|Photo by PuppiesAreProzac|
My beloved bird is a cockatiel. She's a beautiful bird and a great companion. About twice a year she gets in a mood to respond to her God-given natural activity of egg laying. The first time she ever did this it was really cute.
The problem was, the egg wasn't fertilized, so it wouldn't hatch. So after a while of the egg not hatching, she determined the trick was to lay another egg, only to get the same results. This led to more eggs until she had six or seven eggs she was watching over.
When I first got her I did some research on the Internet about cockatiels and bird care. So when this egg-laying event was happening, I remembered reading something about it depleting them of calcium. I went back and read more about it. Sure enough, laying eggs depletes them of calcium and that is deadly to them.
I decided I had to take away her eggs. I didn't want to lose her over this. So, away they went. I made sure she watched me do it so she would know it's dangerous to lay eggs in her cage. They won't lay them if they are not comfortable with the nesting area.
That didn't stop her. She started again and I took them away again. After a few rounds of this, I decided to pull the bedding out of the cage, thinking it would make it less 'homey' for her and she would knock off the egg laying. It did stop for the season, but a season later she got the call to lay again and we resumed the battle.
As the days and weeks went by, she insisted she was going to lay the eggs and I insisted she wasn't. But, she was winning, in spite of my removing them. Then it happened...
One day I walked by her cage and there she was, in the bottom of her cage, still and silent and her limbs and head were twisted into a nearly grotesque position and I couldn't tell if she was even still alive. I was devastated; even to the point of not being able to react.
The evidence seemed clear that I would lose her. This was not a goldfish, but a friend. We talked and played every day. We ate and went to sleep at the same time. She sat on my shoulder and cheered me on as I worked on my computer. There would be no replacement bird; no more than you can replace your child.
I couldn't think right so I had to call on a friend. As we raced down the highway towards the veterinarian, I kept talking to my bird hoping to keep her awake and maybe get that little 'peep' to tell me she was going to be okay.
We rushed her to the emergency room and the vet rushed her behind those swinging doors. Had I seen the last of my bird?
They came out and asked me to step back into another room, where I waited to hear the news. I was waiting for the 'bird nurse' to come out and break it to me when the door opened and I only saw her back. She walked back through the door and as she cleared the door she turned around to reveal the white cage I had brought my pet bird in.
Inside that cage was a vibrant, confused and curious cockatiel who saw me and let out a loud chirp as if to ask, "What's up?" My bird was going to make it and doing just fine!
She had gone into a seizure because of calcium deficiency from laying the eggs. They gave her a shot of calcium to revive her. They also gave her a shot that was supposed to keep her from laying eggs. They said it might need to be done every month.
Sure enough, several weeks went by and she was back in the egg laying business. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't keep taking her to the veterinarian every month for expensive shots, but I couldn't go through that again.
I sat looking at her cage one day thinking about how I could make it less desirable for her to lay eggs. Finally, the light bulb went off.
I jumped up, went to the pet store and bought her a cage big enough for a parrot (remember, she's only a cockatiel). The reason I wanted this was that of the big grates on the bottom of the cage. She can still walk around the bottom of the cage, but she cannot nest an egg there because it falls through the grate.
Oh, she tried. She tried one time. She laid that egg and stared at it for days as it lay underneath that grate and she couldn't get to it. That was the last egg she ever laid. She doesn't need the shot either. She's in fine health and we're enjoying each other more than ever.
Isn't that grate (uh, great)?