Today was a year ago that I brought our little Seely (aka Seely Boy) home from a wonderful parakeet (budgie) breeder and bird store called Basically Birds, in Hamilton, NJ. I went there, because we wanted a hand fed baby, and there aren't that many breeders who take the time and responsibility to hand feed comparatively inexpensive birds. (I'm sad to report that after 20 years in business, they closed their doors in April.) However, a hand fed baby is tame the moment you bring it home - well, maybe I should express that a little differently - a hand fed baby is fearless the moment you bring it home. Pet shop birds are terrified when you bring them home and it takes a lot of work to tame them. I have had budgies since my childhood and Seely has been the easiest with which to work.
How adorable was he???!!! So cute! But the first night he was home with us, he broke his left leg. I'm not kidding. I was devastated and guilt ridden. I found a vet that had a great reference by bird people and who had "regular" office hours on Sunday. Despite the freezing temperature, I bundled the little guy up in a safe carrier, wrapped that in towels and zipped it in an insulated picnic bag, so he wouldn't get a draft of chill.
I asked Dr Morris of the Animal Care Center of North Jersey if the leg might be dislocated and not broken, but after a careful examination, he affirmed a break close to the hip. Oh that poor little bird. Dr Morris considered all the options and fashioned a splint that tensioned the broken leg so the bone would heal straight. The splint weighed as much as he did.
He had to be splinted for 8 weeks. He was only 8 weeks old himself. In the first days, he could barely stand up or drag that heavy splint. I handled him and talked to him constantly (whenever I was home) and told him how pretty he was and how sorry I was. As the weeks progressed, he got stronger and stronger.
Soon, he found a comfortable way to prop that leg up, whether hopping around our bed, or perching on one leg on my finger. He was pleased to be handled, yet continued to try to fly. Every few days he got a little more elevation and could "fly" a little farther (measured in inches in the beginning.)
At his one month check up, Dr Morris was please with how he looked and was maneuvering. We introduced a "training perch" into the aquarium Seely Boy lived the first 8 weeks of his time with us in. Throughout this whole period, Seely continued to exhibit the sweetest disposition. Surely, he was entitled to be snippy, but it isn't in him. Once he began imitating the things I was saying to him, the flood gates opened. "Pretty" was his first word.
It was all so unnatural! Then, the day came for Dr Morris to remove that miserable blessing of a splint. I almost passed out while he delicately cut the cast away from a heretofore broken leg that was the dimension of angel hair pasta!!
He was very unsteady on his feet (feet, for the first time in 8 weeks.) But his buddy "Penguino," with whom he takes a bath every other day, was a good, gentle playmate.
But still, I thought is was time for him to have his first bath - which was more like a gentle misty shower. Poor thing. He must love me and think I'm his mom. He allows me to do anything I want, to him.
With each passing week, he used the nearly atrophied leg more and when I held him, I had him grip with the talons that were taped straight during his entire splint time. He had to learn to grip a perch with both feet and his flight feathers were nearly fully grown. I had to balance protecting him from re-injuring that leg with allowing him to fly for exercise and returning to a more natural existence - in a cage rather than an aquarium.
Our little Seely Boy seems very happy, is extremely talkative (even in his sleep) and does everything a parakeet that has never broken its leg should do. He does stand a bit like a fashion model, with that left leg not squarely under his body. It's more pronounced some times, and other times his stance looks quite normal. He also flies with his landing gear down at all times while repeating, "pretty, pretty, pretty."
He's settled in and is a sweet and happy little creature. He imitates the microwave beeps so well, we can't distinguish him from the appliance. His vocabulary includes such scintillating words and phrases as: pretty, pretty pretty pretty Seely Boy, Seely Boy Boy, pretty pretty bay-bee (not to be confused with the mundane, "baby"), pretty bay-bee-bee, dirty bird, c'mon baby, merry Chris and the alternate merry Christmas or merry Chrisboy, let's go, what a pretty boy, where's my bay-bee, gimme kiss (followed by the sound of amorous kisses), I'm so sorry (from my continuous guilty repetition during his chickihood convelescence), and lots of, as of yet, indistinguishable sounds and syllables that he says with inflections like a genuine spoken tongue.
He also supervises all of my domestic activities, and I'm just fine with that. Here's to many more cheerful years of having Seely Boy in our home!