I’m going to start off by saying that I have three different birds: two beautiful lovebirds named Charlie and Lola (or baby Charles and Lolita), and a daft little parakeet named Oteill. The lovebirds are about 3 years old, and they were a gift from my sister who has a friend who breeds lovebirds.
After 3 years of loving and training them to “step up” and be nice, they’re still a little skittish around people but climb on top of my shoulders and my head whenever they get a chance. After these 3 years, my sister saved a parakeet that was flying around an empty apartment at a complex where she used to work. She kept Oteill for a while, but then had to move and couldn’t keep him anymore. So, I took it upon myself to adopt this little guy and make him part of my crazy family.
At first, I kept Oteill downstairs next to the lovebirds. Mistake number one. Lola is a very territorial bird (as most females are), and did not take well to this new little green creature taking over. The thing about Oteill is that he’s very energetic and wants to be in the middle of everything. He’d somehow find a way to escape from his cage and end up on top of Charlie and Lola’s cage, which drove them absolutely insane! I always had to keep an eye out on him and snatch him away before anything crazy happened.
Well, one day, something crazy happened. I guess Lola had just enough of this little guy infringing upon her territory. She’s always been a biter; ever since I got her, she has been trying to nip on fingers and anything she can get her red beak on. Oteill was on top of their home, per usual, and Lola bit him on the foot and he started bleeding, heavily. Since that happened, I had to take him upstairs and far away from the other birds.
While the territorial thing was going on, Lola got so stressed that she started plucking out her feathers. It was incremental, at first, and then all of a sudden her chest was bare. I knew she wasn’t sick because she was still her feisty little self and didn’t show any other signs of being a sick bird. Plus, Charlie was completely fine and fully feathered, so if she was sick, then he had to be sick, too. I even asked the vet what was going on, and she said that Lola was stressed and felt very threatened by Oteill. Even though the birds have been separated, Lola still plucks out her feathers. The vet said that it’s because she started a habit (like biting fingernails), and she can’t really stop.
I try to spend equal amounts of time with the lovebirds and Oteill, but it’s kind of hard. See, Charlie and Lola at least have each other, whereas Oteill is all alone. Luckily, I have a job that allows me to work from home a lot, allowing me to spend some quality time with the little guy.
The whole point to this whole story? Be very careful when introducing a new bird to your avian family, especially when they’re extremely protective and territorial. I didn’t know too much about birds when I first got them, so everything for me was definitely a learn-as-you-go-and-then-Google-it process. I didn’t really do any research online that gave me some good advice until something had already happened.
Also, take it one step at a time. I really should have kept Oteill away from them at the very beginning, and then slowly brought him downstairs for playtime with the other birds. Maybe Lola wouldn’t have picked up her plucking habit, and they’d all be friends. But, it was definitely a learning experience for me. Now, I get to share my experiences with all of you in hopes that I can help someone who is going through a similar process.
Gabrielle Matthews is a recent college graduate from the University of Central Florida, where she studied Marketing and English writing. She loves animals, exercising, vegetarian cooking, and has 3 pet birds.