Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A few little tricks

Shortly after Christmas each year, I pack up my finches for our annual trip to Florida. Trying to catch them as they fly around the aviary is one of my least favorite bird chores. The trust of these friendly, curious birds which I've built up over the year is eradicated in a just few minutes, as I swoop a net around the aviary trying to catch them in mid-air.

But over the years I've learned a few tricks which help make this task a little easier. First, I move their stack of travel cages into the aviary, cage doors open and sprigs of millet spray inside. Usually this will lure some of them right in. This year was no exception - a bunch of them hopped into the cages, but as soon as I walked into the aviary to close the cage doors, they flew back out. No dummies, these birds. I tried sitting quietly in the aviary, hoping they would go back into the cages, but no luck. I caught exactly one gouldian finch this way - my tame finch, Daytona, who would have hopped on my finger and let me put him into the cage anyway.

Onto my next trick - I gave them their bath bowl (photo above) which I had withheld all day. They love bathing and in no time at all they were splashing around. When they are soaking wet, they don't fly as quickly and are much easier to catch and I was able to catch about half of them quite easily.

Trick 3, and this never fails, is to turn down the lights and just snatch them from their tree branches in the dimness. They don't see well in the darkness and usually won't try to fly. Unfortunately my aging eyes don't see well in the darkness either and I'm thinking that if my eyesight continues to decline, this method will be useless to me in a few years.

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