First Fledgling of 2015


Society Finch Fledgling (on top of the nest) leaving a confused parent inside

And here is an update from the Aviary.

The Pins (the Zebra Finch nestlings who at least used to sound like someone shaking a box of pins, but now it might be more appropriate to call them The Screams) were poking their heads out of their nests today, which means they will be leaving soon. In the meantime, Tina and Trevor’s offspring – and there was only one, as I suspected – has fledged. After hanging on to the top of the nest, it fluttered down to the floor, then managed to fly up only small distances, and cannot negotiate getting back in the nest. I watched Tina and Trevor trying to show it how to fly to the nest by repeating the trip several times with encouragement, but they must have short memories of their own infancies. It will take the fledgling some time to figure out direction and landing.


The Zebra Finches think they own the place so they had to come and check out the new kid on the block. I suspect they will be quite busy when their offspring fledge, which could be tomorrow. And I will have to start watching where I step.

A Society Finch, and a Zebra Finch

A Society Finch, and a Zebra Finch

The video has a couple Zebra Finches perched on a microphone cord, curious about the new bird, and then the fledgling, also perched, asking its parent for food. I am not using the microphones on the boom stands anymore but it seemed like a good idea to leave them around for perching purposes, at least for a while.

The Zebra Finch Kids, a/k/a The Pins, were available for point-and-shoot photographs this morning. There appear to be three in one nest and one in the other, but I won’t know for sure until they all emerge. I tend not to be nosy about this sort of thing. Although their parents have been very cavalier, I like to respect everybody’s privacy. By the same token, it’s up to them to feed the kids and show them around, no hand-raising going on here.


Zebra Finch Nestlings


And as I promised, The Pins sound louder than they did last week, so here’s a little recording featuring their begging. The begging itself took on a new dimension yesterday. Instead of waiting for a parent to show up before they started making noise, one, probably the oldest, started calling from the nest to the absent parent, as if to say “Hey, where the heck are you? I’m hungry!”

With all this finch reproductive madness going on, Dudlee, the Diamond Dove – who now sometimes is “Dudlee Ann” – has been nesting furiously. Prior to finding her favorite spot, she was restlessly in pursuit of it. It took some tweaking, but she decided upon the kitchen.

Dudlee the Diamond Dove in my mother's old KitchenAid attachment

Dudlee the Diamond Dove in my mother’s old KitchenAid attachment

The video is also of Dudlee cooing shortly after she found her favorite spot.

But then I had to go to work which meant carrying Dudlee out into the dining room and closing the kitchen door. We’ve been working on it all week, but we finally got it down to perfection after Dudlee decided to sit on all the plastic eggs I had collected in a small stainless steel condiment cup. I put the plastic eggs in the small basket that was standing on end in the photo and video above. Dudlee moved her own egg out of the bottom of the KitchenAid attachment into the basket and she has been sitting on all the eggs, plastic and her own, ever since.


I will have to carry Dudlee and her basket back into the dining room tomorrow morning because I have to close the kitchen door while I’m gone, but she’ll get used to this, we’ve done it before, and we seem to be sort of on the same wavelength. I understand her need to do this, and I think she knows that, even if she doesn’t quite get why I have to close the kitchen door when I’m gone for more than a couple hours.

Dudlee is still friends with Blue, the Budgie, and they visit now and then and talk to each other. The night before she decided on her final nesting arrangement I confess I saw her preening him as they both sat next to each other on a perch inside a finch cage. I’m sorry to say they haven’t spent a night together since, but Blue seems to be okay with it.

Life with the new birds has been good, and it’s fun to be a grandmother again. And like any doting grandparent I will be subjecting you to more photographs and videos from time to time.


Why Zebra Finches Sing

I’m determined to read David Rothenberg’s Why Birds Sing soon – I’ve have had the book for years but have put off reading it, probably because I was dismayed by the idea that he had written and published about playing music with birds before I did, even though it appears we both started the playing for the birds about the same time. Not only am I a slow reader, I don’t have much time to read lately, but I’m eager to see how and if he answers the question. So far I have read only his preface, which muses about predictable answers.

Do I have an answer to the question? Not entirely, but I can surmise why Zebra Finches sing, at least in my house, as I’ve mused about this for years. The zebra finch males tend to sing – and I’m talking about their little individual songs, as opposed to any calls or other proclamations they might utter – an awful lot more than any of the other birds, even including Ferdinand, my Society Finch, who sings quite a bit.

First of all, there seems to be a protocol for soloists in general: you don’t sing until the other Zebra Finch is done with his song. The only time I can remember this rule being broken was when Fernando and his son Adolfo sang duets in the kitchen.

Of course the males start out perfecting a song to sing to females so as to attract them. But there are all those other occasions, which usually seem to simply announce one’s presence or one’s intention to do a particular thing. Maybe it could be simplified into a territorial proclamation; there are little territorial wars going on in the house from time to time, but generally it seems just more proclamatory – I’m here, and I’m announcing myself, and I’m feeling good about it.

Here’s a little clip of Beniamino singing against a background of noisy budgies and Bach’s C Minor Partita. When he first started singing his song it sounded like “boom-shoka-laka-laka” to me and I used to dance around the house to it, which he hated. That could be why now he has refined his song down to “ta-ta, tata, I’m Beniamino.”