Friday, May 22, 2009

Yet another Update on Oscar

Budgies are hard find homes for. They really are. Oscar is doing very well, and I know he would make an amazing friend for someone, if they would only contact me. I think though, unfortunately, most people just go to a petstore where they can pick out which budgie they want, or to a breeder so they know they can get a young, friendly one. The majority of people that would think of adopting a budgie off of petfinder are those that are die-hard rescuers. And the number of them that want to adopt a budgie are still fewer.

It is not that a lot of people don't have budgies, or that a lot of people that believe in rehoming don't have budgies. It is just that if they want one, they either don't live around here or already have a budgie, either one of the many that need homes, or one they bought as they were just getting into parrots, before they realized how many needed homes.

Still, budgies are amazing parrots, and Oscar is an especially nice budgie (judge for yourself if I am biased in saying that!) He is very playful, and hilarious to watch. He is also more food motivated than most amazons, which means he is highly trainable. He loves people more than birds, and loves chatting with everything more than that, so he is certainly a good parrot to have a conversation with, even if his English is hard to make out, being mixed in with everything else he says.

I am still looking, though, so if any one reading this is desperate for a personable budgie friend that will appreciate any time you have for him, let me know!

(And yes, this is a shameless use of this blog to convince you to adopt this budgie.)

Linus came back

For political correctness, I will simply say that Linus left the home I adopted him out to, and ended up in one which was not the best for him. This past weekend, fortunately, I got him back, much worse for the wear, poor little guy. When he left me, Linus had finally started to really gain confidence. He was adopted by a very nice family, and I know he was very happy there, but things happen. I am glad I was at least able to correct them, and I hope none of my birds will ever have to go through this again.

Skipping ahead now, Linus is back here. He is a mere shadow of what he was when he left here. He is thinner than when I got him, and far, far more mentally stressed and panicky. His feathers are dark and greasy, and he had some green discharge from his cere. His feet, which had been arthritic when I got him, but had improved with a good diet and a cushioned platform to sleep on at night, are bright red, very inflamed, and obviously painful. He has also started plucking. He has pulled all of the feathers on his legs, under his wings, and quite a few on his back and upper wings. All over his body, although he has no other bare spots, he has pulled out down feathers, so that he has only a thin covering of contour feathers left. If these move even a little, you see bare skin, very inflamed, and in places, bloody, bare skin. Fortunately, his plucking has not gone as far as a bare chest or anything, but was enough to get him back here. I am hoping he will stop now, and can grow back in all his beautiful feathers.

As I said, his mental state is pitiful, too. Not only does he go into a blind fright, spastic state if his cage is touched, or if you move too quickly, or appear to be thinking about touching his cage, he is obviously fearful almost all the time. After adding back a comfy platform and hiding places in his cage, he did relax some, but he still seems very upset, scared, confused, and depressed. And yes, that is anthropomorphizing, but sometimes, it is necessary, so please forgive me!

Before he left, he was quite the singer (talker, yeller, whistler) and could imitate absolutely everything he heard. He never stopped talking, whistling, singing, and imitating, in fact. He had even begun to speak in context, and always called for me by name when I left the room. Since he has been here after his "adventure" he has never sung, whistled, or spoke. Not once. Every now and then, he will start the tiel contact/fright call when he is panicking, but other than that, nothing. It is so sad.

As to food, he is iffy on how much he will eat. He is eating millet,some lettuce, but he only eats little bits of his other seed and fresh food. I am hoping that will improve, as it already has. He refused to eat almost anything for the first few days.

Although he is not really handlable, I did manage to get him in the shower. He loved that. Absolutely loved that. He had been here 2 days, and I finally decided I just needed to get him cleaned off fully. I am glad I decided to, for while he did not play or spread his wings, he did run from one side of the shower perch to the other, to sit in the full spray of the water. He sat there, seemingly in bliss, with his eyes closed, occasionally turning his head or body to get a different part in the direct spray. After many minutes, he moved out of the full spray, and I turned off the shower. It was after that shower and cage renovation that he seemed finally to let down his guard a tiny bit, and relax some in his cage.

Needless to say, he is not going anywhere.


Miss Milly Molly Mandy!

As you can see, she is a green Indian Ringneck Parakeet, female. Since we have even traced her to the petstore she was originally sold from, I even know her age! She was born in August 2006, making her almost 3 years old. Although I did not realize it when I decided I would take her on as a foster, she was a real rescue.

First, the history I learned from the petstore:
She was originally sold to a family to be a pet for their daughter, and stayed there until she was almost 2, when her noise level, along with the daughter's growing lack of interest in her, led to her being taken back to the petstore. As it is a good local petstore, they take their parrots back. In early April, another family came in, and bought Milly Molly Mandy for their daughter. What these people failed to communicate to the petstore was that they wanted a cuddly, fluffy friend for their daughter. Not how I would describe Milly Molly Mandy!

Now, fast forward to when a kind family member went to pick her up for me. They drove up to what looked for all the world to be a deserted house, with peeling paint, no lights, and a lawn that had gone to seed. Occasionally, looks are not deceiving, as the house was deserted. After waiting there for quite a while, the family drove up. Apparently, the electricity had been shut off, and the family had moved in with friends and/or relatives an unspecified amount of time ago. They left Milly Molly Mandy in the house, with the windows open 8"-12", with no screen, to let the heat out (nice, but it also let in everything else, I am sure.) She also had an empty food dish, and a dried up water dish. Not a good combination. She was completely terrified of everything that was happening, and I cannot blame her a bit for that. The real reason (ignoring the fact they did not have money to keep her) the family decided to get rid of her was that she was extremely aggressive. As the 8 year old boy was sure to point out when he yelled from the car, "She'll bite your finger off!"

She has been here about two weeks now. I am really shocked at how amazingly she has done. In the beginning, she was terrified of anyone touching her cage, but that quickly went away once she learned I was not going to touch the cage more than necessary to give her food and water. Although she has very severe separation anxiety, she now shows almost no fear of anything else. Her fear of hands is also greatly diminished. The biting is certainly not an issue, as it rarely is with parrots if they are not being forced into something they dislike or feel uncomfortable with. After the two day wait (I never let new parrots out of their cage until they have been here a full two days, however tame they are) she not only came out of her cage, but soon learned to climb across a ladder from her cage to reach a nearby bed.

You may be wondering if Milly Molly Mandy is too long a name for such a little parakeet. I assure you, it is not. She not only earns these three names many times over, but many others. She is a non-stop whirlwind, here, there, and everywhere, and always getting into something. She loves toys, and is not at all afraid of new ones, she relishes them, and quickly goes to work destroying them. She does not stay chewing for long, though, soon deciding that a different toy is better, or that she wants to eat, flap her wings while yelling at the top of her lungs, chatter happily to the world, or just in general run and climb all over. This is why I decided to name her after a favorite children's book character I remember, Milly Molly Mandy (and the book by the same name), a little girl that is always having adventures, and often getting in trouble.

Although I get great enjoyment out of watching Milly Molly Mandy play, and out of playing with her, I have to admit her beak is a bit indiscriminate. When on the bed, she will run hither and yon, playing not only with the multitude of toys I put out on the bed, but also with me. She soon lost all fear of climbing up and down me, to chew on my shirt, pants, hair and hair tie, along with any skin, moles, cartilage, and bones she happens to come across. Not biting, just playing, but it does hurt just the same. I try to convince her to stay on the bed and play, but that is impossible. I tried wearing a very exciting bird toy necklace I made just for her, and while she loved that, and playing with it, it just encouraged her to stay on me, and continue to chew on anything she could. Normally, I am not a huge fan of having parrots on my shoulder, but then again, I normally don't have to deal with parrots that won't get off my shoulder (head, back, knee, stomach.)

Despite this fearlessness of me, she obviously has never learned to step-up. In fact, my arms and hands are the one part of me she does not climb on on the bed. Occasionally she will step-up, for a treat, but we are still working on that. She is food and toy motivated, but has a very short attention span (read: 1-5 seconds) that cuts in to the amount of time she will try to get a specific item. Still, she has made amazing progress, and does happily climb onto a ladder, even if she does not get on arms yet. Knowing how the last family tried to get her to step-up, I would say she is doing amazing, and am not about to complain!

Overall, I think she is so confident I have decided to list her this weekend. By the time she goes to her new home, she will be out of quarantine (it takes a while) and I hate to keep parrots in a foster situation longer than absolutely necessary. As long as the new family is prepared to handle her antics and excitement, and accept her at whatever level of tameness she is ready to give them, I think she is very much ready for a permanent home!

And finally, a few shots for your enjoyment (and they were hard to get! I am not sure if the problem is that she is fearful of the camera, simply doesn't like having her picture taken like many women, or immediately is seized with a desire to tear the camera to pieces and is unable to do anything but think about how to get it. I am inclined to suspect the latter.)

Mmm, what do we have here??

If you don't mind, I think I will take a better look.

Jack pot!
(Don't worry, I got it away from her
before she took more than a few bites)

Yum! Special Food!

This is the look. The I-have-got-to-get-that,
looks-like-so-much-chewing-fun look.
I have many pictures with this look, so it is
fortunate it is a cute look!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Aging birds

There is a down side to rescuing, especially with the parrots that naturally have shorter life spans. It is not only a matter of how old they are when you get them, but how good their care was for the first part of their life.

Some of my parrots are quite young, like Yo-yo, Frank, and Claudia. Yo-yo had a very rough early life, but as I got him when he was around 6 months old, those health effects were easily reversed (although he is still "underweight"from being starved, even if he gets a stick of millet a day.) Claudia's liver is a little weak because she was weaned far early, but she also escaped any other major, health-affecting, abuse. Frank has just plain avoided any bad homes, his only problems are behavior wise!

Some of my parrots are older, though, and from not-so-great homes. I do not know Chester's age, other than that he is at least 10, but I do know that the last eight years of his life before I got him were very, very rough, for both his physical and mental health. I am hoping that his young age will help him eventually recover from the physical (and mental, of course!) health effects; he has already greatly improved. Peter and Ava are both a minimum of 5, easily more, and are both showing their age. Even though budgies should be able to live 10-20 years, most of today's modern budgies (i.e, the "bin-o-budgie" or "box store budgie") are bred with such bad bloodlines, and often live is such poor conditions, that 5+ is not a very young age anymore, unfortunately. Yaz seems to be doing the best of these older birds; he is around 10, but still seems to be going strong (aside from his very closely shaved chest!)

The ones I notice the age and care factor in most are Miss Patty and Lola. I have no idea of Miss Patty's age, but she certainly does not seem very young. I know she has had many homes, and I strongly suspect in the first she was a "battery hen" breeder. When I got her, she was not doing well and seemed very sick and very underweight. She greatly improved with better care, but has slowly declined again in the past few months, and now seems rather fragile though happy.

Lola is over 12, really not that old for a quaker considering they should be able to live to 30 or 40. I do not know much about the care in her first home, other than that she had heavy metal toxicity when I got her, and smelled of cigarette smoke and laundry detergent (shower, anyone? She actually had to be "aired" with open car windows on the way home.) She also greatly improved, but this winter and Spring she has really started to show her age.

Both Lola and Miss Patty went to the vet in March, and were declared very healthy, all things considered, so at least I know that much. I try to give them lots of supportive care, which helps.

Despite all you do, all the good care you may give them, or be prepared to give them, some things can not be changed. I would not trade taking in these birds for a minute; giving them even a week of a better life is worth it, but it is so very sad. To see how wonderful these birds are when given that chance. To think that no one has before stopped to notice this, to even learn what some of their most basic needs are. And that these birds will pay in years for that neglect and abuse.

How do they do it?

Other bloggers. With many good pictures. Sometimes on every post.

How do they find such reliable cameras and camera/computer cords?

There must be a secret..........

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Budgie Saga continues......

You can probably guess what that means if you have read my last post about Peter and Ava. Peter started to get aggressive again. Don't worry, Ava was not hurt, I removed her before it came to that. But he was definitely very aggressive; I came into the room to find her hiding in the back of the cage, only to be chased if she came to his attention. Not very nice!

I have moved Ava into my bedroom, where she seems to be doing fine without Peter, and is enjoying the extra spoiling, being the only bird to rule the room. She loves having her own playgym, and though she is happy to play in her cage during the day (she is never locked in it unless I will be gone for a while) she has decided that the only way to sleep is outside her cage. The first night, she got out of her cage, as the door was not locked securely, and slept on the playgym. Every night since, as soon as it is time for bed, she climbs out of her cage, if she was in it, to sleep on the playgym. I suppose I could lock the door to keep her in it at night, but it does not seem to necessary; she is very well behaved!

I moved Luna into the bird room next to Peter, so he would have budgie company. Remarkably, they have hit it off extremely well, possibly because they are both males. When Luna first came out of quarantine, I tried encouraging his taming by bringing Ava into the room and showing him how she trusted me. That did not work, as he hated the sight of her, and voiced this dislike with constant shouting of the budgie aggression call. Rather a strong reaction from a male, I thought! He immediately became inseparable form Peter, and they seem to be closer than Peter and Ava ever were. Just goes to show that birds really do chose their friends! They are still not sharing a cage, but have cages right next to each other, and spend much of the day in the same cage or on the playgym together. I want to make sure there is no aggression, though.

Having Peter with Luna has really helped, though, for he is not yelling for Ava or sitting quietly, lonely and depressed. I do not have to worry about him (too much) which makes separating them soo much easier. Luna was waiting to go to a large aviary with other budgies, but I have to figure that out now. For now, I am just going to leave things as they are, and figure it out as I go. About how I seem to do everything with these guys!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Featured Craigslist find

Craigslist is worth checking regularly. This was proven yet again to me recently. I have been looking for a larger cage for the quakers, as their current one is 32" by 21". In this miraculous find, I managed to get two larger cages, and on top of that, though homemade, they are of all stainless steel wire!

The rundown:
-2 30" by 30" stainless steel cages, with feeder doors
-large (i.e, 7 1/2" across, and perfect for Frank to bathe and toss food in) ceramic dishes to fit in the feeder doors
-several short, one side screw on, wood perches, of various woods
-2 swings
-several toys
-one massive super long ladder
-several manu mud chew blocks
-several ruffed up plastic perches (but I am not using those)

Cost: $94

Not bad, huh?!!

Factoring in the height of these new cages, they have over twice the interior space of the quakers old cage! Needless to say, Frank is very, very pleased (with himself, as he is sure that it was all his doing) Lola is also extremely happy (with the cage, actually) since it gives her even more room to throw her toys around. Plus, I can open up one of the sides of both cages, and put them together to form a cage that is 90" by 30"! That would really be verging on a small aviary, something the quakers would love even more.

It turns out the lady that had these cages used to be a small breeder. Her daughter had lost her job, and had to move back in, along with her children, so they had to rehome the birds to make room. Needless to say, she was very upset about it. She had many other cages, and walk in aviaries, but these were the last two cages she had left. She has already rehomed all of her birds separately, which I am sure was a task, as she was very picky about to whom they went. Unfortunately, there was not much else to do, as the bird rooms had to be turned into bedrooms. She really was extremely nice, though, and it is always nice to hear (I had to have someone else pick up the cages, of course) of other parrot lovers.

Frank feels no sympathy, though.