Thursday, October 15, 2009

"I Want to Flyyyyy Awaaaaay; Yeah, Yeah, Yeaaaaahhhhhh."

Chippy and Chloe, two of our finches, their kind wasn't meant to be caged, or they hadn't been sufficiently domesticated when we got Chippy, who was a baby then, and who didn't mind being in a cage. He didn't have a clear sense of his world yet. Feather-growing and getting stronger were more crucial.

Over the past few weeks, Chippy was more vocal than ever, nipping at Chloe, she nipping back, squawking and squawking when they fought. It scared our dog Kitty (part miniature pinscher, part terrier), who would walk low past their cage (which was between my finch Jules on the right, and my sister's finch Ducky on the left) into one of our rooms because she didn't like the violent noise.

It was apparent even months ago that we had to do something, but it didn't go as far as it did until today. When I woke up this afternoon, I went out to the living room and found Chippy and Chloe's cage gone. Mom, who had found Chippy in a pet store and bought Chloe some time after, had gone to the patio in the morning, opened the cage door, and they bolted into nature. Mom was still broken up about this when I had found her in the living room, because she had also considered possibly finding Chloe a new home, and keeping Chippy, who was her favorite. But these finches' nature could not be quelled. They belonged to the wild. They had obviously been captured from the wild and brought to whichever pet store Mom had found them at. Despite having a moderate number of birds over the years, I'm no expert on birds or breeds of birds, but I posit this: If someone had intended to domesticate whatever breed of finch Chippy and Chloe were, it would take some generations of hatchings. The first group would get used to being in a cage, if that, the second group would be a bit shaky, but would become accustomed, and I think only when the third group came along would you have a breed that was used to that life. When we cleaned the cages of Chippy and Chloe, Ducky, and Jules, we wouldn't have any trouble removing the cage from the tray when we'd begin cleaning Ducky's and Jules's cages. We'd lift and set the cages on the dining room table with newspaper on it, and they'd sit on the perches while they were being lifted and set, no problem.

But with Chippy and Chloe, we needed the portable fan to keep them inside. We turned it on, made sure they were sufficiently planted against the other side of the cage, lifted quickly and set it down quickly. Truly, that should have been the first indication that they didn't belong in a cage. But how were we to know? These were Mom's birds. She wanted them, so there they were in this row of cages

Now that middle cage is gone and there's a direct path for Kitty to her pink couch, set against the glass covering of the fireplace we never use. Her stuffed dogs are there, and so's her Abby Cadabby doll.

Personally, Chippy and Chloe's swift departure has not left me as torn as Mom, but I do wonder where they are. I hope they're safe, I hope Chippy's incredibly happy now, and I hope that they've found another group of wild finches to quickly ingratiate themselves with, maybe have a few little ones of their own. I don't know if they were that way in their cage, but why not in their natural habitat? And I know they might not even be together, that maybe they flew their separate ways, but hopefully they found something. I went out onto the patio an hour and a half ago, looking out at the community pool, looking further out at the trees and the dark mountainside rife with houses side by side, and I thought about where they might be. I hope in a small way that maybe they'll fly back our way, sit on the ledge of our patio, just letting us know that they're ok. But being that they were in a cage for all the time they were with us, I doubt they know the way back here. Like Ducky, Chippy and Chloe were never near a window in their cage. Maybe they saw things from the side of their cage, but not fully.

I'm not sure I really miss them. Granted, the routine of refilling the birds' water dishes is taking less time now with one less to refill, and I only have to refill two food dispensers now, but for the time they were here, there was a comfort to me in having them there. There was a routine to which I was contributing, giving them what they needed, and it felt good. Ducky and Jules are still here, so I still have it, but they contributed a little bit to the centering of my world in times when it was trying. It still is, of course, life always is, but they were there and I appreciated that.
But we had to make a decision. We didn't want Kitty to be scared from them fighting, and she, to be honest, is far more important to us than Chippy and Chloe. Being that she was a rescue dog from Alaska (abandoned in the extreme cold and vicious when first found; on her first night with us after we picked her up from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, she slept alone on the couch, but she soon got used to us and now she is one of the great good things in our world, along with our other dog Tigger), she's still jittery from many things, despite living with us for a number of years now, and this was one of them.

Strangely, my finch Jules was astoundingly vocal today. He actually jumped to the bottom of his cage, took out a piece of the litter and began playing with it, hopping up and down on his perch and then all around his cage, tweeting incessantly. He never did that during all the time Chippy and Chloe were with us. Mom thought he was a "couch bird," but it turns out that he must have been just as bothered by Chippy and Chloe's arguing as we eventually were.

I won't forget Chippy and Chloe. They were a part of our years here in Southern California. But you can't repress someone's true nature. Chippy and Chloe knew exactly where they were going when Mom pushed up that cage door: Out into the world that they knew so well, even if they didn't know this particular area. It's air, it's trees, it's the promise of other birds or whatever they might have been looking for in their little lives. I also face the reality that something might have happened to them already, a bigger bird snatching up one or both of them, but that's life anyway. What happens, happens. We just have to go where we feel we need to go.

Thanks you two. You did ok by me.