Monday, February 28, 2011

First Attempt at Eating Pics

Spring toys! So pretty. I don't often have dyed wood.
The beads were sent dyed by mistake and the slats were a free gift.
As you can see, I utilize pieces from old toys often; the bases of the smaller toys are pre-chewed.

As per my discovery in a previous post of my addiction to bird bath pics, I am working on taking a wider variety of pic types to break from my previous affinity. To start, here is a quick sampling of (not great quality) eating pics.

Chester and Claudia, practicing to be Hanging Parrots for Halloween.
Yes, they start practicing early, just in case they miscalculated the number
of days left to go.

Chester and Claudia enjoying a more sedentary form
of foraging in one of their toy buckets.

Frank, enjoying a very rare bit of fruit, a cherry.
He gets sugar highs quickly,
so anything with a lot of sugar is quite limited for him.

Ava and Yo-yo enjoying a piece of millet.
And just so you appreciate my sacrifices to capture these
mediocre photos, I had to stand on a chair to get this one,
even with my natural height. It turns out when you hold
a camera above your head in what you are nearly positive
is the right direction... it usually isn't.

Yo-yo, enjoying some mash.
He is so good at sharing, notice how he has
so graciously allowed the wall, the cage, and,
un-pictured, me to enjoy some of his food with him.

Yummy goji berry, Yo-yo loves them.

I sometimes feel I am doing New Orleans a disservice
by keeping Yo-yo from them-
just imagine how his fling would help the Mardi Gras parade!

Monday, February 21, 2011


Measuring intelligence in animals is a tricky thing. For one thing, we often measure how intelligent an animal is based on how much they can act like us and how well they can please us. I have a feeling if we applied that same measure to our children, geniuses would fall to the bottom of the pile! Which brings me to another interesting observation- if the one or two individuals from a species test well, they are exceptions, if they test poorly, the whole species is doomed to the dunce cap. Does that really make sense?

Border Collies are listed as the most intelligent dog, and having grown up with them, I hate to argue! However, while Gwen, a chihuahua is not as trainable as most Border Collies (she does it on her time only), I certainly don't get the feeling there is any less going on up there. In applying this to parrots you can very easily substitute Border Collie with African Grey. I can't say how many times I have seen someone ask whether x species of parrot could possibly be as intelligent as African Greys, or say that no other species of parrot is as intelligent as African Greys. This, I firmly believe, is untrue. You can have very smart and very, er, not so smart, African Greys just as you can with any other species of parrot, and just as you do with people.

This inevitably brings me around to Alex. Dr. Pepperburg took care to make sure Alex was random, so people would not think he was exceptional. And looking at what many other people's greys can do without the intense training Alex had, I think it is very likely he was not. What I also think should be said, though, is that just because Dr. Pepperburg was able to show how intelligent African Greys are does not mean other species are not as smart. One thing that does set greys apart is their love of language and their learning style. My budgies can do and learn amazing things, and just because they have much shorter attention spans, does that make them necessarily that much less intelligent? In fact, Dr. Pepperburg said herself that she chose greys for their language abilities, but she does not think that means they are heads and tails smarter. She even mentioned budgies, but said their shorter attention spans and shorter lifespans rule them out as good subjects. She went on to mention the different (generalized) learning styles of a few species, saying others could do things that Alex did not. Personally, and this just came to me now, I think ekkies would make fantastic subjects as well. They have both the language and intense, long attention spans. Or some of them anyway, Claudia loves to talk like any diva, but as for intense learning........

We have barely scratched the surface of the intelligence of the cephlapods, such as octopus and cuttlefish. The things we know they can do are sometimes even far beyond what we can. And yet, if you show them a mirror, they don't recognize themselves. Both elephants and dolphins have been proven to recognize themselves in mirrors. This is part of being self-aware. I am really not sure whether my parrots can do this or not, and I know no one has proven that other parrots can. I know Chester doesn't recognize himself, and on the others I am unsure. Until I can think of a way to test that (they put an x on the elephant's face, and he tried to get it off himself, not the elephant in the mirror) I will just have to leave it at that!

The point? I am always fascinated by animal intelligence research and findings. What you conclude from them, though, will vary a great deal with your "definition" of intelligence. One thing for sure, though, is that intelligence is not a linear scale, with ourselves at the top and the sponge (for example, nothing against sponges) at the bottom, and little marks along the way showing what abilities are required before you reach the next level.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quick Thoughts

Which really should be several long posts, but I am letting life get in the way of that, whether I should or not.

Good news with Lola! She has slowly been re-growing her feathers in the years I have had her. She has had a few set-backs, but that is to be expected. I was never sure how many of her feathers would grow back,as the follicles had clearly been very damaged. Still, they have recovered slowly, a few at a time. The first time a few of them really started to recover, and grow sickly little yellow or black structures that in no way resembled feathers, Lola clearly had a lot of pain, and began mutilating herself again. Those follicles eventually, and much later, produced real, if weak, feathers, and later follicles followed similar patterns, although I did learn ways to help with the pain, and therefore mutilating, so that was not always repeated. It really is amazing. I keep thinking she might have reached as many feathers as she will get after it has been a while with no new growth, and then she surprises me again with a sudden feather spurt! I have learned several things that help, supplements that boost her, etc., so they are offered in cycles. I am still holding out hope, even though she has been through a lot and is showing her age (or more than her age, rather), that she will one day be fully feathered!


Just for the sheer cuteness of it, I thought I would post these pics of a squirrel that finally succeeded in getting the suet bell all for himself! And for anyone that says wild animals don't play with toys, this suet bell was well wrapped in a wicker shell. After getting the wicker part off, the squirrel did not immediately take his prize, but instead played with the wicker for a bit, and destroyed most of it alternately chewing, tossing, and waving it around. I got that on a vid, but unfortunately am unable to get that on the computer here with the slow internet! Very frustrating.

The prize, fresh down from the tree.

Taking the prize away! It was at least half the size of the squirrel;
he looked so funny running off with it!
He even tried to get up a tree, and failed, before going out of my view.
I am not sure what he ended up dong with it, though nosy me would love to know.

The parrots are all well, all up to their usual antics, both sweet and not. I will leave it up to you to decide which parrots weigh most heavily on which side of that spectrum!

Ava in her favorite "secret playhouse"
between the two Aussie cages.

Yo-yo in the hospital (or maternity) cage,
sitting up on his perch after Miss Patty hissed
him off the floor for the last time.

Miss Patty, featuring a (well-deserved) angelic aura
around her thanks to the camera, while giving her toy what-for.
And in answer to the caption from Yo-yo's pic, despite
a few very close calls, she still lays a few eggs every couple of months,
whatever I do to convince her otherwise.

Linus, who likes is baths form the floor of the shower
for some reason. He really does love them, though.

Frank in the shower, clearly about to say something,
though I have no memory what.

Lola again, because she is so special,
this time after a bath and getting a bit sleepy.

Claudia, a bit blurry, who would a walking go,
now begging to be picked up.

Chester, playing peek-a-boo after a bath.

(Apparently I have an obsession with taking bath pics,
as that is the4th one.Maybe I should get help,
and learn to take eating pics or something!)


On a sadder note, you never know what is going on in someone's life until you have been there; it seems mine just keeps getting more and more complicated. For those without MCS, finding a home that is safe for them to breathe in, where they can heal and thrive, may not seem too difficult, but I sometimes think I might never get that.

P.S. So much snow this winter!!