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.

Goofy Dog

My dog is goofy. When I fed Bella this evening, she went to her food dish, picked it up, carried it five feet to in front of her dog house, set it down and started eating. She did all of this without spilling more than ten pieces of food. I'm impressed that she did that, but I have no idea WHY she did it.

Perhaps she wanted it close to her dog house in case it started to rain while she was outside. I don't blame her for that; we've had an unbelievable amount of rain over the past week. Or, maybe she moved it so she could see Jax while she was eating. The area where their pens are in the yard allows for part of Bella's pen to be out of site of Jax's pen. This is where I normally feed her. Maybe she feels the need to keep an eye on Jax while they're eating.

This really made me think, though. I constantly find her food dish by her dog house. I've always assumed she just played with it AFTER she ate. Never did I think she was moving it to a preferred dining spot.
When I got Sydney, I thought, it'll be no big deal adding another lovebird. Same food, same toys, maybe a little bit more volume, but no biggie.

Boy, was I wrong.

I really didn't think that adding one more small bird would increase the noise level very much. I thought at most it would double. No, it didn't. It's more like the noise quadrupled or maybe even quintupled.

Sydney is LOUD. Digby and Lenore put together aren't as loud as her. She is loud and she chirps a lot. Lenore can hear her in the other room and this makes him louder. The two talk back and forth nearly all day. When Digby is on the same floor, she joins in too. And when Sydney is being particularly loud, Digby can hear her from my bedroom in the basement and will chirp back.

Do I regret my decision to add another bird? No, not at all. Sydney needed a home. So what if she adds to the noise? She's not screaming all day long, and her chirps sound pretty musical. She is cute and funny.

Higgins Worldly Cuisine

(This post is a couple weeks old. I just forgot to publish it.)

I saw a post on HungryBird about this food and thought it looked like something the birds might like. I started reading about it other places and found it was something I'd be willing to feed them, so I decided to buy some and try it.

There are eight different foods in this line--African Sunset, Creamy Zen, Inca Bean Salad, Moroccan Cafe, Mundo Brazil, Passage to India, Spice Market, and Tuscan Dream. African Sunset and Inca Bean Salad both have quinoa. Creamy Zen, Mundo Brazil, Moroccan Cafe, and Passage to India all have basmati rice. Tuscan Dream and Spice Market both have couscous.

I decided to get the birds the African Sunset food for two reasons. One, because I know they love quinoa. Two, because lovebirds are from Africa (not that that really matters--none of the ingredients originated in Africa). I cooked up half of it, added some red palm oil, and served it to the birds. Digby and Lenore both love it. I tasted it and it tastes pretty good, but I didn't get it cooked quite all the way.

I think next time I'll get the birds Moroccan Cafe, mostly because I've been dying for some Moroccan food myself. Or maybe the Tuscan Dream. I think the birds would like couscous.

Happy Easter!

I hope everybody is having a good Easter. Our Easter has been good, but wet. We have had lots and lots and lots of rain and thunderstorms this week in the Ohio Valley.

The birds got Easter baskets this morning. Lenore is the only one who is the least bit interested in his.

From left to right: Lenore's basket, Digby's basket, and Sydney's basket

Lenore quickly discovered the millet.

I wanted little wicker baskets but couldn't find any. I found these at Wal-mart last night (the last three!). They are bigger than I wanted, but Lenore doesn't seem to mind. All the baskets have Easter grass, millet, a few little toys, finger traps, and a few Nutriberries.

Sydney Cam

Sydney now has a streaming webcam, Sydney's Cam. The quality isn't too great, but I will hopefully be getting a better camera in there in a day or two.

Sydney tends to go to a top back corner of her cage whenever I go into her room. Hopefully I'll be able to catch her playing with this camera.

There is a mirror on the wall behind her cage, so that awful glare in the camera is from that.

Another Digby Update

Digby seems to be slowly starting to feel better. Last night she started putting a tiny bit of weight on her right foot. She's also playing more than she had been and sleeping less. I moved her back to her cage and to the same room as Lenore, and she is quite happy about that.

Earlier this week, I noticed that the skin on her "elbow" on her left leg was starting to get worn from her laying down on it. It was causing me to worry a little bit, so I started putting the vitamin E oil there too, and decided it was time for her to go back to her cage. Within two days of doing those things, her "elbow" looks normal.

One thing that does have me a little worried is the amount that she's preening. She seems to be preening more than usual. There are two reasons this could be, and I don't know which it is. The first is that she has been molting, but I think she is basically done now. The second possible reason is that her feet hurting have made her stressed and she preening extra because of that. Hopefully, what ever the reason, she'll get over it soon.

Taming Sydney, Part 2

Everyday since I got her, I have left Sydney's cage door open so that she can come out. Everyday she has refused. Until last night. She decided to finally come out an explore.

Taking that first step out of the cage.
The best perch ever?
Syndey is flighted, and she quickly discovered that the shower curtain rod is a great place to perch. She also thinks the mirrored wall is another room. I need to put something on the mirror to prevent her from flying into it. She was not happy when I made her go back in her cage.

I was thrilled that she decided to come out of her cage. She seemed to really enjoy the freedom it gave her. I think this means we are one tiny step closer to her trusting me.
Today is Digby's first hatchday and it also marks six months that she's been home.

Digby has come a really long way in the six months she's been with us. When we brought her home, she was on an all seed diet and didn't want us to touch her at all. She didn't want to come out of her cage and she didn't want us to get too close. She was handraised as a baby, but forgot just how much she liked humans.

She will now eat nearly anything I give her, and she will always try something I offer her. She always wants to be on me and loves it when I give her scritches. She still won't step up onto my hand or my arm unless I have a long sleeved shirt on, but we're slowly getting there. Once in a while, she will climb on my bare arm. Just the other day, she landed on my arm.

She's still learning to let other people pet her. On most days, my mom can pet her tail and touch her beak. On particularly good days, other people can pet her. But I am the only one ever who can give her scritches.

Digby Feet Update

We had another vet visit yesterday and we went to a different vet. The vet took one look and diagnosed Digby with bumblefoot. :(

For those who don't know what bumblefoot is, bumblefoot, or more accurately pododermatitis, is a bacterial infection in the foot. It's usually caused by poor husbandry, either dirty perches or incorrect perches (in birds, that is). Birds who are obese and/or inactive are prone to it. It can also be caused by poor nutrition. Birds who are immuno-compromised are also more likely to get it. It causes abscesses or ulcers in the feet and, if it gets bad enough, can infect the bone and require amputations. (Side note: Guinea pigs are also prone to bumblefoot, especially if kept on wire mesh floors or very dirty cages.)

The vet said it doesn't look too bad yet and we should still be able to get it cleared up without having to worry about long-term effects. He told us to put vitamin E oil on her feet everyday and take her back in two weeks. The vitamin E oil should loosen up the top layer of the scabs so that the vet can scrape that off to allow us to do topical antibiotics where the cuts are.

We aren't completely sure how she got it. I've done what was necessary to prevent it--clean perches and perches that are different diameters and textures. The vet at first thought maybe she came to us with it, but she didn't. I asked if it was possible that she had it before we got her and something just triggered it and made it come back, and he said that is possible.

On a positive note, everything on her bloodwork came back "perfectly normal" and her gram stains were normal as well. It looks like we're only dealing with bumblefoot and nothing else. Hopefully we can get it cleared up quickly.

Traffic Jam

I saw the most awesome thing this week.

I went out to eat with my family at a restaurant on a busy road. We were standing outside waiting for a table and all of the sudden we heard tires squeal. I looked oveer at the road and saw two cars stopped, effectively stopping traffic in that direction. When I looked around to see why they were stopped, the reason made me smile.

There was a mother duck and her eight ducklings crossing the road. Everybody waited for her to get past. The ducks made it safely across the street and down to a small stream. It made my day to know that even on one of the busiest streets in Louisville, people will still stop and wait for a duck and her babies.

Taming Sydney, Part 1

I had my first experience holding Sydney today. Let's just say that I don't think she's ever been held before.

I was faced with the task of moving her to her new cage (more on that later). I had thought about leaving her in her tiny cage until her vet visit, but I want to get it clean before using it as a travel cage. Since she flaps around when I get my hand too close to her, I had no option but to put her in the new cage.

She doesn't want me to touch her and she won't step up onto a perch, so I had to towel her. To say she hated it is an understatement. She was terrified. She could not get out of the towel fast enough. She screamed and screamed. I think before today I had never heard a lovebird really scream. It reminded me of a cockatiel screaming, which I have heard. I think it was just as loud.

As soon as I let her into her new cage, she flew to the farthest corner and stayed there until I left the room. I went back to check on her a while later and she was sitting on a perch that had been in her old cage. I've yet to see her sit on any other perches--it's only that perch and the side of the cage.

There was one good thing that came from today. When she was in her tiny cage, anytime I was in the room with her, she was clinging to one of the upper corners on the back of her cage, as far away from me as she could. But, once she settled into her new cage, she was willing to sit on her perch at the front of the cage while I was in the room. I'm pretty sure she already feels more secure in her big cage.

Introducing Sydney

A few days ago, I was contacted by somebody who found out I have birds. His mother recently passed away and left him with four birds--three cockatiels and one lovebird. He wasn't asking me to take them, but asked if I knew anybody who was interested. I told him I would spread the word about them. (Anybody in Louisville want three cockatiels?) I hadn't planned on taking any of them, but I could not get the lovebird out of my mind. I decided I'd take her.

This is Sydney. She is a peach-faced lovebird. Her exact age is unknown, but she is at least three years old.

When I picked her up last night, I asked what her name was. The answer was, "She doesn't have one." I got in the car and the song that was playing on the radio was "Sydney (I'll Come Running)" by Brett Dennen. I jokingly said, "Oh, we could name her Sydney." But then I glanced back at her and realized that the name totally fits her. She looks like a Sydney. And so, she became Sydney. (Sydney is also a good name in case she ends up being a boy.)

Sydney came to me in a very small cage, no more than 12"x12"x18". She has two dowel perches, one toy that looks very old, two hooded dishes, and a good amount of seed in her food dish. The cage is very dirty in spots and had twist-ties on the two food doors. The twist-ties had been chewed on to expose the wires. I replaced them with new twist-ties last night as a quick, temporary fix.

Her cage: it looks bigger in this picture than it actually is
She's not overly friendly, but she's not terribly unfriendly either. If I stick my hand in her cage and don't get too close, she's fine. But if my hand does get too close, she starts squawking and trying to get away. I don't know when the last time she was out of her cage was, but I suspect it was before her owner died.

Here are a couple pictures of the dirty spots in her cage (as always, you can click on any picture and make them bigger--I made these small for those who don't want to see lots of bird poop in such detail):

She tends to cling to the bars of her cage rather than sitting on her perches. I moved one of the perches to a higher spot (to where it is in the picture of her cage) and she will sit on it a little.

I have a lot of work to do with this girl. We'll be doing a vet visit. I have to buy her a new cage. She needs new food and water dishes. Especially a water dish (the guy I got her from said she sticks her head in her dish and makes a mess...obviously she needs a bigger and better water dish). She needs some new toys. I'll probably have to teach her to eat healthy foods.

It's Obvious That...

...Digby is the boss.

Digby is still in the hospital tank I've been keeping her in. I put it in my bedroom where Lenore's cage normally is. Lenore's cage is currently in the living room where Digby's cage goes. Digby's empty cage is also in the living room.

I had Lenore out and was playing with him in the living room. I opened Digby's cage door and put Lenore on it to see what he would do. He just sat there, looking at me. After a minute, he spotted a fun looking toy and started to go in the cage, but stopped and just stood there. It was as though he thought Digby would come and get after him if he went in her cage even though she wasn't in the room.

On the other hand, Digby will waste no time going into Lenore's cage if the door is open. It is probably a good thing that Lenore won't go in Digby's cage. From what I understand, female lovebirds are much more territorial than male lovebirds.

Digby's Vet Visit

Digby had her vet visit today. It went well. The vet is hoping that the cuts were caused by the new pedicure perch that had been in her cage for a couple of weeks. She prescribed an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory. If Digby does not improve, or improves but it happens again, then we'll look at other, non-environmental causes.

She had a vet tech go over husbandry and diet. We talked for just a couple minutes until it became apparent to the vet tech that "you guys know what you're doing." Her only possible concern was the perch that was a stick from our apple tree. She was concerned about possible pesticides until we pointed out that the apple tree is on our property and has never been sprayed in the time we've lived here (13+ years). It was at that point she complimented us and told us we had things under control.

The vet said that other than her feet, Digby looks good. Her feathers look good, her weight is good, and she looks to be in overall good health (again, other than her feet). We were given Baytril (apple flavored for Miss Picky Pants...we got to pick the flavor because we had to take a pill to a nearby pharmacy to get compounded) and Metacam, both twice daily. We've already given Dig one dose of Metacam and will start the Baytril this evening so that we can space it out evenly.

Digby did really good at the vet's office. She didn't try to bite the vet at all and the vet tech told us she was a really nice lovebird. Everybody said she was very pretty.

Digby Update (Again)

Digby isn't doing as well as she has been in regards to her feet.

Wednesday, Digby made one of her feet (her right foot) bleed again by picking off the scab. It wasn't much blood, but I put her back in the hospital tank. She has continued to favor this foot ever since this first started happening last week. The day before yesterday, she picked at it again and made it bleed again. It was more blood than I had seen except for the first day this happened. I monitored her closely throughout the day, and Friday she seemed to be doing better. I still kept her in the hospital tank.

Last night she started a new behavior where she would lay half way on her side. She was only doing it some and would perk up as soon as she saw me. This afternoon, I noticed she was doing it even more and the scab on her foot looks worse than it did yesterday (but she has not picked at it enough to make it bleed). She also wasn't hopping up as soon as she sees me, but she is still eating, drinking, and even playing a little.

 (excuse the dirty tank--hadn't been cleaned yet for the day)

She also seemed to be sleeping a bit more than usual. I decided it was time for the vet. I felt that if I couldn't get her in today, she would get much worse by Monday. I called a vet I knew was opened to see if I could get her in today. No such luck--the avian vet had already left for the day. They gave me numbers for a couple more clinics--both already closed. 

I was seriously starting to get upset and starting to feel helpless. What if this is an emergency? What if nobody will see her? What if I can't even talk to somebody?
We called a couple of the big places--Metro Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Services and Louisville Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Services (why we have two places here that have basically the same name is beyond me). They didn't treat birds but Metro gave us the numbers for more vets that treated birds and would have doctors on call, one of which was over the river in Indiana. One of the the vets they recommended was able to help us a little, but the avian vet from her clinic wasn't on call. She gave us the number for an exotics vet in Indianapolis, a vet that treats only exotics--no dogs, cats, or horses.

After calling around different vets for about an hour (we called at least seven just in Louisville, plus a couple in Indiana), we were able to talk to the on call vet at the clinic in Indianapolis. They talked to us and told us that it didn't sound like it was an emergency yet, as long as she continues to drink and eat. As of right now, we should be able to wait until Monday. They assured us, though, that if she stops eating and drinking, we can make the drive up there and they will see her even though we've never been there. I felt much better after we were able to talk to somebody. 

Now, we just have to wait until Monday. It's obvious that it is causing her more pain then it has been, so she will definitely be going in. I just have to figure out which one of these 7+ vets to take her to. 

I'm a bit jealous that Indy has a vet that only does exotics, but it is comforting to know that they are only two hours away from us if I do need them in an emergency. 

What I Did This Weekend

(DISCLAIMER: This post has very little or nothing to do with my pets.)

This weekend, I made cake balls! These things are amazing. I found out about them at this blog, Sugar Derby Blog, and I just had to make some.

First, it starts with a cake. I used a cake mix (Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge). Let the cake cool, overnight if possible. Then you crumble it up. Here is a picture of the cake; part of it had already been crumbled and formed into balls when I decided to take the picture.

The crumbled cake is then mixed with frosting. I used canned frosting (umm...I think it was Betty Crocker Whipped Cream Cheese) because I was feeling lazy and did not want to make frosting from scratch like I normally do. mix it with frosting and then form it into balls.

You stick the balls in the fridge for a few hours, or the freezer for 20 minutes. I did the freezer because I didn't want to wait. Then comes the fun part. You melt Almond Bark or something similar (I used vanilla Almond Bark) and you dip the balls in it. Decorate them as you go.

My cake balls ended up looking a bit sloppy (I had never made these before...the second half looks way better than the first half). I decorated them with Easter-y sprinkles.

It was a lot of work, but well worth it. These things taste amazing (if I do say so myself, my family agrees). They were quite fun to make too.

I learned a few things though. Mixing crumbled cake with frosting using your hands as recommended is very messy; using a spoon does not work though. Also, frozen cake/frosting balls contract when frozen and expand as they warm back up; thus, the coating on some of the balls cracked and where there were holes in the coating, cake started oozing out. Also, melted almond bark hardens pretty quickly once you get it onto whatever you're coating.

What Makes Me Happy

I caught Digby chowing down on a piece of carrot just now and it put a big smile on my face. She has come such a long, long way just since December when she first branched out by eating pizza. Now she will eat almost anything I give her and it just makes me so happy to see her finally eating right.