A few weeks ago, the Society Finch I had named Priscilla – she, with Penelope, also named at the same time, were the only two left of the species in the house – died after a prolonged debilitating illness. While the two may not have been the closest of friends, they were pretty inseparable after a third bird died sometime in 2021.
Below is a cell-phone shot of last three that were left – I had maybe eight or nine of them at one point, I can’t recall – I used to call my “guard birds” sitting on top of the security panel for the alarm system, likely looking through the openings in the blinds covering the window atop the front door.
And below is a photo of Penelope on the left and Priscilla on the right. Penelope, or Penny for short, is distinguishable by her feather-picked neck. To be honest, I always imagined she would be the one to get sick, but she endures. (Apologies for the bad photos in this post but it’s harder to take pictures inside.)
When Priscilla finally died I felt sorry for Penny being the lone Society Finch in a sea of Zebra Finches. I started wondering if it was worth trying to find a few Society Finch housemates for her. It’s always dicey introducing new birds. You can’t expect them to bond with the one you have. Especially because of the age difference, I imagined it might be difficult. But I thought just having a new little Society Finch coalition of three might afford one out of the three that Penelope could take a liking to. At least she would feel not so quite alone.
So after my house guest’s departure, I started visiting pet stores. The first stop was not fruitful. The birds were pale and small, they didn’t look anything like Penny and there weren’t many to choose from. And like everything else, they were twice as expensive as the last ones I adopted years ago.
Even more expensive were the ones I found on Thursday, but there were many more to choose from, and they were mostly chocolate brown and white in color which was what I desired to complement Penny and make her more accepting of the newcomers. I was able to identify one singing immediately, even though I could barely hear it, I could tell he was singing and that’s the only way to distinguish males from females. So I told the young man who came to retrieve three birds from the cage for me that I definitely wanted the male.
As it turned out, I got two males and one female – that is, she is not singing. The males might even be brothers – they have nearly identical breast colorations that look like brown bibs. I guess the guy who caught them wanted to make sure I got the right one by retrieving them both.
The bird I immediately named Caruso is a fantastic singer, and his brother, Mario, is no slouch either. Caruso must have studied with canaries. Suffice it to say that there were a few canaries a couple small cages away, but when I got to the counter to complete my purchase, the young man at the register said he loved it when he worked on the night shift because the Society Finches were the best singers. I was also surprised when he said this, because none of my male Societies had ever sung like this before. I suspect I may have deprived him of that night-shift pleasure by purchasing these two.
I have a couple hastily-made recordings from the one day it was cool enough to turn off the fans in the house for a while so they wouldn’t interfere with the music. A few weeks ago I decided to learn some Manuel de Falla piano music after hearing some on the radio, so I bought a couple volumes and have started to work on a few pieces. Below is the Serenata Andaluza in its entirety along with noisy page turning as the binding on these volumes is very tight, and a segment of the Ritual Fire Dance which Caruso seems to enjoy immensely. You can also hear some Zebra Finch singing too but for the most part Caruso and perhaps Mario a bit too, are prominent with their trills and chirps. I am in heaven with these new musical collaborators.
Below is a photo of the female, possibly – on the first day when the birds were still confined to a cage. It will take me a while to figure out who’s who by sight as they all basically have the same coloring. While writing this post I decided to name her Madeleine. She can be Maddy for short.
Friday afternoon approximately 24 hours after I brought the new Societies home, I opened the cage door. It took them a while to figure that out. Saturday morning before I left for a rather long birding expedition I made sure the kitchen door was closed as that would be too much territory for them to explore in so short a time. After I got home Saturday, they were navigating the kitchen as well. Last night we did the living room cleanup which involves swapping out the dirty cages for clean ones brought up from the basement, vacuuming and replacing the papers under the cages. And then later last night I noticed that Penny had a companion with her in a hut – probably Mario – and was pleased that she had a new friend.
A word about Society Finches a/k/a Bengal Finches. They are a made-up species that would not otherwise exist save for the pet trade. I don’t know how I feel about that, except that maybe I can feel a little less guilty because the birds I bought were not snatched out of their wild habitat.
I hope to be back soon with a couple walks I went on over the weekend. I may not be going for as many walks as usual as my right knee is complaining loudly about all the recent activity, but that should give me time to write, right? I did go swimming today and still believe that is the best therapy for everything. Along with playing piano for great singers.