Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More reasons to avoid microwave popcorn

I read this on the Canary Report blog, and thought it pertinent info for anyone that keeps parrots or other birds. I have often heard not to use microwave popcorn because the bags contain PTFE, and have killed birds before. Of course, another good reason to avoid them is for your own health, the chemical additives are not healthy for anyone's health when consumed. However, this is the first time I have heard that the chemical diacetyl is also very dangerous when inhaled! This is another reason popcorn bags are dangerous, if it is bothering people, I know it is most certainly bothering all birds, though, as I said in the last post, birds are able to handle differing amounts of it before it kills them.

News Inferno
reports that OSHA—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—is finally seeking public comment on the health standard for Diacetyl, the chemical linked to the sometimes fatal disease commonly known as Popcorn Lung. OMB Watch, a nonprofit advocacy group explained that factory workers, and likely consumers—who are exposed to Diacetyl are at an increased risk for developing Popcorn Lung, known medically as Bronchiolitis obliterans. Bronchiolitis obliterans is a serious and life-threatening disease that destroys the small airways of the lungs. Diacetyl, a chemical that gives foods like popcorn, candy, and baked goods that creamy, buttery taste, is linked to the disease, which has attacked popcorn factory employees and was also discovered in a man who ate at least two bags of buttery microwave popcorn daily for several years and reportedly enjoyed inhaling the fumes released when the popcorn was heated. It was found that the man’s lung problems were linked to breathing Diacetyl vapors.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Warning about silicone bake & cook ware

I received this email a little while ago, and have been really lax about posting it. It is so sad, every time I receive another email about birds dying from some chemical in the house. Basically, unless you absolutely, positively, cannot live without it, don't use it. With birds, you constantly hear about the dangers of anything non-stick/teflon/PTFE, but I have always wondered how something that smells as strongly as silicone bake ware does could really be safe. I received some as a gift once, after I had not had birds long, and quickly gave it away again, as I automatically assumed it was dangerous for the birds. After all, the smell of it sitting on the counter was incredibly strong, and bothered me, so I could not imagine what it would be be like if you cooked with it, even at low temps. I since have read how it was safe for birds, and assumed I was wrong. However, after receiving this email, I am going back to my original thought!

What is so hard to understand is that every creature, human, bird, any animal, is different from all the others, even ones of the same species that live in the same house. This is why something that kills ones bird at the first exposure, another bird may be able to live through several exposures. This does not mean that that bird is not bothered, it simply means they are able to live with it and recover. And it is often so hard to get people to think ahead, and get them to understand that just because it did not bother your bird once does not mean it will not ever bother them. Notice that though two of this lady's parrots died, one survived.

Many parrots should live 50-100 years, so if they die at 10,15, or 20 of something so absolutely preventable, it is really, really, sad; even more so when they die of things that are sold as "safe".

The following is the email I received:

I know about teflon products and do not purchase them. I do not clean
my oven with anything but a plastic scraper and hot hot water.
Saturday Jan 10, 2009 two days ago, I put an oven liner that claimed
it was made from silicone and was completely safe for animals.
I followed the directions, started the oven, popped in a pizza, within
five minutes of taking the pizza out, my Parrotlet fell to the bottom
of the cage and died in my hand. I had no clue what happened to him, I
tried to clear his little air way, I thought maybe he choked on
something. No luck bringing him back. I have only had him for 5.5
months, but you sure can get attached quickly.

I also have two female caiques, Tango and Daisy. These birds are my
children just as for many of you.
I wanted to show the the girls that little Tucker had passed, so they
wouldn't call for him.
I took out Tango (blk.head) showed her that Tucker was gone, she
seemed to understand.
When I went to take Daisy (wht.belly) (my princess) I have had her for
3 years, when I looked at her she was sitting low on her heated perch,
almost squating.
I had her step up, but she had a hard time doing so. Once I had her I
could tell something was very wrong, she was wobbly and out of it.
It hit me like a ton of bricks!!!!
I had read about this........That darn oven must have contained some
type of teflon or chemical.
My roomate and I now in a total panic, rushed the girls outside.
Daisy was fading fast........I was crying and begging her to stay
My neighbors came out to help, they called the local avian vet and had
to leave a message.
The internet said oxygen......Where am I going to get oxygen at 6pm on
a Saturday night??? I was a mess!!!
I called the local Fire Dept. I asked them to please, please bring
oxygen to save my baby. I must have sounded like a lunatic or
They came with in fifteen minutes, we put the mask over Daisy's mouth
and her eyes became more allert. I was hopeful. He suggested putting
her in a small box and letting the oxygen tube go directly into the
We got a small box, she seemed to be standing now........Very hopeful
The EMT called the University of Tennessee avian vet. The avian vet
said it sounds like telfon exposure.
He told the EMT the outcome was not good, but the EMT did not tell us
that right away, he could see what a mess we already were.
The vet said to take the oxygen off for ten minutes and if she stayed
allert that we could bring her to the hospital, but if she faded that
meant she had already suffered a lethal dose and there would be
nothing he could do for her.
Daisy Mae died at 10:15pm, I told her it was bed time and she went to

Tango the surviver was trying to feed Daisy the last hour of her life.
It broke my heart.

Much safer alternatives are aluminum, stainless steel, and stoneware baking sheets, as well as cast iron for cooking.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Update on Miss Patty's clutch, and a budgie injury

Miss Patty has laid four more eggs, one the day after the first one, and the rest a day apart. None of the later eggs received any more attention than the first! After replacing the first two, and having her ignore the fake eggs, I decided to leave in the real ones, just to see if she liked them any better. And it turns out that she doesn't! She sits on them dutifully from when she lays them until breakfast arrives, but after that...... they are left to fend for themselves! Usually the tiels go out to the sun porch to their flight cage for the day, but a few days were just too cold, even on the sun porch, for them, so they stayed inside. On the days she can go out there, she jumps off the egg and runs out of the cage so I can take them out. And on the days it is too cold for them to go out, she still jumps off the egg for breakfast, and then proceeds to completely ignore it, even at night. It has been a few days since the last egg, so I am hoping five was all she was planning on laying.

On top of this, a few days ago, I had Ava out in the bird room. She was the only bird out, and it is usually very safe to leave her out alone, as she is a very good bird, and does not get into trouble. That was not the case this time. I came into the bird room to find her sleeping on the playgym, and did not think anything of it. After I had been in there a bit, she did remove her head from her wing, which is when I saw the blood caked on the tip. Needless to say, that really gave me a start! My first thought was that she had stuck her beak in the quakers cage, and gotten it bitten. However, I decided that was most likely not the case, as the quakers have been very friendly to her lately, and did not even seem to mind her sitting on their playgym when I was in there. On top of that, I have seen what Frank will do to a bird he is mad at, and if he had attacked Ava, he would have removed her beak. After studying Ava, I noticed she also had a line of blood where her beak meet her cere. She also was acting a lot like she had had a minor concussion, as she was sleeping a lot, and acting very quiet.

I finally decided she must have flown into one of the windows. This is not a characteristic behavior of hers at all, she is a wonderful flier, and knows perfectly well what windows are. All I can figure is that a hawk or something at one window must have scared her into flying into the other, or some other similar scenario.

She did not eat for a day after this, even though I offered her plenty of wet, mushy food. She did go down to the dish a few times, but after dipping her beak in, would shake her head, and go back up onto her perch to sleep. Just when I was getting desperate, and planning on feeding her some baby food with a syringe, she started eating. Yay! She is now much better, and is sleeping less, and playing more. She is eating plenty now, and her beak looks much better! I would have taken a picture to post here, but as I suspect she had had a minor concussion, I did not want to stress her with a flash.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Miss Patty laid an egg!

Talk about something in the air....... it is not like it is particularly warm here in the winter, rather, it is much colder than in the summer, even inside. I do put a heater in their room when I know they are about to lay an egg, but still.

I have known for about three days she was probably going to lay en egg. And this is with their going outside to their flight cage all day, and just coming into to a little sleep cage at night, and of course no nest box anywhere. So not exactly optimum conditions for egg laying! Still, Miss Patty has always had a haphazard quality to life, you might say. I believe she was a breeder bird in some previous life, so she is probably used to continually laying eggs in less than desirable conditions.

The last egg she laid with me, she ate shortly after laying. As horrible as that sounds, birds do eat their own eggs if the egg is not fertile, the conditions are not those which would allow the chick to flourish, or the mother is not healthy enough to take care of them after depleting her system of those nutrients. As she laid that egg after I had her only a few months, she was still not very healthy, and did have a lot of trouble laying it. So, overall, I think it was very wise of her to eat it.

I am very happy that she laid this one with no problem, though. Pearl mutation tiels are known for having more trouble laying eggs, plus my first tiel was a pearl. Obviously, just because she had trouble does not mean every pearl does, but it is still very worrying for me. And fortunately, tiels do not take nearly as long to develop their eggs as ekkies do, so a lot less worry time for me!

This egg she laid last night, and when I went in there this morning to take them all out to their flight cage, she happily jumped off it to go outside. Apparently, the lure of motherhood is not there for her! I do have fake eggs for tiels, so I have already replaced it, just in case she does become interested in sitting on it.
Isn't it pretty?

It has very interesting stripes in the shell,
not sure if you can see them.

And the egg in the cage, where she was sitting on it
(before happily hopping off). I change the paper every
evening before they come back in,
but by morning it always looks like this.

The beautiful Miss Patty, carefree egg mother.

The proud egg father, Mr. Yo-yo!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My camera still isn't letting me have my pictures

And although that piece of news is not really related to anything, it annoys me no end!

So instead of going on for hours about my evil camera (which I could, at this point, believe me!) I thought perhaps I would give some updates.


Claudia, after laying her third egg, sat on the two she still had for several days, and then rolled one out to the middle of the cage, left the other in the nest, and proceeded to almost (emphasis on that word) totally ignore them. I tried moving the one egg still in the "nest" out a few inches from it, just to see if she would then leave it alone, but no. She rolled it back into the nest, and began sitting on it dutifully. A few days later, she rolled the egg in the middle of the cage back into her nest and began sitting on that one as well! I have candled them all by now, and none are fertile, so I am safe there. I just now have to wait until she is done. Since the last egg was laid on Dec. 29, counting 30 days or so from there would give us all about two more weeks to go. I know Chester can't wait for that day to come!


The two budgies I am fostering are doing amazing. They both are taming up wonderfully!

Oscar, the yellow one, though he is still easily frightened, and still has a lingering fear of hands, has come to love head scritches and back rubs. Really! He is such a sweet little budgie.

Luna, the blue one, is also doing really well. One night, I accidentally left the cage door improperly latched, so when Luna jumped on it sometime between when I put them to bed and when I fed them, it swung open and presumably flung her into the room. By the next morning, she had crawled out of the room into the hallway, where I found her sitting on the floor. Surprisingly, with a little coaxing, she got up on my covered hand, and stayed on it for a while, before climbing up to my shoulder and snuggling in my hair. Since then, she will happily jump out onto my hand and go riding around the house, either on my arm or shoulder.

I hope to list them soon, to find them a wonderful permanent home. The one thing they are still having trouble with is switching their diet, stubborn little guys. For a week or so, they were actually eating my mash, but then, when I ran out of that mash and mixed up a new one, they refused it. I am not sure what about the new one they greatly dislike, but it is certainly something! The only other things I have had luck with so far are grits (but not the shredded veggies in them) and sprouts. I really like to switch the diet before rehoming them, so that is really all I am waiting for.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What to do about the Quakers?

This has been an ongoing argument (with myself) for almost a year now. I really, really, wonder if I shouldn't rehome the quakers to an aviary, hopefully someplace with other quakers. NOT breeding, but a place where they have lots of room to fly and other birds for socialization. Of course, one of the birds in question being Frank, whoever took them on would have to have plenty of experience and knowledge handling birds with behavior "issues".

I have been trying for years to calm Frank down, and while I have seen many breakthroughs, I think (hate to say this) it is just how he is. There is very little info on mental "disabilities" in birds, but perhaps someone that had a better idea of what they are like in humans could diagnose Frank. My best guess is severe ADHD. Not that it really matters what it is, except it might give me a slightly better idea of why he acts the way he does. And of course, I would love him however he is, I have a very strong bond with him.

Lola, of course, is perfect. Well, perhaps not perfect by some silly "standard" for bird behavior, but, she gives plenty of warning before biting, even territorial cage biting, and rarely even feels the need to do that if she knows you. She does not get "hormonal", even, unless you count how loud she gets then! Her plucking is improving greatly, in fact, she is almost fully filled in!

Anyway, when I got Frank, he was not a bird I could see ever being happy in an aviary, especially one with other birds. Lola was the same way. However, I have worked really hard with them, and since they became friends with each other, they improved immensely! They both not only get along with other birds now, but try to be friends with everyone! They love flying, exploring, foraging, destroying toys, etc. I have always had them flighted, and they do share a flight cage now with plenty of time out of it. Still, these are wild animals we are keeping in captivity, and I hate to see two birds kept in a cage at all, when I really think they would love a big aviary with other birds.

I have asked around some to see if there was anywhere around here they could go. So far, I have not found anything that wasn't (or at least, would be happy to become) a breeder. And it is very important to me that they are never bred.

Perhaps it is too much to ask. An aviary, hopefully with other birds. Willingness to have a bird (Frank) that will fly and attack you one moment (sometimes without a particular reason, however many ABCs I try), and is sweet the next, and has a whole myriad of behavior ins and outs. He may improve greatly in an aviary, as I think he would from how he acts here on the sun porch, but then, he may not. And absolutely no breeding.

And then of course there is the thought that perhaps I am putting a human's idea of what they will enjoy on them. That is something I try very hard not to do. I have seen it happen so many times with other birds, I want to make sure I am really considering what they would actually like, not what I think they should like, as sociable quakers.

And finally, the just-plain-selfish reason, I would really, really miss them if they left. Lola is my sweet little cuddle bird, and Frank is always ready to chat with me, and give me a lift if I am feeling down. It is hard to imagine not having them around.

I guess I will just keep looking, but in the meantime, they are staying here, of course! And I am certainly not complaining!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

I hope 2009 is a wonderful year for everyone, including Planet Earth and all her creatures!

Watching TV last night, like every year, I got my year's dose of many types of music, you might say. Nothing against them, what music you like is very personal, but most of what I heard last night really wasn't for me. So, as I wondered why anyone could go through an entire song without saying an intelligible word, I got to thinking about what type of music my birds like best. Their taste really varies, in fact, the only way I know some of their favorite song types is by soundtracks. Soundtracks are big pleasers around here! On the average soundtrack for the average happy movie, you usually have orchestra music, an upbeat song, and a quiet/sad song, along with whatever else they felt the need to throw in. The whatever else is where I find out the distinct tastes for music types some of my birds have!

Peter- Peter is tricky. He loves any happy, bouncy music, but what he really likes is Latin American music, or something electronic, with very fast words in funny voices. Not very many songs here fit that, but again, soundtracks can be amazing crowd pleasers!

Ava- Ava usually prefers nature sounds, or soft piano music, though if she is in the mood she will also sing and dance along quite happily to the same fast word songs Peter likes.

Yo-yo- Yo-yo loves music! I believe this is because he is actually a composer in disguise. This is evident by the whistled concertos he composes, and his favorite Patriotic mix, an original blend of Yankee Doodle, 1812 Overture, and several marching songs. He loves listening to happy, bouncy music. However, his favorite type of music to listen to are big Orchestras. As soon as I put on a CD of waltzes or Beethoven, for instance, he immediately starts whistling along right with the music, in the most remarkable fashion. You may have heard of the dancing Snowball, but the whistling (and dancing the whole time, of course) Yo-yo has him beat!

Miss Patty- she is a tuff one. I have not found a song she really seems to enjoy, though she does calm down quite a bit with the nature sounds. She is not very fond of any music Yo-yo likes, as she doesn't seem to like the way he starts dancing around, walking away, and then walking back to whistle right in her ear!

Frank- Frank likes anything, absolutely anything, though he prefers it to have words he can sing along with. Lacking words, he will hum happily away, or add his own words (usually a mixture of "Fraaaaank, Good Booooy, Frank!" and "I'mmmm a sweeeeet Fraaaank! Good Birddddd!" None of these phrases is usually true, however much he wants to sing them!) He loves singing along to just about anything, though he usually prefers female voices, with a few exceptions, since they are easier for him to sing with. Or easier for him to think he is singing with, Frank is pretty much tone-deaf, though no one has the heart to tell him.

Lola- Lola loves Christmas songs best, hands down. It doesn't seem to matter whether it is a piano, a choir, or just one person singing happily, they are her favorite. Besides Christmas music, she likes anything with a strong beat she can dance with.

Yaz- Yaz is not picky about his music, period. He likes strong beats, but lacking a strong beat, he will create one. He dances to anything and everything, and makes his snapping noise along with the music. The only problem for onlookers would be Yaz's inability to keep the same tempo to save him!

Claudia- Claudia loves just about any music, as do most of my birds. However, she does have some definite favorites. For one, she calms down considerably, and sometimes even softly sings along with, nature sounds and soft piano music. She also sings along wildly with waltz music. This annoys Yo-yo no end, as Claudia, sweet as she is, is the "worst singer" here. Beeps, whistles, words, and any other noise she can make are all over the place, at all different volumes, with the occasional fire alarm thrown in for good measure. She is so joyful, it is hilarious to watch her sing, and even funnier to watch Yo-yo get all huffy trying to correct her!

Chester- Chester really shows very little preference. I think I might have heard him singing along with some of that ever favored happy, bouncy music, but I cannot be sure. As with most my birds, he does calm down listening to nature sounds and soft piano music, but not to the degree the others do.

Really a great variety of tastes!