Archive for January, 2010

Bathtime Preferences

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Pippin, my lovebird, loves to bathe.  She is strictly a dish bather, as you will see below:

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Pippin never jumps into the dish to go all out with her bath.  She just gets her head wet and then rubs the wetness over her body when she’s finished.  She bathes her cage more than she bathes herself.

The two cockatiels are spray bottle bathers and they do get sopping wet if they’re in the mood.  They get very excited and open their wings to receive the fine mist.  If given a dish of water, they may go so far as to jump in the shallow dish and get their feet wet, but that’s all.  It’s just a novelty but nothing serious like a spray!

And Sam is a water dish bather – only!  It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve offered him large shallow dishes or tried to spray him.  Nothing will do.  He considers his water dish the ONLY way to decently  bathe.  He manages to stick his feet into the water bowl and get his belly sopping wet, but he never really quite gets his back wet.  Ah well…

Each one a character!

A Mutual Admiration Society

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, my cockatiel Charlie loves to sing.  He has no better audience than his next-door neighbor, Pippin the lovebird.  She is surrounded by male birds, but only Charlie has the decency to appreciate her feminine charms.  And, well, he knows she likes it when he sings, so it’s a winning situation!  Charlie is sitting on a perch outside Pippin’s cage, not directly on her cage bars.

By the way, lovebirds can be quite aggressive and nip at toes of cockatiels, but Charlie knows this and is always wary of her beak, so there’s no danger of him being injured/losing a toe.  Not all cockatiels will know this, so don’t allow your cockatiels to climb or walk over a lovebird’s or a larger bird’s cage!

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Sam and Hormones

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

I haven’t posted anything recently about my rascally parrots – they’ve been all good and healthy and happy – the way we like them to be!

Bu, as with most parrots, Sam the Jardine’s Parrot at age 7, is feeling his hormones.  This can be slightly annoying and inconvenient (to humans) to very worrying, depending on how severe the situation is.  Mary at Parrot Musings blog has had years of experience with this issue with both male and female parrots, and with both mild and severe cases.  Her blog is a must-read if you are considering obtaining a parrot.

Hormonal periods come at odd times – not just springtime into summer.   December and January seem to be peak periods for many parrots.  It’s at times like these that a lot of people owning parrots find the challenge too daunting and foreign to contend with and end up surrendering their parrots.

Since Sam doesn’t have a mate to bond with in my home, he has bonded to me.  This is a story that repeats itself all the time in parrot households.  We give our parrots our love, physically giving them head scritches and cuddles – and that  love is reciprocated,  parrot-style.   Regurgitation of food is one of the first things Sam does if I’ve been away and he wants to tell me how much he missed me!  That is exactly what he’d do if he wanted to express himself to his parrot mate.

But at hormonal times, regurgitation is often followed by what I call “the moves”:  he watches my every movement, stops playing with his toys, “whines” when I’m not near him, shakes his tail and quivers his wings, etc.  Then I know he’s got it bad and he’s a lovesick little parrot.  Not even food will break his trance!  And that is saying something for Sam, who will do almost anything for a treat.

It’s difficult to handle sometimes.  My vet tells me to simply ignore him when he behaves this way.  Another thing that helps is to withhold high-calorie/high fat treats, like nuts; and definitely withhold any soft and/or warm foods.  The soft foods make parrots’ brains go into “I must feed my mate” mode. I usually give all my parrots steamed veggies at dinnertime when I eat mine.  Sam gets raw veggies for now, and he’s OK with that.

Another must is to have Sam forage for his pellets so that he’s busy.  When he gets hungry, he has to work for it by finding it and extracting it from hiding places and unwrapping the pellets (I wrap them in paper).

Cuddling/covering his back/stroking his underbelly – all no-no’s, as these are like foreplay for the parrot body!

I have noticed that all these factors help reduce the triggers, and each day he’s slightly less infatuated.  When he’s acting normally, I can then give him head scritches and assure him I do love him.

So, day by day, we’re getting there!

But if you are new to parrots and are tempted to buy or rescue one because they’re so beautiful, they can talk, etc., please be aware that parrots are wild animals and not domesticated like dogs or cats with predictable behaviors.  Parrots  have the same instincts, but their behaviors are avian, not mammalian, and therefore can be quite foreign to us when they occur.  It requires a lifetime commitment to give them the best – through thick, thin, and hormones!  But if you can make that commitment, you and your parrot can have a lifetime of satisfaction together.

Stained Glass on Paper

Monday, January 4th, 2010

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When I visited my mother in Albuquerque, NM recently, I was delighted to discover that she still had this piece I’d made when I was a freshman in high school.  I don’t recall what stained glass this replica was based on – some medieval cathedral in Europe – but I had a lot of fun making it.

First, I sketched the piece on a sturdy piece of paper parchment.   To create an “aged” look to the piece, I used a method my freshman high school art teacher taught us:  Using a very hot iron, I “ironed” the piece until the parchment paper began looking slightly browned.  I then painted my sketch with some student-grade watercolors (many of the colors are not as vivid as they once were originally).  Obviously, this technique would not be advisable on anything you want to keep for posterity – though I have to say, despite all odds, this piece has survived pretty well for over 40 years!

The piece is somewhat dull until you hold it up to the light.  Then, like light showing through real stained glass, the image becomes vivid and pops out of the darkness.

Here is a detail of the kings’ heads:

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Chico Making Our Lives Safer

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

On my way to Albuquerque, I had a stopover in San Francisco – it was so good to see the ocean again after so long! and to be close to that wonderful city I’d roamed as a teenager.  I took this photo from my seat on the plane as we traveled south along the coast.

Upon my return to the same airport, I came across a gorgeously beautiful Belgian Malinois dog who was accompanied by his handler, Officer Jeffrey Brown of the San Francisco Police Dept of Airport Bureau.  Belgian Malinois look similar to German Shepherds, but the breed is older and doesn’t have the hip problems that German Shepherds do, according to Officer Brown.  Chico was alert and ready for action at all times (sniffing for explosives) while I spoke to his handler.  Officer Brown handed me Chico’s business card, which explains his story:

You may not be able to read the “Personal Message” easily, so I’ll transcribe it for you.  It is a quote from Mark Twain:

“Let us abolish policemen who carry clubs and revolvers, and put in a squad of poets armed to the teeth with poems on Spring and Love.”  Hear, hear!

Mile-High Beauty

Friday, January 1st, 2010
View from Sandia Mountain foothills to Albuquerque NM

View from Sandia Mountain foothills to Albuquerque NM

While visiting my mother and sister, I joined my sister and some of her friends on a walk into the Sandia Mountains foothill area just after Christmas.  The elevation of the city of Albuquerque is 5,312 feet, just above a mile-high.  We ascended quite a few more feet into the beautiful snow-covered foothills, which is a protected area.  The morning was a brisk 18 degrees F, but the sun was shining and our spirits were high.

Frozen waterfall

Frozen waterfall

Just as we came to the end of a small canyon and had to climb higher to ascend further, we came across this beautiful little waterfall, which was solidly frozen.

I loved how the water froze in these fantastic shapes:

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The last photo is of a hole in the side of the rock through which some water was trying to escape as it got frozen.

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It was a glorious morning.  By the time we returned to our car, we had worked up a sweat and felt so good after all the days of sweets and sitting.  More than that, it was wonderful to share time with loved ones and dear friends.