Louise Otts has lots of birds for sale -- so many that she's quit counting.
Staff Photo By Patti Sells

The Bird Lady

Louise Otts has hundreds of feathered friends

By PATTI SELLS, News-Telegram Feature Writer

August 4, 2008 - Sulphur Springs may not have a pet store, but parakeet people need look no further, as local resident Louise Otts has hundreds of feathered friends for sale to the public.

"I quit counting," she said. "There's no way I could count them all."

Otts began raising and selling Budgerigars, nicknamed "budgies", five years ago as a means to help supplementher income after her husband, Charlie, became disabled with chronic arthritis.

The small, active bird is acknowledged as the most common pet parrot in the world and possibly the most common caged bird.

"I decided from the beginning if I was going to raise them I would do it in a colony," she said, explaining how they turned their children's playhouse into a giant aviary after the kids outgrew it. "I like to come out here in the evening and just watch them.

"They are really interesting," she added.

According to Otts, budgie are intelligent, social animals and can be taught to speak and whistle tunes.

Both male and female can learn to sing and mimic sounds and words. Male specimens, however, are considered one of the top five talking champions among parrot species, easily acquiring vocabularies ranging between a few dozen to hundreds of words and phrases.

Another interesting fact, according to Otts, is that the male birds take care of their babies. A female bird will lay between four to eight eggs which take 18 to 20 days before they start hatching.

"They look like little peanuts," said Otts. "The momma stays with them 'til they get a little bigger and start crowding the nest, then the daddy takes over."

After 21 days, feathers start to appear, and by the fifth week chicks are strong enough to leave the nest.

"They can't fly real good at first," Otts explained. "They get out on the floor and stretch their wings to gain strength before they fly."

The birds live an average of five to eight years, but are reported to occasionally live 15 to 20 when well cared for.

Living conditions for the little birds, which average 7 inches long and 30-40 grams in weight, should be a minimum 18 inches long by 18 inches wide.

Budgies come in an array of colors such as green and yellow, sky blue, cinnamon, olive, violet blue and turquoise.

"They are beautiful," said Otts. "I really enjoy them, and they're very easy to care for."

The birds sell for $5 apiece, a nominal fee when compared to a pet stores average $12 to $15.

"We don't do much advertising, just word of mouth," Otts said. "Neighbors tell neighbors, bring out friends. We're always here."

For more information call 903-485-2855.

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