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Oh Nicky You're So Fine

By Lucy Macmillan


Nick. Nicky. Nicholas the ridiculous!!!  These are given and nick-names (no pun intended) for Nick the 20-year old normal grey cockatiel who was one of the fortunate companion birds to find a foster home with Mickaboo in 2012. This story is about his coming to Mickaboo and his progression in foster care.

Nick was raised by a caring San Francisco family whose various life circumstances led them to find a foster home with a trusted bird rescue group, with hopes of finding Nick a new permanent home. And so there was Mickaboo! Nick’s owners were patient in keeping Nick on the “waiting list” recognizing our overwhelmingly increasing number of foster birds requiring care. After a few months, their wish, and possibly Nick’s, came true!

On a late afternoon in April, Nick was collected from his owners in San Francisco by a Mickaboo foster Mom and taken to his new home across the Bay. At the time of his surrender, we thought Nick might be blind or have deteriorating eyesight since he seemed to spook easily when people walked by him. He lived in a big airy room and was well cared for but he had little interaction with people on a regular basis in his later years. But that would soon change for Nicky. Settled in his smaller cage covered in his favorite paisley blanket in the back seat of an unfamiliar truck, he let out little chirps on the car ride home - an excellent and polite passenger from the get go! Maybe he heard through the homing pigeon grapevine that the new home he was going to housed two other spirited male cockatiels.  Maybe he was just a good little guy ready for a change!

Nick got off to a steady start. As with all foster or adopted birds coming to a new house with other birds, Nick had to be quarantined for a period of 4-6 weeks to prevent spreading any viruses or sickness that may shed under the stress of moving.  Because of this and the speculation he may have bad eyesight, the very next morning after he arrived at his new digs, Nick was taken to a local avian veterinarian and examined, the cost of which was generously paid by Mickaboo.  His weight was average for an older fellow and his eyesight and other functions appeared normal too. Nicky wasn’t blind - Nicky was just fine!
Nick was understandably skittish in his new surroundings at first. It took him a few weeks to venture from the security of his cage. But boy when he did, Nick came out in style!  He impressed his foster Mom with his flying capabilities and despite his age, the spirited guy could land anywhere - and would! On top of bookshelves, window sills, accidentally on his foster Mom’s head, and even picture frames hanging on the wall. Anywhere to avoid a human hand! Amazing how an older bird who spent essentially all of his time in his smaller cage could find such tremendous lift so quickly. 

While elderly birds’ wings may not be clipped if they’re relatively sedentary, Nick proved to be a budding gentleman needing a little reining in for his own safety. In consultation with the vet, it was decided Nick’s wings should be conservatively clipped to prevent him from inadvertently escaping but giving him an extra edge older birds may need to get around. Nick wasn’t close to being “tame” so if he did manage to escape outdoors it would be very unlikely he would find his way back or be rescued.

img004As the weeks passed and Nick became familiar with his new surroundings, he began to settle in. He enjoyed supervised outdoor time (in a cage of course) with his foster brothers Luna and Spottie (the latter a Mickaboo adoptee) enjoying the April sun.  Once his quarantine was over, the three were introduced.  While Luna and Spottie are bonded, Nick made, and continues to make, concerted efforts to join in on their fun. Luna, the quasi-alpha male of the household, chases Nick around the floor and under the table, chairs or anywhere Nick can skillfully outrace him. Nick continues to stand his 20-year-old ground, refusing to back down, and has convinced his new housemates to let him eat and play with them every so often. After living the solo life in the Haight, Nick is determined to be one of the flock!

Out of the blue this past weekend, Nicky’s former owners emailed to ask how the old guy was doing.  We had a lot to share and Nick must have known because THAT day he began to readily step up on command!  This was preceded by a fascination with bare feet and hands on a flat surface but the graduation to unabashed stepping up was a pleasant surprise for all involved!