My Lovebirds’ Adventure
by Jezebel Myschka
I used to have a pair of turquoise blue, grey and black masked
lovebirds, called Bibby and Bobby. They sat together all day long,
preening each other, and were never separated for very long, even when
they were in my community aviary. However, circumstances changed, and my
aviary birds were all sold and the aviary dismantled, but I kept the two
masked lovebirds in a fairly large cage, outside under the pergola. They
weren’t bothered about flying around, so didn’t mind being contained in
a cage. However, I still provided them with a breeding box in the hope
that they would actually mate. They had several attempts, but the eggs
never hatched out. After several years, unfortunately one of the
lovebirds died, and I was given another green peach-faced lovebird by a
friend, who had lost his partner too and was lonely, I named him Bobby
too, like his predecessor.
After an initial wariness between the two birds, they soon became firm
friends and cuddled up together in the nesting box most of the time.
Being different breeds of lovebirds, I was quite surprised to find that
they actually produced eggs. I wondered if the eggs would in fact hatch,
and if so what their progeny would look like. Some four weeks later, one
chick emerged, all spiky and ugly, as baby birds are. The remainder of
the eggs did not hatch, which was probably a good thing, as the nesting
box wasn’t very big. Baby was another peach-faced lovebird, a different
colour from her dad, but with a definite hint of masked lovebird around
the eyes. So now I had Bibby, Bobby, and Babby!
The parents were very good. Mum rarely left the nest, and dad sat on a
perch outside feeding mum, who in turn fed their offspring. Soon Babby
was ready to take her maiden flight. But she was a stroppy bird and
commandeered the nesting box for ever more after that, so mum and dad
had to sit outside, until I bought a second nesting box for them.
Life for the little family continued in harmony for a few years. Bibby
and Bobby still sat together, preening each other lovingly, while Babby
used to perform all sorts of acrobats and somersaults around the cage.
She didn’t appear to be lonely.
One hot summer’s day, I had hung a birdbath full of water on the door of
the cage, as I had done many times before. I’m not sure how it happened,
but I heard a crash and a squawk. I dashed outside, to see two of the
lovebirds flying into the trees in my garden, where they sat shrieking
away. Luckily Babby had flown under the enclosed pergola, and I quickly
managed to catch her with my bird net and pop her back into the cage.
The bird bath lay on the floor where it had landed when it had fallen
Now how was I to catch mum and dad lovebirds, who were sitting in the
ash trees down the end of my garden, shrieking away to Babby in the
cage, who was of course shrieking back? I fortunately had another small
cage, which I placed in front of the original cage on the stand under
the pergola, with food inside and the door open, in the hope that mum
and dad would return to baby, and food. And dad did. Next morning, there
he was just sitting in the little cage chirping away to encourage his
wife back. I popped him back in the bigger cage, and left open the door
to the smaller one in front. Would the trick work twice?
Bibby made several attempts, but never actually went inside the cage
with the door invitingly open. She seemed to be more interested in
getting into the larger cage where her husband and baby were. I tried to
catch her, to no avail. I decided to leave things alone and wait until
she got hungry. Sooner or later she would find her way to the food in
the little cage, wouldn’t she? Wrong. Bibby seemingly preferred her new
found freedom. For a couple of hours she flew around the garden and then
perched in the eucalyptus tree nearby, where she stayed. She must have
been exhausted by now; she was not used to flying far.
By this time it was lunchtime. I was sitting eating my salad, when I
heard an awful squawk, more like a scream. I dashed out to see a sparrow
hawk flying away from the eucalyptus tree with something in his
clutches. I was sure it was my lovebird; my Bibby. I was in bits. What
an end to the life of my little bird. I had owned her for so long; she
was like one of the family. I kept crying every time I thought about it,
and I thought that was the last I would see of her.
Imagine my surprise to wake up one morning some two weeks later to hear
shrieking in the garden from my lovebirds. I went down to investigate,
only to find Bibby sitting on the cage and trying to find her way in to
Bobby and Babby. I can’t remember how I did it, but I managed to catch
Bibby in my bird net before she had a chance to fly off, and quickly
popped her back into her home. What a relief. Tears of joy from me, and
a big, big lovebird welcome from Bobby.
I’ve no idea how she survived. How did she escape the clutches of the
sparrow hawk? How did she find food? She must have managed to feed
herself somehow in all that time. Perhaps she was eating birdseed that
people had put out for wild birds. Suffice it to say, I never hung the
birdbath on the cage doorway again, but put a little bath on the floor
of the cage instead.
But the love story of these lovebirds didn’t end there. A year or so
later, I went out to feed the birds, only to find Bibby lying on the
floor gasping for breath. She was very old by this time, and dying. Poor
Bobby was down on the floor with her, trying to cover his wife over with
his wings to keep her warm, as she lay dying. He’d also pulled over her
some newspaper from the floor of the cage. So sad. Such a shame for him
to lose the partner he loved so much, but at least he’d got Babby to
keep him company after she died.
Bobby and Babby became friends, and Babby finally let him share her
nesting box. Not wanting to encourage interbreeding, I took away any
eggs that were produced. Inevitably the end came for Bobby too last
year, and I reluctantly gave Babby to a friend who has a community
aviary, where she lives to this day.