Last week, we agreed to look after our neighbours’ budgies. They often look after our chickens, and it was a good opportunity to repay their ongoing kindness in some small way. And besides, budgies are fun. And easy to look after. Usually.
When Reuben dropped the birds over, he introduced them as Graham and Wendy. Wendy, a bright yellow budgie with glowing red eyes, I immediately secretly christened Demon Budgie. Graham was a predominantly green, much larger bird, with a slightly huffy look about him.
As we sat with Reuben talking about the relevant house-sitting details, I watched the birds out of the corner of my eye. Despite her diminutive size, Demon Budgie definitely had one over Graham – she kept shoving him out of the way of the food, and generally bossing him about. Reuben mentioned that Graham had had a difficult past – he was a effectively a rescue bird saved from a child with a long history of short-term avian pets – and that he hadn’t been looking all that great.
The next morning when I uncovered the cage, Graham seemed reluctant to get up. He kept his head half under his wing, and didn’t seem that pleased to see me. I empathised with his anti-social morning persona, and left him alone.
When I came home from work, I found him dead on the floor of the cage. His little feet were clamped around the bars on the floor, and his eyes were closed. I was horrified. Demon Budgie didn’t look so stoked either.
I uncurled Graham’s toes from the bars. As I removed his body from the cage, Demon Budgie decided to make a break for it. Screeching like a feather-duster possessed, she shot out of the cage, and proceeded to zip around the kitchen like a tiny yellow harpy. I placed Graham on the dining table, and gave chase, orange scarf in hand as a de facto parakeet net.
Suddenly, Demon Budgie fell into the kitchen sink – I suspect she may have flown into one of the frying pans hanging above it. I scrabbled to grab her from amongst the breakfast dishes, and the evil little beast clamped down on my thumb, and refused to let go. She eventually released her grip on my bruised digit once I had her back in the cage, flying to the farthest corner and fixing me with a look of suspicious hostility as I locked the door.
I carefully wrapped Graham in a plant specimen bag, and then inside a used tortilla ziplock package for temporary placement in the newly opened budgie morgue, a.k.a. our freezer, and felt like the worst pet sitter in the world.
N.B. – the budgie pictured above is not Graham. He didn’t survive long enough for me to get a photo of him. Instead, it is a similar looking budgie whose portrait I have stolen from the interwebz, from the very interesting http://budgerigars.wordpress.com