Monday, April 23, 2012

Baking, Cooking, Eating, Repeat

This post approved by Frank. Barely. Scraped through by just this much. Seriously, Frank? 

So, been a bit since my last post. I am once again getting treatment for Lyme disease, seems every other tick bite I get develops that tell-tale rash- granted, my body is very susceptible, but in my body's defense it is very common in Virginia. This one I let fester too long before connecting the dots, though, so I got rather sick. Oh well, getting back on track now!

Anyways, I thought I would do something rather different for this post- healthy people/bird recipes. Whatever diet you feed your parrot, everyone likes some treats, right? And why have those treats be unhealthy? And further, if you are going to go to all that trouble, why not share the treats?! I love baking and cooking for myself or the parrots, and since I have to keep to a strict diet, the recipes I use for myself are usually very good for parrots as well.

I made up a second recipe using the Avian Organics fruit powders, 
which is also a delicious one to share! 
You can read it here- After School Apple Snack.

To prove my point, I pulled up four recipes online to post. With such good directions (and mouth-wateringly motivating pictures!) I think anyone should be able to give these a try. I have linked to the recipe in the title, and put some helpful notes for any good conversions, either for simplicity (no excuse not to make them!) or health reasons. These are not the typical bird recipes, full of pureed vegetables of all types (not knocking them, though!), but still quite healthy and delicious for you to share! And for picky birds, that can make all the difference.

No’Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
You can replace the sunflower and pumpkin seed with any nuts you like, if you do not happen to have these on hand. You can also replace the coconut flour with any flour you have, and if you do not have tapioca starch corn starch would also work. I do not use vanilla extract, and you can just replace that with an equal amount of any liquid, water or juice. And finally, at the bottom she notes how she replaced the honey in the recipe, if you are not comfortable using honey, take her route. You can leave out the Stevia, it is for your own sweet tooth if you leave it, not theirs. From my research it is safe (note- I do not trust truvia because of additives), excluding any additives some brands have.

Quinoa Crunch
This one is pretty straight forward, leave out the salt, stevia optional if you want it. But very healthy, no? And simple!

Simple Yeast-Free, Gluten-Free Flatbread
Now I love this one, so inventive. It is again pretty straightforward, leave out the salt (salt your own portion after baking, if you wish) and give it a go! You could serve it with smashed sweet potato, butternut squash, or fruit puree (organic baby food is good if you really dislike preparation) as a topping.

Savory and Sweet Crackers with Almond Flour
Now who doesn't like crackers?? That crispness lives in my dreams, seriously! I love crackers. Crackers..... Ehem, to the point- you could use any flour here, although I recommend anyone get some good flours to boost nutrition, such as nut flours and coconut flour. Chickpea flour, quinoa flour, amaranth flour, teff flour, the list goes on and one. But if all you have is oatmeal, grind that up in your blender or even a clean coffee mill and use that! Again, leave out the salt.

You can also go through these blogs, and others, for more healthy recipes, there are literally millions out there. Better for you, good for your parrots, win-win situation. And on this damp, cold, rainy, grey, and also quite wet day (there is not even mud any more, just wetness), what could be better than some baking?

Frank is terribly excited because he is now a proud member 
of Fagan's Little Green army- aka, Susan at 
Oliver's Garden latest contest for green/mostly green parrots.
Why not enlist your green pal, if you do not have facebook
just email her!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Just a Note

Hopefully everyone that is celebrating a holiday this weekend has a good one. I have some family coming over today, but since so many here are hormonal, I do not think they will appreciate the company. I suppose that is only fair, since the company is unlikely to enjoy the parrots, either. I will be well satisfied if there are no casualties, and everyone leaves with all digits, noses, and without the need to use an ear trumpet. The little things in life, folks, that is all you need.

Oh well. I think I will make them a special treat, some banana-pumpkin bread, and that they certainly will enjoy. After all, can you expect them to be at optimum annoyance on regular food? No, not at all, not at all.

Also, I was happy this week to be asked for permission to re-print one of my previous posts at the new blog by Elaine Radford, peachfront, so maybe my post in its "new- larger size!" audience it will help someone, or at least that is my hope!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Friends? Pretty Please?

Despite the fact that I do like to keep my birds in pairs, something that will always carry inherent risks, I consider myself fairly cautious about allowing any of my parrots to be together. Then again, since many people, such as one of my past vets, think keeping birds together at all can be quite dangerous and should be preferably avoided, maybe I am actually a reckless caretaker. Who knows. What I do know is that whatever the risk, my birds are much happier with friends. There have been disasters before (think Peter and Ava) but I just cannot really regret the situation which allowed the fight, and though I can hardly speak for any of my birds, I am not sure Ava necessarily regrets her life up until he flipped, either.

Let me be clear- I do not think anyone should get a parrot they do not want. Before getting any parrot, any bird at all, you need to think through how it could change your household, as well as how it definitely will; costs, mess, etc, are things that will always be there, at least. I mean really think about it. When I say a friend for your parrot is a good idea to consider, I mean it is a good idea to consider AFTER you have already decided to get another parrot. If you have decided another parrot is something you are prepared for, it is then I strongly recommend looking at the option of another of the same species.

However, I do not just throw any birds together and hope for the best. There are many fine people in this world, even some I admire, that I would likely try to kill (assuming my hatred of violence suddenly dissipated) were I forced to live with them. Sad fact. I see no reason why we should think animals, and in this case parrots, are any different. It is somewhat easier with flock parrots, like budgies and some conures for example, as they are small enough to have a fair amount of room in a standard flight cage and are pretty good at getting along with others though they may not be their heart's desire- think roommates. Contrary to popular opinion, though, many parrots do not naturally stay in flocks, and would in the wild spend most of their lives just with their intimate family- their partner, chicks, and not-quite-mature young. This means they do not generally take kindly to the idea of a roommate, since all they are looking for is "the one", so to speak. And, getting back to the first sentence in this paragraph, you can understand why getting another parrot, even of the same species and opposite sex, and expecting them to be "best best!" friends can be quite chancy. They may, and they may not. You have to be prepared for either outcome.

Yes, this has picture been posted before, 
but if you do not think it is cute enough for a re-post.....
there is just no hope for you.

I am perhaps more fortunate than the average parrot caretaker in the ability to search and find friends for my parrots. Since I foster, if I think one of my foster parrots might work out with one of my own, I can introduce them after quarantine and find out. Obviously, this is not an option for everyone, but it may be more of an option than you think. If there is a rescue near you that fosters out, such as Phoenix Landing, you may be able to try this for yourself. If the foster does not work out, you are still helping them get to a wonderful home. If fostering is not an option, carefully evaluate your parrot. Do you know whether they were ever socialized with other parrots, particularly those of their own species? Were they hand-fed from a young age? Do they play well on their own, or are they severely attached to you or another person? What is their general personality, and what personality do you think would mix well with them? These questions, save for the first two, are just guessing, but they will certainly improve your chances rather than a shot in the dark.

Frank was not socialized, was totally hand fed, and is a hyper active, very sensitive (formerly often depressed) special dude. Lola seemed a good match. Because of Frank, I had to decide what seemed to work and try it over several months, since Frank was not going to be able to make friends quickly. And yes, I was prepared to have a second quaker he could not be with. Back to Lola- she was older, calm, confident, and somewhat maternal. Most importantly, she knew she was a bird, and (shocker!) a quaker at that. I was hoping watching another quaker would help Frank, I could hardly imagine both how close they would become, and more surprising still, how much it would help Frank; he is a totally different bird now, and clearly very happy.

Clementine has quite surprisingly become good friends with the ekkies. She has been around many different birds throughout her life, including several other greys, but she never took to any of them and would attack if they got too close. Therefore, I was not planning on allowing her out with any of my parrots, even when she showed such interested in the ekkies, and they seemed to return her long-distance friendship. Chester took an almost immediate liking to her from across the room, which considering he has an even worse attack bird history, is very surprising. After several months of talking to and mimicking each other from their respective cages (and turning the bird room into a real college cafe in the process, seriously) Chester stole over to Clementine's cage one time when I was [practically standing on my head in a very unique and previously unknown yoga position] cleaning his own cage. Needless to say, I was a bit stunned to turn around and find him feeding her through the bars. I also lifted the ban on time out together, so now all three play quite happily on the play gyms and tree! You just never know, do you?

By the way, I do not recommend ever allowing one bird to "corner" another,
as in this picture, even if they are getting along. There should always 
be an escape route. Below the bottom of the frame 
is another perch Clementine could easily reach, 
but I moved her anyway after shooting this, just to be safe.