Archive for September, 2010

Steve Is Home!

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

It was a grueling 3-flight journey from Mary and Thomas’ home to mine, but Steve and I made it in pretty good shape.  We are, however, pretty bushed.

One thing that was very special and very touching to me happened about halfway during our 2nd leg – and the longest at 4 hours.  Airline regulations stipulate that you must keep the pet inside its carrier at all times and under the seat in front of you.  Since Steve was obviously carefully planning a break-out from his carrier (he’d already chewed open a corner), I brought his carrier onto my lap, whereupon Steve rubbed his head against the stainless steel mesh, soliciting a head rub. (For anyone not familiar, a parrot soliciting a rub to its head is being extremely trusting  – it is a most vulnerable part of the parrot’s body and only trusted birds or humans are allowed to “preen.”)

I thought, “Wow!  Can this be happening?”  I zipped open a corner of his carrier, inserted my hand, and began rubbing his head.  Steve fluffed up and just  melted.  He became very soft and vulnerable.  He wouldn’t let my hand go for the rest of the flight.  Any time I had to withdraw my hand, he’d gently tap it with his beak, his way of asking me not to stop.  I felt humbled by his trust and his decision to be vulnerable.  I guess his need for the sense of touch and belonging overcame his nervousness.  I doubt that his first owner ever rubbed his head.

While we waited for 2 hours for my last short flight, head rubs were still wanted.  I felt so happy for Steve about this leap forward!   And to Mary and Thomas, deep thanks for saving this guy from being euthanized, giving him such a wonderful chance, and bringing him to a point of such amazing progress that he could be sent to me.  I’m so grateful.

Only A Few More Days…

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

till my rescue parrot arrives!  He has been fostered for a few months by a dear friend and has  made amazing progress during that time.

As you can see, my Jardine’s Parrot Sam seems to approve of the set-up and has christened the playtop with several poops.

And here he is giving me a winsome look:

I’ll be traveling half-way across the US on Wednesday to pick up my new charge.  I will post more later once I return!

Fall Rains Begin

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Rain-washed Madrone Trunk

Although Fall is not officially here till next week, it has arrived with some gentle rains that are soaking into a very parched landscape.  Unlike northern Oregon, which receives lots of rain throughout the year, southern Oregon has a summer like most areas in California:  very dry.

There are many madrone woods near my home, and I love how the rain brings out the intense colors of the inner bark (the lighter tan) and the darker outer bark that is currently shedding in long strips everywhere.  The madrone above went through quite a fire but grew new bark around the dead part.  It has amazing regenerative powers.

Another Madrone trunk

No two madrones look alike, though they share basic characteristics.


And then there are the mosses – give them a hint of rain or moisture, and they spring back to life.

I hope you are enjoying these Fall days as much as I am!

Pippin, My Wonder Lovebird

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Look closely, and you will see Pippin peeking out from under a curtain of raffia.  She is ready to pounce as a prelude to playing “attack the T shirt” game.  I throw a small part of an old T shirt over her and she has huge fun finding her way out from under the shirt.  She cheeps, she “giggles” in her lovebirdy way, she emerges and wants more!

Lovebirds are very misunderstood, especially when they bite.  They are so small that someone unfamiliar with the breed would think they would be always be cuddly.  They are cuteness personified, but they are so full of life and energy that they can appear to be quite aggressive at times.  When Pippin is fully engaged and ready for action, her body quivers with energy and anticipation.  And as small as they are, lovebird bites are more painful than a cockatiel’s!

Their metabolism is set on high all the time, and they require food constantly at hand in order to replenish reserves.

Though they come in small packages, they are every bit as smart as a larger parrot and need just as much stimulation and interaction.  They are easily bored and need things to do.  They are bursting with life and want to share it with you!

Lovebirds are territorial, as most parrots are.  They like their spaces and, unless a game is in session, they consider anything else an invitation for target practice – which can be intentionally aimed to give warning.  Or, they may lunge and try to bite, simply because they want to play and are irritated that you aren’t getting the idea, and they don’t have any other way of making their needs known when their humans are being really dense.

Amongst all of my birds, including Sam, the Jardine’s parrot, she has the most intelligence.

Because of lovebirds’ keen intelligence, they are extremely curious and fearless in exploration of their surroundings.  This is a good thing but it can also be fatal, especially in a house with multiple birds of larger size.  I nearly lost Pippin a couple years ago when, during a few seconds’ lapse of my attention, she flew over to Sam’s cage to say hello.  Sam was startled and lunged, out of instinct, and took away half of Pippin’s upper beak.  She bled profusely.   I drove as fast as I could to my avian vet 15 miles away, with one hand applying pressure to her beak and the other on the steering wheel, flying along country roads like a bat out of hell.  Even so, Pippin assured me during the ride that she was OK and appreciated my help by giving me one of her cheerful cheeps during the drive.

Pippin was very fortunate.   Her beak has grown back almost to the point of forming a new tip (not all such injuries have happy endings).  It has required regular trips to my avian vet to keep the bottom beak trimmed to allow the top beak to curve over it.   I also paid for my lapse in the terrible feelings of guilt I had for quite a long time.   (Even now, thinking of the accident, I shudder inside.)

It took me this long even to write about the experience!  So perhaps my experience can provide a cautionary tale to anyone who has small birds living with larger ones.   Needless to say, I learned my lesson and watch my flock with “hawk eyes.”

By the way,  lovebirds rarely talk.  I’ve never heard of female lovebirds being able to talk.  But Pippin, my wonder lovebird hen, does.  She can say – in a very fast, high-pitched voice –  “Whatcha doing, Pippin?” and “You be!”  (shorthand for “You be good!”).  She also says, “Chipper!” when she’s insecure, and “Chipper-choo!” when she’s really pleased and excited about something.  She’s such a love.

Fall is Coming

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Poison Oak Leaves

I woke up several times early this morning, each time hearing flocks of geese honking above my head.

Around 7 am, another line of geese flew so close that I thought they were going to land on my roof – they were that loud!  It was absolutely wonderful.  I never lose the feeling of awe and thrill when I hear the geese migrating.  It really pulls at me on a deep level, and I always end up sending out thoughts of “go safe and come back in the spring”!

The leaves are beginning to turn.  We haven’t had any frosts here yet, but the nights are getting nippy, even though the days have been in the mid-80s F.

I love the slant of the sun in these pre-fall days and how it begins to turn golden as the afternoons shorten.

My walk today took me through the old Pioneer Cemetery in town.  I walked right past two does with their fawns.  The fawn’s spots are nearly gone, being quickly replaced by their first winter coats.

This is one of the trails I walked on today during the quiet of the morning.  It was lovely!

Early fall trail through the madrones and oaks

Rabbits Forage Too!

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

This photo is a bit blurry, but those white fluffs hanging off Bun Rab’s whiskers are 2-3 down feather from my cockatiels.  This happens every day when Bun Rab “forages” underneath the birds’ various cages.  What is she looking for?  Remnants of Harrison’s bird pellets!  She absolutely loves the stuff.  I can’t imagine it would be bad for her, but they could make her fat over time, so I don’t give them to her at all.  But I figure the occasional pellet and crumbs here and there won’t go amiss.

Several times a week, I wrap the larger pellets for Sam in adding machine paper.  I usually perform this task while I watch a DVD.

At my side on the floor is a large pickle jar I drop the completed pellets into.  Occasionally one of two things happen:

1.  I will miss the jar, and the wrapped pellet drops to the floor – Bun Rab swoops in to grab it.

2.  If I leave the jar top off too long, she will actually reach up and remove a pellet out of the.  The little sneaker!

Here you see her at work on a dropped pellet:

and the result:

Dusk Visitor

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

I found this young skunk just outside my back door, foraging on seed fallen from the bird feeder.   He/she? wasn’t fussed by my presence, but just the same, I closed the door quickly and quietly!

Last Heat Wave (Maybe)

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

We’re going through the last heat wave before Fall begins in earnest (at least, I think it might be).  All the poison oak has conveniently turned red around here. Tips of some maples are beginning to turn golden, and the lawns are bone dry – well, mine is.  I don’t like using precious water just to keep my postage stamp lawn looking green.  I water shrubs and plants to keep them going till the rains start, but the lawn is my last priority.

Inside, we all cope in our own ways.  Bun Rab, being the furry mammal in the house, sprawls out to catch any coolness available.

The birds, who generally like it hot, just get sleepy.

Hmm….a nap does sound good right about now.  I just might join these guys.  They know best!