Question of the Day: “What do you do when you find a parakeet by your bird feeder?”

Since moving into our new home last spring, my husband and I have really kicked up our bird-feeding game. Multiple bird feeders span our backyard. Each space is adorned with bird houses and even long, tube-like bags filled with meal-worms and thistle. We didn’t even know you could feed birds with this varied menu. But insert new knowledge about the vapid appetites of various birds and a motivation to attract these birds to our homestead and our bird population has increased and diversified. So when my husband came into our house the other day and said he may be crazy but he thinks there is a parakeet in our yard, our question of the day became the following: “What do you do when you find a parakeet by your bird feeder?”

Well, the first thing we had to do was catch him. This task was fairly easy. Our new friend seemed exhausted by the heat, so he could really only hop and slightly fly away before needing to rest again. Within about ten minutes of seeing him, I was able to successfully scoop him up. I looked around for a box or container in our garage, silently cursing the fact I did not look for something before picking him up.

Doug in our backyard.

I brought him inside, and our two cats were unaware that I carried their possible quarry in my cupped hands. I walked quickly upstairs and deposited our little friend in our guest bedroom. There was a small, felt basket holding various odds and ends, which I quickly dumped and I placed him in as a kind of container. He swiftly jumped out and onto the side. He perched there and looked around and then jumped back into the basket.

“Well,” I said to my husband. “It looks like we are taking a trip to the pet store today.”

“You can’t be serious,” he responded.

“What choice do we have?” I asked. “If we leave him outside, he’s not going to make it. ” I googled parakeet care and read aloud, “It says they can only live in temps between 60-80 degrees. It’s 100 degrees outside.” I pushed the screen towards him, but he had already acquiesced and was reaching into his pocket for his keys.

“We better make it quick. Our families are coming over soon for Cole’s birthday.” I looked down at the parakeet and back up at him.

“Okay, let’s make it fast,” I said.

The local pet store was helpful in providing a cage ($69), food ($15.99), toy ($5.99), but no further knowledge on how to care for our new friend. Online resources let us know parakeets often get bored, like to have a friend, and can eat fruits and veg in small quantities. The one worker who stood behind the counter was busy helping other customers, so my husband and I just checked out without any more idea or understanding on how to raise our new friend. Well, with the exception of the following conversation:

“Did you guys get a new bird?” The cashier asked as he picked up the sizable cage. We chose it because it was not the cheapest or the most expensive.

“We found one actually,” I said. “Or I guess he found us. He’s a parakeet and he was at our bird feeder this morning.”

“Really? Wow,” he responded though the tone of his voice lacked surprise. “Good luck with it. Parakeets aren’t as easy as they seem.”

“Oh,” I responded now a bit worried. “It said online they were a beginner’s pet. Is there something…”

“No, no, no,” he answered quickly. “It’s fine. You’ll be fine.” I looked at him blankly, expecting more. “That will be $95.68.” I plugged in my card and entered my pin. He handed me my receipt. “Hey,” he called. “Good luck.”

It has been three days since then. Our cats have finally started to calm down about the entrance of a new cage and new sounds coming from our dining room. This is where we hung the cage. We realized we needed to put it high up because the cats were trying everything in their wheelhouse to get to him. Their various antics reminded me of Tom and Jerry cartoons. The tall, cylinder shaped cage and the trapped bird perched high above two cats licking their proverbial chops had all the makings of a childhood memory.

Photo by Murilo Folgosi on

Feeding him has been an adventure. I say “him” because we researched how to tell the gender, which is pretty easy. Blue above his beak is a male. Pink above his beak is a female. When he is hungry, he starts to make a lot of noise. The first day I made the mistake of trying to give him fresh fruit and veg instead of his seeds. It wasn’t immediate but sometime after putting it in his clear food dish that sits on the side of the cage, Doug (as I now affectionately call him) started making a lot of noise. This was odd because up until this point he only made the odd chirping sound. He started fluttering around his food bowl, jumping up and down and back and forth. I wasn’t sure how I knew, but I could feel his dissatisfaction.

“The food?” I asked. He continued to hop and fly around the cage, seemingly side-kicking the clear bowl. I took the bowl out and dumped it. I refilled it with seeds and freeze-dried fruits and veg from the sealed bag we purchased at the pet store. After I returned it to the cage, Doug stopped chirping and hopped delightfully onto the perch outside his food bowl and started to eat.

Again, it’s only been a few days, but I have really enjoyed having him around. In addition, I put out posting on various sites for lost animals in the area. So far I have heard from a few people who said they lost their parakeet, but they either described a different bird or they were from so far away it didn’t make sense. So it seems as if he is here to stay. As I am writing this, Oscar (our cat) sits below his cage and Doug sits happily on a perch high above.

Love and Light, All.

Photo by David Selbert on