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Zander....the continuing Saga!

She ducks when she sees a good sized bird flying straight at her head!

“ Zander.....the continuing Saga!”

Well, it's been over a month since we adopted Zander, a very interesting month if I may say so.....and I do! So I'm thinking you need an update on his progress. During his second week, he grew more feathers on his wings and tail. His tail went from about one inch to two. In the following weeks, he took to flying around more and more, both inside and out. He learned to land with grace instead of over shooting or undershooting like he did in his early days.

After the first week, we decided to build a cage since he seemed to be getting kind of cramped in his wee cat carrier. It was turning into a huge fight every night when it came to bedtime. I only put him in it over night mind you, the rest of the time he was hopping or flying around the house and garage. I have to mention; I was getting tried of trying to put pieces of paper under his bum whenever he decided to sit for a few minutes. Needless to say, he missed the paper more often than not. I kept on running around after him with the Windex...(before we ended up with permanent white stains in the light green carpet.) When I got the bottle and rag out, he would have a tantrum yelling and flapping his wings at me. (don't know what that was about) So as the days went on, he spent more and more time in the garage and outdoors, resul, more peace in the house.

As for the cage, I went to U-tube and looked up how to make homemade bird cages. Surprisingly there was a good number to choose from. Some were really beautifully done, others not so much. Most were not to my liking or too complicated. I did finally find one that just used wire, nothing else. No nails, wood, etc , just bending ... simple just the way I liked it. Since we didn't have the kind of wire that was recommended we had to take a road trip. Zander had to come along since he was still being hand fed whenever he fluttered his wings and squawked for food. Plus I didn't want him to be alone all day long. I know, talk about spoiling him!

We decided to go to the large town of Neepawa, located about an hour north of us. Once on the roa, I let Zander out of his cat cage, he immediately took to glancing out the windows. I think he couldn't understand why he was moving when he wasn't flapping his wings. He didn't seem to be unhappy riding in the CRV, since he did his typical yelling for food, pooping, flying all over the place, and taking the odd nap.

Once we arrived we started hunting for hardware stores, leaving Zander in his cage with the windows down a touch. It was a warm day and I've seen him heat up pretty fast when in the sun. We stopped at three stores asking for the kind of wire I had in mind. No luck. It was time to go to Brandon.

Before leaving town, Ed wanted to stop and have a quick look at a cultivator. So while he did this I let Zander out of the car. He was really good about staying close to me at first. Then he started to fly around some of the machinery until he decided he was most comfortable underneath a flatbed trailer. I had to coax him awhile but he finally came back to me by the time Ed was ready to go.

It took us about forty-five minutes to get to Brandon. By that time it was lunchtime. We stopped at my favorite restaurant “Albert's” It's famous for Greek food, which I love. I put Zander in the shade under a pine tree since it was too hot to stay in the car by then. Soon after we picked up our bird and started searching for wire again.

Finally, we got lucky at one of the hardware stores and found a green coated wire. The squares were bigger then I wanted but I hoped he wouldn't be able to get through. We had one more stop before heading home. The Dollar Store, I needed a mirror and some toys that sparkled for his cage. He certainly loved playing with the mirror I put on the coffee table. I have a fancy dish with shiny small polished stones, he likes to pick out the flat ones and hide them around the room. That is how I discovered his love for hiding all kinds of things, from stones to food.

He is a great little bug catcher and improves as the days go by. I hold him up at the window, and he grabs the horseflies, one after another. When I sit on the stairs to feed him, he sees the mosquitoes and grabs them before they can bite me. I have been finding bits of cooked egg or turkey mince around Ed's pickup; you know where the windshield wipers are? I'm afraid to look and see what he has hidden in Ed's tools .... lol! I think he likes to have a snack here and there, between eating bugs and whatever I give him. He is still a growing boy after all.

This morning, he had a mouth full of egg that he wanted to hide. Flying around he finally came to sit on my shoulder. I felt him looking at my ear, and said, “Oh no you don't, I won't have you hide food in my ears!” He knows the word, “No”, so flew off to hide his tidbit elsewhere.

The next two days were spent trying to put the cage together without making it look too crappy. Because he was eventually going to be around two feet in length we made the cage two by two and two and a half feet tall. We found some decent looking perches and a nice support for the roof, and we were done. I put his toys in, paper on the floor and we hung it from the ceiling near the wall between the dining room and living area. The house is open style so he could see what was going on all the way from the kitchen to the living room.

I put him inside and watched as he looked at his toys and jumped round on the different levels of perches. He seems to like the three sided mirror I found for him. Not long afterwards he came out and we took him outside so he could fly around searching for food of the bug kind. He is also tasting different plants and berries. Learning what bugs and plants taste good and what doesn't. I have seen him spit out ants, so they must taste pretty nasty. As the days go by he is spending more and more time outside. This suits me just fine, saving me much cleaning up chores.

We were teaching him to fly to our shoulders and to sit while we walked around the yard. The only downside to that was he loves to yell to the world that he was outside. We seriously need earplugs, or we're going to be deaf in the near future. He has a call for us when he sees us from the trees, and will come to our shoulders now. Let me clarify this right now; he comes when he's ready. He has a mind of his own, but he really does love to be with us. Zander, like all animals, loves to be talked to, which is my department. When he is in his what I call his lovey-dovey mode, Zander chuckles and talks a mile a minute. I swear he has a language all his own. I am amazed at how many different kinds of sounds he is capable of making. I'm hoping one day to hear him say a word or two or three!

Now for the cage, that night around nine pm we decided to put him in. I shut the little door we made and went to watch some TV. I hadn't even sat down when he came flying over to the coffee table and started playing with the stones. I looked at him and looked at the cage. With a sigh I now realized that the holes were too big and he was a escape artist!

After wrestling him back inside his cage, I covered it up with a sheet. He squawked so much that we had to retire early that night. When all the lights were off he quieted down and went to sleep. OK , I now needed to improvise. I thought he got out from the floor so I got some safety pins and cut up a few old towels and pined them all around the bottom about five inches up.

We tried it again that nigh ... same result. Seems that he can get out from any of the perches as well. He hasn't slept in his cage since. That's right, after all that work, he has slept in it twice and rarely goes in during the daytime. The next night I left him in the garage over night. He likes it in there since it's a double and he can fly and poop all over the car and pickup truck. Plus we just have to open the large door in the morning and he can come and go as he pleases. He has been sleeping on a spot on a shelf with a nice piece of wood ever since.

Funny story coming up. Last week Ed had an agronomist come over to talk about spraying herbicide on the canola. He and the woman were over by the hopper bins when she sees a good sized bird flying straight at her head. Waving her arms in the air and ducking, she shouts, “What the Hell!” It was Zander, of course, and Ed had never seen him that far from the house before. He flew around Ed but didn't land on his shoulder since he was surrounded by kitties at the time. Instead, he flew over to the nearest tree talking as usual. A little embarrassed Ed explained that the bird was a pet. The poor woman said, “I hate birds.” But soon saw the humor and laughed with Ed. I doubt very much she will be volunteering to come to our place anytime soon.

At first, I was very leery that Zander didn't seem to get that cats are predators and need to be avoided at all costs. He was fine with the dog Amy and loved to run around on the ground just as much as he loved to fly. That was the problem, and he would tootle along when in the garage, under the car or across the concrete floor without a care in the world. I would freak out every time I saw a cat coming near the house. C2, our oldest male just about got him when we had him in the garden. Then to my astonishment early last week he started to fly to the roof of the garage every time he saw a cat coming near. I think he must have had a close encounter of the cat kind and learned to stay well away from them. I am so glad he didn't have to die learning about cats and their ways. The next kind of predator that he needs to keep an eye out for would be hawks. If he stays around the yard, I think he should be fine.

At of the time of this writin, Zander is about one and a half feet long. I believe his tail is still growing as the roots have that sheath around them still. I have read they can get up to two feet long, half of it being tail. Otherwise, I think he is pretty much full grown now. He is close to seven weeks old now and can do a fair amount of hunting for his own food. That being said, he still comes to me for love and his scrambled eggs or turkey mince. He hasn't to my knowledge made any bird friends. But that may change soon. Ed saw him near two Magpies while he was picking saskatoons berries this morning. I think he believes we are his family along with Amy. I do hope he finds a mate and can have a normal life. But I would love for him to come to us whenever he sees us.

Magpies don't go south for the winter, so he will be welcome to stay in our insulated garage and of course I will feed him. He has been a truly wonderful surprising addition to our life. I had budgies when growing up, but they never had a personality like Zander. He truly is a force to be reckoned with. I believe he is now in his rebellious teen stage....over emotional at times, then turning into a baby again, on the turn of a dime. Geeezzzz! When all is said and done, I find the little guy; intelligent, loving, scolding, happy, and just plain entertaining. He has stolen both of our hearts!

Bringing Zander up has been a learning experience for the both of us. Watching the wild Magpie parents whenever I get a chance, I see that they do a lot of teaching and feeding and supervising as the young ones mature. Surprisingly I saw an adult feeding a young one just this morning and it was nearly full grown, having only a bit shorter tail then Zander. I hope we are preparing him to be a good Magpie. Zander has brought us many laughs and enriched out lives. I feel honored to have him in my life, however long that is to be.

PS; I have to remember to tell Ed to check his sneakers, he has been finding dry dog food in them, but I'm pretty sure scrambled eggs will be next! (I've seen him hide some in pine cones, so am thinking sneakers are next!)

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