My team and I stumbled into the mosquito labs 5 am yesterday to pick up the equipment we needed for the days work: mosquito traps, dry ice, mist nets, bleeding materials. We trap mosquitoes and live birds to monitor West Nile, and this year we’re emphasizing horse farms and House Sparrows. To catch the birds, we use both drop-in traps and mist nets. Once we catch the birds, we band them, take a drop of blood using a lancet and filter paper, and let them go. We’ll track both seroprevalence of the birds and the field infection rates of the mosquitoes to see if we have a surveillance tool with the live birds. Traps are at racetracks, and luckily, I can mistnet right here at work because Cook College, Rutgers is a workiing farm.
We were mistnetting at Cook about 6 weeks ago when a brilliant ball of neon green flashed by. What the…?? Now there aren’t that many brilliant green birds here in New Jersey, especially ones that apparently like to hang around with the horses, cows, pigs, and goats of the farm. But bounding about with the House Sparrows was this green bird, and we realized it was a budgie. A Budgerigar, probably from the dorms.
Yesterday, he flew into a mist net.
I put him in my old kakariki cage and bought him some budgie food and millet sprays. He’s enjoying the food. He gives an occasional House Sparrow call. But I suspect taming him will take some real work and patience. He bit the holy hell out of me while I was handling him.
I’d love to hear some tips from budgie (or other) owners!