Monday, October 10, 2011

Life with a mechanically inclined quaker

I have to leave the quaker cage doors hooked with locks. From the inside, Frank cannot undo these locks, but apparently he can from the outside. When I went to lock them up with their dinner, I discovered the lock to their front door was missing. After searching, I found it, locked, on Ava and Linus's cage. To be more specific, it was locking their door shut. Mmmm, ok. They were not in it at the time, guess he wanted to keep it that way!

The oldest pic of Frank I can currently find on my computer! 
I remember it as one of the first, not sure if it was the actual first, though.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Never incite the scorn of a food-displeased Budgie

I was not feeling great this morning, so I took the liberty of giving myself a break and gave the birds some dry mix. This dry mix is one I make myself, and should not properly be called a mix, considering I keep most of the components separate so I can dish out the appropriate things to each bird. My dry smorgasbord, as it were, options include my seed (or grain, which is more accurate) mix, which is millet, puffed amaranth, quinoa, oats, and a few other things, plus various types of dry noodles (brown rice, quinoa, kamut, etc) dry individual larger grains (purple corn is popular) special seeds (milk thistle, sunflower, pumpkin...) dried veggies and fruits, special treats (Avian Organics Veggie Bars, Papaya Crisps, and Green Granola currently) and more. Very varied, as you can see. They do not get all that at one meal, of course. I also use parts of my smorgasbord as treats or for training, and add an item or two with my other meals. When I am giving a meal just of dry mix, as this morning, it usually includes some of the basic grain/seed mix, and several of the other items. My birds overall appreciate the variety and enjoy their shelf stable items as a contrast to all the fresh food.

Keep in mind I do not feed dry mix meals all the time, it is something I do when I am feeling particularly bad, as I was this morning. By taking the easy route, I give myself time to re-charge without getting burnt out. The dry mix meals are still quite healthy (I even have cooked and dried beans, so complete protein!) and as most people with parrots know, dry mix meals of some kind are usually quite popular. I do not think there is anything wrong with skipping the fresh food at a meal every now and again if you are particularly busy, tired, or sick. After all, for parrots living out in the great outdoors, meals are hardly devised by a nutritionist to be balanced and varied, optimum for each individual. They often eat just one, or just a few kinds of food while it is in season, and switch to another when the first runs out. They are not always at an "all you can eat health food buffet." Therefore, the occasional dry mix meal is fine.

All that said (and re-said and re-said and re-said, bored yet?), Ava was not pleased. No, not pleased at all. A sprinkling of dry treats throughout the day and with a fresh meal is fine, but all on their own? Puh-lease.

By dinner time, not only was the food still there, but Ava was giving me one of her stares, the one I call the "gentle reprimand gaze." If not attended to, it is later followed by the "disdain glare," and the "scornful air." I try my best to avoid those.

I have learned my lesson. I still do not feel well, but I have a pot of some Avian Organics mash cooking (with lots of extra dried raw kale and cilantro flakes added at the end, they love them and so easy!) along with butternut squash and peas. Hopefully Her Highness will accept my apologies for the lazy breakfast and graciously allow me back in her favor. She really is quite good about that.

And finally, a few quick pics of the Aussies from yesterday-

Miss Patty loves the view. 
I think it is funny how the reflection in the window 
makes it look as if there is a building out there....
nope, just trees and grass.

Sleepy time for Ava. Whatever they tell you about a 
goodnight sleep, Ava feels a good afternoon nap is 
equally important.

Miss Patty and Linus, hanging out.

Yo-yo, who is only in one picture since he spent most
if the time on me. In this pic he is asking to come to me.
In a minute he will fly over.

Fluffy Linus!!

Pretty Miss Patty. She is really showing her age, 
and her bald spots on her face just keep inching bigger and bigger, 
but she is just as sweet and nearly as active as ever.
And she certainly keeps Yo-yo on his toes!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Amazon Companionship Study

I find this study on young amazon parrots very interesting. You must be a member to read the full text, but the abstract is more than enough to give any parrot (or other bird) keeper plenty of food for thought. Whether parrots should be kept in pairs for their own happiness, whether parrots kept in pairs have fewer behavior problems, whether paired parrots are better/worse companions, etc., are all issues that anyone keeping parrots for very long at all has come across, very likely in the form of a heated argument or at the very least a strongly voiced opinion, one that often verges on or fully embraces a warpath. All that debate comes with good reason, as there are legitimate points on both sides. However, I am not going to try to hide the fact that I think parrots are happier and better off if they can be kept with a compatible friend or mate!

Please, though, if you are thinking about going out and getting a friend for any of your parrots, from a budgie to a macaw, remember that like people, birds will not get along with every bird. They pick their friends as well as their mates. Also, if you parrot has been kept without any other bird for a long time, or was raised away from other birds, they may not recognize other parrots of even the same species as potential friends at all. The Amazon parrots in this study were parent raised (and note that they were being handled regularly by humans, and seeming to enjoy doing such), which makes a huge difference as they not only know they are parrots and know how to interact with other parrots. This is not to say, though, that it is impossible to get a friend for a single parrot! Even if they are not allowed to play together, just having another parrot in the room can be very rewarding for parrots. Parrots in the wild will not eat alone, sleep alone, or do anything else alone! With another parrot (I admit I think same species or compatible species from the same geographic area and/or similar size is best) they will have someone to be with all the time.

Studies like this are important because they show what could be possible if you applied knowledge to raise better parrots from the beginning, in this case keeping them in pairs from the start, instead of trying to fix problems later after they occur.

If a person has an untamed pair of parrots, either a small or large species, and much prefers tame cuddly parrots, they will be fully convinced the only good companion parrots are kept singly. On the other hand, many people have mated pairs of parrots, again from the very small to the very large, that are still wonderful and tame and very interested in people (and sometimes still enjoying scritches as well), so naturally they will have a very different view of things. My point? I try very hard not to put out statements based solely on my own experience. Most people only have experience in their own home with one parrot of a species, possibly two or three of that species. That really is very little to go on, and while individual experiences taken along with individual circumstances can be, collectively, very important and extremely useful, each piece on its own is not nearly so valuable, and can be very misleading. That makes studies like this, as rare as they are, even more important as a tool to cut through that cloud. The parrots are raised and kept under the same conditions, making comparisons possible that give the rest of us something to go on, and apply in our own homes.

And to reiterate, please go read this article! It is not very long, so really, please read it.