I can’t believe that a month has passed since four of our blue tits fledged! It’s been a really busy month for me too and this post has been delayed too by an invasion of gremlins in my computer which meant that I haven’t been able to process any photos to share either. Ugh, backlog of photos. To add to the already existing backlog of photos. Double ugh.
We still have Manky. Manky reigns supreme (which makes me think of the phrase ‘blue tit supreme’ and that’s not a very tasteful pun at all!) in our sitting room. No, sorry, I lied. His sitting room. We are welcome at his screamed invitation to come in and sit awhile with him, talking to him and let him sit on and peck at us. We are also expected to provide food at appropriate intervals, appropriate food.
Manky has standards when it comes to food, he is a bird of particular tastes. He has gone off the dry mealworms now and will only eat the fresh ones. These can only be bought from a shop on the other side of town so it’s not especially easy to acquire them. We know that he doesn’t approve of the dry ones because he was throwing them at us in disgust. And not eating them. There’s not much point in giving him food that he’s only going to reject. Besides, I don’t take kindly at having mealworms of any kind thrown at me. (Neither did I ever think that mealworms would be such a dominant part of my life, especially not the ‘fresh’ variety but Manky is definitely the top of this pack and we, his humble servants, acquiesce to his every demand). He stills loves melon and baby food. I worry because if and when we get to release then I’m not sure what he’s going to eat. Neither melon nor baby food are readily available to wild birds, for some reason, and this does mean he’s going to face quite a deficit in his diet. Fortunately things like mealworms do exist in the Real Bird World and he does pick them out of the tub himself before flying off with them. I’ve been trying to get him to eat bird food, you know a seed mix, but you’d have thought that I was trying to poison him. I even went to trouble of finding a baby bite food (tiny pieces instead of whole pieces) but he didn’t eat that either. I tried sneaking a little bit of it into his baby food. Oh dear, that didn’t go down well! So no bird food yet.
(He’s sat on the top of my screen watching me write this post at the moment, he leans to inspect it every few seconds and if I put the mouse to the top of the screen then he’ll quite happily chase it. Are blue tits meant to chase mice?!)
He loves mud baths (we have a really large pot plant/tree thing in one corner and for some reason all the water sat on the surface rather than sinking through the soil the last time we watered it). He makes quite a mess. Talking of mess, birds cannot physically control their um, poop muscles and therefore will never be house trainable. I know this. There is an awful lot of evidence to prove this fact too. So gross. If he was trainable then you can be sure that I’d have certain expectations. As it is, visions of little bird nappies keep popping into my head. But apparently freedom to express ‘normal’ behaviour is one of the welfare standards and that includes for pooping. Bless his cotton socks. He pecks at everything. He’s got quite a fierce peck on him, you don’t expect it of a bird that size. We found out that he like fruit loops (that neon coloured American breakfast cereal) when I caught him pecking at a friend’s child’s precious artwork. Half of them were gone! Our relationship dimmed for a while and the artwork went safely into a cupboard. Then I found out the damage that he’s done to my dictionary. Fortunately he had already gone to bed and as his bedtime is sacrosanct (dim the lights, turn down the speakers, whisper), he and I didn’t meet until the next morning when my mood was under appropriate control. I love that birdy, I promise you that, but there are limits. I would say that he was leaving a blue tit sized trail of destruction but you might underestimate the damage an 11g bird can do (he can balance on a greeting card). Let’s go with blue tit scaled trail of destruction. Well, at least the fruit loop episode proved that he’s discovering new food sources for himself. And he’s found a new water source too, the filters on the back of the fish tank. Fortunately there are no fish in there at the moment because I’d have hairy feelings about that.
(He’s now trying to ‘help’ me type, this mainly involves pecking. Chasing the hands is such a good game! Even his toenails are as sharp as needles).
His flying has got really confident now, he can swoop and turn mid-flight rather than just plunge from A to B. This is a good sign of progress but he’s already losing his baby feathers, so tiny! I worry about him moulting because I’m sure he could do with all the feather he can get! But the adult colouring is coming through quite clearly now, much more vibrant, especially that blue.
Talking of colour raises an issue that we’re facing at the moment: gender. We have quite happily used the male for our birds, it’s just easier. As his feathers develop, Manky doesn’t seem to be male. He doesn’t have the well-defined top-knot that they seem to develop quite early (Sneaky and Rocky both had it) and the adult colouring on the face definitely suggests female. So he might be a she. Which means we’re now rather confused about how to call the bird. I’ve settled for an intriguing combination of he/she/it. But Manky doesn’t recognise the expression ‘good girl‘ so I am rather having to stick to male gender terms. Ah well.
When we go out, we put the radio on and tune it to that highly intellectual talk station so that he has something to keep him company. It’s often the Afternoon Play. He has very cultured tastes.
It’s a Manky life. He seems to be enjoying it.