Tuesday, August 07, 2007

sparrow, sparrow, sparrow...BUDGIE??

Just arriving back home from downtown Toronto, I was walking on my street towards my house and passing a yard where the residents throw rice out to the birds (I know, I hate that they're throwing out rice and not bread or seed but there's really not much you can do). Anyway, there were the usual: plenty of pigeons, a sprinkle of starlings, and a hoard of house sparrows. As the sparrows flew from underneath my shoes (they're overly tame in the city), I suddenly furrowed my eyebrows and stopped in my tracks. One of the sparrows had a long, pointed, blue tail. The flock landed in a nearby tree and I rushed over to see what was going on. I couldn't come up with any other possibility that some sort of escapee and I was right. I looked up to see a Budgerigar in the tree, gregariously hanging out with the sparrows. I later saw the bird at the streetcar stop at the end of our street but haven't seen it since. Jess and I are considering capturing it and keeping it for a while, then eventually sending it to the Toronto Humane Society. I forgot to check if the bird had a band but it certainly didn't have its wings clipped. It was flying perfectly fine.

This particular bird was sky blue on its front with white feathers on its scalloped back and a white head (my favourite variety). Budgerigars have been known to sustain small, feral populations in Florida along the gulf coast and frequently escape nationwide so their North American status is complicated. Competition with native species limits their populations as well as the lack of appropriate food and nesting sources. The wild form is a stunning lime green front complimented by a golden hood and back. They also have a yellow wing-stripe on an otherwise two-toned wing of green and black. In flight, this wing-stripe along with a similar-patterned long tail, really make it a beautiful bird.

If this experience has proved nothing else, it should at least tell you how important it is to pay attention to each bird no matter how common. You never know what you might find mixed in with the familiar bunch.

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