Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Zoe, III

If you've been reading here for a while, you know that Zoe, our first female canary with that name, escaped one day and hasn't been seen since. We thought for a while that she was hanging out at Bahama Market, where the Coffee Plantation is located, but we never had an authenticated sighting, only guesses that it "might be your canary". There were yellow-bellied sapsuckers in the area at the time so it might have been one of those people saw.

There was then a Zöe II, who later turned out to be Joey, due to a gender misidentification problem common to young canaries. By us people, not by themselves. Joey had us fooled, because he didn't begin to sing until after Sofia died. I did tell you that Sofia died, didn't I? It's the theory of the staff at Pampered Pets that Sofia probably died from stress, stress brought on by being handled. Janet allowed the grand kids to hold Sofia a couple of times while they were here, and Janet would sometimes hold Sofia so she could clean up her area of the cage. Sofia was blind of course, so she couldn't see movements toward her and that must have resulted in a surprise each time the "giants" grabbed her from behind. Wouldn't you be?

Sofia is now in our freezer, wrapped in a napkin inside a plastic bag, awaiting an appropriate burial. We'll probably bury her in the patio and put a stone on her grave so the scavengers can't get at her.

Now we have our third Zöe, a female that Katha gave us last week. This one is almost a year old and has been going into the routines of nest building, a sure sign that she's ready to mate. She's now in her own half of a divided cage, alongside Arnold and Joey. We're going to watch them for about a week to see which male is most attracted to Zöe, and which male she is noticing more. Poor Sunny. He lives in the cage upstairs from these three and has begun singing a lot, but he's not in the breeding sweepstakes because of his missing foot. To mate, male canaries must be able to mount and hold on to the female from behind. The lack of a foot makes it practically impossible for him to do that.

We ought to be able to move one of the males to Zöe's part of the cage right after we get back from the wedding we're attending on the mainland this weekend.

Arnold is like the uncle in the cage of the two males. He helped to raise some of the birds in his cage after their mother died. We aren't sure how old he is, but he's definitely older (and bigger) than Joey, but I doubt that he'd fight Joey for the right.

So who will get to be a father? Tune in over the next few weeks as we find out together.

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