Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Baby takes a Lesson

In our aviary we have Love Birds of every color and they have lots of babies all year long. They usually find a partner and stay with them for life sharing everything from building the nest to caring for the young. While the mother sits on the eggs the father brings her food and water, then, when the babies have pecked their way out of their eggs, the two parents share the feeding of the little ones. At this time, the babies are rather ugly, with bits of bristle and half-formed feathers on their tiny bodies. When the babies are ready to leave the nest, it is a lot of fun to watch them learn from their parents how to fly and eat and where to find water. They grow and learn very quickly and pretty soon they will find a partner of their own and start their own family. They are called Love Birds because once they find a mate it is for life and they like to do everything together. They are very affectionate and spend all day hugging and kissing and feeding each other. They are so close that if one dies usually within a week or so the other dies of sadness, they almost never find another mate. One day a snake got into a nest box with a mother and four babies. He ate the mother and smothered all but one baby. We had never seen anything like it because, out of character, all the birds in the aviary took turns taking care of the baby. They fed him and tried to coax him out of the nest but he did not want to leave. They started putting his food farther and farther from the entrance of the nest. When they finally got him out on to a branch they all stood in a line and tried to teach him how to use his wings. All synchronized they would stretch one wing and then the other while he watched on. He wanted to stay a baby. It looked like a Jane Fonda exercise class to watch. He would get very angry and stomp his feet and scream but the other birds were persistent. They kept moving closer and closer to the food and water trying to get him to care for himself but it was always another temper tantrum. It took him much longer to learn things than the babies with mothers even though all the birds were helping. He finally grew up and learned to do these things himself and then found a partner and started his own family. Besides being very funny to watch, I wanted to put on Jane Fonda Music for them, it is very unusual for this to happen. The father usually tries to take over both roles and is usually quiet successful, but if the baby hadn’t survived the father probably would have died of heart break. They are beautiful and wonderful birds and much more fun to watch the TV. When they are making their nests they take strips of palm branch and stick them in their wings until they can’t carry any more, they do not carry them in their beaks. They look like pretty colored porcupines. Our aviary runs the length of one side of the house so you can watch them while you clean the kitchen or from the bathroom, or of course, from the garden where you will be joined by some curious sparrows and other birds.

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