Spring 2020 – We were walking across a huge, empty gravel parking lot in Camp Verde, Arizona, one day when we noticed something white fluttering around on the ground. It was midday and incredibly hot out, probably 95 degrees or more.
At first we thought it was a piece of tissue paper and paid little attention. As we got closer, though, we saw it was some kind of animal. When we were a few steps away, we realized it was a white parakeet!
What the heck?!
The bird was struggling to stand and trying desperately to fly. It kept flopping away from us as best it could. But it could barely hold itself up and kept falling over.
In a different life, long ago, I used to raise budgies and I had several breeding pairs. So, I instinctively scooped up this poor bedraggled little thing in my hands to comfort it and have a better look.
It had a brown “cere” — the little nose area with nostrils that’s just above the beak, so it was a female (males have a blue cere). I looked at Mark as I held this dear but pathetic little creature to my cheek and shrugged — what do we do now??!!
The whole area around us was industrial, dusty, dry, and baking in the sun. There was one house a ways off. We knocked on the door but they said they weren’t missing a parakeet.
We noticed a Veterinary Supply store down the street and poked our heads in the door. They shook their heads and said there were no escaped parakeets that they knew of.
We realized we could walk all the streets of town for days and still not find the owner. People were at work, and even though our little friend was exhausted right now, she could have flown a long distance before she got here.
We decided to take her back to our trailer where it was cool and we could give her some much needed food and water. We put her in a bucket (with a top!) in the back seat of the truck. On our way home, we passed a veterinarian’s office and asked if they’d heard any reports of a missing white budgie. No, but they suggested we call Bill Harvey of Wild Birds.
We left a message with Bill and then made a stop at the Feed Store to get some bird seed. Even better, they had millet spray! This is a “finger” of dried millet seeds that are still clustered on the stalk. Budgies love it!
Once home, we put her on the table. She promptly flew up to a shelf high up on the wall. Mark found a nice twig and secured it on the edge of the shelf. She liked the looks of this new perch, so she slowly sidled out onto it, contentedly fluffed up her feathers and closed her eyes.
Ahh…rest at last!
After a few minutes she put her head under her wing for a good long snooze. She was down for the count for the next 12 hours!
We were pleased that although Buddy was curious about her, he was very polite. He seemed to know not to frighten her. So, he left her alone and took a nap too.
The next morning we were thrilled to find that she was still alive. She hadn’t moved from her perch, but her eyes were open.
Mark tied the millet spray onto her perch, and boy, did her face light up! She dove right in and had a feast.
Then she went over to the corner and took another nap. Her little “crop” was bulging. The “crop” is a small pouch below a bird’s neck and above their breast bone where the food they swallow is stored for later digestion. That way they can quickly bolt their food while they’re on the ground and then fly up to the safety of a tree.
A little while later she began grooming herself. She was coming around quickly!
Over the next two days she got stronger and stronger. She loved her little perch and the shelf Mark had attached it to. That was now her corner of the trailer.
We were all getting used to being together. But then we got a call back from Bill at Wild Bird. He hadn’t heard about an escaped budgie, but he suggested we call Roxanne at the pet store “Feathers and Friends” in the Village of Oak Creek near Sedona.
So, we called, and Roxanne said she’d be more than happy to take care of our little friend until she could find a good home for her.
The timing was perfect. Our sweet guest had gotten all her energy back and she was starting to go exploring around our trailer!
When we arrived at the pet shop, Roxanne had already set up a cage for her, complete with food, water, some natural branch perches, a swing, a bell and a mirror! We put the little bird in her new cage and she settled right in.
We were sad to leave her behind, but we’ll remember our few days with our little house guest forever. As I turned to say goodbye, she didn’t even notice. She was busy playing with her bell, and she was surrounded by happy birds of all different kinds in nearby cages.
A few days later, we called to see how our feathered friend was doing. She’d already been adopted and taken to her new home!
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Info about the pet store that found our friend a new home:
For bird and animal lovers
- Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill – A beautiful documentary about the feral conures in San Francisco
- Winged Migration – Stunning close-up videography of migratory birds in flight
- Paulie – A sweet movie about a parrot’s search for his owner
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