Saturday, February 28, 2009

Update on budgie diet

Well, Luna is as stubborn as ever, and has refused to try anything new, even cooked seed. However, Oscar seems to be coming around! He ate all the cooked seed, and has since then conceded to gobble up red rice (which happened to be what I had) and cooked grains, and has even eaten little tastes of the birdie bread and vegetables/fruits! He refuses to eat more than a few bites of the birdie bread or veggies/fruits, so he is not really converted, but from my position just outside the room, I have definitely seen him come up from the food dish, munching, with some hanging from his beak. So that brings Oscar's list of "edibles" to:
-'parakeet' seed mix
-sprouted 'parakeet' seed mix
-cooked seed
-cooked grains
-bits of birdie bread and bits of veggies/fruits

A nice list!

On top of that, Oscar is getting to be very playful. For the longest time, he would only sit on his perch, looking bored, but he has finally started playing and chewing on everything! Luna is also getting a bit more playful, though he prefers bouncing around the cage yelling to sitting and chewing on something. As long as they are both enjoying themselves!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Smarts, training, and budgies

I have always said budgies are just as smart as larger parrots, and can be just (or even more) trainable than larger parrots, depending on your bird's personality. However, many people seem to be of the opinion that budgies do not even make great "pets", let alone being just as smart as their larger counterparts.

I recently heard Dr. Irene Pepperburg speak about Alex and her studies, and was thrilled to hear her opinion on the trainability and intelligence of not only other Africans Greys, but also other parrot species. To sum up: Alex was likely not an "unusual genius" but rather, an African Grey that loved learning through speech, and that had 8 hours of training a day (which makes a huuuge difference, obviously!). She went on to say how the other two greys they are working with are just as smart, but with different learning styles, so they therefore need different teaching styles and can learn different things from Alex. She also said that other species were just as smart as Greys, but again, would probably have to be taught in a different manner that worked with their particular personalities. And finally, she mentioned that though they had tried working with budgies, the shorter attention spans (and life spans) were more difficult to work with in her studies. I can't say I really blame her on that score, but I was very happy to hear how much she did love budgies, and that though they were not right for her studies, she does not feel them to be unintelligent.

However, a shorter attention span does not mean they can not be trained. I recently saw this video, and thought it portrayed exactly how amazing budgies are! Aren't they adorable?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Switching diets

I was always so grateful, reading about other people's diet switching trouble, than I never had much issue with that. Eventually, they always switched, at the most, after a month. I just put the new food in their dish with a bit of the old mixed in, and fed them that for breakfast, with their old food for dinner. No issue. Perhaps I had to work harder to get them to eat certain foods, or to get them to eat fresh instead of cooked foods, large pieces instead of chopped, etc., but it was never, at least in my book, too much of an issue to switch the diet and get them eating fresh food, even with the little guys.

Until these foster budgies.

I have tried all the usual methods I have heard of, many I have never tried before. Still, unless it is sprouts of their regular seed mix (specialty seeds are not wanted here, not that I don't keep trying) or a piece of lettuce hanging from their cage (that is barely nibbled at, I think), it is ignored. No, moaned over and complained about would be more accurate. But not tasted.

I know I am not alone, lots of other people have trouble switching their birds diets. Still, it is frustrating. And it is harder with birds that are still "not very tame." Sure, they will get up on my shoulder or hand if they are feeling particularly brave, but look to me for what to eat? Not quite there yet. As they are in separate cages (they do not get along at all), side by side, I am trying to convince them that the other is eating the food, so it must be safe. I put the new food in one cage, and the seed in the other, hoping that the first budgie will see the second budgie eating, assume it is the same food, and dig in. I have been trying this for a week (before I gave them the same food, so if one was at least digging in the dish it gave the same impression) but no luck yet.

I will keep at that, but today I am trying cooked seed mix. A bit odd, I know, but millet is often served cooked for people, so I assume the other seeds in there can stand a bit of cooking, too. I also added some amaranth, just in case today they would try a new seed. And because I couldn't resist adding some veggie, I added some chopped parsley. Just a little, and cooked it all in cranberry juice (unsweetened, try not to pucker reading that!) I am hoping, if they eat this, they will get used to cooked foods, so I can start adding other cooked items. It didn't work (yet) using sprouts to get them used to fresh food, so I will try it the other way around!

I have also read that macaroni and cheese, mixed with shredded carrot and chopped broccoli tops, with a bit a seed squished in the top, has been amazing for switching little birds. That I have not tried. I wasn't sure I wanted to feed them something so unhealthy, but I might come around to trying that. Maybe. If I get really desperate.

Or, as a last resort, I will put them with my cockatiels, so they can see other birds eating fresh food happily (and believe me, Yo-yo eats anything happily. Usually while whistling or giving kisses.)

Any new ideas out there?

Monday, February 9, 2009

History of a Pinata + Yaz

Just a note to anyone that is considering a parrot as a possible companion - when you read "toys are meant to be destroyed", "you will spend a lot of money monthly on toys", "birds live to chew, it often seems" or anything else along those lines, don't discount it. It is absolutely true!

Below is a picture narrative on what happens to toys in the beaks of parrots. Keep in mind that this pinata was destroyed by a parrot less than 1/3 its size, a Nanday Conure.

Lovely $16 pinata, before being placed in Yaz's cage
(though he had chewed a bit on it when he found it in the toy hammock)

Poor pinata remains after just 3 days of Yaz's beak.

Poor pinata remains made into an entirely new toy!
Even with blocks of wood it will not last very long with Yaz.

The party guilty of above destruction, trying to hide
behind yet another destroyed pinata.

I did manage to catch him mid-dance, as he was playing
with the stick.

However, he stopped upon noticing the camera,
and ran behind the pinata remains,
though not before giving me an irritated stare!

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Quaker's new nest boxes! (but no, definately not for breeding!)

The quakers' old nest boxes were really used up, totally chewed through (Frank's even had a hole in the bottom) so I asked a relative to make them two new ones. As he is a woodworker, they turned out to be very classy nest boxes! Needless to say, the quakers are very pleased. As am I, to have such nice, very safe, nest boxes, that will hopefully last a long time.

Please Note: I would NOT recommend giving a nest box to most parrots, and would never give one to any of my other parrots. Frank and Lola are an unusual case.

I first got one for Lola, after she started eating material from her sleep tents, and developed a blockage. She was rather a nervous bird then, and needed the security of a place to hide, so I decided a nest box was the safest way to go, and gave it a try. Frank quickly took over hers (so I got her a new one), and I was surprised to see what a difference it made for him to have a quiet, dark place to go. Far from getting hormonal, it really calmed him down and made him a much happier bird. Now, he can go in there whenever he is feeling "off", and sit in there nest building and telling the world off (in English, usually) until he is in a better mood. At that point, he commences singing to himself, while weaving everything he can find into the bars around the opening. So, even though having a nest box has made a huge difference in Frank, and is of course loved by Lola, and neither of them have any of the hormonal problems or egg laying associated with nest boxes, this is very rarely the case.
My point - be very careful offering dark places for your parrot, many will even get hormonal with a plain sleep tent or dark corner, so nest boxes are usually a very bad idea.

Frank's from the outside

Lola's from the outside

Frank, wondering what I am doing with his cage
(I was taking the pics from the inside right before this)

Frank's from the inside, with the preening and shredding toys
(held out of the way) he must always have to calm himself down

Lola's from the inside,
with the plain wooden and cloth pull toys she prefers

A view of (almost) the whole cage.
Frank is, as usual, right up front in the picture,
and Lola is, as usual, ignoring the camera

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bath Time!! (waterless edition)

This was just too funny to miss, and since I did actually catch it on "tape", I decided it was time to post my first video, dark and of poor quality though it may be. It was a cloudy winter day, after all.

I was vacuuming the room, which I usually do with all the birds locked up, just to make it easier. However, this time, Claudia and Chester were out. When they are inside their cage, they always take a bath in their water bowl during the "thunder storm". As they did not have a water bowl on their playgym, they had to make do without, and I think they did quite well, don't you?

If you notice, Claudia spends quite a bit of time with her head or tail on a wooden bucket. I believe she is imagining that it contains water, but it is actually her foraging bucket, and the most that could have been in there was a few treat remnants and some small foot toys deemed unworthy for play.

After I was done vacuuming, and videoing, of course, I did give them a nice spray bath, which they appreciated. And since my video was unable to show you Claudia's beautiful feathers, and the ever improving feathers of Chester (Please tell me you noticed he had an entire tail, and most of his wing feathers!!) I did take two pics of that.

And since neither the video or the pics (Claudia, you are a real camera hog!) were able to show you Chester's improving feathers, I have a few shots to show here. I would love to show you some from when I got him, for comparison, but he was NOT fond of people, and cameras were placed under the people, or odd people appendages, category. So, it will have to suffice to say that his feathers looked much worse then, all but his head feathers, which were very dark and ratty, being very, very dark green, yellow, brown, or black. Or at least, that was the colors of the feathers he had. He did not have most of his wing feathers, or anything but a few (three) completely stripped tail feathers.He did not have most of his chest feathers, only grey fuzz, and did not have leg feathers. I am not sure he was really plucking his back as well, but due to the poor quality of feathers, he did not have very many at all there, either.

In the photos, please note his beautiful tail, and that he has some lovely new feathers on his back, which have really improved his overall appearance! His head has actually been through a complete molt, and is looking much better.

The last picture is simply to show you what color I hope his feathers will someday be. As feathers are very reflective, they come out much brighter on the camera than they look in person, even in direct sunlight. So, when I take a picture of his head, it often looks very bright green! I was unable to get a pic of his chest, but he does have some new feathers there, which you can almost see in the last pic, as well.


Yes, I know you are bored of that title, but apparently Miss Patty doesn't know that. Two days after the last post stating I thought she was done with eggs, she laid another one, and yesterday she decided to lay one in the food dish of their playgym, while they were watching tv with me in the evening. She is laying them just fine, and that is wonderful!, but I wonder how long her body can hold this up. She is fairly old, I believe, and she does have many health problems. I am not sure what else I can do to encourage her to stop, since she doesn't care to sit on the eggs, and her diet/environment is already not conducive for egg laying. Lupron is the only other thing I know, but her egg laying is not bad enough for that, and I hope it doesn't get bad enough!

On a funny end note, I know you all having been worrying about this, my camera is still acting up. Obviously, as is evident by the photos in a few recent posts, it does allow me to put new photos on the computer. However, it still is refusing to upload the pictures I took before, that are new photos, whatever the fancy pop-up sign says!