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Unbroken Blur

By Christopher Sharron, Foster and Adoptive Parent


Bluebelle_BEFORE_Grid7.jpgWhen Blur the budgie came home for the first time in a Jeep Wrangler on Hwy. 880, she wore the name “Bluebelle”.  We drove through traffic from Cupertino to Alameda, five-thirty in the afternoon. Optimism ran high she would recover somewhat: that her broken leg would mend, her head feathers would grow back, and whatever other injuries she might’ve sustained in her unknown accident would heal. She would come home from extended vet stays four times that summer.

The accident in all likelihood was “car vs. psittacine” – 25 grams of feathery fluff and airy bone meets 2+ tons of metal and hard plastic. That’s a lot like you or me getting hit by a plane. While it’s in mid-flight. When we first heard about Blur, I think the sales pitch we got was that “Her blue was incredibly saturated, very deep, maybe the deepest ever seen”.  Thus her first name – Bluebelle. Indeed her blue had depth, but the feather-empty bare spots on her head and the scabs detracted from that just a bit. And her broken leg. And her inability to sit still for very long. Of course we’d give her the best we could, banking on the notion that anything with that much stubborn spirit could will her bones to heal.

Bluebelle_BEFORE2_Grid7.jpgBlue wore a cast which was supposed to stay dry. First order of business? Hopping in her water bowl. She also sported a Cindy Lauper hairdo with her odd feather arrangement and bare skin showing on her head (she came quite close to being “Cindy”). We played the “Sounds of the Rainforest” on the iPod on infinite repeat. She seemed to relax into the quarantine period in her new environment. Except for the bouncing off the sides of the quarantine tank. And the yelling at the other birds in the house. Ok, “relax” was a bad word choice.

She went back to the vet a week later, and this time, x-rays showed the leg bone as a broken toothpick (again), a bit of a mess. Bluebelle had an infection going on as well and an open sore (which turned out to be caused by the bone). There had been bone-knitting happening prior to us picking her up from the vet the first time, but the leg was broken again most likely due to Bluebelle’s cage antics. So it was a new cast, antibiotics, and a hospital tank with blinders (white paper taped to the outside of the aquarium) this time. We took her home for the second time.

The next time we went to the vet, the verdict was exactly the same. Something wasn’t working. Was it the ride from the vet in the Jeep? Was it the medications administration? Was it simply a hyperactive budgie that couldn’t figure out it had a broken leg (seriously, are there no nerve endings there)? One way or the other, with Dr. Van Sant’s determination and our own resignation (and a complete disregard for the economics), we opted for the cruelest of cures – several weeks in sensory deprivation in the bird hospital. It was the last best chance, and its failure would mean amputation of Bluebelle’s leg.

It was a fool’s hope, but it worked. By this time, most of the feathers on the top of the head had grown in, and the tail feathers had grown back. Every bit the “pit bull budgie”, or maybe “ping pong budgie” (well, isn’t that redundant!) we had only glimpsed, we decided that Bluebelle’s name was just too dainty. So we tried on “Thor” for a while, which almost stuck (sexing was difficult as there was a large scab on the cere still, and although it was blue, Dr. Van Sant told us that an “endocrine event” [almost certainly related to the unknown accident] can do that to a female).

 After that last vet visit and its requisite long-term torture, we put “Thor/Blur” in quarantine again for 6 weeks, but this time there was no plan for a follow-up with the vet –  Doc had gotten pretty sick and tired of this little budgie in the best possible way – hoping to get it into a positive life-trajectory and then letting it go. Thor/Blur heard the 6 or 7 other budgies throughout our house, and vociferously chimed in on the “budgie locator roll-call”.
When she finally came out of quarantine, we introduced her to the “non-aggressive” cage of budgies. Thor immediately ping-ponged back and forth from perch to perch, and proved capable of being spooked by the presence of air. Mystified by almost anything, and containing more energy than the Large Hadron Collider, moving sometimes as if all her electrons were taking left turns at the same instance, we figured “Thor” wouldn’t do. After trying to watch her and realizing our human eyesight limitations, we opted for Blur.