You Knew Us Before We Met
We are old, wise. We sang for your birth
as the sun rose, reflected in our eyes.
Our cries shrilly soared, falconing,
gyring, to greet it
We are reborn, young. Come learn
To see our earth with eyes
made ever new
Weird worm-wolfers, we. The scales
that shield our feet are not
We outgrew those.
We regrew these. We.
Gobble worms with us, pilgrim. You’re
welcome at our feast. It fills us;
we ask no more.
Your palatial nest —
built it with your very own two hands
Try building the next one with your mouth.
See these feathers, these wings?
Who lacks a mansion
when we have the sky?
We are friends, flockmates. Feel
the yearning tug of our cries. Take wing
with us again
that we may soar
Author – Mark LaBarre
A second chance at a forever home
by Claire Longworth
My first introduction to fids (feathered kids) came in my early twenties when I discovered my new boyfriend had a pet cockatiel. I won’t lie, I thought it was an odd choice of pet until I actually met the little rosy cheeked bird. I quickly fell in love with his sweet personality and was bereft when he died at the grand old age of 17. Shortly after a friend asked me to take his green cheek conure which he’d bought from a pet shop but couldn’t cope with. Hardy was a challenge; he was petrified of men and was very nippy. But with love, understanding and a lot of time he became a very sweet bird. After he sadly departed I acquired Rio, a sixteen week old yellow-sided conure who has been my companion for the last 8 years.
I had been considering on and off for a couple of years whether or not to add another parrot to my family. After much debate and discussion I concluded that I would apply for a rescued bird in order to give a parrot in need a second chance of a happy home. Now the wrong side of 40, I felt that taking on a baby would not be the right thing to do, as the potential for a parrot to outlive me is a real possibility. The thought of dealing with a baby parrot’s nippiness and “terrible-twos” once more was also a little daunting. I figured a more mature bird would bypass this issue! A little Green Cheek Conure caught my eye on Birdline Parrot Rescue’s website and with some excitement I registered as a member and put in an application.
I soon received a call from a lovely Rehoming Officer who conducted a 45 minute phone interview. This was followed up with a home check, which I was both delighted and relieved to have passed. However, as my application progressed it became clear that the bird I had applied for had bonded with another at his temporary home and his Safe-House carer decided to keep him. Of course this was brilliant news for the little chap and I was thrilled for him. Safe-Housing is Birdline’s first step to a parrot finding their forever home; giving the bird time to settle and be assessed before being put up for adoption. However I understand it’s not uncommon for the Safe-House to end up keeping their little feathered friends. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to part with a bird after having worked hard to rehabilitate it. Serious kudos goes to those who do this important work.
Fortunately for me, the Rehoming Team had another bird in mind and they asked whether I would consider taking a special-needs Green Cheek who had been surrendered to the rescue when her elderly owner could no longer care for her. Any concerns about coping with her condition (a deformed beak) were quickly allayed and I readily agreed to take her. So on a wet and windy evening at the end of October 2017 I drove into a Tesco’s car park somewhere close to Manchester, with instructions to look out for Birdline’s Area Manager and the tiny bird who would shortly steal my heart. Kim (the Area Manager) had kindly suggested the supermarket as a meeting point because it wouldn’t take me too far off my planned route for the evening. She met me with a hug and after a brief chat in the rain I said hello to Renée. What I saw near broke my heart, as a scruffy little green cheek, huddled into a corner of her cage, peered back at me with a terrified look in her eyes. How confused and unsettled she must have felt.
With paperwork signed and Renée safely secured in her cage on the backseat of my car, we set off for the relative’s house where I had arranged to stay for the night. Not a peep was heard from Renée on the hour long journey – not even a single squawk in objection to my terrible radio Karaoke! On arrival I was therefore extremely surprised to hear her excitedly say “biscuit biscuit” as I offered a hospitality gift of cookies to my relative. I placed the little cage on a side table next to where I was sitting and debated whether or not to open the door, or just to let her settle. But after noting that she screamed every time I left her sight, I decided she might be happier if she wasn’t stuck inside. She immediately rushed out and climbed up to the top of her cage and leaned towards me. I offered her my finger to step-up and she promptly bit it. Quite right too – where were my manners? I’d forgotten to introduce myself properly. After a little bit of quiet conversation and reassurance I offered a covered arm and she hopped on. By the end of the evening I had tackled some of the pin feathers on her head that were causing her obvious irritation and she had fallen asleep in the crook of my arm. Such trust from this tiny creature – I was already falling in love.
So we were off to a flying start with the bonding, but sadly I noted that she wasn’t in the best of health. She was in poor body condition, which I put down at least partly to the difficulty she had eating with her deformed beak. But worse still she smelt bad – I suspected a fungal condition. She also seemed to be in some distress and pain whilst passing her droppings. The next day I messaged the Rehoming Director of Birdline with my initial observations and she kindly reassured me that the charity would cover the vet costs for any pre-existing conditions.
Shortly after getting home I took her in to the vets for a wellness check and beak trim. Examination of her droppings under a microscope confirmed the fungal infection – for which she was prescribed medication. Two weeks and several baths later she smelt better but still had frequently runny droppings and continued pain. Back to the vets we went and this time we came away with antibiotics and an appointment for X-rays to investigate her internal problems. Fortunately the X-rays showed no blockages or other ominous signs – but the vet suspected damage to the muscles in her vent area from a previous egg laying episode. He prescribed painkillers (0.05 mm of Loxicom a day) which started helping her discomfort levels immediately. It is likely that she will remain on the Loxicom for the rest of her life. She is such a good girl and comes to me when she sees the medicine bottle – it must be tasty as she licks the dropper clean. Since bringing Renée home I have gradually been introducing pellets and chop to her diet of seed and started supplementing her water with calcium and vitamins. I’m delighted to see her feather condition improving along with her general health. She has also gained confidence and started exploring her new home. Her delightful cheeky side is now emerging too.
Renée was clearly much loved by her previous owner and quickly bonded to me. She stuck to me like glue for the first few weeks and would lunge at anyone who came near me – including Rio, my other conure. Any hopes of an immediate friendship between my two girls were quickly dashed. But I’m hopeful that within time they may become friends. For now, each conure has time out with me alone and they at least have each other’s company from their side-by-side cages whilst I’m out at work.
Having initially taken Renée on a temporary basis, I’m delighted to say that just before Christmas I applied to foster her permanently. Taking on a ‘second-hand’ bird is so rewarding. Any time and effort I have spent has been paid back to me tenfold with the love and trust she has shown me. I’m so grateful to the Birdline team for allowing me to care for such a special little parrot.
I’ve also enjoyed becoming part of the Birdline Community and the support and advice given to me has been invaluable. Seeing the wonderful work Birdline does, made me want to participate and I recently started volunteering for the Rehoming Team. I spend my time conducting rehoming interviews – a task I really enjoy. After all what could possibly be better than talking to people about parrots and parrot care? I look forward to helping many other parrots find their chance of a second forever home.
Birdline Parrot Rescue is a charity which operates across the U.K. and re-homes hundreds of parrots each year. They also work to raise standards in parrot care through education at events and through resources such as the Birdline website. The charity is run entirely on a voluntary basis and a dedicated team of people give their valuable time to enable birds such as Renée to get a second chance of a loving home.
Each year the charity’s biggest cost is for vet care, ensuring birds such as Renée get the support they need to live healthy and happy lives. Funds are raised through a membership scheme, donations and events. They also charge a small admin fee to foster each bird. As parrots live for such a long time, they remain the property of Birdline for life. This gives the much needed reassurance that if a foster family’s circumstances change Birdline will step in to give support and if necessary re-home the bird once again. You can find out more about the charity and ways in which you can help support it at www.birdline.org.uk
by Claire Longworth
Welcome to Horus!
Horus is YOUR page, Horus belongs to our readers! You are invited to submit musings about your own bird, another bird, wild birds… basically, anything about birds – real, fictional, mythical, etc. Send us your poetry, short essays, short stories, artwork, etc., and we’ll post it on Horus for all to view, read and appreciate!
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Read on to learn a bit more about why we called our page Horus.
Birds have long had a mythical and spiritual place in human history. For instance Horus, the Egyptian god of the sky and kingship (and often depicted as the ancient Egyptians’ national tutelary deity) was usually depicted as a falcon-headed man wearing the pschent, or a red and white crown, as a symbol of kingship over the entire kingdom of Egypt. Being a tutelary deity, Horus was a guardian and protector. In most human cultures and traditions, birds have a predominantly positive connotation. St. Hildegard of Bingen in her Liber de Subtilitatum (1098 – 17 September 1179) said, “Birds symbolize the power that helps people to speak reflectively and leads them to think out many things in advance before they take action. Just as birds are lifted up into the air by their feathers and can remain wherever they wish, the soul in the body is elevated by thought and spreads its wings everywhere. “They represent the human desire to escape gravity, to reach the level of the angel”. The bird is often the disembodied human soul, free of its physical constrictions. In many fairy tales, those who understand the language of the bird are said to have attained special knowledge, and people are often transformed into birds. In others, birds represent thought and imagination, transcendence and divinity, freedom from materialism. And sometimes, birds represented the metamorphosis of a lover.