Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

A little late.......

The chickens are grateful for the compost. 
Accidentally got them in this photo, but you have to look hard.
(lower middle-left, bits of white)
(ok, so they are hidden well- does not change their love for compost!)

If you visit, Kipperkites will steal your stuff 
(like the hat she is on) for her naps.
She will pretty much ignore you otherwise. 
Except to try and steal your food if she is awake.

The dogs can only nap after you leave, though.
They are always so excited to have new people.
You would think I just ignored them all the time,
for how excited they are over guests.
It leaves them exhausted when the guests depart.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Lean-n-Greens

So after those last two violin-music-ending-with-big-crescendo posts, I move on to the Ambassadors of Cuteness, the quakers. Alternately, they are my fighter pilots, but as they have been very polite lately I will let them be the former today. Frank even serenaded me with a lovely song while I cleaned his cage yesterday-although the lyrics were not entirely translatable being more like mumbling to music. Cute, though!

Miss Lola is doing pretty well. Yes, she is showing her age, but she has not lost her personality, just some of her energy and more of her feathers. Overall though she is doing well. Still adorable. And very protective of Frank. As you can see, she does not even like the paparazzi getting to him without her protection. Or possibly she just likes being in every shot, hard to say.

She is always happy to see me or anyone else, and comes to the front of the cage, or to the closest point on whatever cage top or gym she is on, to see you. Her favorite "game" has always been kissing and nodding. Which, for those of you perhaps not familiar with this, means you move your head exactly like a bobble doll, simultaneously turning it from side to side as well as making little kissing noises. And Miss Lola is exceedingly good at getting almost anyone to join her in this little dance. Possibly the attraction for her is that she makes a bunch of humans look really ridiculous. Again hard to say.

I have also been looking after my Mom's Nanday occasionally, which works out quite well since he is good friends with the quakers. He also considerably raises the volume in the room, even taking in to account the quakers normal raucous playing. But he is a sweet fellow, and only Chester really minds having him here to visit. But Chester is like that.

So overall, all is well with the South American parrots!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Linus is a new man! (er, parrot)

When I got Linus back several years ago, he had liver damage, his preen gland was malfunctioning, and he had started plucking. He also was extremely anxious. Since then, he has improved, thanks in no small part to his adopted mother Ava, but he still was a very anxious fellow. Rarely did he look relaxed- if ever I saw a parrot with an anxiety disorder, it was him. After Ava passed away this past Spring, I moved Linus into my bedroom, away from the other parrots. That helped, certainly, since I was with him a fair amount, he was in a very calm environment, but more importantly (as I did spend a lot of time with him in the bird room, too) he was with me when I was relaxing and/or sleeping, and relaxation is catchy. A bit like yawning, I suppose. But still he was extremely jumpy almost all the time.

(Just a note, this picture was not taken when he was upset-
that would not be the time to shove a camera in his face.
It does show how I often found him, though.)

This summer I did another round of herbal treatments for his liver, and this time, instead of just helping his liver, they also almost totally stopped the anxiety. Really,  about a two weeks in I noticed some improvement, and a week later it was very obvious to everyone. His panic attack moments are quite rare now, and he is now showing more of his personality, playing, eating better, and demanding attention! Instead of thrashing around when I put the food dish in (even though he has outside access doors and was in other ways semi-tame) he would just wait for me to finish, and dive in. No more slamming into the bars when the door to the room opened. And plenty of time spent relaxed, with his cheek feathers fluffed out, his crest at "half mast", and singing softly. Or loudly. He does love making noise. Seriously a lot of noise.

Now, when he is afraid of something, or wary, instead of becoming what can only be described as hysterical, he visibly makes a decision to abort, by leaning back, backing away slowly, or as a last resort flying off, or even occasionally stand his ground and hiss.

I am really amazed at his progress, up until now I just wondered if he would ever be relaxed and happy, let alone really tame. I suppose his amygdala (part of the brain that handles stress response) finally decided he was healthy enough to calm down! I have felt rather guilty about him for quite a long time, since he came back in fact; as it would be for any parrot caretaker, it was upsetting for me not to be able to help him more. I could rarely even take him to another room, or even outside in a carrier, something he did very much seem to enjoy, as he loves sitting in the sun. I really had to catch him on a very good day to do much with him. And living with that can be hard, you have to remind yourself often you are not a failure, and just keep trying everyday. While Linus might have seemed like a"difficult" parrot, much too hard for a first time caretaker, in actuality, anxiety aside, he was quite easy to tame and make friends with. That is why I say what you need most when taking on a rehome is patience and some good parrot books to help you through, not necessarily a degree in parrot wrangling. 

He is even brave enough to admit his well-loved 
cage cover is bright pink with monkey faces. 

And after all that, I now have a little buddy- happy, calm, and a (sometimes annoying) attention hog!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Miss Claudia with a bit less

Two things: one, don't worry, the white rope is much to big to choke her,
and Two, Claudia loves her platform from 
Things for Wings you see in the background! It has really helped her chronic foot issues.

When I adopted Miss Claudia she was fully feathered, and beautifully so. Since her case of asper 2 years ago, though, which started an intense bout of plucking, her plumage has taken quite a beating. At times she has had all of her feathers save for those on her neck, which she keeps bare, and at times she has been much closer to nude. Right now she is somewhere in the middle. it is a bit harder than, say, Chester, who goes through similar ups and downs (he is doing fairly well now, incidentally) as he started plucking long before I got him. Despite her current appearance, though, I really feel pretty good about Claudia right now, mostly because she seems to feel really good herself!

Claudia has never been very healthy, and was quite thin when I got her, having been force weaned and not in a home that noticed the problem, rather, they just assumed she was boring and stand-offish. Likely owing to those problems, while she is confident in many ways, she is also quite a fragile bird, so it takes quite a long time after an "incident" or illness to get her back on track: playing, foraging, exploring and flying- even eating enough on her own. So I admit I was always a bit worried she was a "good candidate", if there is such a thing, for plucking or feather destruction, and just hoped I could prevent it. Not that I thought about that too often, since a happy and healthy Claudia could easily be confused with a caique on growth hormones that fell in a paint pot. Seriously. Compare that to when she is not doing well, and just sits, or sits and begs, very little else. And with an apparently weak immune system, she can get sick rather easily.

This past Spring, she was doing pretty well, then this summer she took a down turn, and late summer starting plucking again. However, I think the plucking may have stopped again now, or at least very much slowed, but more importantly, she is eating well, everything and a lot of it, and is playful, friendly, game for just about anything, and back to her toy-destructive self. So I am thrilled!

One of the ways I encourage her to get back to playing is through foraging. I know she likes simple chippable items and things easily shredded, at least when she is in the mood to play. Right now, I could hang a toy on the moon and she would fly up there just to show it who is boss. When she is not interested, though, I make sure all of her toys are as enticing as I can, and place them almost in her way by her favorite perching spots. I also make sure all of them have a way to hide or place treats in/on them. Once she is reliably getting the treats, I starting hiding them in the toys more thoroughly, making them harder to reach. Eventually, as is the case now, she remembers how much fun destroying a toy "just because" is, and will go to town destroying them, even dropping some of the treat in the process. In fact, just taking out one of the treat containers is enough to get her to go to her toys and start destroying. And as anyone with parrots can tell you, very little is as satisfactory as coming into the room to find piles of wood chips and shreds of toys lining the cage bottom!

Currently, Claudia's favorite toy, for foraging and otherwise, is this coconut head by Planet Pleasures. You can slip nuts in the holes the ropes come out of, although by now several of the holes have no ropes in them, or even coconut fiber around them to dig through. Pretty soon, there will be nothing but a shell left!

Oh, and just to note, I did finish my to-do list from the other day! Yay!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why, hello, how are you?

Sometimes it is good to take a break, I am not sure why this is so, but it is. At least for me anyway. I am happy to see that this blog is still getting plenty of traffic, despite my absence, and I like to think it is helping someone with their parrot-related problem! I am doing better and better in my new house, health-wise and in general, a little over a year since I moved here and finally got a place that was "safe" MCS-wise for me. The parrots are likewise doing well, with any luck updates will follow, as are the dogs and cat. Also the four chickens I got last spring, that may or may not have been posted about on here before. I got them because I love chickens, and because I wanted a source of really good eggs, but it turns out if you name your chickens and give them the run of the yard to do as they please all day, they will come when you call and enjoy being petted and held, but will not be overly eager to start laying eggs. I remain hopeful.

Since I was sick this past week with a fever (with some virus I must have contracted from the mail man, since I had not seen anyone else, rather irritating) I decided this morning, as I was feeling much better, to make myself and the birds some pancakes. I love dense cakes/breads, filled with fruit or veggies and spices, and pancakes are no different, so these had chopped apple, grated carrot, oatmeal, raisins and pumpkin seeds added to the regular batter, along with a touch of clove, nutmeg and ginger. They were delicious, in my opinion anyway, a fact with which the birds mostly definitely concur! There are no pictures to prove this, however, since it was very early in the morning and as I am not a dedicated photographer like Natacha, I was not getting the camera out. Sad but true- my tea was calling, not my camera.

So now I am off to get back to work knitting for an upcoming art fair, and hopefully to finish my list of to-dos for the day: washing Gwen, re-doing Clementine's cage with fresh perches, and making up a new batch of dry mix, as well as mash for the next several days. Including the knitting that must be done, there is only a 70% chance I will finish this list. So I need to get going!