Flock dynamics - things that might change with each addition.
Over the week-end, I got to deal with one of the least appealing aspects of living with a large flock - what bad things can happen when you have birds who don't like each other?
I've not hidden the fact that Pixel does not like Shade and, as a result of Pixel's behaviour, Shade doesn't entirely like Pixel either. In the past, they've had some altercations, although over the past few months I've been getting pretty good at avoiding them altogether. But yesterday I failed. I could sense that Pixel was on edge and, instead of putting her in her cage for "rowdy" behaviour that could lead to mayhem, I decided to keep her around me. Generally, if she's on my shoulder, she's pretty good. However, yesterday she used it as a launching pad to get to Shade who was on the atom and before I could get up and stop her, she had locked down on Shade. They fell to the ground, tangled together, and were in a locked position all but for a few seconds, but it was enough to do some damage. I managed to get Shade out of Pixel's grasp and she wasn't happy. I got the Boy to put Pixel in, as well as the other smaller birds, so I could check up on Shade without anyone buzzing around (or, in Piper's case, making LOTS of noise). She was able to fly around, rather nicely and with no complaint, so that reassured me that her wings were ok. When I managed to get her to come to see me I looked at her more closely; her feet (a seemingly choice place for bites) were ok, there was no patch of feathers missing. She had a scratch on her ceres, near one of her nares, a superficial cut, but then she opened her beak and I saw a little blood. It wasn't gushing, so I figured I'd put her in her cage so she could calm down (it being late on a Sunday evening, vet offices with any personnel able to properly deal with parrots were closed). I kept an eye on her and she was moving about her cage like nothing had happened, and there was no sign of blood anywhere. I also looked at Pixel more closely and she had no sign of any injury and acted like a bird who was perfectly fine.
When I got up this morning I immediately went to check on Shade. She was still quite alert, and no sign of blood. I had her out with Zuri and Piper and fed her a piece of pecan, which she ate (good sign). She also ate most of her breakfast, which, again, I took as a positive sign. Still, wanting to be convinced everything was ok, I did get her an appointment at the vet, where we learned that she had some inflammation inside her beak, on the side of the upper mandible. So she'll be on some anti-inflammatory medication for a few days (which, I have to say, out of all my birds, Shade is the easiest to deal with for such things). She also acted wonderfully while at the vet's office, so much that the Boy did ask me why none of the other birds can be that well behaved in a vet's office.
As well, a large flock means lots of bowls to clean. Why would I bring this up? If the Pixel-Shade altercation wasn't enough to deal on my mind, it turns out that the Boy noticed this morning that our hot water tank was leaking. And although we were supposed to have someone come somewhere between this morning and early afternoon, they never showed up. A few angry phone calls later, and we got another appointment set for tomorrow morning. However, the prospect of cleaning all those bowls with no easily accessible hot water is annoying (water will be boiled so that the task can be done). But really, couldn't this have happened at another time (and couldn't the people come to fix the problem when they were supposed to??)