Am I a Bird Brain, or what?

canaryIf I had to associate myself with any one type of animal, I would say I’m a dog person, even though it has been many many moons since I’ve owned a dog (I’m constantly grappling with the logistics, but one day my time will come).  So rather than a dog, somehow we have adopted several feathered friends over the past year and a half, including 8 chickens (down from a high of 15) and one canary.

Somehow, we’ve had a problem with sexing.  Out of our initial “flock” of 10 baby chicks, all supposed to be hens or girl chickens, we were surprised to wake up one morning to the crowing of a rooster.  Likewise, our canary was supposed to be a boy. Boys are the ones that really sing and trill, and while I convinced myself that the chirps and peeps of our canary “Peep” were in fact songs, I now realize that they were in fact just peeps.

How do I know this?  Well, one simple word – an egg.  But let me take you back in time. Our canary, for quite sometime, has been exhibiting signs of what I labeled depression.  She has been feather picking, and looks quite ragged at the moment.  So what better idea than to put a mirror in her Christmas stocking (no, the stocking was not my idea).  That mirror went into the cage, and immediately Peep took to it. He (She) had a friend!  He (She) would sit in front of it and talk and chirp and peep. He (She) must have been so excited by this, that those sexual feelings blossomed, and an egg was laid.

Because of Peep’s ragged appearance, I finally decided that it was time to find a vet that could literally take a peep and let me know if Peep was in fact suffering from depression or some skin disease.  I was having the rational argument in my mind of whether or not it was worthwhile to take a bird to a vet.  I know I would take a dog to the vet if something was wrong, so I ultimately decided to go for it, despite my guess of a $200 bill.   Consequently the few days leading up to the appointment, Peep seemed to take on a whole new level of lethargy, pretty much nesting in her food bowl most of the time.  Maybe just a nesting instinct?  I wasn’t sure.

Enter Dr. Laurie Hess, a Yale educated veternarian specializing in birds and exotic pets.  Only the best for this little yellow bird.  After hanging in the office for over 2 hours, I had to leave Peep behind to go pick up kids and get them to their activities.  I returned at the end of the day with Jack and Sam.  We were greeted by a man leaving an exam room with a wallaby in his arms.  Turns out that Peep has a reproductive blockage, and after a series of x-rays, calcium shots, Vitamin D shots, and a shot to shut down hormones and hopefully cut off egg laying, I left with a very haggard bird in my possession, and a $1005 hole burning in my pocket.  Apparently due to the stress of x-rays and shots during the day, they thought at one point Peep had died, as she laid keeled over on her side. An oxygen machine revived her.  I couldn’t help thinking about whether or not I would still owe them if Peep had died.

The reaction from the four kids was at opposite ends of the spectrum.  The oldest two, when they found out how much I had spent, suggested that maybe we should have just let Peep fly away.  Sam, driving home from the vet’s office, said:  ”I’m so glad Peep didn’t you know what.”  (Apparently the “D” word is similar to that of Voldemort – that which cannot be named).  Jack called my husband and I three times that evening during a dinner out, expressing his concern over Peep.

Dr. Hess graciously called the next day to check on Peep, and of course wants to see her in a week.  I can’t help thinking that I’m getting more attention from this doctor than my own internist and pediatricians.  Of course I never paid those doctors that much money either.

I did find out along the way that Peep was probably malnourished.  The Pet Store’s recommended feeding regimen was far from adequate – and she was lacking important nutrients and vitamins.  So now I catch her twice a day to feed her calcium through a dropper, I’ve clipped broccoli florets on the side of her cage (which she does love), and I even made little mini bird muffins.

And there in lies the story of the impromptu impulse purchase at the pet store. Although I do admit, when feeling well, this little bird loves to chatter and keep you company.


  • Stacy Says:
    1-31-2011 21:48:54

    I met Peep tonight! She’s a sweetie! I wish her well.

  • Mary Says:
    2-1-2011 10:59:01

    The sad truth is that we women are softies for kids and pets. Although if I had been at the vet when they told me how much I owed, I probably would have keeled over and fainted. May Peep live a long happy canary life and stay healthy from now on.

  • Martin Says:
    6-26-2015 22:42:18

    Hi Stuart and your typist -I’m so glad I found your site. It’s a real crieatve one; keep up the good work! I’m following you so I can always be kept up to date on your latest and greatest! Roof Roof to you too!

  • Says:
    12-28-2015 10:06:10

    I was really confused, and this answered all my questions.

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