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Bahamut and Wyvern, a mated pair of cockatiels, were around for quite a while. I got Bahamut in February of 1994, when he was somewhere over six months of age, and in September of that same year, I got Wyvern, who was about two months old. Though they had the misfortune of having to live with the consequences with the obsession I had then with Final Fantasy II/IV, they otherwise had happy lives after coming to live with me.

Bahamut was apparently owned originally by a woman who decided she didn't have time to take care of him. For the time she had him, he was mostly in his cage and though he was hand-raised, his personality certainly suffered from the treatment. Fortunately, she sold him to a local pet shop, where he was eventually sold to me. I tried to be a good friend to him, but as I had school and he had to be in my room, he was left alone much of the time and still was very lonely. This led to him being ornery and territorial as well as whistling at all hours of the day to try to get someone to come see him.

I decided to get another cockatiel to be a companion for him. Thanks to reading way too many articles about the possible hazards of egg-binding and other female specific problems, I decided to get another male. About the time I made this decision, the same pet shop where I got Bahamut had a sale on baby cockatiels, and I picked out the one I wanted. Some cockatiel coloring is understandably linked to genetics and it's generally fairly easy to tell their sex by the color of the parents if they have different colors, if the color of their parents is known as well. Thanks to this fact, I was told that Wyvern was male. I hung around the shop a lot and played with my new cockatiel until it was time to take it home.

The two 'tiels got along fine and the next few months passed. Wyvern's adult plumage began to grow in and I began to notice some rather strange behaviour. Bahamut preened Wyvern frequently, especially on the head around the crest. Then I saw them doing something that looked suspiciously like mating to me. I took Wyvern back in to the pet shop, and after looking her over, the owner decided that she must be female. Though the coloring on her head was surprisingly bright for a female, the undersides of her tail feathers were still barred despite her most likely having reached maturity, a trait of juvenile and female cockatiels. The question was cleared up once and for all when Wyvern started laying eggs. Apparently the breeder didn't know the parentage of her cockatiels as well as she thought.

While Bahamut seemed rather average in most ways, Wyvern turned out to be a clutz. She was always being clumsy and getting hurt. Her tendency to be accident prone combined with pure bad luck came together one night in a nightmarish scene. She frequently had "night frights" and would wake up in the middle of the night, screaming and flapping her wings. One night, she did this again, but rather than calming down after a few minutes like she usually did, she kept screaming, and it seemed to have a different tone than usual. Eventually, I woke up enough to turn on the light to see what was up and try to calm her down only to see blood everywhere. After some panicking of my own and getting my mom, we determined that it was coming from her wing and it wasn't stopping. We ended up by calling the pet shop owner (who wasn't very happy at the time to be woken up at 2 AM), and she told us it was probably just an abrasion or a broken blood feather and to not worry about it and bring Wyvern in in the morning.

We were forgiven for calling at such an hour the next morning when she saw Wyvern. It wasn't just a scratch or whatever-her wing was broken and seriously. She went ahead and kept Wyvern for the next few weeks to try to give the wing every opportunity to heal, though we were warned that she'd likely lose it from the break on. Fortunately, it began healing very well and it looked like it would end up almost normally and I got to take Wyvern home again. Unfortunately, Wyvern ended up by breaking it again and had to stay with the pet shop owner until she healed fully, and though she kept her wing, it didn't heal nearly as well the second time again.

Thanks to Wyvern's wing and a recommendation from the pet shop owner, she and Bahamut were kept in separate cages for several years. They didn't seem very happy about the situation, however, despite being kept close together. When I got married, we decided to put them in the same cage. They often disagreed with each other and got mad at each other, and Bahamut picked Wyvern's feathers on her head until the feather follicles were destroyed. A cage with more horizontal space than vertical space solved many of the arguments and, despite the sexual picking, they were much happier to be together than apart.

Wyvern loved to gently nibble on everything, and she'll give people kisses, or just chew on rings, glasses, or anything she can get her beak on. Bahamut has never learned to talk, but he whistles frequently. He used to refuse to do it for me, as my whistling is terrible, but he's finally given in and will often respond to my puny efforts. Bahamut loves a squeaky bear that was a childhood toy of my husband's and will chirp along with its noise. Wyvern was scared of it, and we used to entertain ourselves by getting her to hiss at it. A few times she even fell backwards off her perches. We're mean, but it was very funny.

Bahamut seems to generally be a very pretty bird. He's a grey, the typical coloration, with a bright yellow head and orange 'cheek' patches. The feathers in his tail tend more towards a silvery color which is very pretty. Wyvern, thanks to her wing and her partly bald head, wasn't classically good looking, but she was very cute. She was cinnamon in color, a very soft, light greyish brown, with head and cheek patches rather bright for a female. She often had extra yellow feathers all over the place-at one time I thought she was going to go all yellow, as all her new feathers were coming in that color. Her crest was especially fluffy and her eyes beady, so she looked very funny a lot of the time.

In April 2003, they began a very frantic mating season. They were indulging in all breeding behaviours to an extreme, in a way that seemed almost frantic to me. When Wyvern laid her first egg since I'd been married, I decided that it was time to give them a chance. My mom had never allowed me to breed them, but that was no longer a factor, so Eric and I got a nest box and set it up for them. The pair did their best to be good parents and usually they split up the eggs a bit and both sat on them for most of the time. Wyvern continued to lay eggs on and off over the next few months, and in October 2003, I set up the nest box again.

This time they got things right. Perhaps too right, as they started brooding the eggs immediately, not the best thing they could have done, as that triggers development in the first eggs. This can lead to babies that hatch at widely different times and can lead to problems with the youngest chicks. Eventually, three of the five eggs hatched. I'd seen pictures of baby parrots before and always thought them horribly ugly. Parrots are altricial, that is, their babies are born blind, deaf, and with only a light layer of down, as opposed to cute precocial babies like chicks and ducklings. Well, in person, even the "ugly" altricial babies are adorable and I loved them dearly.

Out of these delightful babies came a huge surprise-one of them was a cinnamon pearl, a certain kind of color mutation. Due to genetics, it was impossible...unless Bahamut wasn't just a normal grey as I thought. He's apparently split to several different things. Sadly, though, the babies, who were being raised by their parents, started to lose weight. Wyvern was sick, probably had been for years, but I didn't know it. At the time, I thought that might have been the cause of the illness in the chicks, but in retrospect, given their symptoms, it was probably sour crop. Bahamut and Wyvern were such enthusiastic parents that the crops of the chicks were always bulging hugely. I believe they got stretched out too much in #1 and #3, leading to slow crop, which then led to sour crop. I did pull #3 before she died and in those 24 hours, her crop never emptied completely, her stools were black, and she ended up regurgitating the warm pedialyte I was feeding her and aspirating on it, all highly suspicious symptoms of slow and sour crop. #2 survived though, and became Valefor.

Wyvern wanted to kick Valefor out of the nestbox too early and get back to making babies, so I separated her from Bahamut and Valefor for a time. Bahamut continued to feed Valefor until she weaned normally. Given our circumstances and an unspecified illness on Wyvern's part, I didn't try to breed them again for a few years.

The Firebyrd 2002-2008. All rights reserved.