Archive for October, 2010

Eh? Whatcha Say?

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

This is how I looked at Steve, when he said something for the first time this evening!   Even Sam was startled and looked at Steve inquiringly, as if to chime in with me:  “What did you say?!”

After Steve’s loud burst of incomprehensibility, he looked very innocent but lively.  “Who, me?”

Since it was near bedtime and both he and Sam get a nut piece as a treat when I put them to bed, I suspect it was Steve’s way of saying, “Time for bed, er, treat!”

Seriously, this is great!  Steve has been here one month and is starting to relax enough to experiment with talking again!


(By the way, the photo is me.  I won’t say when, but the black and white stuff sort of gives away the decade in question…)

Dark Mornings But What a Sunrise!

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Until we get our time change, it’s awfully dark driving to work in the mornings.

But earlier this week, after 24 hours of steady rain, I was greeted by this beautiful sunrise breaking through the dispersing clouds.  This photo doesn’t do the actual event justice, but it gives a small hint!

Steve’s Third Week

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Steve has passed his third week with us and he’s doing better.  Each day there seems to be just a slightly less panicky response to opening his cage door.

This shot is very fuzzy, but it shows his favorite day perch, on the lip of his food crock, where he can keep an eye on things and chew his toys.  He’s not yet foraging in his cage for pellets, but at least the pellets are wrapped.  When I see he is a little less nervous about my hands in his cage, I’ll start hiding his pellets.

One thing he overcomes his nervousness for is nut treats:  pistachios or cashews, being his favorites.  Oh, and grapes!  He loves grapes – his version of heaven.  If you find the “kabob” on the extreme left of the top photo, you will see gaps where he has eaten first the grapes I skewered.

Steve also continues to do clicker training and I’ve been able to successfully open his cage door for that.  I first clicker train with Sam, and that primes Steve for his turn – he’s always very eager to do his training.

Here you see him reaching out for that bit of cashew!

Last week, he regressed a little and began picking his chest feathers, but I’m happy to report that he seems to have gotten over that little period of hyper-nervousness and he seems to focus most of his nervous energy onto this toys, which he is chewing on constantly when he’s not eating or dozing.

After trial and error, I’ve discovered that Steve is OK with the windows so long as they are covered in sheer curtains so he can’t see out of them clearly.  His greatest phobia seems to still be centered on this terror of the outside where he spent 5 days when he escaped with his first owner.  That’s why he doesn’t like his cage door open.

One weekday morning last week, I opened Steve’s door to replace his water.  Since it is so dark in the mornings, he got scared and fluttered to the floor.  He did not panic once on the floor and nervously came to my arm to be replaced in his cage.  He went to the back of his cage and I nearly laughed.  It looked exactly like he was thinking really hard about what had just happened and was trying to process it.  I’m sure he was!

Last Saturday afternoon, with the warm October sun streaming in through the sheer curtains, I had a great nap on the couch, and Steve and the rest of the flock all went to sleep, beaks gently grinding away.  So I thought that was also a great victory, that he could relax sufficiently with me present.

We measure progress by very small markers, and we are grateful for each one.

I did get a chance to see under one of Steve’s wings this morning.  The crease of the wing is reddish but smaller than I recall from 3 weeks ago.  I was very encouraged.  Steve is such a sweet, gentle being, and I look forward to how much fun he’ll start having when he can release his fears.

Hoping you are all having a great weekend!

It’s Always Nice to Eat Out with a Friend

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Sam just loves Steve and his favorite sharing time is eating pellets before bedtime.

The lighting is poor, but if you look closely, Steve is eating pellets behind the cage door to the left, and Sam is “eating out” on Steve’s veranda, having foraged for his pellets stuck in the orange hanging toy just to the right of Sam’s beak.  (A photo of one of my dearest African Grey friends, Jasmine (or Jazzy) hangs on the wall, upper right.)

As long as Sam stays on the veranda, Steve seems to enjoy this companionable time of pellet eating.   This is now becoming an evening ritual for Sam, and he looks forward to it eagerly.  Having Steve as part of our flock seems to be opening new vistas for Sam.  There are sides of Sam that I’ve never seen, and they are very sweet.

Sam aside, I’m just so glad we have Steve!

Equine Encounter

Friday, October 15th, 2010

As I was coming into a clearing this morning on my walk, I found a horse looking right at me through the madrones.  It was a beautiful sight!

Within seconds, another horse and its rider came galloping up a slope to meet its friend, and here they are rejoined.

Steve’s Second Week

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

I keep forgetting to take photos!  But just to keep you updated:  Steve is slowly, slowly getting less nervous.

He still shies away from direct and physically close contact, but I can tell he wants it at the same time.  Tonight he spent quite a bit of time peering at me with one beautiful eye through his hidey places while I sat below him, about 2 feet away.  He’s been watching me intently whenever I skritch Chipper’s head; and then tonight I skritched Sam’s head as I sat next to Steve.  He’s watching my every move!

Steve’s nervousness is still there, but it seems to be very slowly – a tiny bit each day – diminishing.  He’s gotten the hang of our workday and weekend routines, eagerly (albeit nervously) waiting for his first treat in the morning when I hand him a small nut piece after I remove his night cover.  He still stays largely in one place – the highest – in his cage, but he does move about during the day to forage, drink, and eat from his food cup and chew on his toys.

Steve also wants to continue clicker training.  To make it less stressful, I have him target through his cage bars, rather than my opening the door and placing my hand inside.  He is eager for the treats!

Sam seems to really love Steve’s presence.  Sam is pretty good about not climbing over his cage now, but he gets as close as he can so he can see what Steve is doing.  Very often Steve will eat pellets just before his bedtime.  Sam has started to follow suit, sitting on the shelf next to Steve’s cage and eating pellets in a very companionable manner while Steve eats his.  Often, when I make clucking noises or kiss noises to Steve, Sam will offer them to Steve as well.  It’s very sweet.

We have a long way to go, but I’m encouraged and know he’ll make it!

The Basket Is Always Better On the Other Side…

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

My two male cockatiels, Chipper and Charlie, love chewing on untreated willow bark.  They do go through phases of intense interest to mild interest, but they always come back to it.

Recently, when I ordered hay for Bun Rab via a house rabbit website, I came across some fabulous wicker baskets, long enough to accommodate a cockatiel.  I bought one for each of my boys, and they have nearly destroyed one of them. Charlie will take his afternoon nap inside his basket.  Chipper sometimes sleeps inside his.

The odd thing is that Charlie prefers to chew on Chipper’s basket, and Chipper prefers to chew on Charlie’s basket.

Here is Chipper taking a sleepy pause in his chewing inside of Charlie’s basket.

And now here is Charlie, close to destroying Chipper’s basket.

I’m not sure why there is this attraction for the other fellow’s basket, but there you have it!

Breakfast is Important!

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Breakfast is the first meal of the day for all of us, and no one more eagerly awaits it than my birds.

Since Steve has come, I’m glad to be more creative, since my smaller birds and Sam don’t always like lots of fresh veggies and fruits.  Sam has certain strong likes:  grapes, pomegranates seeds, banana, berries, cantaloupe; but he ignores most raw veggies except cauliflower.

Steve, however, seems to like most everything, so I skewer his morning sampling on a stainless steel “kabob” made for birds.

Here you see Steve plunging into his kabob with relish – a lot he eats, the rest he shreds.  You probably can’t see his head as it’s hidden by the veggies and fruits and the lighting was poor this morning.  But he loves his food!

Beloved Parrot asked about the dynamics between Steve and the rest of my flock.  It goes roughly like:

1.  The smaller birds were fascinated by Steve for about ten minutes, with Chipper giving him a whistling serenade when he first came in the door – though I think the serenade was also largely for me.  They have since pretty much ignored him.  That will change, of course, if Steve starts whistling himself.  In that case, both Charlie and Chipper will renew their interest in Steve.

2.  Sam is still enamored of Steve – he can’t wait till he can meet him on friendly terms.  However, Steve is not at all interested!  There is a marked difference in his behavior since when he lived with Mary.  In that case, Rocky would sometimes climb over Steve’s cage, and Steve ignored Rocky, Stella, and Max when they were near him.  But in this case, if Sam does land on top of Steve’s cage, Steve will start climbing down to the bottom of his cage to avoid Sam.  The one time Sam got too close, Steve shrieked – scaring both himself and Sam, and causing a mass cockatiel panic.

I guess Steve really doesn’t want to engage in social calls from human or avian neighbors right now.  Certainly, he is far from ready for head skritches.  But that’s OK.  I know from my magical hours with him on our long journey home that he loves those head rubs; he’ll want them again when he feels safe enough to ask for them.

Meantime, Steve continues to just absorb what the rest of us do:  he observes our habits, our schedules, our likes and dislikes.   When he is not resting or eating, he is constantly chewing on his toys and expending his nervous energy on a particular toy that he hides behind when he feels insecure.

I see no evidence of further mutilation under his wings.  The one time I saw under one wing after he’d been here a couple of days and reacted to Sam, I saw a bit of reddish at the crease of the wing – which I expected since he had reopened the wounds when he went to his vet about three weeks ago.   His vet at the time said that he was doing so well that all he needed was just a long stretch of time in his cage to heal and not have to come out of his cage until he wants to.

So that’s the plan.

Steve’s First Week

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Steve, my new rescue parrot who arrived at his new home last Thursday, has now spent a full week here.  He is doing great.  He’s not quite over his nervousness about everything new, but I list some points of progress:

1.  He chews his nails much less frequently

2.  He’s regularly chewing two of his toys

3.  He’s OK with me slowly placing my hand inside the cage to place his wrapped pellets in hiding places for foraging – AND he’s finding and eating each one.

4.  He seemed to want to continue his clicker training yesterday after seeing Sam getting his clicker training over the past week.  I can place my hand inside the cage and he willingly works for his treats

5.  He is eager to take treats and pellets from my hand

6.  He regularly spends time on three different perches in his cage instead of the one little cotton perch he used to favor when Mary of Parrot Musings blog fostered him.

7.  He often beeps to me if I leave the room.  Although he doesn’t speak yet, when I cluck my tongue at him to imitate one of his “contact” sounds he uses with me, I can see his throat move in response each time – as if he wants to respond, but isn’t quite there yet.

8.  He’s more comfortable with closer proximity in general and watches everything very carefully.

Though these points may not seem much, they huge improvements from day one!  Steve has a lot of fears he has to move through from all his experiences from the past.  He will need time to really know that it’s safe here and he can relax and not worry about being uprooted or forced into unpleasant situations.  As Mary and I discussed it, he needs to know he has choices.

I can’t begin to express my gratitude to Mary for getting him this far.  From what I understand, Steve was nearly catatonic when he lived at the rescue for about a year, and with patience and understanding, she worked with Steve to begin his healing process during the brief months she fostered him.  Thank you again, Mary!

Beautiful Fall

Monday, October 4th, 2010

There was a distinct nip in the air today and leaves are starting to turn colors everywhere.  I love the slant of the sun, especially in those “golden hours” between 4-6 pm.

I took a walk after work today and was treated to such lovely warm light.

On the home front, all continues very well with Steve’s acclimatization to his new home.

I had taken some days off to spend at home with Steve and his new flock, and by last night Steve had relaxed enough that the nail chewing was decreasing.  Another great sign of progress was that he was very active – moving all over the upper part of his cage, finding hidden pellets, and even choosing a new night perch.  And very best of all, he never took his eyes off me, coming to be close to me on his door perch, waiting for treats and to see what I might do next.  He was starting to engage with his surroundings and his new person!   As I sat next to his cage watching a DVD last night, I looked up at him and had the sense that he was beginning to feel happiness.  That made me smile – big time!