Parakeets and the spirit of aviation

Sparty, Belle and Dodger on the curtain
Sparty, Belle and Dodger on the curtain

Belle and Sparty are experienced flyers, but there’s a new upstart in the air–Dodger. While the little blue bird has so far struggled to keep up with his fully flighted friends (I helped Dodger join the other two on the curtain rod in the above photo), he is now not only staying aloft (gliding isn’t exactly the right word for the intense flapping the little bird does) but actually gaining lift briefly during his flight before descending and sometimes still clunking into something (though he now usually lands smoothly on something). I love the spirit of aviation I see in Dodger–watching him take off along with the other two, even though he can only join them for part of the way, is a very uplifting experience, a reminder of why I so enjoy hanging out with these wild little birds.

grooming birds

In the first photo, Jessica captured Sparty and Belle working their feathers over with their beaks. Though parakeets have a sort of retracting beak, unlike their larger broad-tail parrot cousins, when they take it out it is a serious piece of hardware. That’s good for eating seeds, of course, but it’s also useful in keeping their beautiful feathers clean–which they do very well by grooming themselves vigorously several times a day.
The second picture is just a nice group shot.

(photos by Jessica McKeown)

bird conference

The four parakeets have started to exhibit a new behavior–long sessions at a time when the four of them gather around in a circle for tweeting, grooming and general togetherness. It’s very fun to watch.

Sparta, Striker, Belle and Ava having a conference
Sparta, Striker, Belle and Ava having a conference

standing on one leg

Striker (left) and Ava perch on one leg
Striker (left) and Ava perch on one leg

A parakeet sitting on one leg is often interpreted as the mark of a relaxed bird. If your bird feels comfortable, it will sometimes retract one of its legs into its feathers.

Striker and Belle on my arm

Belle and Striker on my arm

May 2009

These two are very adventurous–Striker (the green one) is very bold and brave, ready to meet new people, try new foods, and explore new rooms in the house. Belle is very affectionate and trusting. Plus, when one goes exploring, the other one starts chirping loudly until he gets a response from the other one–and eventually they usually meet up after exchanging numerous geo-location chirps.

Grooming

Striker (green) grooms Belle (blue)
Striker (green) grooms Belle (blue)

Parakeets are highly social birds; they travel in enormous flocks sometimes in their native land of Australia; and in homes they are likely to form close bonds with one another, and often the humans in the house as well.
Grooming is often thought to be a social behavior; it not only helps clean those hard to reach places and feels good, but also conveys affection and status to the bird being groomed.