Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

To one and all, from the parrots, from myself, and maybe from Gwen, the dog, if she is in a heartwarming mood. We had a great day, and I hope you all did too, whether or not you celebrate Christmas; safe, stress free(ish), and joyous.

My birds' day was particularly nice, thanks to my wonderful secret Santa Santa Nikki! I love her store, The Cheeky Parrot; a huge selection and great prices!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Very Important- Organic Strawberries!

I think feeding organic produce, or at least avoiding the most contaminated foods, is one of the most important things we can do for our parrots. Due to their size alone they are much more sensitive to the levels of pesticides on their food. Although the pesticide and chemical residue on that apple might be within the supposedly safe levels set by the government (and keep in mind many, many highly regarded scientists dispute this) those "safe levels" are set for people, not parrots. They are much, much, much smaller than we are, obviously, so they will reach a dangerous level much faster.

~ From Carolyn Swicegood on TEC~

As Eclectus keepers know, strawberries and other berries with tiny
seeds, are top favorite foods of our birds. Insects also enjoy this
sweet berry so in order to successfully grow them, poisons are used
to kill the pests and fungi that otherwise could destroy the berries
before they mature. Obviously there are safe ways to grow
strawberries but not being a serious gardener, I don't how pests are
avoided when strawberries are organically grown.

At least ninety-percent of the strawberries sold in the United
States are grown in California so for months, I've followed the fight
between environmentalists and mega-agricultural interests in
California about approval of the pesticide "methyl Iodide". After
reading about its known devastating effects on the most vulnerable
among us -- the unborn, young children, the elderly, and of course,
birds -- I was almost certain that methyl iodide would never be
approved for use on California crops, including strawberries.

Much to my surprise, I discovered on Wednesday this week that this
deadly pesticide has been approved for use in California so I believe
it is critical that we not give our birds, nor our families,
conventionally-grown strawberries. Organically grown strawberries do
cost a little more than conventionally grown berries, but if I cannot
find them and afford them, I'll replace them in our diet or try to
learn to grow them organically. Methyl iodide is a chemical pesticide
known to cause miscarriages as well as neurological problems and
adult cancers, so I can imagine how it might affect a
parrot. Fifty-four scientists, including five Nobel laureates, have
gone on record as believing methyl iodide to be an extremely
dangerous chemical. If you're interested in reading more, here are
some links to recent information on this topic.
California News: California approves use of cancer-causing pesticide
FRESNO, Calif. -- Environmental and public health opponents are
calling on Gov.-elect Jerry Brown to reverse a controversial decision
by state regulators.

Wednesday, they approved the pesticide methyl iodide for use by fruit
and vegetable growers, despite its links to cancer. The pesticide
will replace another which is being phased out because it depletes
the earth's ozone layer.

California's $1.6 billion strawberry industry will be one of the
biggest markets for the chemical. It will also be used in the central
valley's nut orchards and fresh flower nurseries in southern California.

Prescriptions: Beware the Seductive Strawberry
"Even low levels of some pesticides have been shown to disrupt human
hormonal, neurological, and immune functioning. Because of their
underdeveloped detoxifying mechanisms, and other factors the most
vulnerable humans are the developing fetus, babies, and children."

"Early development and life exposures to certain pesticides have been
linked to birth defects, childhood leukemia, neuro-developmental
problems, such as ADHD, adult cancers and Parkinson's disease."

"Fumigants, designed to sterilize the soil before planting, are the
most common class of pesticides used with strawberry
production... However, the decision makers of the California
Department of Pesticide Regulation have decided to replace it with
methyl iodide, a known carcinogen, thyroid and nervous system
disruptor, as well as a chemical that causes mammalian miscarriage..."

While we're on the topic of pesticides, the Environmental Working
Group has posted lists of the best and worst foods according to their
pesticide contamination level.

Here are the top ten foods with the worst contamination levels.
Buy these foods organically grown.

Bell Peppers
Grapes (Imported)

Here are the foods considered safest by the EWG.
These foods are safe to eat when conventionally grown.

Sweet corn
Sweet peas
Sweet potato

At the link below, you'll find a FREE APP for iPhones which includes
the safest foods and the least safe foods lists, as well as the
contamination rank of forty-nine of the most commonly consumed
fruits and vegetable. With this free app, you'll have the list with
you at all times if you keep your cell phone with you, and it's a
handy reference when you're food shopping.

Free EWG application for iPhones

"California strawberry growers will now be allowed to use a potent
pesticide listed by the state as a known cancer-causing chemical
despite vocal opposition from public health experts,
environmentalists and farm workers.

On Wednesday, the state Department of Pesticide Regulation gave final
approval to methyl iodide, a fumigant designed to eradicate bacteria,
weeds and insects from growing soils.

Immediately after the approval, a group of opponents called on
Governor-elect Jerry Brown to reverse the agency's action, which they
contend resulted after heavy lobbying by the chemical industry.

"The decision to permit use of a chemical in the fields that causes
cancer, late-term miscarriage and permanent neurological damage is
(a) ticking time bomb," Susan Kegley, consulting scientist with San
Francisco's Pesticide Action Network, said in a statement. "The idea
that this pesticide can be used safely in the fields is a myth."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Biscotti, anyone?

Ultimate health-nut biscotti! At least that is what Avian Organics veggie wedges look like to me. Personally, I have never cared for biscotti, but that pronouncement is perhaps a bit unjust, as it is made due entirely to an unfortunate allergic reaction when I was little. The parrots, however, having no such reservations, love this biscotti! It is the only type they have ever had, so the jury is still out on whether it is a general ruling about Italian cookies, or just this specific sub specie.

The ekkies, quakers, and Yo-yo (and therefore Miss Patty, as she will eat anything Yo-yo will) love the veggies wedges. This is no great surprise, as they are willing to try just about anything, and anything as crisp and toast like as this is bound to be loved. Ava and Linus are never a sure bet, though. In fact, though Ava will eat a fair variety of things, Linus will not eat anything but mash, very, very basic seed mixes, and fresh greens. Nothing else, not crackers, not bread, nothing but those three items. As I said, Ava is better, but she can still be quite picky. With this knowledge, I still give them multiple opportunities to try everything. So, when I opened the veggies wedge package, I took out one wedge and carefully broke it into 6 pieces- two large ones for the ekkies, and four smaller ones, two for the quakers, and one for each Aussie pair, Ava/Linus and Yo-yo/Miss Patty. After distributing my wares, I stood back and happily watched them eat, looking first at those I knew would be eating it, ignoring Ava and Linus at first as I did not think they would eat it, and certainly not right away (although I did present it with flourish and try to convince them it was Aladdin's treasure.) When I did turn to see how Ava and Linus were reacting to their treat, just a mere minute or two after leaving their cage, I was absolutely astounded, as in drop to the floor astounded, that Linus was not only eating it, but had already pulled it out of the dish so he could dig into it with relish from the floor of the cage. As I watched, Ava gracefully (had to throw that in, she is always so elegant) jumped down from her perch and joined him.

Since then, veggie wedges have moved to the top of the class as far as treat value, replacing all others. Just the sight of the bag gets Linus visibly excited, and this is saying something for a parrot as shy as he! Ava's reaction isn't far behind, along with the rest of the parrots!

Avian Organics Parrot Food