Sunday, August 05, 2001

A Cage for the Java Sparrows

I've been using my time over the past few days to work on something like a "Summer Art Project"." That is to say, I've been building a new home for the Java sparrows we have at home. I wrote about these birds in my book Personal Reflections * At that time, we only had the two, but now that number's grown to ten. We kept them in two cages, with four in one and six in the other. Somehow, it seemed the cage with the six in it was too "densely populated" because, at times, they began shrieking shrilly and fighting. Java sparrows have a wild temperament. When they fight, they use their red beaks and attack each other at point blank range, aiming at the other's face. It makes one very nervous watching them, thinking they might actually hurt each other, but, similar to kendo, Japanese fencing, when you use your own bamboo fencing stick to defend yourself against the opponent's fencing stick, the birds use their beaks to fight so the tender parts of their bodies seem to be safe. However, it isn't very pleasant to see this, so I've been meaning to build them a "fight-free" environment for a while.

Another reason I've wanted to build a "bird house" is that I felt badly having to leave the bird's in my mother's (who lives next door) care whenever we travel during the summer and such. This is something that all pet owners have in common, but one can always take a dog or cat along on a trip but not birds. So, when you ask someone to take care of them, the person in charge must wash out the water dish and seed container all covered with droppings and change their food and the green leafy vegetables they like to eat. Java sparrows also like to take baths in the water, so the bottom of the bird cage becomes a miserable mess of water and bird droppings. Asking someone to clean something like this up is very difficult. However, if we were to build a large birdhouse and put it in the yard, we could leave enough food for them to last several days. If we were to also make the floor of the "house" like a drainboard, the water and droppings would "drain" and not be as annoying or bothersome.

This is what I had in mind, so I started working on the bird house for the Java sparrows in August, when I have more free time than usual. Just make a box and nail some net on it--I thought it would be relatively simple, but, when I actually started the building, it didn't go as planned. The worst part was putting the squared pieces of Japanese cedar that I bought at a home improvement store together into a right-angled frame. It's probably easy if you're working with something small, but, with something as long as 180 centimeters, the lumber itself is quite heavy, so just hammering nails in it won't hold it in place. Somehow, though, I managed to put it together, but the right angles ended up being a little crooked and irregular. I didn't think this would matter much to the birds, so I went ahead and finished the project in what ended up being about four days. I wasn't totally happy with the results, but, for the Java sparrows, it should be a significant upgrade in their living quarters and environment.

(*Not yet available in English)

- MT

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