One of our guests

Dudley is back at the Hotel Animalia. He’s a blue-fronted Amazon, and a regular boarder at the store. He gets along well with Jack, and really loves Jack’s outdoor cage.

Dudley’s a gorgeous bird, friendly with Jack, but not so friendly with people. He’s bitten David once or twice; if customers are interested in petting him, he warns them off in no uncertain terms.

So why have a bird like this? Well, because most of the time a bird like Dudley is with his family, the people he’s bonded to. In his home he’s probably quite different, in part because he’s much more relaxed. When he’s boarding with us, he’s in a new place, surrounded by unfamiliar people. Some of those people have no experience with birds and don’t know how to approach them. He’s on his guard.

Dudley is a very good boarder; he doesn’t kick up a fuss about everything, he doesn’t attack strangers or pine for his people. He eats and takes an interest in his surroundings, and while he’s not the easiest bird for a stranger to deal with, he lets David put him away at night in his cage.

A few years ago we boarded an African Grey named Cato. We liked Cato, and he seemed all right with us. One day, however, he did something that made me think he was probably smarter than I gave him credit for. We had a customer in the store who was afraid of birds. She was at the cash register paying for her purchase when she noticed Cato sitting on Jack’s perch in the middle of the store.

“Oh, I’m afraid of birds,” she said. “Will he fly at me?”
“No, he’s never flown at anyone,” I said. In fact, I’d never seen Cato take wing at all.

You can guess what happened, of course. Cato immediately did a perfect flight right over her head, just brushing her hair, and slid to a stop on the counter. I thought I was going to have to call 911 for the poor woman.

I bet people hotels don’t have to put up with stuff like that!

Budgies? We don’t need no steenkin’ budgies!

But we have them!

When David worked at Menagerie in Toronto, they used to order from Fish and Bird. Now Fish and Bird is making biweekly deliveries to Sault Ste Marie. They come on the off-week for Straits, which means that we get a fish order every week. We’re getting different things from the two different suppliers. Straits doesn’t carry birds – unless they’ve recently hired Monty Python to staple fins to finches – but Fish and Bird does.

We have some lovely young budgies available . People always ask “Are they hand raised?” Chances are, no. But more important than that is that they’re young birds and will be easier to tame.

Here’s a little secret: paying a premium for a hand-raised bird in a pet store is probably a waste of money. Yes, a hand-raised bird is tamer than a parent-raised one, but only if it is consistently handled. If you leave that hand-raised baby in a cage, it will lose its special tameness. Most pet stores don’t have the time and personnel to keep handling the birds.

If you get those hand-raised babies fast enough, yes, they’ll still be more handleable and tamer than their parent-raised fellows. If you don’t, you’re starting again. The good news is that young birds can be tamed quickly with a little effort and patience.

Another good bet is an older bird that’s come in from a home where it had lots of attention. We’ve placed birds that people have brought to us because they had to give them up, and some of those birds have bonded beautifully to their new owners. If you can give a bird enough attention, you can win its little feathered heart.