Felicia’s Story – Part 1

This post is my “sister,” Felicia’s, origin story. Felicia wrote this all down when she was fundraising for the MSPCA’s Walk for Animals this year. She’s only a little bird, but she raised $1616.00 and was the 4th place fundraiser for the MSPCA’s Methuen Walk! Next year, I expect she will raise $2000 or more, as she’s a real go-getter! She came to live with us as a teeny tiny, ten day old baby. She was very weak, but she fought hard and survived, against all odds. I got to watch her grow up, and she has taught us all so much!

As some of you already know, Felicia is missing. There was a miscommunication at our house, and Felicia flew out the door. It just goes to show that even the most careful of humans can make mistakes. (And my humans are extremely over protective of us birds!) My humans are devastated and us birds really miss Felicia too! She’s such a presence in all of our lives, and so much fun to be around. We have no doubt that she will be returning home to us, and will not give up hope.

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Photo credit: KitschAndStitchNY

I’m going to post this story in “chapters,” as it’s long, and ongoing. There are so many things we’ve learned about searching for, and recovering lost birds, that my humans have asked me to start tracking it all here. We hope that the information we continue to gather, will help bring other lost birds home in the future. We are still waiting for a happy ending. You know what they say, “Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, then it’s not the end.”

We know our little girl will be home soon.

~ Arya ❤

Felicia’s Beginning ~

On February 27, 2014, the MSPCA was called to a home in Lynnfield where staff and volunteers were faced with one of the worst hoarding cases in recent years. With help from the Animal Rescue League, 199 animals were removed from deplorable conditions and transported to the Methuen and Boston shelters. (Read the Press Release here.) The MSPCA at Nevins Farm in Methuen took in 65 birds, alone! If you haven’t guessed by now, I was one of those birds!

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Baby Felicia, her first night at home with us. She was so tiny!

When I was found by the rescuers from the MSPCA, I was in a filthy nest box with my mom, Buttercup, and my 3 clutch mates, Felix, Freya and Frodo. The rescue team brought us, along with all kinds of other birds, to the Methuen shelter, where I met my new human. She works at the shelter, and happened to arrive around the same time that I did. When she heard that my mom, Buttercup, my clutch mates and I needed special care, she took us home. She helps with the birds at the shelter, and had some experience with birds who need medical care, so even though we were her first tiny baby birds, she was ready to do everything she could to help us.

The very next day, my human took us all to visit her human friends, Dr Jana Mazor-Thomas and Dr Wendy Emerson at Putnam Veterinary Clinic. We found out that I was probably about 10 days old, Felix was about 14 days, Freya was only about 3 days and tiny Frodo was no more than a day hatched! We had been hatched in extremely dirty conditions and were smaller and more stunted than we should have been. Our mother, Buttercup, wasn’t receiving much good food, and what she did get wasn’t enough to keep us all healthy. The doctors were really nice and gave my human lots of help and guidance about how to best help us. Hand feeding baby birds was a brand new skill that my human had to learn, and she found out that it was pretty tricky!

The stress our poor mom had been under made her too frightened to be able to take care of us babies. In our new home, she was too worried to eat or feed us. She didn’t know much about humans and it would take her a while to learn to trust our new human. The cockatiels who lived there already, Arya and Thorin, were nice to our mom and tried to make her feel welcome, but she missed her old friends. After a few days, our human took home one of the other birds who came to the shelter with us, a grey cockatiel named Westley. He has one leg, was very shy, and also was in need of some special care. When Westley and my mom saw each other, they were so happy! My mom began to eat again and she and Westley like to preen each other’s feathers. By this time, it was too late for our mom to begin caring for us again, so my human said she would take care of us. That way, Buttercup and Westley could take all the time they needed to feel better and braver.

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Handsome Westley and beautiful Buttercup.

My human and her family worked hard to help us! We needed to be fed baby bird formula every two hours. We cried all the time because we were very hungry, but sometimes it was hard for us to figure out how to swallow our food from the little syringes at first. We were so tiny and featherless that we had to live in an incubator, only coming out when it was time for us to be fed. My human needed to be very careful about our feedings, too. Formula that is the wrong temperature can cause terrible problems for baby birds & we have to be held a certain way so that we don’t aspirate our food. We also needed to sleep in little tiny tissue nests, which gave us a feeling of security and helped our legs to keep from splaying as we grew.

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The babies. Too cute for words!

One day my human noticed that my leg looked very strange. I’m kind of a feisty girl, and I’d been in my nest in the incubator, when I decided it would be a good idea to try to climb out. I got my foot stuck in my bedding and when I fell out of my bowl, I dislocated my knee! That really hurt and my leg was bruised, too. It was late on a Saturday, so we drove into Boston to see the doctors at Angell. More nice humans! They were able to fix my knee and kept me overnight for observation. When I came home, I had to take pain medication for a few days, but I was running around again in no time!

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The day before Felicia learned to climb out of her nest!

Baby birds who have such a tough start to life aren’t always equipped with the immunities they need to survive in the world. Part of our story is very sad, because no matter how hard my humans tried, Felix, Freya and Frodo were not strong enough to survive. We were all very upset when they passed, and even though we’ll see them again at the rainbow bridge someday, we were heartbroken that they flew there so soon. My humans and I all think that we were lucky to have known them and that it was a privilege to be able to fill their short lives with love.

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Felicia and her toys, all snuggled up.

It was hard for me to adjust to life without my clutch mates and at first I felt very lonely in my incubator. I cried a lot and my humans would give me stuffed toys, for snuggling. I liked to cuddle between the toys and preen them, just like I did with my clutch mates. My favorite times though, were my human snuggle times. You see by now I had grown some feathers to keep me warm, so I could spend time snuggled in a blanket, while my humans would hold me. I love to cuddle and it was easy to fall asleep when I was cozy under someone’s chin. Human men have beards sometimes too, which are really good for preening! Human ladies seem to have longer hair and I love to snuggle in on their shoulders and cuddle in their hair.

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Felicia at 6 months, fully feathered. Such a little star!

I think now, that life is awesome! I’m not sure I’m really a bird because I love humans best, and I prefer to spend most of my time with them. I do have bird friends too though! I get to visit my mom, Buttercup, and her pal Westley, who share a nice big cage that’s all set up to make it easy for Westley to navigate with just one leg. I like to hang with Arya and Thorin, the other cockatiels, too. I even make short visits to Charlotte, the grumpy Quaker parrot and to the funny, busy Budgies, Kili and Tweedle. I now get to live in a nice cage, since now that I’m a big girl, I’ve outgrown my incubator. I have lots of toys and perches and things to climb. I now eat big girl pellets, healthy foods like cooked grains, brown rice, veggies, fruits and, my favorite treat, millet! We do training, which I really like. I have learned to “step up,” fly to my humans when called, and we’re working on harness training. 

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My humans are so happy that I was able to grow up to be a strong, healthy girl, even though the odds were stacked against me. I’m happy too.

Thanks to the MSPCA, I have a super cool life and so does my mom, Westley, and the thousands of other birds and animals they take in every year.

Stay tuned for Chapter 2: Felicia’s Great Adventure…

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