I work as the Small Animal Coordinator for a local rescue. In this case, ‘small animal’ means anything that is not a cat or a dog. As a result, I have gone to the vet with some truly interesting critters in tow. But nothing will beat walking in with a starling.
Ferdinand and his nest mate Piasa got to see each other again as yesterday was a combined visit. So my friend and I walked in together, and set two carrying cages of flustered young starling on the counter, and were instantly the darlings of the office. Piasa rubbed his face a bit on the bars of his carrier, and got extra sympathy from the receptionists. Ferdinand was too busy trying to look like he was auditioning for Cirque du Soleil, hanging from the top of his carrier and doing improbable things involving feats of flexibility and dexterity that made me rather jealous.
When we got into the exam room, we let the kids out of their carriers, where they harried the tech, making things like weighing them as difficult as possible. Piasa has an addiction to sitting on heads and Ferdinand was determined to stay on my hand. We did eventually get them sorted out and an actual exam took place. We wanted to check for parasites, as they are wild caught birds, and we also wanted to have them DNA tested for gender as right now, well, we are guessing. Here’s hoping Ferdinand is actually male, as I don’t know if I can call a lady starling that name with a straight face. The vet poked, prodded, examined, and appreciated the little guys (or girls) and everyone generally had a grand time. It must be at least a little fun for a vet to get to see an animal apart from the norm. The vet had done some research for us on diet and care and provided us with some articles- above and beyond the call of duty as far as I am concerned.
The kids, wanting nothing more than to continue sitting on heads and hands, were none too pleased with going back into their carriers, but a little shredded tissue to play with while we were checking out settled them down and got us home without incident.
The exam room was one of the first times I had allowed Ferdinand free flight- usually he is leashed as I don’t trust my cats, and I didn’t trust him to come back to me. The way he fluttered back to me anxiously every time he startled off his perch on my hand while at the vet reinforced for me the fact that I am his safety line to the world. That’s what you get when you take a bird and raise it from such a young age. I am used to raising domestic birds- this is new, and as such I did not have the pre-built trust structures. I do now.
In fact, I was not at all put out to come home from cleaning cat enclosures for the rescue this morning to find Ferdinand had worked his way out of the cage and was off visiting the baby dove. There was a little chasing, as Ferdinand was definitely excited to be wandering about. But once I got him on my hand, he was more than happy to explore me for an hour before wandering off to visit the dove again. We trust each other a bit more now. It’s a working relationship, but it is definitely working out.