Monday, March 30, 2009

Marriage counseling (for budgies)

Peter's mysterious illness was never 100% diagnosed. As I said in a previous post, I had left him with Ava during the first part of his illness, to encourage him to eat and get better. That did not work, and is something I will always feel a little guilty about (a little because I think he would have stopped eating completely and died if I had separated him from Ava right away.) As he finally improved with the addition of an iodine supplement, we are assuming that was the problem, and that it was nothing contagious. I still kept him separate from Ava, because this attack was the third time he had attacked her (the other two were not as serious, and had both occurred during the ever wonderful Spring).

Although he did finally later improve with the iodine and other immune supplements, he did not fully improve, and spent most of his time sitting, depressed. He still sang some, but spent most of his time calling to Ava, and she to him. As this went on for almost five months, I finally gave in. Ava was underweight from not eating as much as she had, as was Peter.

I had been keeping her separate from the tiels during their egg laying, as they were rather territorial. One evening, I came into the bird room to discover Ava was missing, having escaped from her cage, and though I searched all over the room, I could not find her. After about 40 minutes, I decided to bring Peter into the room, in hopes he would call to her and she would answer. That planned work, and I found Ava underneath a piece a furniture (of course I had checked it several times form all angles already, but she is very tiny) As soon as she came out from under the bed, she flew to Peter, and they both started eyepinning like crazy, preening and feeding each other. After watching them for half an hour, I decided I really couldn't separate them again. I know, I know. He has a history or attacking her when he is stressed, like his recent illness. Still, they had both been so unhappy for so many months, with no improvement.

It has been a few weeks, and they still seem to be doing fine together. After their long separation, Peter definitely acts different around her. Whatever she wants, she gets, and he is bossed around no end. I am keeping them in their own flight cage, at first in my bedroom away from other birds, and now in the bird room, where they like it best. Despite my misgivings, it has achieved the short term goals of helping Peter fully recover (his latest check-up confirmed he was in perfect health) and gain back all his weight, as well as help Ava gain back the little weight she had lost.

I still feel a little funny about it. I said I would not let them back together, that Peter was too violent. But they are so happy together. What do you think? Together, which makes them happy unless he attacks her? I will still be even more careful about separating them if there is any cause for unusual stress, and hopefully that will be enough.

But what I would really like, in an ideal world, is parrot marriage counseling. Now, where do I find that?


Mary said...

Sorry you're going through this. It's so frustrating because you only want the best for them but it's hard to always know where that is.

Since they seem so happy together, I'd probably do what you're doing and allow them to be together.

I'm assuming you have this already and just didn't mention it, but I'd try to make sure there were plenty of hiding places where Ava could go if she needs to escape from him. Like larger toys she can hide behind, etc.

My other thought, although this is more extreme, would be buying them a cage with a divider so they can be together through the wire, but she can always escape away from him and only removing the divider when you're there to supervise.

Good luck dealing with this :( I could have used a budgie marriage counselor when Jeff was still with us!

Meg said...

Yes, I do have plenty of hiding places. I have always had those, because my budgies favor large toys, they feel it is only what they deserve!

Actually, the cage they are in can be divided, though it is not very large with the divider in. It is 40' by20", and can be made into 2 20" by 20" cages, so that has always come in handy in times like this.

Thanks for the well wishing! I hope we will not need too much of the luck though......