Archive for May, 2011

A Canine Interlude…

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

What, a post not about a bird?!

Once in awhile, I have to give way to the mammals, and I haven’t posted about Cedar, my officemate who belongs to my co-worker.  He’s now over 2 years old, which made me realize how long it’s been since I last posted about him.

Cedar has wormed his way deeply into my heart and I look forward every new week to seeing him and listening to his tales (he talks at the drop of a hat and often “talks back” when he doesn’t agree with what someone has said to him).  I love dogs, but with 4 birds and no fenced yard, it’s a no-brainer.  This way I can enjoy the dog without the responsibility.

Cedar has a special love for his white bear – a gift I gave him last Christmas.  I expected it to be torn to shreds within the hour of receipt.  But instead, Cedar carefully licks it and keeps it intact.  He tends to cuddle up to it when he feels misunderstood (especially when he thinks it’s time to go for his noon walk and we tell him he still has another hour to wait…)

But at other times, his bear is just a pillow…

Portrait Time!

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Heeeeere’s Steve!

I was taking photos of Sam on the play tree this evening, making a big fuss of it and saying how handsome Sam was – Sam loves photo time.  When I looked over to Steve, I saw that he was interested in what I was doing, contrary to his normal reaction of being spooked by having his photo taken.

Sure enough, the more I lavished praises and told Steve how handsome HE was, he puffed up (see below) and willingly posed:

I could tell he was very pleased by the special attention!  And here he is in one of those endearing poses only African Greys can pull off:

Steve is doing well.  No major breakthroughs, but steady very slow progress.  He has regressed in one sense, that he hasn’t come out of his hatch for head scritches for over a month.  But in other ways, he seems to rebound a bit more sturdily and consistently.  (You can see from these photos that he’s mostly feathered and quite beautiful, though he still picks around his neck when nervous.)

I feel like he has happy moments each day, and that he feels he belongs here – which is all I could hope for right now!   Today, as he was perching on his open cage door, one of the cockatiels spooked him and he fell to the floor (now he lands on his feet instead of on his body).  He made a beeline to me to be picked up – and I praised him to the skies for that.  He handled that really well today and still solicited head scritches later on.  Normally, he’d not want to be touched for a couple of days after such an episode.  Good boy, Steve!

The Many Uses of Untreated Willow

Friday, May 13th, 2011

This photo shows the back of a well-worn, well-used willow basket that my birds sit on.  It is affixed to their play tree:

As you can see, this particular use is for a relaxing LOOK-OUT – and for RABBIT-WATCHING.

The most popular use of willow is for CHEWING!  My cockatiels especially love to chew on willow, and it’s great for mental stimulation.  The willow below is unstripped of his bark coating.  Most will baskets you find do not have this bark.  It is harmless to birds and my cockatiels prefer it over stripped willow.

A use you may not be aware of is for SLEEPING. Both my cockatiels have a willow sleep basket, which they love.  It makes them feel secure at night and it eliminates the possibility of getting caught in synthetic fibers such as you might find with popular sleep products called binkies.  Of course, they poop on it through the night, so I eliminate this problem by placing a section of a trade paperback from the Goodwill inside the basket.  In the morning, I simply remove the soiled page, and the next page is clean for the next sleep.  (I just happened to see the title of Chipper’s novel:  “On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon“!?!  I better choose better titles next time…)  As you can see, Charlie needs a new sleep basket!

Another popular use of willow is for TOYS.  The birds can choose not only the toy they want to play with, but they can also chew the basket.  This basket hangs from the play tree:

When a bird gets tired after playing, willow is really useful for NAPS:

Willow can also be used in other, less obvious ways, such as for BEING COY:

And for SPYING:

For Steve Fans

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Well, I’ve been remiss at reporting about Steve.  His fans have become restless and are demanding an update!

Part of my excuse is that my brand new computer (of 9 months now) has had problem after problem – which never get duplicated at the repair shop.  But things are improving and now I have no excuse whatsoever!

Steve is doing fine.  He has his good days/weeks and sometimes not so good.   I don’t have any marvelous news to report about any new breakthroughs. We are in for the long haul and whatever good happens, I can be grateful.

As an example, after several good weeks of increasing confidence, he can sometimes get spooked and lose his nerve for weeks at a time.  We’re going through one of those periods right now.  It began when he backed into his cage after a head-scritching session and he caught a wing feather in a bar of the cage.  He wasn’t hurt, but the surprise of it has now caused him to be scared of the food hatch exit, so I’m back to scritching his head inside his cage.

Steve’s feathering has mostly grown back.  Except for a few spots near his neck, he is fully feathered.  The neck thing is his nervous habit – he tends to pull out the down there when he’s feeling insecure.  I liken it to a human picking a fingernail out of nervousness.

The great new thing, though, is that he’s beginning to communicate directly with me through his whistling.  He whistles, I whistle back.  Then I vary the whistles, which he sometimes imitates – or comes up with some new configuration.  I’m very pleased by this, because he is “talking” to me in this way.  He has one very distinct whistle, which sounds rather mournful, and it’s appropriate to the occasion:  being impatient while waiting for dinner!  wishing I wasn’t going out!  or perhaps simply lamenting on the sad parts of life…

The other birds are doing good.  I finally had to clip Sam’s wings. He was getting really good at flying, but it was making him way too aggressive and hormonal.  He was starting to buzz me and actually attack me.  Now he has become “soft” and sweet like the old Sam I used to know – best of all, the hormonal behavior has lessened 95%.  I should have done this a lot sooner!  I’m sorry he can’t fly, since he enjoys it so much and it’s such good exercise.  But in the long run, he’s happier and so am I.

The cockatiels are who they are, forming a chattery solid unit of “us two and no more”– always together playing, chatting, occasionally fighting, and whistling.  Charlie’s moulting and Chipper doesn’t care.

So life is going on as usual in the avian world here!

Have a great weekend, all you Stevie fans!