Title - Fun With Falling Objects
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Does your pet love to throw things on the floor? If so, she is a typical budgie!

I was tickled pink when my first budgie, Peter, developed the habit of pushing his ladder off the top of the cage, sending it crashing down! It was so funny! The cage hung on a stand, and we used to hook the ladder over the stand's top rail. When Peter shoved it, it went at a good speed and with considerable clatter, providing him with a lot of satisfaction. And of course, he looked over the edge to see where it had gone!

As I got to know more budgies, I soon found out that fascination with falling objects was a common trait. If there is anything that can be unhooked, pushed off or over balanced, they will do it! -- And they will do it with gusto!

Violet on fridge padWhen old Violet came into the house to enjoy her last years in comfort, she soon discovered things that could be thrown around the kitchen! There was a fridge magnet that held a block of loose paper sheets -- which could be pulled out one by one till they all littered the floor beneath. But, even better, there was the SPICE RACK. This was a two-tier, wall-hanging affair with a miniature balustrade. Her game was to throw all the various tubs, boxes and pots over this balustrade and send them crashing onto the work surface below!!

As you can imagine, this was no easy task as most of the containers of herbs were quite heavy -- considering we are talking about a tiny budgie! But Violet was a character with great determination. No, I'll rephrase that: Violet was a character with unbelievable determination!! It was great fun to watch her intellegence at work as she pursued the impossible.

Violet would heave away at the little tubs and things, and if she didn't succeed at first, she would try the same method a couple more times. If she was still beaten, she would then stop and think. Then she'd try a different technique, often succeeding at last! All this was such good entertainment that we couldn't bring ourselves to intervene and stop her from being so naughty! We just sat there rolling with laughter!!

Unfortunately, the fascination with falling things does not necessarily stop with inanimate items. Another budgie, Douglas Fir, found out that one of his companions in the aviary could not fly, and, despite being a gentle bird in every other respect, he took to knocking her off the perch -- just for the fun of watching her fall! I really believe he did it out of fascination, not out of aggression or meanness.

That made me wonder whether budgies see flying as the norm, and falling as an interesting deviation from nature? Is this what is behind the fascination? To them, it is normal to be able to stay airborne, so hey: isn't it funny when things don't!!!! But there again, babies are fascinated by falling objects too, for a while, and they can't fly!

I must tell you about a budgie called Hazel, who taught herself a very entertaining trick. I'd provided a branch, as a nice perch, between two tall pieces of furniture. -- (My home is a 'budgerigar priority zone' after all!) -- Then I gave her a forked twig, about 18 inches long. It was off an elder tree and very light, and the fork was about a third of the way down. If I hooked it over the branch, it stayed there, with the single stalk up, and the fork down. Hazel discovered that if she jumped onto the top stork bit and held tight, the twig would start to over balance and then it would fall -- with her on it!! She must have been a bit of a thrill seeker because her game was to keep holding tight to that falling twig until it was precariously close to the floor, then save herself just in time! This was such a good act, and Hazel so liked to show off, that we used to take visitors to watch the little daredevil in action!

It wouldn't be fair if the budgies in my birdroom didn't have things to chuck on the floor too, so they do! They have items like plastic rings and keys to dislodge and drop. Sometimes I have used the coloured plastic rings off disposable juice or milk bottles, with the scratchy bits trimmed off. A budgie called Maple was crazy about throwing these around when he was a youngster, and sometimes -- by mistake or on purpose, I don't know -- he dropped them over his head! The following is from my diary:

Maple budgie had me laughing myself crazy today! He tossed a juice bottle seal loop over his head and suddenly looked for all the world like a bulldog impersonation, with the solid collar around his neck!

This time it didn't come off easily -- (before it had fallen off in flight). He tried hanging upside down, in an impressive display of his understanding of gravity, but no luck. Next he tried rubbing his neck against fine twigs to catch and dislodge it but again no luck this time.

After this he wriggled his beak under the collar and pushed the front of it up over his beak, but it remained caught on the feathers on the back of is neck -- until he combined this manoeuvrer with hanging upside down, when he won at last.

It all took him about one and a half minutes, and he amazed us with his intelligence as well as being very funny'.

© Helen Day first published 2001

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