Thursday 18 September 2008

Avian Cleansing 101

Now that the weather is warming up, my daughter puts our pet cockatoo outside on the back deck, so that he can soak up Vitamin D on tap.

I've posted about our "Bucko" before. He has beak and feather disease, and we were told he would only live a year. That was over two years ago now. Although Bucko still doesn't have feathers, and his beak often cracks and my daughter and the Machinist have to gag and bind him to file down his splitting beak, he still seems happy with a good outlook on life. Sometimes, he catches one of his claws on the poles and we find blood splattered newspaper at the bottom of his cage. The other day, we let him walk around the workshop, and he once again caught one of his claws which bled like a human head wound. Bucko didn't seem perturbed, though. He continued exploring the concrete floor, while leaving a paisley pattern from his blood stained toe.

Today, at lunch, the Machinist asked "Why does the bird keep on pecking his butt?"

"He's massaging his oil gland, Dad"

"An oil gland in his butt?"

"No, it's the little lump you see just above his butt. It looks like a wart. He uses the oil to prune himself."

Sure enough, Bucko began his bird boudoir right before our eyes. He used his beak to spread oil to his toes. Using his toes, he stroked his head and gangly neck. Lifting the one wing, he seemed to 'nibble' at his armpit. Then the other wing. Finally working his beak down his back, looking like an avian contortionist.

Straightening up, he was still for a moment on the perch (probably allowing his blood pressure to adjust and to 'sit out' the dizzy spell). Suddenly, a couple of full body shakes, a few more prods here and there with his beak and he was done.

His cage stopped rattling. The cats lowered their heads and resumed their nap.

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