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It was some education.

I got to see them feeding their babies at last .  The tinies would quiver their wings at their parents and one of them, say Mork, would head into the feed bowl and get a good cropful of seed kernals.  A little time for it to ferment or wharrever and then back to his brood with their huge baby mouths, just like you see in pics of nestlings.  He’d make his mouth as wide as theirs and his neck would swell so’s it all looked like a disproportionately large tube, then he’d plunge his mouth into one of the babies’ and his neck would pulse as he gave it a direct dinner injection.  Then he’d move to another open mouth and give that the same.   Both baby and parent looked like they were really, really into it.

Then back to the feed bowl for a repeat performance with another chick and equitably so for all of them.    They were very measured in their feeding, and disciplinarian at times.   Mealtimes had a regularity to them and at other times they didn’t want to be bothered as they had other domestic stuff to do.  Like flying around or preening or rearranging whatever they had in the nest box.

There’d been no shortage of action when there was just the two of them in their cage.  Now it was really fun filled with juniors demanding attention, learning their flying, exploring and chattering to each other about everything.    It was brrrrr........   brrrrrr........   brrrrrr..........  in all directions.

As they shed their baby feathers for grown up plumage, they got lessons on how to crack open seeds to feed themselves.  Along with lessons in beak wiping and other matters of personal hygiene.  They still made demands for attention with wing quivering and some times it was indulged,  a seed cracked open and put into a beak, a bit of grooming or cuddling.  All the birds had a lot of personality and a lot of warmth to them.

Bathing was the hardest and most hilarious lesson for them.  Mork and Meep had them lined up beside the water bowl and Mork demonstrated.  Up onto the rim of the coconut, into the water, brrrrrr ......., hop out onto the opposite side ready to dry off.  Meep shepherded the first pupil up onto the rim, he jumped in the water then jumped out to the opposite edge and went  brrrrrr .........         Mum and Dad went into fits of laughter, oh dear oh dear, they nearly fell off their perches.  

No, no, like this.  Meep stood on the edge, hopped into the water, brrrrrr ........   spray everywhere, hopped out again.   The second ingenue likewise hopped up, hopped in, hopped out and   brrrrrrrr ..........    Collapse of stout parents.  They rolled on the floor laughing.  They couldn’t contain themselves .......  they crashed into each other laughing so much about it.  Aren’t the kids hilarious at times. lol.

It took them a few days to teach that lesson.  I had a lot of water bowl refilling to do and the proud parents got to look very well scrubbed.

When they got their new coats they got named by us.  I don’t remember too many of them,  Blondie cos she was all in white, Son of Mork cos he was dressed just like his dad.  That sort of thing.   Baldy was a huge character, brill flier and always the first into everything, as he started so he continued.

As the family took off, Mork added a new behaviour.  In the evenings he would perch at the wire and sing out through it.  A long, meeping song that somehow had the character of a Norse saga.   Kind of he was singing his and the family history.

 A couple of months later, Meep was expecting again.  She had a brood of six this time.  But they were sickly compared to their older brothers and sisters.  Nevertheless the cage hopped and fluttered to 13 birds for a time.  It was beginning to look as though I might be supplying the pet shop.

Then winter came along.  And yes, this story is drawing to its close.  Winter brought with it coughs and sneezes which wiped out the second brood and then took Meep as well.  It was down to six behind the wire.

Then, in spring, life changed dramatically and we all had to go our desperate ways.

When first I researched keeping birds, the books told me it would cost about as much as a bar of chocolate a week to keep them fed.  I don’t know what kind of choc the authors ate but I’m somewhat fussy on that taste m’self.   Even when I had the full flock I was spending less on finch food per week than the smallest bar of chocolate cost.  And for that, I had the most amazing and enduring, experience.

The birds were with me from early summer to the following spring.  For almost a full year, I was the Birdman of Bow.

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