In my old aviary: baby Blackberry - the dark one - on my wrist.
It was a lovely August evening in 1985, and I was in my aviary checking the nest boxes, when something unusual happened.
I lifted off the sturdy nest box lid, and smiled contentedly at the sight of six well grown and bouncing youngsters -- were five of them really destined to be visual violets? Then, suddenly, the eldest popped up on the rim of the open box. In seconds four of them were lined up on the rim, looking as alike as peas in a pod as they gazed wide-eyed at the world! They must have been astonished at the view, little innocents that they were, as they could see down the whole aviary for the first time in their new lives: the familiar view from the nest hole was in the opposite direction. There was a moment of concern as I wondered how I would get the precious youngsters safely back in, but it was accomplished somehow! This was the first hint of the dynamic personalities of these particular birds.
The second hint followed all too soon. The eldest, an obvious cock later named Blackberry, had to be removed from his parents' cage at just five weeks old because he was bullying his mother -- driving her to distraction! Out he went into the main aviary, at an age when some budgie chicks are still in the nest. Precocious, you could say.
The behaviour of these individuals never ceased to be dynamic! Evidently, a bunch of amazing and difficult characters had arrived in the aviary!
This photo' shows one of Blackberry's sisters -- in my hair -- but I don't know which one! At this age, they could only be told apart by the coloured leg rings, and the legs don't show!
All Blackberry's siblings bar one were visual violets like him, and I was thrilled with their colour. They were my first dark factor youngsters and had rich, inky tones in their plumage. The three sisters I retained were named Violet, Viola (the only non-violet) and Veronica. Viola, bless her, was different in character as well as colour - - she was manageable!
Violet loved water, and I could have got some great underwater - (yes, I said "underwater") - photos' of her if I'd persevered! I was in the habit of taking a litre jug of water out to the aviary to swill and refill their water dish; Violet would fly onto the jug, plunge into the water, and pop out like a cork the other side! I bought one of those mini fish tanks to try for photos', but somehow never worked on the project.
As for Blackberry, well he fell in love with his mother and sisters - - and they all thought he was the bee's knees! -- An obvious recipe for TROUBLE! you could say - - and trouble was what I got! Passion and aggression seemed to go on mounting over the next few years, involving the whole of this budgie family. The aviary diary tells the unfolding story (Sylvie is the mother of Blackberry, Violet, Viola and Veronica, and the mild mannered Bilberry is their dad) ~
The trouble didn't stop after the winter of '88 - '89: oh no!
Did you get all that? - No, I thought not! Here is the same thing illustrated!
My aviary diary continues - -
So much for the gentle joys of bird keeping!
Did Violet become sweet and gentle as she grew old? Read the next story and find out!
© Helen Day, first published 2003.