Sydney Had an Attitude Today

All of the recent spoiling has gone straight to Miss Sydney's head! She's starting to think that she's the boss around here!

It started this morning when my dad needed me to come give his motorcycle a jump start. I hadn't yet fed the birds--I hadn't even uncovered them yet. So, I uncovered them all and then started to leave without giving them their breakfast. Mind you, they all had food in their cages; Digby and Lenore had some pellets, Sydney had some seeds, and Irwin had his pellet/seed mix. Just as I was walking out the door, Sydney started chirping up a storm. She was not happy that I was leaving without giving her her mash. I assured her that I'd be back in about an hour, but she was still not happy.

All day long she's been loud and demanding. She demanded to be let out of her cage while I got breakfast ready. She wanted the TV on when it was too quiet in the house (yes, I do know that's what she wanted--she is a very easy bird to read). This evening, my mom told me that Sydney was very loud while I was gone at a Christmas party.

I got home a little after 10 PM and Sydney was carrying on because nobody gave her her bedtime seed yet. Before I realized this, though, I asked her if she was ready for bed. She did not go to her sleep perch when I asked, so that was a "no." That was when I realized that I didn't give her seed before I left. So I gave her a bit of seed, fed the fish, put Irwin to bed, got a drink, cleaned up the kitchen some, and then went back to Sydney.

She was at her food dish still, eating her seed. "Syd, are you ready for bed?" I asked her. She looked up from her food and chirped at me. I asked her again, and again she chirped at me. They were quiet little chirps, so I knew she was tired. I went ahead and covered her cage, and then she really started being loud, as if yelling at me for covering her when she didn't want to be covered. Well, excuse me, Sydney, for enforcing your normal bedtime!

Usually Sydney is ready for bed before I ask her. If any of the birds argue with me at bedtime, it's Digby. She'd stay up all night if I let her. I think Syd woke up on the wrong side of the, er, perch this morning.

Lenore Flew!

Lenore flew for the first time yesterday!

When I got him almost a year ago, his wings were already clipped, and he was never fledged. His clip was very severe, and he didn't know how to land properly. As a result, his landings were crashes, and he broke all of his tail feathers.

A few months ago, he finally got all of his flight feathers in, but he still couldn't fly. He was able to glide down much, much better, but he wasn't getting any lift. Sometimes he'd get a little lift when he first took off, but no more than a couple of feet. And sometimes he'd fly like a helicopter, up a little bit, and then down in a circle. It made me really worry and I wondered if he'd ever figure it out. It made me sad when Digby would fly across the room and he'd want to follow her, but he knew he couldn't. The past couple of weeks, I've been working with him more, trying to build up his muscles, but I wasn't seeing any improvement.

But yesterday morning I brought him upstairs with me to get the birds' breakfast ready, and I sat down on the couch in the living room to wait for their mash to cool enough to give it to them. While I was sitting on the couch, Lenore was happily sitting on my hand while I gave him scritches, and then Sydney started making a fuss. All of the sudden, Lenore took off and up. I thought he'd land on the coffee table right in front of the couch or on the floor in front of the table, but he didn't. He flew all the way to Sydney's cage! It was about 15 feet, and he flew up about four or five feet. I was so happy!

Then, Sydney started showing off her toys, and when he didn't respond how she wanted him to, she got mad at him. So he flew off her cage and this time went all the way through the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen, and landed on the far end of the kitchen on the stove (which was NOT on). This second flight was at least twice as long as his first flight, and required him to go around a turn.

I'm so proud of my little boy. Now, if only his tail feathers would regrow.
The Avian Avenue Sidewalk Sale was last weekend. I bought stuff. I ordered from My Safe Bird Store (MSBS) and from Things for Wings (T4W). My MSBS order was small, just a couple of essential things and a few extra little things. My T4W order was my first from there, all toys, and I was very excited about it.

Both of my orders came yesterday. I was expecting the MSBS order, but I was not expecting the T4W order so soon, as the store owner, Danita, gave a warning that orders would probably take a while to be fill orders. Because the Avian Avenue Secret Santa exchange is also going on right now, and Danita had said she got all the Secret Santa things done, I though maybe that's what was in the box. When I opened the box, though, it was both my order and something from my Secret Santa!

I opened both boxes as soon as I could, and I didn't bother even trying to wait until Christmas to open my Secret Santa present.

From My Safe Bird Store, I got food (TOPs Crumplets), a new food dish for Sydney (one that she can't throw on the floor), a new skewer for Digby and Lenore since theirs went AWOL, some finger traps, vine balls, and banana leaf bundles (Lenore's favorite!). The order also came with some freebies--one finger trap toy filled with shredded paper for each bird, and a soap and lotion sample from Quaking Canopy.


From Things for Wings, I got two Busy Boxes, a watermelon platform perch, a Party Explosion, a Pipsqueak, two Simple Foragers, and a Mini Gypsy.


Finally, from my Secret Santa, I got all of this:


And this clue:



From that clue (a single lovebird that isn't very good at playing), I narrowed it down to three people who were participating in Secret Santa that just had one lovebird. I then was able to eliminate one of them because she had said she was SS to somebody on another continent. So that left me with two. I was pretty sure I had seen pictures of one of those lovebirds playing, so I guessed the other one. And I was wrong!

It turns out that my secret Santa is Natacha, who has the blog Just Poifect. I had no idea that cute little Piper wasn't into toys. I was almost certain I had seen pictures of him playing, but I guess not. (Thank you again!)

With the addition of the stuff Santa Natacha sent us, the birds ended up getting pretty spoiled.

Irwin's Loot
Digby and Lenore's Loot
Sydney's Loot
I put some of the new toys in each cage today. Sydney hasn't touched her toys, though she showed no fear of her new food dish, Irwin has chewed on the cords his toys are strung on, and Digby and Lenore got right to work on one of the toys Natacha sent them--pics coming soon! (What are those, by the way? They're like the Mini Gypsy I ordered Sydney, but different colors. Is that what they are?)
The winter Avian Avenue Sidewalk Sale is coming up this weekend, and this time I'm actually buying stuff. So far, this is my list:

TOPs Crumplets and one or two food dishes for Sydney from My Safe Bird Store
Toys from Things for Wings--I haven't decided which toys yet, but I think this will be where I'll be spending most of my money
Soap from Quaking Canopy

I'm also going to let my parents know that a couple of the things on my Christmas list will be on sale this weekend. I may also add another store or two to my list and spend a little less at T4W. I'll also be ordering something for my secret Santa.

If I had an unlimited supply of money to spend, there are at least seven or eight stores I'd like to buy from, but that's just not possible, especially considering that no fewer than 4 of those stores are in Canada.

The paycheck I receive this week should be bigger than usual because of how many hours I worked last week (black Friday weekend). I also got my last paycheck from the zoo today. It was really small because it was only for one day, but I think I'm going to use every bit of it for the birds.

Palm Nuts

Last week I won a contest put on by The Cozy Nestbox. The prize was three pounds worth of palm nuts. I'd been wanting to get some palm nuts for ages, but I'd been putting it off. So, when The Cozy Nestbox did a contest, I entered. And I won!

The palm nuts came this morning. I was so excited that I immediately washed them and got Digby and Lenore out. Digby and Lenore LOVED them! I got three different kinds--Christmas palm nuts, queen palm nuts, and fan palm nuts. I got the first fan palm nuts of the season, and I'm so glad they surprised me with them. They're just the right size for lovebirds.

At first, Digby and Lenore didn't know what to do with them, so I got them started. They tasted all of them and then played with the biggest one, a queen palm nut, for a while before deciding the fan palm nuts were amazing. They fought over and destroyed the fan palm nuts. They didn't like the Christmas palm nuts quite as well, but I think they were just distracted by the fan palm nuts.

I gave some to Sydney, but she was afraid of them. I also gave some to Irwin, but he wouldn't try them.

Not too big for me!
Lenore with a Christmas palm nuts
Sharing a fan palm nut for a moment
Give it back, Digby!

Bird Toys

(I started writing this a few of months ago and just never posted it, so keep that in mind.)

After many months, I have finally figured out how to tell exactly what kind of toys Digby and Lenore will like. I'm still working with Sydney--she finally started playing with toys a couple weeks ago. I've compiled a short list of things found on favourite toys of Digby and Lenore.

1. It must have something natural that can be shredded. The current favourites here seem to be raffia and crinkle paper. Really, though, any kind of paper is good.

2. Wood is a big plus. This is new. Up until this past week, Lenore was the only one who wanted wood, and he only wanted balsa wood. But the other day, I discovered that Digby is a wood fiend. I had a wooden swing that came with a playground that was hanging in Lenore's cage for months because Digby was afraid to sit on it. When I put them in the same cage, I put that swing in there too. Digby loves it and will sit on it everyday, but she also likes to tear of chunks of wood.

3. Bells! The bells, bells, bells, bells. Both Digby and Lenore love bells. There is only one bell in their cage right now, and it gets dinged quite a bit and they fight over it. I should probably put at least one other bell toy in there. (Side note: I just referenced Edgar Allen Poe twice. Yeah, stuff like that makes me happy.)

4. Plastic pieces, preferably small and not too hard, but not too soft either. Lenore likes to just play with them, Digby likes to break them. Digby doesn't like plastic she can't break.

If a toy has any of these things, it will be well received by Digby and Lenore. Nearly all of the toys currently in their cage have something that can be shredded, and they prefer that above everything else.

Meet Melbourne or Irwin

I think I mentioned back in August that I was considering getting another lovebird in hopes of getting a friend for Sydney. It took me literally months to find a lovebird. Every lovebird ad I saw in my area and neighboring states was either for babies, pairs, or females. I found two ads that were for adult male lovebirds. I was never able to get a hold of one of the people, and the other person changed her mind (and that was a big disappointment because that bird was adorable).

Well, last week I found an ad for a lovebird that needed a home. The lady that had him did not know if it was a male or a female, and it was younger than I wanted at only six months old. I was leaning more towards not getting it, but then she sent me this picture, and my heart melted:


I still wanted to do a DNA test before committing to bringing this baby home, but the lady really wanted to find a new home before the week was out, and said she was going to sell him/her to a pet store if she didn't find a home by the weekend. By this point, I was already in love with this little bird and I wasn't going to let it slip away without at least going to see him/her. Before I even got to see him/her, I had pretty much made up my mind to get this bird.

How could I say no to this face?
So, now I'm sitting in the QT room/our unused bathroom, listening to the bird and Sydney, who is in the living room, chirp back and forth. The new bird, whose old name is Gigi and who is new name is either Irwin or Melbourne, is very sweet. He doesn't bite and he'll (I'm calling this bird a "he" until I know otherwise) happily sit on my hand once he's out of his cage. He's a little skittish because he hasn't got much attention in the past couple weeks (the lady got him for her daughter, daughter lost interest, so he was only getting attention when the lady had some free time). I really think he'll be a very sweet and loving bird in no time at all.


I'm Back

For now, at least.

I know, it's been ages since I last posted, but I need to get back to blogging. So I'm going to try to get back into this. I have a ton of pictures that I've taken intending to put on my blog and I just haven't done it yet.

I'll come back tomorrow and write an actual post with some zoo updates, but for now, I leave you with this picture:


Sydney is Houdini

I know I haven't posted in weeks. Please forgive me. I've been pretty busy. I'm getting back into riding more again, the fall semester has started, and I started a new job.

During the past few days, Sydney has become somewhat of an escape artist. It began earlier this week when my mom caught her messing with the feeder doors. The feeder doors are the type that just slide up. I never use them because I didn't want Sydney to figure out that they open. Somehow she figured it out anyway.

Within a day, Sydney made her first escape. I was just in the other room and heard her chirping. I went to the living room and saw her outside of her cage. I hurriedly got her back in her cage (I was leaving for work), and put a twist tie on the door she had used for a temporary fix. I went to work.

That evening, she managed to get out again. I had only put a twist tie on one feeder door; the other feeder door had a perch on it, so I didn't think she could get out that way. So, I put zip-ties on both the feeder doors. All was good.

But then, last night, I was sitting in the living room and she got out again! She did it when I was right there and I didn't see how she did it. I looked at her cage, and found a spot where the bars weren't evenly spaced. But, I wasn't sure if that was how she got out. Seeing as it was already late in the evening, I went ahead and put her to bed, thinking she'd stay in her cage until morning when I uncovered her and took a closer look at her cage.

This morning, though, when I walked through the living room, what did I see on the table? Sydney, sitting quite proudly on the napkin holder. She chirped at me, totally pleased that she had gotten out of her cage yet again.

I put zip-ties on the bars where I think she is getting out. So far, she has stayed in her cage, and it seems like she is looking for a new way to get out.

I'm Still Here

I'm still here and all the animals are as well. I know I haven't updated in more than a week. There hasn't been much to report.

The only thing that has really happened is on last Sunday we moved my horse to a new barn. I won't go into the reasons why. The new barn is closer to my house, and I don't even have to get on the interstate to get to it. It's a small barn (10 or 12 stalls) and very laid back. It's a nice change. There is no arena, so now I have to actually let the weather decide if I'm going to ride or anything, but the fields are perfect for conditioning for trail rides.

All is quiet on the lovebird front, well quiet except Sydney, who is always loud. I'm still toying with the idea of getting another lovebird for her, but haven't made a decision yet. Even if I had, it will take me a while to find a bird as there are very few lovies around here. I will probably finally make the decision if and when I find a suitable lovebird (male, peach-faced, preferrably a lutino, pied, or a Dutch blue, at least a couple years old).

In other news, I had to get a new power cord for my printer. My printer is on top of Pam the guinea pig's cage, and the cords are usually placed in a way that she can't reach them. For some reason, though, the power cord was not in it's usual spot, and Pam decided it looked like something nice to chew on. So, chew on it she did, until she chew right through it and left me with a power cord in two pieces.

I also have a few pictures I want to share, and a few other things I need to take pictures of so I can share them, but my camera's battery died and the charger is AWOL. I really wish I could find it. The charger for my back-up camera is also MIA, but that one isn't my fault. That camera is really my dad's camera and he just lets me use it. I suppose I could use my back-up back-up camera, but it eats batteries--a serving of 2 AA batteries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the meantime, I'm stuck taking pictures with my phone. 

Clicker Training

I decided to start doing target training with the birds. I'm starting with Digby and Lenore. I won't try it with Sydney for a while longer as I'm still trying to teach her to be comfortable around us and take food from my hand.

I actually started with Lenore about a week ago, just "charging the clicker", teaching him that the click means treat. Today, I introduced Digby to that concept. Both of them caught on to that very quickly. I also introduced the target stick to both of them today.

Lenore caught onto the idea of the target stick within three tries. He is very eager to learn and get his treat. Digby, though, is a bit wary of the target stick. A couple of times she walked away from it, a couple of times she just looked at it, and ONCE she bit it. She got a reward for looking at it, but she got a bigger reward for biting it.

Both of the birds seem very willing to learn, especially Lenore. I'm hoping that by teaching Digby this, I'll be able to eventually get her to step up onto my hand. Digby has made a lot of progress since I got her in October, but there hasn't been any change in the past few months, so maybe this will help her overcome whatever fear it is that she has over bare arms and hands. I'm also hoping I can eventually do recall training with both of them.

Sydney's Latest Thing

Sydney has developed a habit that I think I need to break her of.

She has a stainless steel water dish. It's a great dish, and she loves to take baths in it, but she has recently started looking at her reflection in the sides and bottom of the dish. At first, I thought it was kind of cute, but now it seems like she's almost obsessive about it and she will stare at her reflection for several minutes at a time.

I think it stemmed from me moving Digby and Lenore to my bedroom. I did it partly because their new cage doesn't really fit anywhere in the living room, and partly because I wanted to get Sydney into a main living space. Since I moved Sydney into the living room, she has started chirping a lot--I think calling for the other birds, though it doesn't really sound like a contact call. She has also started the reflection staring.

In light of this, I've been trying to bring Digby and Lenore upstairs to visit more often, but they don't seem to like her very much, especially Digby. Lenore is sociable with her, but he obviously doesn't like her as much as she likes him. And while Sydney tries to be friends with Digby, Digby will have no part of it. Digby gets very mad at Sydney if she gets too close.

I've also tried giving Sydney more time out of her cage than she was getting, but it doesn't seem to help either. If she's out of her cage, she looks for a reflective surface, and as soon as she's back in her cage, she goes to her water dish to look at her reflection again.

Maggie Looking Scruffy

Maggie needs a haircut.

Google Searches

A couple of new search terms came up on my Blogger statistics in the past few days that brought people to my site. I thought that, on the off chance those people stuck around, I'd answer them.

To the person who came here by searching "I just put some lettuce in my African sideneck turtles tank but it hasn't touched it. Should I be worried?" You don't need to be worried. While African sidenecks are technically omnivores, they tend to favor meat. They will eat plants and vegetables, but given the choice, they're more likely to choose meat. If your turtle is refusing lettuce but is eating fine otherwise, don't worry. And if you're new to owning turtles, or at least new to African sidenecks, I recommend reading about them at pelomedusa.com.

And to the person who came here by searching something about being an impulse buyer of sugar gliders, I suggest you do a lot of research and don't freak out. Head over to the Glider Central forum and you will find out all sorts of stuff. I also recommend going to SunCoast Sugar Gliders and doing some reading there, and sign up for their monthly newsletter (I no longer own gliders but I still get and read the newsletter every month). Gliders really are wonderful pets, but require a lot of work.

To the other people who came to me through Google or a different search engine, welcome to Chaotic Zoo. I don't have any videos of talking lovebirds, even though Digby barks and my aunt swears that Lenore says, "Digby". I do have a lovebird named Lenore, but I don't think you were searching for my bird when you Googled "Lenore". And to the person who came by searching "chaotic zoo", well, that's pretty awesome. :)

My Early Bird and My Night Owl

Digby is my night owl. She is most active in the late evening and that is when she wants to play and spend time with me. She will happily be awake and active and playing until past 11 o'clock if I let her. She prefers to sleep in past 9 or 10 most days.

Lenore is my early bird. He is up as soon as he realizes it's morning, and he wants to go to bed by 9 o'clock at night. If I take too long to cover his cage, he will go to his sleep perch and, before he shared a cage with Digby, would hide himself in his fleece blanket/tent.

Because of these two extremes, having Digby and Lenore in the same cage has been interesting, especially in the morning. The cage is covered except for one little square right beside the perch where Digby and Lenore sleep, which is placed in a way that my bed is in their view. Digby likes to watch me as she falls asleep at night; Lenore likes to chirp at me in the morning.

Every morning, I wake up to Digby and Lenore chirping and being noisy. They have a set pattern in their morning chirps and sounds. Lenore will do a series of high pitched, loud chirps, his excited it's morning chirps. Digby will answer with a noise that sounds very much like a growl. It's the noise she makes when she's irritated. The two of them will go back and forth like this for several minutes every morning. Lenore is ready for the morning, and Digby wants him to be quiet so she can continue to sleep.

Wet Birds

After getting back from Kansas Monday evening, Digby and Lenore were in their cage for no more than five minutes when they both decided to take a bath.





 
I recently got a new, stainless steel water dish for these two. It's a Coop Cup. I think it's the 20 ounce size. They love it. (Sydney has a very similar water dish, but I can never catch her in the act of taking a bath.) When I first put it in their cage, Digby went right for it. She got completely in the dish and managed to get the water all over her body and her head. Their previous water dishes, while they were a good size, didn't allow them to get completely in the water.

Where I've Been

I haven't posted in a week or so because I've been out of town. I went with my mom and little brother to visit relatives in Kansas. We got back last night.

Digby and Lenore went with us. They did great, and Lenore charmed everybody as I knew he would. Digby, being shy and reserved around strangers, didn't shine like he did, but everybody agreed she was the prettier of the two (which I don't quite get--I think they are equally beautiful). Lenore behaved pretty good and wasn't too bitey. They were very good travelers.

Maggie and Ricky went too. They were both good. I taught Maggie to stay while we were out there. I'm always amazed by how quickly she picks up new things.

It is extremely hot here. The temperature is 96℉, with a heat index of 113℉. Right now it's storming and they rain is very much welcome.

Also, Blogger looks completely weird and has a new layout and look. I do not like it.

A Train Wreck

On Thursday, my best friend sent me a text message that said, "You OK?? The train wreck around you."

I replied and said, "Huh? Train wreck? Where? That's like so five years ago." (The "so five years ago" was in reference to the train derailment that happened a mere mile or two away from my house in 2007.)

She quickly replied, "No! Now! By your house! Now!"

I rolled my eyes and sent a quick, sarcastic, "Stupid CSX," and let her know my family and I were fine.

When my friend texted me, we weren't at home and we hadn't heard anything about a train wreck. I quickly checked the website of a local news station to figure out what my friend was talking about.

It turns out there was another train derailment. We were at home when it happened, sitting on our back deck, eating lunch. We didn't hear anything. A couple of helicopters flew overhead, but because Louisville is a sizable city, that's not really anything unusual. We had no idea it had happened until a few hours later.

Fortunately, this time there were no hazardous chemicals on the train. We were not told to evacuate. The train cars that derailed were all carrying cars and trucks. This derailment was no where near the size of the 2007 derailment (which was the largest in Kentucky). Witnesses say they saw a semi-truck hit the railroad track a little while before the train derailment and CSX is currently looking for the driver of that truck.

The real kicker? It happened in almost the exact same spot as the 2007 train derailment. It was so close to the same spot that the train cars from Thursday were dragged across the road to the area that was fenced off in 2007 to hold the train cars from that derailment.

On a related note, let this serve as a reminder. Make sure you have a plan in place for your pets in case an evacuation is needed.

Maggie Mae is Hurt

Crazy dog Maggie somehow hurt herself. We aren't sure how she did it, though we think, and so does the vet, that she hurt herself by simply being the crazy, hyperactive dog that she is. Maggie will often jump straight into the air, jumping up to three feet up.

Yesterday, at one point when my mom picked her up, she yelped. My mom thought maybe she was hurt and gave her a good look over. She couldn't find anywhere that Maggie would react to when she was touched. And last night, Maggie came inside and immediately went into her crate, something she doesn't normally do.

This morning, she didn't really want to come out of her crate, and when she did, she didn't want to go outside and instead went into Ellie's crate. After some coaxing, she finally went out. A little while later, I let Maggie and Ellie back inside and picked Maggie up. She yelped again. I had my mom help me look at Maggie, and we discovered that she tensed up whenever we messed with her back legs or her stomach. We also noticed she was coughing a little, but not too bad. She also wasn't acting like herself and was very subdued.

Because tomorrow is a holiday, our vet won't be in until Tuesday, and we didn't want to wait that long to take Maggie in, so we went to the emergency vet today. The vet noticed the pain actually seems to be coming from her back, so they did an X-ray. The vet thought it was possibly a herniated disk or just a muscle sprain. Fortunately, the X-ray looked perfectly fine. The vet prescribed some pain medicine and an anti-inflammatory for the pain, and an antibiotic for the cough.

We were also told to keep her quiet for about a week. That's way easier said than done.

New Dog and Cat Food

This past weekend, we went to a pet store to get cat food. What should have been a run-in-grab-food stop turned into a much longer stop, partly because of an African grey and partly because we stopped to talk to a pet food representative.

I usually avoid talking to pet food reps. Most dog and cat food on the market isn't food I will feed. I'm very selective about what food my pets get, so I won't talk to pet food reps as a general rule. But I was quite happy to talk to this one.

The representative was for a company called "Nature's Variety" and she was telling people about their "Instinct" line. The Instinct food is a frozen raw diet. For dogs and cats, a raw diet is superior to other diets, at least in my opinion. A raw diet means giving dog or cat raw meat and bones (not cooked bones), and possibly some fresh fruits and vegetables. Given that cats are obligate carnivores, and dogs are carnivores (there is debate as to whether they are true carnivores or omnivores, I side with the carnivore side), feeding a diet high in meat is pretty important. The Instinct foods are 95% meat, organs, and bone, and 5% fruits and vegetables, with absolutely no grains. 

After talking to the pet food rep, we bought a trail size bag of the frozen chicken. In addition to the chicken, they also have bison, venison, rabbit, lamb, and beef. The frozen, raw foods are for both dogs and cats, no different food. There is also a kibble, which doesn't have quite as much meat and more fruits and vegetables, but is still grain free. There is a canned version as well, which is the same 95% meat, 5% fruit and veggie ratio as the frozen food. The company also has another line of foods called "Prarie", which has grains, but only a few, and none of the ones I avoid in dog and cat foods. It looks pretty good too.

Now, all of this is fine and good on the nutrition side of things, but if the dogs and cats won't eat it, it's worthless. So far, we've only given some to Ellie the cockapoo with food allergies and/or intolerances, and Delilah the cat who is spoiled. Delilah wouldn't eat any unless I mixed her canned food in with it. Ellie, though, quite liked it.

Met an African Grey

I met my first African grey today. I had seen greys before, but I've never gotten the opportunity to hold or interact with one. Now I want one more than ever.

We had gone to a different pet store than usual today because we were in a different part of town. Before we got to the cat food, we got stopped by a pet food representative (watch for a different post about that...probably tomorrow...I'm pretty excited). While we were talking to her, my nephew and little brother decided to go look at the ferrets. A few minutes later, my mom and I were still talking to the pet food rep, and my nephew and brother come back. My nephew excitedly tells me there is an African grey back there and he got to hold her.

So after we finished talking to the pet food rep, we got the cat food and then went to the birds. The store employees had the grey out on a playstand and were misting her. She didn't like it too much, and so she was kind of irritated when we got over there. We stayed there for a few minutes talking to her and to the employee who was with her. This grey is a Congo African grey. She was five months old. She is already mimicking noises, and it sort of sounded like she was starting to try to say words. After she calmed down a little, I got to pet her and hold her.

The employee stepped her up from the playstand and then I offered her my hand. Before I could even tell her to step up, she was coming right to me. I held her and just looked at her. My heart melted. She was so cute, so calm, so willing to go to a complete stranger. She made cute little noises. I passed her off to my mom and she went to her just as willing.

This meeting reaffirmed the fact that I want a grey, but it did more than just that. Up until meeting this grey, I wanted to get two more birds (not now, but in the future)--a brown-headed parrot or a Meyer's and a grey. But after seeing, holding, and interacting with that grey today, I think I've decided that I just want one more bird, an African grey. I'm not saying that wouldn't like a poicephalus of some sort, but I want the grey more and feel that I would be content and happy to just have a grey and my lovebirds.
Digby and Lenore finally got a cage this week. I had had a cage picked out for them, one I really liked (the Marvelous Veranda cage), but I ended up having to use the money I had set aside for a cage to pay my horse's board this month. I went back to searching on Craigslist for a cage.

I found one last Thursday. It was $30, but not as long as I wanted. It has the same footprint as Sydney's cage. It's actually very similar to Sydney's cage--both cages are roughly 24"x22"x27", but with different tops. Sydney's cage is flat on top, Digby and Lenore's cage has a rounded top, but both cages open on the top. I decided that a cage that was a little narrower than I wanted was better than none (I really want a cage at least 30" wide).

As silly as it sounds, I used pocket change to pay for this cage. I had a jar that was filled with change. After a trip to a CoinStar machine, I ended up with $37. Enough to pay for the cage without taking any cash from my bank account.

The cage definitely shows some signs of wear, including a couple of rust spots. The rust came off easily with a little scrubbing with steel wool, but I'll have to watch to watch for new rust developing. I thought about getting it re-powdercoated, and found a place locally that can do it for $75. For now, though, I'll just keep a close eye on it. The cage was used for a budgie, but the family had to move to a smaller house, and so the budgie got a smaller cage. I felt kind of bad for taking such a nice sized cage away from the little guy, but it sounds like he gets a ton of time out of his cage.

Digby and Lenore spent two days in the cage together before I let them be in it without supervision. They've now spent four nights in the cage together and have been doing great. I was a little worried that they'd want to spend less time with me if I put them in a cage together, but that hasn't shown to be the case. If anything, Digby is actually happier to spend time with me and is less grouchy. Lenore's attitude has also gotten better and he isn't biting me as much as usual. I hope this continues.

The two of them have been acting nice to each other too. Well, mostly. Lenore sometimes annoys Digby and she gets after him, but besides that they've been acting very good.

Happy Father's Day

Yesterday, my mom and I went shopping for a couple Father's Day presents for my dad. We got home and he was trying to figure out what we got him by asking us where we went. I told him we went to Kroger and he asked what we got. I told him we got apple cider vinegar and rice (our main purpose was to get a couple of cards for him).

After some back and forth with him while he was trying to figure out what else we got, he finally asked, "What is apple piper vinegar?" I corrected him, telling him it was "apple cider vinegar." He asked what I got that for. I told him I got it mostly for the birds, that I put it in the water sometimes and I use it when I sprout seeds for them, and that it's also useful for making fruit fly traps (the fruit flies have been horrible this year).

He could not understand why I would make my birds drink something like that. I told him it kills bacteria. He thought that sounded like a good idea and asked if I put it in the dogs' water too. When I told him no, he wanted to know why.

Dad: So why don't you put it in the dogs' water?

Me: It would take a lot of it because the dogs' have big water dishes.

Dad: But aren't the dogs just as important as the birds?

Me: Yes, but birds have a more sensitive immune system than dogs.

Dad: You know so much stuff about that sort of stuff that it's scary.

Me: *blank look, wanting to facepalm* Well, I am a biology major, you know?

I also pointed out to him that I just took a microbiology class earlier this year and took two different zoology classes. He just laughed and told me I had a good point.

In other news, Bella, my German shepherd, turns 8 years old tomorrow. My puppy is getting old. She has grey hairs on her muzzle.

Flock Introductions

Since Sydney is out of quarantine and has been adjusting well to us humans, I decided it was time to introduce her to Lenore and Digby. Digby and Lenore have been able to hear Sydney ever since she came home, and Lenore and Sydney will often chirp back and forth. Digby and Lenore have also seen Sydney several times now.

Because Lenore and Sydney "talk" to each other all the time, I let them meet before I introduced Digby to Sydney. Lenore really liked Sydney. There was almost zero squabbling from the two of them. They sat perfectly content on my knee for quite a while. Since Lenore likes everybody, I already expected the two of them to get along pretty well because Sydney is very laid back.

Moments after meeting (FYI, bird pictures taken with phones usually are no good)
A couple days after that, it was time for Digby to meet Sydney. I knew that if I was going to have trouble with introductions, this was where it would be. I was right. I got Digby out and let her play with Lenore for a while. Then Lenore was ready to go to bed, so I put him in his cage. I spent a few minutes with Digby by herself, then put her on the playstand. I went into the other room and got Sydney out of her cage and just cupped her in my hands against my body.

When I got back to the dining room, I sat down in the chair next to the playstand and just held Sydney and petted her. After a minute, I let her go and she perched on the napkin holder. Then Digby came and sat on my shoulder, watching Sydney. I put Digby on the table and Sydney came over to say hi. Then Digby went after Sydney! She grabbed onto her back but thankfully wasn't able to get a good grip before Sydney flew away and back to the napkin holder.

Digby came back to me for a couple minutes, then decided she wanted to go to Sydney. She walked straight across the table to where Sydney was perched and tried to bit Sydney's leg. Sydney was, again, too fast for Digby. That was the end of attempted introductions for the night. I put Digby back on the playstand and held Sydney until Sydney wanted on the playstand and I switched the birds around. The two girls sat within a few feet of each other, Digby on my shoulder, Sydney on the playstand, and they ignored each other the rest of the evening.

Feeling Guilty?

A very interesting question was raised on Avian Avenue yesterday.

The question was, "Do you ever feel guilty about aviculture?"

A lot of people chimed in saying they did and one person said they'd give up their birds if it meant that owning birds could be illegal. Only a very small number of people said they didn't feel guilty; I was one of those. Somebody said that with this question, a can of worms was opened, and I completely agree.

I don't feel guilty about owning birds. I don't feel guilty about aviculture. I really think guilty is the wrong word. I find that ashamed is a better word, and I do feel ashamed about the state of the industry and at times I even feel angry about it. There are many, many things wrong with not only the aviculture industry, but the pet industry as a whole.

I think in order for one to feel guilty about something, they have to have had a big part in causing it and have some power to either have prevented it in the first place or change it. Seeing as I didn't cause the current state of aviculture and I certainly can't change it by myself, I don't feel guilty about it. I am guilty of at times supporting it, and I am trying to get better about that. I no longer shop at big box pet stores unless I have no choice, and I certainly will never purchase another animal from a big box store. I am guilty of being part of the industry, having spent a year working at a big box pet store, and that is something I will never do again.

No, I don't feel guilty about aviculture. I can't feel guilt because I didn't cause it, but like I said, I am ashamed of and angry at the shape of the industry. There are too many birds without homes, too many birds dying too soon, too many birds being taken out of their natural environment, too many companies selling products that are dangerous or just detrimental to the health of our birds. This is not something that any one pet owner is responsible for. I think we, as a community, have helped it on its way, but I also think that the community, at least those members of the community who care about these things, are trying very hard to correct the problems caused by our predecessors in the hobby and the industry.

When it comes to my own birds, I don't feel even a tinge of guilt. All three of them are quite happy. They have everything they need, plus some. They have fresh food and water, they have a safe place to live in, sleep in, and relax in. They get to go outside sometimes. They have enrichment and foraging opportunities. They don't have to worry about predators; they seldom have a reason to be afraid of anything. They have the companionship of not only their human flock members, but also their feathered flock members. When they are sick, they are cared for.

Things aren't perfect for them, but that is what I strive for while knowing perfection could never be met. My three have never known a life outside of the type of life they have (except maybe Sydney, but I don't really know what her life was like). They know nothing about what life is like outside of being pets and companions. They don't know what they're missing, and so I don't feel guilty. I would feel guilty if they had been given that freedom and then had it taken away.

Taming Sydney, Part 3

It's been quite a while since I last posted an update about Sydney and getting her to like people.

There hasn't been much change. I've worked with stick training her a bit. She refuses to step up. If I can get her to fly off the surface she is on, she will land back on the perch I am holding. That's the best I've been able to get her to do.

Up until this past week, I haven't really done much with Sydney other than letting her out of her cage and being in the same room as her. This week though, I got brave. When I was letting her out of her cage, I didn't wait for her to come out. I reached in and grabbed her.

I had never held her before then.  I expected that I would be bit and she would struggle to get away. Not so. I discovered that I can pick her up and put her on my shoulder. I can simply hold her cupped in my hands. She doesn't struggle. She doesn't bite.

Read those previous two sentences again: She doesn't struggle and she doesn't bite. She does struggle just a tiny bit sometimes, but it's the not biting that amazes me. She is actually extremely careful to not bite me. The other day, I was picking her up and she was going to use her beak to grip my hand a little better. I would have no problem with her doing this. But she open her beak, put it on my hand, and then just as quickly removed it.

So, I tried something else. I held her in my hand with her feet on my thumb and my palm over her back. I flipped my hand over so that she was on her back. She didn't struggle. I only made her do that for a second, but she let me do it more than Lenore lets me.

I am just amazed by how she acts. She doesn't bit me, and once I pick her up, she doesn't try to get away. When she first came home, she acted like she had never been out of her cage. I don't believe that to be the case now. I think her previous owner loved her quite a bit and spent a lot of time teaching her to be nice.

I still can't get her to step up. When I offer her my hand and tell her to step up, she just sits there. I wonder if her original owner wasn't American as her son's name was José and had some sort of accent, but not Mexican. Maybe Spanish. I wonder how Spanish people tell their birds to step up.

A Job for Maggie

Our miniature schnauzer Maggie needs a job. She is a ball of energy that needs to be put to work. She's pretty good with basic obedience, though her "stay" and "heel" could use some work, especially her "stay".

I would like to get her involved in a dog sport (gee...it almost sounds like I'm talking about a kid). I'm considering both agility and earthdog. I think she'd do well in both and enjoy both of them. I did agility for a little while with Bella before she got hip dysplasia. We never got to enter a show before it became too difficult for her. I had a lot of fun doing it (so did Bella) and I think Maggie would like it too.

As for earthdog, Maggie is our squirreler. That's like a mouser but with squirrels. She is small, too, and that's something that is needed in an earthdog.

Maggie is small and fast and smart--all things that would give her an advantage with both agility and earthdog. The advantages of doing earthdog with her are that it can be done with a minimal amount of equipment and a lot of training isn't necessary. The disadvantage is that there doesn't seem to be any group in Kentucky or Indiana that does it. The advantages of agility are that there are several groups in the Louisville area that do agility. The disadvantage is that it requires a lot of equipment and quite a bit more training.

What I would really like to do with her is dock jumping, but I don't think she's much of a water dog.

Avian Avenue Sidewalk Sale

Avian Avenue, the fantastic bird forum I'm a member of, is having a sidewalk sale. They've had these in the past, but this is the first since I've joined the forum. A bunch of vendors offer sales to members of the forums.

Last week, they announced the dates of the sale. The sale will take place 10 June-12 June. Friday, they announced which vendors will be having sales. There were three stores I was hoping would participate and all three of them are.

For now, I'm just planning on stocking up on some food. If, by next weekend, I have more money to spend on the birds, I'll also be buying some other stuff. I'd love to place an order at Things for Wings, and I'd also like to try some food from Avian Organics.

I'll have to make a list of what I need to buy and what I want to buy.
For those who have been reading my blog for a while, you may remember that I had a container of Zupreem Natural pellets that Digby and Lenore both refused to eat. I wasn't too upset that they refused them as it forced me to research pellets and pick a much, much better one (Totally Organics Pellets is what I feed now when I feed pellets).

But for some reason, I had been hanging onto these pellets. Maybe I was keeping them in case of an emergency. Maybe I just didn't want to throw away food that I had spent money on and wasn't spoiled. Most of the time when I made bird bread, I'd toss some Zupreem pellets in the batter just to use them.

However, while I was in Florida, my mom threw out the pellets. She called me to tell me she had gotten the container out, forgetting about the other pellets still in the bag. She started to get some pellets out and saw something absolutely nasty.


She saw weevils in the food! I am glad that she's the one that discovered it and not me. She took the entire container outside and threw away the weevil-infested food.

Now, to be clear, I don't think the weevils are from the pellets. I think the weevils are from one of two small bags of seed mix that were in the container along with the pellets, but I'm not sure which one. The more likely one is the one that I got from a bulk bin at one of the pet stores because I had nothing else (not doing that again!). The other seed mix that was in there was...I can't remember the brand. It came in a red bag and was also bought because I needed to buy some locally (not buying that brand again either...I didn't like it anyway).

This food wasn't being used, which is why I never saw them. But the fact that there were weevils in the food grosses me out. I think I may have to start storing bird food in the fridge or freezer. 

Home

I got home from Florida yesterday afternoon. I had a lot of fun being in Florida and caring for somebody else's birds. I also decided one my first choice for a graduate school--Nova Southeastern University. I looked at a couple other schools, too. I liked them a lot, but really liked Nova.

My own birds certainly missed me (well, except Sydney, who doesn't really care much for me...we're still working on that). While I was gone, Lenore refused to come out of his cage for my mom unless Digby was also out. Digby was mostly good, but bit my mom on the ear once and made it bleed. When I got home, I went to say hi to them. Lenore came out of his cage right away for me. Digby didn't really want to at first. I think she was mad that I had been gone. Today, she is back to her happy self.

But the animal that really missed me was my cat Delilah. She has hardly left my side since I've been home. Last night, she slept on my chest. At least, I'm assuming that's where she slept. She was there when I fell asleep and there when I woke up. Even right now, she is laying beside me.

I had an awesome time in Florida, but I am quite happy to be home.

Florida

I am in Naples, Florida and bird sitting. I'm having a lot of fun. I've discovered I really like this area of Florida. This week, after I'm done bird sitting, my cousin and I will be going to the Fort Lauderdale and Miami area. In addition to bird sitting, I'm checking out colleges while I'm here.

Remember that first post about dream birds when I said that I wasn't sure I could handle a cockatoo? Well, I can. At least the smaller ones. One of the birds I'm taking care of is a Goffin's cockatoo. She is very sweet and not as loud as I imagined, though she is quite loud. It's really been a leaning experience being here and handling her.

I'm also taking care of four lovebirds. I thought any trouble I would have would come from the cockatoo. I was wrong. The only trouble I've had with any of the birds is one of the lovebirds. She is sitting on eggs right now and is understandably protective of her eggs. She has bit me five times since being here, three times she has drawn blood.

Overall though, I'm having a blast and enjoying the Florida weather (it's been raining at home) and going to the beach. Pictures to come later.

Blu's Bird Toys Order

A couple of weeks ago, I placed an order at Blu's Bird Toys. I had been dying to order stuff from them for ages, but just hadn't done it. They recently had a 9th Anniversary Sale with free shipping (I love free shipping, by the way) and 10% off the entire purchase. I decided to go ahead and order stuff.


The big thing I wanted to order, a Jolly Ball, was, and still is, out of stock. So I got a few toys (one for each bird) and toy making parts.



The first toy is for Lenore. It is the Tiny Balsa-n-Spools toy. Lenore loves balsa wood. He attacks any balsa wood he sees. We discovered this when my mom and little brother were working on a pinewood derby car for Cub Scouts. Lenore walked over to where the car and extra materials were, discovered a discarded piece of balsa, ran across the table back to me, and proceeded to destroy his prize.


The second toy is for Digby. It's all shreddable material, which she should love. It's slightly bigger than I expected. I haven't decided if I'll put it in her cage or outside of it.


The third and final toy is for Sydney. She gets a beaded millet holder. Normally, I don't give my birds sprays of millet in the cage, and so this is somewhat of an odd thing for me to buy. But, Sydney won't play with toys, and that makes me sad. My hope is that by giving her millet in what is basically a toy, she might be encouraged to play with her other toys.


I also got lots of toy making stuff. I got beads, wood, tiny baskets, cotton rope, poly rope, raffia, and seagrass, as well as a few other things.

The order also came with a couple of freebies. One of the freebies is a little basket filled with various beads and whatnot. The other freebie is a tape measure. I'm actually pretty excited about the tape measure. Why? Because it retracts! And it's pink! My current tape measure is hideously colored. It's yellow and red, and while that makes it easy to spot, it's ugly. It also isn't retractable.



I'm happy with everything I got and will definitely order from there again.

Florida Bound

I am sorry I haven't updated my blog in a week. I haven't had much to write about and I was getting ready to go to Florida. I'm currently at the airport waiting for my flight.

I'm really excited about this trip to Florida. I'm going to birdsit for a member on Avian Avenue. She has a cockatoo and four lovebirds. I'll also be checking out some colleges while I'm down there. One of my cousins is also coming down to be with me.

While I'm in Florida, my mom is taking care of my birds. I'm going to miss them. I'll be gone for twelve days.

I've got another post ready to go, I just have to add pictures to it. It'll probably be this evening before I can do it.

Who Said That?

I had just walked in the house after getting home from going out to eat. All of the sudden, I heard a quiet "squawk-squawk", with the second squawk being a higher pitch and a tiny bit longer. It was quiet for a couple seconds, then came back. The pattern repeated several times. It was a strange sound to be coming from any of my birds, but I checked them all anyway.

It obviously wasn't Lenore. It was much too quiet and the wrong pitch for him. The most likely of the other two birds was Sydney, but it seemed too quiet for her too. It seemed to be the wrong pitch for Digby for the amount of volume that would be required for me to hear when she is in my bedroom in the basement.

But, since the only bird I could complete rule out was Lenore, I stood in the hallway between the door for the stairs going down to the basement and the door for the room that Sydney was in. I listened carefully, trying to figure out which direction it was coming from. When I heard it again, I realised that, no, it was neither of them.

The only other thing I could figure out was that it was a bird outside. But the sound was so obviously a parrot sound. Had somebody's bird got outside? So, I stepped outside, worrying a little that it might actually be a lost pet. I heard nothing. I thought perhaps the bird had already moved on.

I went back in the house and was greeted by the sound again. My little brother informed me the fan was squeaking. I dismissed him; it didn't sound like a squeaky fan. After going outside once again, I came back in, giving up. I went into the living room and sat down with my computer. But then I heard it again! Louder this time, and much less psittacine sounding. It sounded like it was coming from the fan. I stopped the fan's oscillating and the sound stopped.

Sprouts

I don't know how many times I've tried to convince Digby and Lenore to eat sprouts. The best I've been able to do is get Digby to eat quinoa sprouts. Lenore ignores all of them.

A few days ago, I decided to try sprouts again. It has been a couple months since I last tried. I did my usual sprouting mix of quinoa, mung beans, adzuki beans, and lentils. I also added a couple new seeds--rice and Kamut. Currently, the quinoa, mung, and lentils have nice size sprouts between 1/4" and a 1/2". The rice and Kamut have tiny sprouts. Most of the adzuki have yet to sprout at all.

I went ahead and gave all three of the birds some sprouts tonight. I picked out the adzuki beans since they aren't ready to feed. I handed Lenore a lentil sprout while he was out and he started devouring it. So, I put some more sprouts in his dish and put him in his cage for the night and he chowed down on his sprouts. I put some in Digby's dish as well, and she ate some too, though she picked through it and only ate the quinoa. I also gave Sydney a little. She hasn't tried them yet.

I guess I'll be happy with just having one sprout eater for now. If Lenore will eat them, then I just have to feed both Digby and Lenore together and Digby will probably eat them as well.

"Digby's the Mean One, Right?"

Let's get something straight. Digby is not mean. I am so sick of people saying, "Oh, she's the mean one, right?" I'm left with a confused look whenever they say this. My dear, sweet Digby is not mean. She is, however, shy and a bit picky about things. If you try to do something she doesn't want you to, she will warn you. If you don't listen to the warning, she will bite you.

Digby is very clear when she gives a warning. I don't think a bird could get much clearer than opening the mouth and growling. If she does this, do not mess with her anymore, at least for several minutes. Chances are she will not let you touch her anywhere other than her tail, she will probably not let you scratch her neck, and she WILL NOT step up onto your finger. These are Digby's primary rules: (1) Don't touch me unless you first ask me and I give permission, (2) Don't point your finger at me unless you tell me what you are doing, and (3) I will not step up onto your bare skin or your finger.

Everybody in my family knows these rules. They all know that she would rather bite than to step up onto a finger. They all know that she is very picky about who pets her and how. These are not a product of her being mean. These are because she is shy and sometimes grouchy. Even I don't mess with her when she's in a bad mood.

Seriously, does this look like a mean bird to you?




Do you have a plan for your pets if there is ever an emergency?

I feel it is important to have such a plan should an evacuation be needed or if there is ever a natural disaster. Having a plan for an evacuation will more than likely also be a plan that can be used in other circumstances. Years ago, I thought the only people who needed evacuation plans were those who lived in areas prone to hurricanes and similar things. However, disasters can happen anywhere and an evacuation can be necessary for anybody. I learned my lesson in 2007 when a train derailed very close to my house. Because the train was carrying hazardous materials, an evacuation was necessary. Since then, I've made an effort to be at least somewhat prepared.

The first part of an emergency plan is figuring out a way to transport pets if the need arises. In my case, all three of the birds have travel cages. I have a carrier for the guinea pigs. Our three little dogs all have crates that can be easily carried. We have carriers for the cats as well. The big dogs have crates too, however, they would be difficult to use for emergency transport, but they are okay being without a crate. The travel cages and carriers are kept in easily accessible areas. Right now, I do not have designated carries for my turtles or bearded dragon, however it would be very easy to find something for them in an emergency.

The second part is food. This is where dry food for all the pets comes in handy. It would be difficult to keep fresh food on hand and ready to go if there's an emergency. For the birds, I make sure I never run out of seeds or pellets. The same is true for the guinea pigs and the turtles and their pellets. I have some freeze-dried crickets set aside for my bearded dragon. Dog and cat food is easy as well; both the dog food and the cat food is located by the door.

The next thing is a plan in case the electricity goes out. Unless it is winter or in the middle of the summer, the mammals and birds will be fine--they don't rely on anything like that to keep them alive. The reptiles are harder as they are cold blooded and need heat. I keep Hot Hands for using in an emergency. These things warm up once you open them and stay warm for hours.

The final thing is to make sure to have any paperwork that might be needed ready to go. This includes vet records, emergency vet contacts, any medications needed, and general information on each animal. Personally, I have a binder that has all of the information I could need on my pets, excluding the dogs and cats. For the dogs and cats, we have a folder for all of their information. The information that is kept on hand needs to be kept up to date. I'm also in the process of making electronic back-ups to save online.

Pam and Digby

Digby has become very curious about Pam lately, and Pam is just as curious about her.


Just a second after I got this picture, Pam put her nose on Digby's foot and Digby put her beak on Pam's nose. Both of them spooked and Pam ran into her house and Digby flew off.

A Stroke of Genius

Okay, so remember my post from yesterday, the one about the sweet potato-quinoa mix? Remember how I said it wasn't really a stroke of genius, just a good idea?

I WAS WRONG. It was a stroke of genius. Want proof?


That, my friends, is not Lenore's dish. He is the only bird who eats all his food most of the time. It is not Digby's dish either, even though she sometimes eats most of her food.

This is one of Sydney's dishes. Earlier in the day, it had the same sweet potato-quinoa mix that I blogged about yesterday, with some seed added. Sydney, a.k.a. a big time seed junkie, ate almost all of her food, leaving just a couple of half eaten pieces of Kamut and a lentil. This means she ate not only the seeds I mixed in, but she also ate all the quinoa. She ate all the collard greens, all the green bell pepper, all the squash, all the jalapeno pepper, and all the sweet potato. She ate almost all the Kamut. She even ate nearly all of the lentils, which Digby and Lenore have been leaving behind.

I am so excited about this! Sydney has refused so many foods. But for some reason, she ate this brand new food today and she ate all of it! *Does a happy dance.*

Dream Birds, Revisited

Remember this post, the one where I listed four birds that I would love to have? After some more thought and reading, I think I now have a better idea of what I want. So, here's the dream bird list revisited.

#1 is (still) an African grey. This isn't going to change. This is still my number one dream bird, the bird I know I will someday have.

The rest of the list has changed completely. Yes, I would still love to have a quaker, a cockatiel, and a white bellied caique, but I've decided that those aren't my what I envision my dream flock consisting of. So...

#'s 2 through 7, in no particular order at all, are any of the six commonly kept species of the Poicephalus genus (not including the Niam-Niam, Yellow Fronted, or Rüppell's). I want a brown-headed, a Senegal, a Meyer's, a Jardine, a Cape, or a red-bellied; right now, I don't know which one. I mentioned in that previous dream bird post that I was "this close" to getting a brown-headed parrot. Ever since I had that opportunity, I can't stop thinking about any of the Poicephalus parrots. I read about them a lot and I'm having trouble liking just one of them.

I don't plan on getting another bird until after I get my bachelor's degree. I'm pretty sure it will be a poicephalus. I just don't know which one.

A Little Bummed

I'm going to New Jersey and New York with a few friends in August. I'm pretty excited about going. I've been wanting to do a road trip for a while. My best friend and I are going up to New Jersey and meeting with a couple of friends from school. We'll be going to Six Flags and a couple other places, and we'll be spending a day in New York. We might also make a detour to Washington, DC on our way up there.

I'm not big into shopping, but my friend is. So, while we're in NYC, we'll be shopping (boring...) and there is one store I want to go to. That store is Fauna. Fauna is a pet store that has a ton of bird stuff and saltwater fish stuff (my two loves when it comes to animals). HungryBird did a virtual tour on her blog back in March and I've wanted to go ever since. I causally mentioned this store yesterday and my dear friend looked at me like crazy. *sigh* She just doesn't understand.

A New Bird Food

I don't often blog about the various foods I make for the birds. I tend to do a post when I buy a new food, but not usually when I make something. But, today, I'm sharing a food I made because I'm pretty darn proud of it.

It started on Thursday when I made some quinoa with veggies and lentils for the birds. Lenore loved it, as usual, but for some reason, Digby didn't want to touch it. I was a bit confused as she almost always eats quinoa foods. So, I added seeds to hers to try to get her to eat it. It worked a little--she picked out the seeds and ate some of the other stuff in the process, but she was still not eating it for some reason.

Yesterday I bought a sweet potato for the birds. I've given them sweet potato only once or twice previously and they hated it, but I decided to try it again. Last night as I was getting ready to give them the last of the quinoa, I had a stroke of genius (okay, maybe it wasn't a stroke of genius, but I hadn't previously thought of it). Why don't I cook the sweet potato and mix it in with the quinoa? There could be no bad outcome as I already expected Digby to refuse to eat the food anyway.

I popped to sweet potato in the microwave to cook it. When it finished cooking, I sliced off about a fourth of it. I mashed it, mixed it with the quinoa dish, sprinkled some seed and pellets in it, and dumped a bunch of cayenne pepper in it. I was expecting rejection from both the birds, but especially Digby.

I put Digby's dish in her cage and she immediately went to it. She started to reach in with her beak in preparation to chow down without looking, but at the last moment, she caught sight of the food. She froze. She looked at it carefully before slowly lowering her beak to pick out a seed. I sighed, knowing she was only going to eat the seeds. I left the room for a couple of hours. When I came back, I found Digby's dish almost completely empty! All that was left were the pellets. I was so happy that she ate it! Lenore ate most of his as well.

Today I had to make some more bird food. I made more quinoa and added some Kamut, collard greens, about a third of a green bell pepper, a jalapeno pepper, some yellow squash, and some lentils. I took the remain three-fourths of the sweet potato and mashed it and mixed the new quinoa mix in it.

(Excuse the crappy picture...I'm horrible at food photography)
I am quite happy about this. It's something totally new for the birds and they love it.
"It Will Only Grow the Size of its Tank": This statement is a lie. Do not believe it. I don't care who tells it to you, but it is a lie. Most people who say it aren't saying it as a lie, but are misinformed about proper husbandry and diet.

I hear this a lot with fish and reptiles. "Oh, just put the oscar in a 10 gallon aquarium and he won't get big." Or, "You can keep an iguana in a 55 gallon aquarium just fine because they won't grow to big for the tank you keep them in." When I worked at Petsmart, customers would ask me if this were true. I would tell them no.

The fact is the amount an animal will grow is not controlled by the size of its environment. It is controlled by genetics and the nutrients and such available in the environment, not the size of the environment. The stress of being in a small enclosure WILL limit an animal's growing potential, but this is not something you really want. The animal will be stressed and unhappy. It will probably live a shorter life.

With fish, the water quality also comes into play. If you keep a goldfish in a bowl with no filtration, the water will be nasty. Goldfish produce a lot of waste. Even with daily water changes, the water will have some ammonia and nitrates in it almost all the time. This is unhealthy for the fish and stresses the fish, making it slow non-essential body processes. However, I'll point out that a goldfish in a bowl that has daily water changes has a better chance of living a longer life and getting bigger.

Fish also secrete growth hormone inhibitors. In a small tank, these inhibitors build up faster and the fish's body production of growth hormone is inhibited and growth slows or stop. In a larger environment, the fish isn't exposed to the growth hormone inhibitors as much as it is in a small environment.

There are several reasons that a fish might stop growing that would cause people to blame it on the size of the aquarium. The first is the growth hormone inhibitors that I mentioned. The second is underfeeding. The people who tend to think they can keep big fish in a small aquarium to keep the size down are usually new fishkeepers who haven't done enough research. They also tend to underfeed their fish, leaving the fish malnourished. The third reason is the water quality, which I alluded to with the goldfish in the bowl. Ammonia and nitrates will build up; both are poisonous to fish. There are several other things that come into play when a fish is growing.

As for reptiles, it really comes down to husbandry. This includes not only the enclosure, but also the diet and the environment they are kept in. Diet is a really big part of what determines a reptile's growth, as it does for any animal. Given only enough food to survive, but not grow and thrive, growth will slow a lot. However, given enough food to thrive, the reptile will continue to grow even in a small enclosure. Like with fish, people who believe that they can control an animal's size by giving it a small home are often inexperienced and uninformed or misinformed about diet and proper husbandry as well.

With any animal, growth potential is controlled by genetics. In humans, if you have two tall parents, their children will be tall as well, provided they are healthy throughout their growing years and don't have any disorders or anything that inhibits growth. However, if two tall parents have a child and the child is malnourished, the child will not grow to his or her full potential.

Though we humans like to think we have control over so many natural things, we don't really have as much control as we believe. Simply putting a fish or reptile in a small aquarium does not change genetics and magically make the fish or reptile grow smaller; the animal is simply not growing to its full potential and is not thriving. We can, however, somewhat shape the size through years and generations of breeding, but it will not happen just by providing a small environment.

Lots of New Bird Stuff

In the past week I've been making a lot of bird stuff. It started with the storms that came through here the week before last and knocked off some branches from our apple tree. I decided I'd make perches since the birds, especially Sydney, need more perches.

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So far, I've only given some to Sydney. She really likes them. Which is awesome because she hardly likes anything.

Then the broken branches gave the inspiration to make a hanging playgym-thing for Digby. I thought the idea was a good one, but was fairly sure she'd be afraid of it. She's not. She loves it! I'm planning on adding a couple toys to it as well.

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I also have been wanting an orbit or atom or oddball or something like that. I saw a post on Avian Avenue about making one with instructions. I borrowed the idea, using the directions, but I used jute instead of cotton rope. None of the birds have gotten a chance to use it yet.

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From the orbit, I got the idea to make a swing for Sydney. I think this is my favourite thing I made. She hates it, of course, but it's staying in her cage because I really like it. Sydney will just have to deal with it.

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After I finished my orbit, I decided to make a quick, simple toy. It is just very simple and will probably be destroyed within two or three days when I give it to Lenore.

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I also have one more thing in the works. It's pretty big and I'm really excited about it. Now, if I could just find the drill bit I need...

My Little Mimic

I know a lot of lovebirds don't talk or mimic, but Digby is well on her way to doing just that. She barks when the dogs bark. It is high pitched and a bit squeaky, but it is obvious that is what she is doing. She's done this for a couple of months, and I just can't get a video of her doing it. It is super cute when she does it though.

There is also a word that she says. At least, I'm pretty convinced it's a word she's trying to say. It's a two syllable sound with the emphasis on the second syllable. I think she's trying to say "Digby". She will sometimes do this sound whenever we say her name.

She also sometimes just plain copies sounds or noises. She can't do it perfectly, but she tries. Often, she gets the infliction perfectly, but the sound itself isn't quite right. Last week, Shadow was intently staring at Digby's cage so I said, "Get!" Immediately after I said, Digby made this short noise that sounded like she was trying to say "get". Last night, we were watching a bird video on YouTube, and she copied a noise that the bird made. Tonight, I was making a kissy noise at her and she was making a similar noise back at me.

I really think she is trying to talk and mimic sounds. I need to get a video of her doing these things, but of course she doesn't do them whenever I have a camera ready.

Sydney Got a New Camera!

Sydney got a new camera today! The quality is much, much better. Here's the link for her cam: Sydney's Cam

Some New Pictures of Digby

Digby was being rather photogenic yesterday. Here are some pictures I got.

I managed to get three pictures of her flying. 




And a couple pictures of her about to take off.



And one of her just being pretty.


 Oh, and look at that last picture carefully! Click on it to make it bigger if necessary. Digby is doing something she hasn't done in a while. She has both feet on the perch! She's actually starting to put some more weight on her right foot again. :D

Impulse Buying

There is something about the pet industry that drives me crazy and makes me super mad. And that is how so, so many places and people push impulse buying.

I'm the kind of person who spends weeks to months (or sometimes years) researching an animal before I get it. This is a really good thing to do, especially when you're talking about exotic pets. There has been more than one occasion where I was considering getting a new pet and decided against it after I researched them. Obviously, no amount of research can prepare you completely for the real thing, but it is so much better to at least have an idea of what you're doing before you do it and to make sure it's what you really want.

And so whenever I see somebody selling an animal by encouraging impulse buying, it really makes me mad. More than likely, the buyer has no clue how to care for their new pet, and what little information they got from the seller is probably wrong.

One of the most common places for impulse buying, at least in my area, is flea markets. I've seen everything from sugar gliders to birds to puppies at flea markets. My sister-in-law told me that there is an African Grey at a weekly flea market in one of the suburbs. When you see these animals at flea markets, they are kept in cages that are far too small. They are subjected to the stress of hundreds of people walking past them and the loud noises of the crowd. They are exposed to harmful things, anything from a bacteria that could infect them to poisonous fumes. Oftentimes, they have to share their already small cages with another of their same kind. The person selling the animal treats it like any other non-living ware, not bothering to make sure a good home is found.

Another place that I have seen this happen is at malls, particularly around Christmas time (FYI, pets do not usually make good presents, but that's another subject entirely). Just locally, I have seen hermit crabs, African dwarf frogs, and even sugar gliders. The hermit crabs didn't bother me too much, other than the cages that are sold along with them are much too small, but hermit crabs are pretty easy pets (at least in my experience). The African dwarf frogs that were being sold one Christmas season made me pretty mad. They were being sold in containers that held no more than two quarts of water. The seller was telling people the frogs only needed to be fed once a week and the water only needed changing once every six months. I was appalled.

The mall pet kiosk that really made me mad was the one selling sugar gliders last Christmas. They didn't even have the decency to call them sugar gliders, but instead called them "sugar babies". When I saw this at the mall, I couldn't even make myself walk past that kiosk. I very likely would've gone off on the seller. I would probably have yelled at him. I was tempted to slap him without even going close. Sugar glider welfare is very close to my heart, having rescued and rehomed more than one glider, so I would not have been able to hold my tongue if I had gotten close to that kiosk.

Fortunately, the sugar glider selling at the mall didn't last long. While I was at a local pet store, two cops were in buying some fish and I overheard their conversation with one of them employees. They were talking about the sugar gliders at the mall. One of the cops told the employee that they were trying to shut it down. When I went back to the mall a week later, there were no sugar gliders to be seen.

The last place that I've noticed encouraging impulse buying shouldn't be a surprise. If you're reading this blog, chances are that you've been in one of these places where the most impulse buying occurs. What place is this? Pet stores. Pet stores are among the worst, if not THE worst offender of encouraging people to make impulse buys. A family walks into a pet store, possibly looking for a new pet or maybe they're just buying dog food. The kids see a hamster. "Aww, isn't he cute?" the kid says. "Mommy, can we take him home?"

This happens everyday in pet stores. The family will take home their new pet, plus everything the pet store tells them they need--food, cage, bedding, toys, and so on. Pet stores know very well about the power of impulses. They know a new pet owner will not only but the animal, but will likely buy whatever else the store tells them to because the new owner probably doesn't know much about his or her new pet. After all, the profit isn't coming from the hamster--it's coming from everything else that they family buys that the hamster needs.

So, please, for the sake of animals everywhere, don't buy an animal on impulse.