Kiki the Cockatiel
One day in May 2013, I was just talking on Skype with my editor in Australia when I saw a cockatiel landing on my balcony (I live on the 5th floor of a multi storey building). I couldn’t believe it. Had I somehow managed to teleport to Australia or something???
Of course I HAD to go outside to get a closer look – and to take photos – while we were still on Skype … it was so funny … I was totally excited and my editor could hardly believe it … but of course when I sent her the best of the photos she could see it for herself:
Shortly after, we hung up on Skype, and I tried to catch him. I left the balcony door open so he might come inside. However, when he flew onto the bird feeding tray, my cat got a little too excited. Although I knew my cat couldn’t reach the tray, I was afraid that she might scare him away. So I put the cat into the bathroom, and decided to go down to my mother so she could help me catch the bird (my mother lives two storeys below me).
It took us quite some time, but finally I convinced him to fly inside:
Of course he couldn’t stay at my place because of my cat, Foxi, …
… and also because my flat is really not prepared for a bird …but my mother still had an old budgerigar living in her kitchen, and cockatiels and budgies usually get along. The ensuing hunt was even more difficult than getting him inside. But finally we managed.
And Kiki the cockatiel got introduced to Frieda the budgie.
They did get along.
But Frieda was very old. We didn’t know how old because my mother caught her outside in the backyard, but she had been showing signs of aging before Kiki came along. Her budgie partner, also caught outside, died shortly before that (probably of old age), and she was getting worse. She hardly ever flew anymore and she slept a lot. And Kiki longed for a partner, so he started screaming.
My mother was reluctant to buy a partner for Kiki, because she thought this would never end (she had already been looking forward to using her kitchen freely again 😀 ). What if Kiki was already rather old, and thus a new partner would survive him and then she’d have to buy another young partner etc. etc.?
When Frieda stopped flying entirely and only sat on the cupboard (because she obviously was too weak to even hold onto a branch/perch) and slept most of the time, Kiki went quiet. He didn’t scream anymore but only made very quiet noises, and he always sat in the vicinity of Frieda (which he had rarely ever done before).
Shortly after, Frieda died. And from then on Kiki started screaming his lungs out from dawn till dusk with hardly a break in between. This went on for several days, so that my mother said she simply couldn’t take it anymore – so we bought Mimi.
I will never forget what happened when we let her out of the cardboard box…
When Mimi left the box, Kiki’s first reaction was a LOUD horrified scream and he fled to the top of the cupboard on which he used to sleep (it’s the highest point to sit on in the room).
Mimi wasn’t yet particularly good at flying; she had probably been weakened by being in a small cage for quite a while in the pet shop. And because Kiki had crashed against the window when we first let him fly in the kitchen, I went to the window to keep Mimi from doing the same. However, she landed on a branch right in front of me, so I was trapped between branch and window as I didn’t want to scare her away.
Then Kiki made strange noises on his perch and he dared to fly onto the climbing tree, a bit away from Mimi. She looked at him with her big baby eyes but didn’t move. Then the most adorable thing happened: Kiki began to slowly walk up to her all the time making strange movements with his body and his head and making the cutest of noises – perhaps it was some sort of courting ritual. He didn’t get quite in beak reach of her but almost. I don’t remember which of them flew away first eventually, but I was trapped for quite a long time, standing totally still, watching the display right in front of my nose.
My mother and I love to remember these moments. His first reaction being a horrified scream “Waaaaaaaaaaah WHAT is THAT???????” Then the strange noises from his perch as if to say “Well, actually, she looks rather cute” … Then flying closer and performing his dances and singsong, “Hey sweetie pie, you really are a cute one. May I introduce myself.”
Just a day or two later I took this video of them cuddling:
Now they are a rather happy couple, and although they both still get their screaming fits, at least they don’t last the entire day 🙂