Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yaz and his new bell toy

I like to redecorate the birds' cages totally at each big cleaning, for the different seasons, or in this case, holidays. Yaz loves his bells, so his Christmas bell toy is just simply three bells on chains (stainless steel), with some green plastic chain. This really simple toy, I have found out, is far more popular with him than his other (bought) bell toys. Yesterday, I came upstairs running, fearing he was caught on something, because of all the flapping and yelling. Upon entering the bird room, I find Yaz hanging upside down from the toy, fluffed beyond recognition, with his wings out, flapping, swinging all around. I have never seen him play this hard with anything! There were feathers all over, of all sizes (he is molting). He got back on the on the perch when I came in, danced a little, and then climbed back up on his bell toy and started flapping. Next step - try to get a video, which will always be easier said than done.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A bit much Drama

Poor Ava. She has developed a limpoma on the underside of her right wing. I know limpomas are pretty common with budgies, and at least it is a limpoma and not something more malicious. Ava's limpoma seems to be growing rather fast, but I will change her diet, removing all seed except some which is sprouted, (she already eat mostly fresh food) and hope that helps slow it down. And then she will have to get it removed if it starts bothering her too much, so no one is looking forward to that.

From what little I know, I would say my budgies are not that old at 5+, but then this is not a good fall for them at all, poor little guys.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Winter Computer Background

What do you think? Seasonally festive?

More Budgies!

Yes, more fosters. I got these budgies a little over a month ago. They have a sad, but all to typical for budgies, history.

Oscar, the yellow and green pied one, was found in a dumpster. The people decided to take him home for their kids, and so bought a cage, and another budgie, Luna, the pale blue/grey one. After having them a bit, they got tired of them, and gave them to the grandparents. The grandparents thought they were too loud, and so put them in the garage. A neighbor, that had an amazon, saw them in there, and asked if she could take them. As the neighbor did not want them, I was called. I did ask a friend to keep them through quarantine, and after that, I took them.

Oscar had toe nails so long there were curling up on his toes, and constantly getting caught everywhere. Neither one could fly very well, so I clipped their wings as well, for their own safety. I find it easier to teach a bird to fly after they are tame. Oscar also had a open band, (that I am trying to trace) so I removed that to prevent it from getting caught on something.

Luna is not tame at all, as is typical of many petstore budgies. After being chased around, transported all over the country, chased more, and finally sold to be abused, taming them is not easy, but certainly possible with time and patience. Luna does have the most beautiful feathers, though. They just look so soft, and they are such a delicate, shifting, grey-blue.

Oscar, I believe, though, was a very tame, people bonded bird at one time. For one thing, he had a band, so that would imply a smaller breeder. For another, he is very interested in people, though rather afraid of them, and does not like being with Luna. I have not had him around my other birds, so I can not say if it is only Luna, or if he is not overly interested in any other birds. He is quickly coming around, or as quickly as any abused, but once tame parrot, so I have a lot of hope for finding him a great home.

They are both Very loud. Much louder than even chatty Peter, because they never seem to get tired. It is very pretty, though, as long as you do not expect to hear yourself over it! I do worry abut finding a home for them with that, since it is very hard to convince someone that a tiny tiny budgie really can be loud. It all varies on perception, what the person considers to be annoying, and how much it will bother them. I guess I will just cross that bridge when I come to it. Maybe a video during evening chorus....

As they were not getting along (Oscar had a very bad scar on his wing, among regular arguments) I decided to separate them shortly after I got them. Oscar was much happier with this, the change in his demeanor was incredible. Luna seems perhaps a little lonely, so I am not sure what I can do about that, other than try to give him any attention he might like, and look for an aviary for him, perhaps.

As well as being loud, they are both very active, joyful, and playful, lots of fun to watch. Oscar just loves exploring everything, chewing and tapping all the different surfaces, textures, and colors. Luna loves hopping around and playing with every one's favorite bead boing, but really, his favorite activity is singing!

I want to find them both a home where they can get everything they need, nice large cages (I feel so sorry for them in the little spare ones I had), plenty of toys, healthy food, and for Luna, other birds, for Oscar, human attention. Who wouldn't want an adorable little budgie?

The two of them together, when they shared a cage.
Sorry the pic is not the best.

Luna, a little worried about the camera.

Oscar, on his "mini tree".

Monday, November 17, 2008

Schroeder, preparing to go home

I have had Schroeder for about 5 months now. When I got him, he had extremely dry skin and feathers, to the point it sounded like someone crushing paper every time he ruffled his feathers. Because of this, he had a slight feather barbering problem on his chest. He also was not tame, with an overgrown beak, and was extremely underweight. He was very afraid of humans, especially hands, and spent most of his time sitting in the back of his cage, never playing with anything.

I do not know much of his history. The owner I got him from had rehomed many birds, taking on more than she could handle. She was therefore rehoming most of them, including Schroeder. I know nothing of his history other than that. I can say, though from his phobia of older, skinny men, and shaky males voices, that obviously someone fitting that description had abused him in the past.

After he adjusted to me, while he was still in quarantine, I started taming him. The first step was getting him to take his favorite treat, almonds, from my hand, coming forward to the front of the cage to get them. Then, I started letting him out of the cage, and giving him almond slivers. After that, I started placing the almond sliver on my (covered with sweatshirt) arm, and having him take them off. I moved the almond farther and farther down my arm, so he had to eventually put one foot, and then both, and then walk down my arm to get to his treat. After he would readily do that, I started moving my arm, very slightly, while he was on it. Once that was no biggy for him, I tried moving it more and more, until I could get him on my arm, and pull my arm away and then put him back in his cage (where there was another treat, besides the one he already had gotten, waiting in his dish). After that, I started taking him from his cage to playgyms around the house, and later just taking him around with me.

He has gotten pretty tame doing this, and absolutely loves attention. He just can't get enough. If you are slow enough, and can get your hand up to his head, he also loves head scritches, and will relax so far he falls over (and then wakes up quite upset!) He is also getting used to riding around the house on my arm or shoulder. I am now trying to get him stick trained, as well, using the same technique.

I tried various different toys to get him to play, all different kinds and sizes. The one that finally broke the ice was very simple, as they usually are, just an old fashioned clothespin, the kind with no spring. He loves those, and after he got used to playing with that, he started playing hard with bells, plastic chain, other wood, his planet pleasure toys (a huge favorite) and of course other foot toys. Between all the chewing he now does, and his almond shells, his beak is now a much better length!

To help his dry skin and barbering, I made sure he got some seed and grains every day, for the essential fatty acids, as well as baths. Fortunately, he loves being sprayed with a fine mist.

About 2 months ago, I listed him on Petfinder. After a month, I heard from Schroeder's soon to be new Mommy. I have been talking to her since then. As she is up near D.C., I suggested Phoenix Landing, since that would make it easier for her. Although she was very happy to see them, and immediately filled out a volunteer application, she had always wanted a Pionus, and really wanted to adopt Schroeder. She was very excited about the seminars, though, (who wouldn't be? They are so well done, very informative, and tons of fun) and has gone to two so far. She had her home visit this weekend, so after she gets everything all set up for him there, Schroeder will be going home! I will really miss him, he is such a special bird, but I know he will be very happy in his new home, getting spoiled.

Who doesn't love that look?

Ok, where is the almond??

Schroeder, waiting for me to finish snapping shots and play with him.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Peter and Iodine

When I got Peter, he had an iodine deficiency, which was evident by his mild french molt. Budgies are the only birds that need to have iodine in their diets, and therefore have a real danger of becoming deficient. When I got Peter, I gave him an iodine block, and as he loved chewing on it, and that solved the problem, and got him on a schedule of only having a regular molt once a year. Later, I added spirulina to their diet, every so often, and that also helped.

Note: Never feed spirulina, unless specified by a vet, if you are also feeding pellets. When you first add it, go slowly, giving it to them one day, and then waiting a few days to see if you notice any changes in behavior. Then give it for a week in a row, and then wait a week to see if you notice anything. After that, just add it every so often, though you still will want to remember that you are feeding it to them in case you ever notice a behavior or health problem. I give it to mine in their mash, but you want to make sure it is not over 1 or 2 percent of the diet, so just a sprinkle.

Every late spring/early summer, I have to separate Peter from my other birds, as he gets extremely aggressive, to the point of attacking them and really doing damage. A week or so separated from them is usually enough to calm him down. I then have to put him back in, as during that whole week, they have been calling back and forth, and I have been sitting with Peter all morning and evening, trying to get him to eat enough. He does not do well with separation, needless to say.

Peter also always has trouble with his molt, getting very quiet, and losing weight. This summer he had even more trouble than usual with his molt, and it carried on for a long time, almost starting the french molt bit again. He had two iodine blocks in his cage, and I have throughout observed him chewing on them. However, his weight suddenly started dropping, and rapidly at that. He is normally 35 grams, and during a molt, more like 31-32 grams. He had molted many feathers, and they had started to grow in, but had stayed as pin feathers all over his body. His weight, in a matter of days, was down to 24 (holiday weekends, typical, isn't it? We don't have an emergency vet anywhere around here that I can find) Despite that illness, he was still eating like crazy, so crazy, he started attacking the other birds.

I had not removed him, because, as I said before, he does not eat very much when alone, and when he is sick, I have to leave him with Ava so she will take care of him, and he will continue to eat. This time, though, he really attacked Ava, and gave her a deep wound under her wing. I am not sure whether I should have separated Peter from the beginning, still, though, since that would have likely guaranteed his death. I guess it will always bother me. I separated Ava then, and after some intensive care, she has recovered and is doing well, though a bit slower, and is now back in with the tiels, in fact, being queen bee again. It is so cute to see how they all snuggle up together on the perch to sleep. My flock really take such good care of each other.

Anyway, back to Peter. He went to the vet, and through a round of tests. Because he is a budgie, and an extremely thin, sick one at that, there was only so much we could for him without too much danger. He did do several tests, and looked him over thoroughly, and he had no signs of any sort of infection or disease, or any test results that would indicate that. The final verdict - an iodine deficiency causing the thyroid glands to swell and block the absorption of food, or possibly a tumor, doing the same thing. The vet gave me a immune system supporter and an iodine supplement. I had already been giving Peter just babyfood sweet potatoes and carrots, with spirulina, as I figured that was the easiest thing to digest, and full of vitamins and minerals. I had also started giving him aloe detox and extremely high doses of probiotics.

After he hit a low weight of 20 grams, he started to climb again. He is now in quarantine separated from the other birds, as even though he did not think it something contagious, there is no way to tell for sure. His weight has gotten up to 30 grams, but then went back down to hover at 28, and has been there for a couple weeks. I am not sure of his age, as I got him as an adult with no history, though I know he is at least 5. So, it could be also a bit of old age playing into it, if he is older than I think.

After his final argument with Ava and the tiels, he seems to be doing fine on his own. I already had a close bond with him, and he would always come over to give me kisses or to sing with me when I came in the room. Now, however, he is even sweeter, and is so happy to get out, and play around, and comes running over to hop on my finger. Every morning, I uncover him when I get up. After talking to him for a minute or two, to give him a chance to wake up, I open the door, and he comes hopping forward to get on my finger to be weighed. He is so sweet, to jump on the scale, and look at me with his head cocked while we wait for the reading. Then he gets so excited to run back in his cage, and check out his food dish to see what food he has for the morning. I can only hope that whatever his issue is, it resolves soon, as I can not imagine loosing him. I think I will get him back in for a check up in a bit, to see how he is doing now, and if there is anything else we can do.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Craigslist & the Economy

I do not check Craigslist that often, once or twice a week or so, really. However, even only checking it that often, over the years, you can see a real link in how the economy is doing in how long a day's worth of pets classifieds is.

For instance, two years ago, the pets classifieds for Hampton Roads was about a quarter a page long. Now, it is often a page and a half. Not only that, but you only saw parrots every so often, even in an area like this, and mostly they were budgies, finches, and tiels. It was about the same for other exotic animals, most of the postings were dogs and cats, many for shelters. Now, however, that has really changed. You see every kind of dog and cat, of course, all over the place, but there are also many, many more of every kind of animal, rodents, reptiles, fish, birds, you name it.

It is also sad to see who is on there. Before, it was mostly people who could not, or would not keep a pet any more, for whatever reason, and people who wanted one, either as a cheap pet, or because they really wanted to adopt. There were also scammers, as there always will be wherever you go. Much of that was very sad, but it is nothing compared to now. Now, there is a real mix on there.

You have many great pet owners who can not keep them any more because they have been foreclosed on, or are having to move to an apartment that does not allow pets. That is very sad, to see the happy pets with great homes that need a new one. There are not as many people looking for pets, of course, which makes it harder for everyone. However, there are many people, especially for parrots or other expensive exotic "pets", that simply see the bad economy as a great time to get a cheap animal to keep in a tiny cage and show off to their friends. The number of people looking for pets that have this attitude is amazing. You always saw them, but not like now. And as they are doing it on impulse, and not bothering to research what they are getting into, they are only go to end up rehoming the animal again, often in worse shape than before.

Another thing I would not have expected to see are backyard breeders. There are a lot of backyard breeders looking to "get rid of" "excess babies", and that is expected because there are simply not as many buyers out there. (Which, by the way, is probably a good thing.) The sad thing is, though, that there are a lot of people looking to "collect" (sorry for all the quotation marks, I am a bit sarcastic person at times, you might say) parrots to become backyard breeders when the economy improves. Really. I suppose they also see the number of cheap pets, and figure they can afford to throw them in a garage and give them some cheap seed until people start wanting to buy the babies for the high prices they sell for. Never mind the birds will probably die before that point ever comes, and if they don't, they are not likely to breed in those conditions. On top of that, if they do breed, they are going to be very unhealthy birds with many issues right off the bat, but of course that does not matter, as long as the "caretaker" gets some money.

And then craigslist does not even cover the number of animals dumped at shelters, rescues, the street/dump, or simply taken to the vets office to be put to sleep. Yes, even that, it really happens, no lie. Under law, the vets are required to do as the person says, so they try to offer to take the animal, or refuse service, but that is it. And so it happens. I can only hope that this will at least put a slow on the parrot trade, so perhaps parrots will no longer be quite so "in" and "cool." And maybe backyard breeders for all animals will be put out of business some. Not to say they won't start again, but one can always hope the message about adopting or buying from respectable breeders will get out now, when it is ever more important.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mmmm..... Parrot food!

Doesn't that look delicious?

I ran out of parrot food this weekend, unfortunately. Really very sad, since I was not in the mood to get out the large size mixing bowls, large size pots, the large cutting boards, large knives, and the all important large amount of ingredients that goes into each different mash. There are several different types of mash, since I try to customize each one for the species. So one for the ekkies, one for the budgies and tiels (they share a flight cage, and as their diets are pretty close in the wild, they live together after all, I don't worry too much about it) and one for Yaz. The quakers eat a diet of about 50% pellets, as they seem to do better on that, surprisingly, so I just feed them the rest in whatever fresh food I have, and sprouts.

Being lazy, I decided instead to just see what I had to make up a weeks worth of food, and give them that until this weekend, when I will have to force myself to get busy. Looking around, I remembered that I did have quite a bit of raw pumpkin, still with some of the seeds, in quart containers in the freezer. That, and a half box of whole wheat organic couscous, gave me my inspiration.

Note -
I do usually try to not give my birds too much gluten, since in the wild they do not get the high amounts of gluten and it can cause problems for them. However, I do not think a little now and then is so much a problem.

Instead of simply cooking the couscous in water, I decided to add some extra interest by cooking it in half water, half lemon tea (organic, just lemons and water). After the couscous was cooked, I added some organic raisins, plus a quart of pumpkin. Once that was defrosted and mixed together, I was done. Serve that over a salad of mixed greens, and it becomes a delicious, and very healthy, breakfast!

Along with that (or their mash, when I have it) my birds also get sprouts every morning. This week, it is mung bean sprouts, the ekkie's favorite, and some quinoa sprouts. I love mung bean and quinoa sprouts for a very simple reason: they are incredibly fast sprouters.

At night, before I go to bed, I put 1/3 cup quinoa in with2/3 cup water, and let it sit all night. In the morning, they have started their little tails, and are at the perfect stage to feed for optimum benefits. I rinse them, and put them on a large kitchen towel to dry. I give some to the birds, and put the rest in a container in the fridge. Along with the fact that Quinoa is an incredibly fast sprouter, it is also one of the healthiest foods available, so I use quite a bit of it.

Mung beans take a little bit longer, but not much. With them, I start them soaking when I get up in the morning. I rinse them once, well, before I go to bed, and let them soak all night again. In the morning, I rinse them well. I let them sit out, dry this time, for another day, rinsing once during the the day, and once before bed. By the next morning, they are at the perfect stage to feed, so I rinse, put on a towel to dry, and put whatever is left after feeding in the fridge. Not hard at all!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Yaz, Nanday Conure

And Mister Yaz Man, the last addition to this feathered family. He is such a sweet little conure, with relatively few behavior problems, other than the very obvious plucking issue. He also has learned to yell for attention, but that is slowly getting much better.

Yaz came from a lady where he was the only bird. He had lived with them for many years, and was always out with them, getting attention. Until they brought home a dog and cat, that is. After that, Yaz was put on the back burner. He slowly got less and less attention, and spent more and more time in his tiny cage, with little to do. He is terrified of cats, so I can only assume the cat in that household hunted him. After ten years of Yaz living there, and after Yaz had plucked all the feathers on his chest down past his vent and his legs, as well as all of those under his wings, and many on the top of his wings and around his neck, they decided to rehome him. After I saw how unhappy he looked, very quiet and subdued, he just had to come home to live with us.

He has always been very tame, after given a couple of weeks to get to know us. He is very sweet, and his plucking is getting much better. He plucks very little now, so we are simply waiting to see which feathers will grow in. He loves playing and dancing. In fact, one of his favorite things to do is to dance around with you, turning and waving, while making snapping noises. He has also learned to accept our other birds, though he is still definitely a people bonded bird. Really, I don't think I will ever regret bringing him home.

The Yaz Man, enjoying some window watching.

Getting a little closer to the window, gotta
keep an eye one everything out there.

Yaz, making sure my fingers are very clean.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chester, Solomn Island Eclectus

When I got Chester, I really thought he would never be a very "tame" bird, and would certainly never want human attention. He hated other birds, with a great passion, and was terrified of people, and spent all of his time sitting listlessly in his cage. He did not like being looked at, or having anyone near him. When you were in the room with him, he would not do anything. He of course would never take treats. His feathers, the ones he had not plucked, were very dark and greasy, and very unhealthy looking. When I later saw him open his wing, it was pitiful to see the bones under his bare skin, with the occasional fatty deposit. His joints were all huge and swollen, and rather yellow. He had a great deal of trouble balancing, and slept with his head tipped forward, resting on the cage bars. He also had a nervous, and constant, habit of flipping his head upside down, repeatedly, over and over. I suppose this is how he dealt with living in that little cage for so many years.

I do not know a great deal of his history, perhaps a bit more than I know with some rescues, but I have been able to read between the lines by observing his behavior. For instance, he was never quiet at night. I had him in a almost totally dark room, that was very quiet, and yet he always came alive at night. It would wake me up, and I would come stand outside the door, listening to him move around, yelling, chattering, playing with the two new toys I had managed to introduce to him. I have heard of other birds that are known to have been kept in basement or closets for long periods of time, and they also did not seem to care about darkness, or know the difference between day and night. I assume at sometime he was kept in a dark area for a while, likely a closet, as he has shown a great fear of closets.

Chester was caught loose when he flew into a lady's yard in Pennsylvania. As that lady did not want him, she gave him to her neighbors. I am not sure whether they already had a bird at that time or whether Chester was their first. They kept him for 7 years before moving down to Va. They had several excuses for wanting to get rid of him, but I believe the most accurate was that he was loud, and hated the wife.

When I got him, he was in a little 18" by 18" cage, with one very dirty concrete perch and one old wooden toy. He had been fed only sunflower seeds and some chopped "dried fruit bird treats" (the fruit part is still up for consideration.) According to the couple, they were a "bird haven" and had rescued Chester and their two other birds (that they kept) from some other horrible life. It is funny how perceptions differ.

Anyway, Chester was, as I said before, not tame at all. He was totally cage bound, as well. For the first week, I simply spent hours sitting in the room, far away from him, on the floor with my back to him. The second week, after a major break through when he actually ate his breakfast with me in the room, I started leaving the cage door open. It took another week before he considered coming out of the cage. Once he came out on top, and really seemed more comfortable having me in the room, I started slowly sitting closer and closer to the cage. The third break through was when he started taking treats off my shoulder, which was followed in a couple of days with his starting occasionally to accept treats from my hand. He soon started calling for me, as well, and would run out of his cage whenever I came into the room. He still never left his cage, always keeping at least one foot holding onto some part of it. He would try to get as close as possible to my head and face, as that was the only part of me he did not seem overly afraid of.

This continued until the end of quarantine, when I moved him into my bedroom right next to my bed. Then I started to get real progress. He slowly overcame his fear of me and of leaving his cage, and would venture onto the bed as I was lying there. The first time he ventured onto my chest was really remarkable, and from there the progress was amazing. After having him sit on me, I tried sitting up with him on my shoulder and putting him immediately on his cage and giving him treats and praise, and then I stayed sitting a little longer before putting him back on his cage. Then I tried standing before going to the cage, then walking away from the cage and then back, etc., until I could go out of the room and take him to other places in the house. This took a very long time, but it was really worth it. Sometime during all this, he learned to say my name, Meg, and would call it over and over after I left him.

Despite all the breakthroughs, he still had a total hatred of all other birds. Claudia, as she had been around other birds her whole life, was actually very excited hearing another ekkie in the house. I tried slowly giving Chester glimpses of her, and then longer and longer ones, and then finally bringing her into the room with him when he was downstairs. She was very good throughout all of this, and seemed to care less that he was screaming at her and doing his very best imitation of an angry gorilla. She continued to go about whatever else she wanted to do with no concern of him. I hated to put them both, well all three of us, through that, but I knew I could not find a home for him with someone that had enough experience to handle him, unless he learned to at least tolerate other birds. He was, at this point, extremely protective of me, and would even go after another person if I seemed at all upset.

I finally decided to just try a risk, and brought Claudia into my bedroom and put her on a chair next to the bed. She was very interested in him, as usual, and began pinning and ruffling her feathers. He also began his usual yelling and territorial pacing. After several day of this, in longer and longer intervals with lots of calming spray the whole time, Claudia flew onto the bed. I was right there, and immediately threw a pillow in between them and picked her up. Chester seemed stunned to think she would go onto his bed. After she flew onto the bed twice more, he calmed down and I could see he was really pretty afraid of her. After she started doing a nesting dance, and doing her best to get his attention, he began to look interested. He would run over to me, look at her, and walk closer and closer to her, before running back to me. She tried several times to get him to feed her, but when she finally got him to accept some food from her, that was it. From then on, he was in love, as was she.

They now have a great time together all day, feeding, preening, foraging, playing together. They both demand plenty of time with me, though, so I consider it the best of both worlds. Chester still has very distinct ideas about putting an end to all the other birds in the room. Fortunately, though I have watched them all closely for any sign that they are stressed with this fact, they seem to care less about him. In fact, I could swear they mock him. I am careful not to let them out together, needless to say.

Chester has progressed even more, and now loves to get on my shoulder/chest, right under my neck, and lie down, with his wings stretched out, and the back of his head rubbing back and forth on my neck. He is even learning to step-up, not only on my shoulder from anywhere, which he already learned, but onto my arm, after watching Claudia do it so many times. Really, he is an incredibly sweet bird, even with all his funny quirks. His plucking is getting better, in fact, is almost gone. I am hoping with the good diet I have finally gotten him on he will soon grow in many new feathers, as he has already gotten a few new ones.

Chester, on his concrete perch (cleaned as well as I could)
he is so attached to it still, I had to put it in his new cage,
at least for a little while.

Chester enjoying the view out the window.

Chester having some relax time with me.

He has never quite lost his repetitive habit of flipping
his head, but it is much better.

Claudia, Red Sided/Vosmaeri Eclectus

I had been interested in eclectus for several years. I am fascinated by their personalities, and how empathetic and thoughtful they are. I also connected with how sensitive they are to dyes, chemicals, and foods, even more so than other parrots. I had been looking for an ekkie for a while, with several possible adoptions that did not work out, when I found Claudia.

After I had had Claudia a couple of weeks, I noticed she did not eat in adequate amounts, and was on the thin side. Although she would eat the food I gave her, she would eat very little of it. I immediately starting asking questions on forums, and reading books and online articles. I finally found what I was looking for. She had all the signs of having been force weaned far too early, and so had learned to accept and expect he feeling of hunger, and to only eat just enough to stay alive. When you force wean a bird, they have to feel hungry for a while, and become used to conserving their food. It was recommended to start handfeeding again, and allow them to eat that as long as they needed it. This made sense, as the only way I could get her to even go to her food dish was to sit there with it, put her next to it, and hand her small pieces of the food on my fingers. So, I started handfeeding her oatmeal every morning. In the beginning, she refused to eat it any. Eventually, I got her to start eating it, but she would only eat a tablespoon or so, and nothing else for breakfast. Finally, after a couple weeks, she started really relishing her morning oatmeal. Not only would she eat all of her oatmeal, she would go back upstairs and eat all of her breakfast. She soon gained weight, and reached a healthy weight. She also became much happier, much more active, talkative, and became very playful. She also weaned herself off the oatmeal after several months.

She did have a problem with her wings when I got her, due to a very harsh clip, and the fact that she had never learned even the basics of flying or landing. Because of the very harsh clip, the new feathers were very irritating when growing in. She barbered and plucked each flight feather or secondary wing feather that grew in. I thought that if I began teaching her how to fly, she would leave her wings alone.

So, while I was waiting for her wings to grow out, I began teaching her to fly. I would place her on my hand, with her legs hanging over the side of my hand, and would run all over the house, with her flapping her wings. When we came to corners, I would turn my hand, so she would learn to turn her body. I also would toss her on the bed over and over to help her learn to land. Not only did she enjoy these "exercises" she soon learned to love flying. Even while her wings were still slipped, she learned to land well, and as more feathers grew in, she started flying more and more. I now take her outside on a harness, and she will happily fly all over, with me running behind her.

Now she is a very happy ekkie, who eats everything and anything, and is very active. When I got Claudia, she was rather afraid of hands, but she soon started to really get over this fear. She will now let me pull her wings out all the way, and touch most parts of her body. She can also be quite destructive, and if left unattended, will climb all over room and the other bird's cages, destroying anything she can.

Claudia, doing a little fluff.

Playing on the bed

Always remember - bath time is very important and
should always be Loud!

And Claudia watching me dry off after her last large splash.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Little Miss Lola

Lola was brought into a chain petstore, on a lady's shoulder, without even a cage or any favorite items. According to the lady, she had had her for eight years, but did not have enough time for her any more, and so Lola had started plucking.

I put Lola in quarantine, and immediately noticed several things. One, her balance was horrible, so bad she stayed in a horizontal position. She was loosing weight, and had a head tremor. Her feathers were extremely dark and greasy, along with her plucking problem on her chest and under wings. She also had seizures, which are not fun at all for either of us. During these seizures, her left side would go completely limp, and she would jerk all over before collapsing. Although showers did help the feathers, somewhat, the rest needed something more, obviously.

She was diagnosed with heavy metal poisoning. As I did not want to put her through chelation immediately, having been through it myself and knowing how awful it is, I decided to try alternative liver support and aloe detox. After about two weeks of this, Lola was already bit better, and I continued it for another 4 weeks. After that was over, I put her on high doses of probiotics to build up her system. The difference these supplements made, along with a healthy diet, sunlight, and exercise, was amazing.

I also got her over to a very healthy diet, which was not very hard, as she was willing to try almost anything. She also soon learned to love toys, though she did not move around much, and tended to stay in one place. She could not fly, so as I waited for her wings to grow out and her strength to return, I slowly worked on getting her a little bit more exercise every day.

After quarantine, I introduced her to Frank. He was immediately interested in her, as she was in him. However, after she found out that he would not answer her calls, and did not know how to act around other birds, she began to get annoyed. I put their cages next to each other, and left it at that for a while. They soon began to enjoy being together, and talked to each other all day. I let them out on the playgym together frequently, when I was there to supervise. Slowly, very slowly, they became friends, in their own way. Eventually, as they wanted to share a cage, I put them together in a flight cage.

Lola is now a much happier bird, as is Frank. They spend all day playing hard, (so hard, in fact, I am replacing toys daily as they are destroyed) as well as yelling their opinions to the world, in human and quaker. Lola is also becoming a very good flyer, though she still has a bit to go.

She no longer plucks, so we are now just waiting for the feathers to come in. The first few feathers came in black, and caused a lot of swelling and pain (and were removed by her, along with some mutilating, another long story), so the follicles were obviously damaged. However, she is getting better with continuing detoxing every few months, and has feathers growing in almost everywhere except for one small area that may never get any, I don't know.

Lola loves attention from people, and is now so bonded to Frank, they both insist on being in the same room all the time. Her favorite activity with a person is, and I think always will be, cooking. She loves sitting on your shoulder as you mix things up, and just gets so excited with each new item you add, and so disappointed when I take her back to her cage (I don't let her in the kitchen if I am heating something on the stove or am opening the oven, so she has to leave before I start that.)

I know I have been incredibly lucky getting my birds to accept mates, and though it has certainly taken a lot of work to get them to that point, it is completely worth it to see how happy they become.

Lola, being her chatty little self.

A little relaxation time never hurt anyone, right?

Playing on the little bird gym,
and getting some special treats out of the foraging bowl.

Lola, in her own "urban" jungle.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Bird Talks live Call

These are really very well run, and you can learn so much from them. They have one every Sunday at nine, EST, and you can listen to the replay all week.

The Bird Talks Live Training Webcast
(¯`•.¸¸We are SO Excited…Maggie Wright on This Sunday’s Call¸¸.•´¯)
EVENT: The Bird Talks Training Webcast
SPEAKER: Maggie Wright her website:
DATE & TIME: Sunday Nov. 02 at 8:55pm Eastern
FORMAT: Simulcast! (Attend via Phone or Webcast -- it's your choice)


Margaret T. Wright (Maggie) is a marketing consultant,
author/publisher, and African Grey parrot expert.
Her relationship with pets has lead her to help many
companion owners to understand their companion better.

Feel free to cross post this is a free call,
so all who want to attend are welcome.

See You on the Call.

To Fun Bird Training,
The Bird Talks Admin

Frank, the ever busy Quaker

I got Frank when he was around two and a half, for serious aggression issues.

After I got him, I worked to get him used to changes, something he very much disliked, such as new toys, new foods, and new games. I got him used to new toys by slowly introducing small, simple toys across the room, playing with them, and moving them closer until he was playing with them and wanted them in his cage, and then slowly working up to bigger, more interesting toys. I introduced new foods by adding a separate dish on the bottom of his cage, a place he loved to play, with a few small pieces of the new food, as well as favorite treats. Eventually, he learned to eat a wide variety of things. As for games, I simply watched what he like to do, and tried to make a game out of it. He loved singing, so we did a lot of singing and dancing. He also loved foot toys, like balls, and "birdie soccer" was a favorite game. Along with games, I taught him many basic behaviors and tricks, like wave, come, drop, shake, turn, high five, to flap his wings, etc.

During this time, I noticed he spent most of his time trying to build a nest. This in itself is not unusual for quakers, but Frank's methods were. He would spend all day with a piece of a straw, a leather strip, a Popsicle stick, a piece of palm strip, etc., and try to weave it in the cage bars. All day, he would stand by the bars, weaving his head back and forth, but never actually getting anything woven. He did eventually learn to shove things through the bars, but that was about it. He sometimes got so frustrated, he would just start yelling, moaning, and chewing the bars as hard as he could. I started teaching him to weave as best I could, weaving palm strips, straws, and leather strips into the bars with him, trying to show him how to do it.

After doing a lot of research, I came to the conclusion that Frank was one of the unfortunate parrots that had been raised either from an egg or from a young age without any other quakers from which to learn normal quaker behaviors, or even that he was a quaker. Although I do not know this for certain, as I have very little of his history, it does fit with the little story I have, and with his behavior. Plus the fact that this is, unfortunately, an all too common occurrence.

Even aside from his nest building obsession, Frank acted, and still acts, noticeably different from other parrots and other quakers I had been around. Obviously, every parrot is different from the next, but Frank had, and still has, a very different way of reacting to the world around him, especially considering he is not a bird that has never suffered any kind of abuse. He is obviously very smart, I think perhaps, in reference to training and his use of the human language, etc, the smartest parrot I have worked with. However, he is emotionally at least as bad as some of my worse rescues.

In the first few years, he would often get very, very depressed. This did not seem to go with hormonal seasons or be related to that, though I can not say that did not play in to it. I tried seeing if it was related to diet, sunlight, exercise, anything, and although tweaking those things helped, it did not seem to be the cause. I worked with him everyday through this, though I could not always get him out of the cage. Whether he would come in or out, I continued to play games and sing with him. When I could get him out, I tried to take him around, and get him exercise and some more mental stimulation. He would go through swings of not eating very much, so his weight was often on the low side. He became even more upset about not being able to build a nest, and would literally spend days either chewing the bars, or tearing off the things I had woven in the bars to chew them. During these times, I became increasingly glad I had gotten him to look forward to having his toys rotated every day, and had helped him learn to forage. Every morning, I wove new things into his bars, switched some toys around, and hid his food and treats all around the cage. His cage, in fact, I had very stuffed with toys, mostly chewable ones and preening toys, to keep him occupied all day and make him work to get around. Although these things really helped, I still was bitten almost every day, and Frank still was depressed much of the time.

Other times, Frank gets extremely hyper/aggressive. It seems to be almost impossible to figure out all the different triggers that cause him to attack. Often, he seems happy and relaxed, but will suddenly dive bomb and attack a person or bird. Once he settles on something as being bad, it is very difficult to convince him otherwise - even beyond convincing my phobic birds. Although Frank was wary of new things when I got him, he has never been a phobic or fearful bird. Still, if he does get scared or upset with something, even things that have been fine with him before, it will send him into a blind panic that is very difficult to get him out of.

Whether he is depressed, hyper, or worried, it is always difficult to avoid being bitten. I accept his boundaries, use positive reinforcement training, the ABCs of behavior, but it is still difficult, it seems like things are always changing with him! You could say that he is very touchy, however lovable. I have heard a few people mention about parrots having mental disorders, but it is certainly not a widely researched or talked about idea. Usually the few you hear about are thought to have a form of Autism, but I know that is not Frank's problem. I heard Dr.Pepperburg speak about this, and she briefly described ADHD in parrots, and that sounded a bit more like Frank. Still, I doubt I will ever know any more than that Frank is a sweet (ehem, mostly) fellow with complicated emotions a complicated thought process!

The thing that finally really did help Frank was Lola, another quaker I ended up adopting. I had hoped that watching another quaker might help him, and it certainly did! In fact, I was extremely lucky in that not only did Frank and Lola enjoying watching each other, they eventually became very bonded, and now share a cage. Lola was a great deal older, and knew that she was a quaker (though she was bonded to people) and knew all the proper vocalizations, and used them plenty. Frank listened to her, tried to repeat them, she corrected him and he repeated again. Eventually, he actually seemed learned to "speak" quaker, or at least that was how it seemed to me, watching, hearing him make quaker nosies he had never made before. He now spends much of his time weaving new "nests" every day, removing them, and building new ones. He is now so happy, chatty, and playful, it really is a joy to see.

Frank, in his usual adorable fluff mode.

Frank, playing on his travel cage,
trying desperately to get the treat out of the wicker ball.

Waving for the camera, in his typical hog-the-attention style.

And a slightly artsy shot of Frank from below.