. A closer look revealed it was a budgie. I had learned enough from my friend to ask it to step up on my finger, but it only wanted to get farther away from me.

I called my parrot wise friend for advice. She advised me not to push the step up if he wasn’t responding. Instead, I set up her travel cage outside to see if he would go into it. I observed from a distance, but he had no interest in the cage. I resigned myself to not being able to save him.

The next morning, I was preparing for work. Like most mornings, I was standing outside drinking coffee, when a slow-moving bird plopped down in the birdbath. Just as the bird landed, my small terrier, Oscar, jumped up and grabbed him. The next few moments were frantic. I screamed, and he dropped it. Immediately, my other dog, Bella, swooped in and picked him up, and there was more frantic screaming. Bella dropped the little bird, and he lay motionless. I ran over and cupped him in my hands. My mind was racing. Is he dead? Is he hurt? He appeared to be alive, so I took him inside and placed him in the cage. He hopped on the perch, shook a little bit, and began to look around.

Finnegan spent the next four days sleeping, only waking up to eat. His time in the wild had been hard on him, but it wasn’t long before he settled into his home. I tried to get him to eat fresh veggies, but he would have none of it. I continued to do my research, and with the help of my friend, it wasn’t long before I discovered that budgies are happier with company. I contacted a bird rescue and brought home another homeless budgie, Sitka.

Sitka was younger than Finnegan, but they shared the same low activity level. I enjoyed watching their friendship blossom. I knew my boys were happy and that they enjoyed each other’s company. I only wished I could see them eat fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, but they continued to defy my wish.

Four years later, I awoke to find Finnegan had passed away in the night. It was a painful loss, especially for Sitka. He stopped singing and hopping around his cage. He was mourning the loss of his friend. I gave Sitka time to grieve, and then I brought home another young rescue budgie, Elvis.

Sitka was immediately interested in the cage next to his. He and Elvis sat close to each other, singing, and checking each other out. Eventually, they were united in one enclosure. I noticed how different Sitka behaved with Elvis than he had with Finnegan. Sitka was more active – hopping along the perches and flying from one side of the cage to another. I marveled at the influence this young, active little bird had on Sitka, and I wondered, “will Elvis eat fresh food?”

I placed the fresh vegetable mash in a dish on the floor, and Elvis immediately stopped to check it out. A few moments later, Sitka joined him at the dish. I couldn’t believe it! Sitka was eating fresh food.

I had spent years trying to entice Sitka into eating healthy, fresh food to no avail. Elvis was able to influence him in a matter of days. Elvis gave Sitka permission to behave like a young bird, and he taught me about the flock’s power.

For more information contact Jamie Lee on FB at Jamie Lee Animal Bonds, or at JamieLeeAnimalBonds@gmail.com

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