Archive for 2012

We’re Going to Fly South This Fall…

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Yes, my flock and Bun Rab will be “flying” south this fall to a  new home in New Mexico!  I will be very happy to be living next door to my mother and sister, who are waiting for my arrival with great anticipation.

It’s a big move – I’ve been at my present location in Oregon for the last 10 years – but I eagerly look forward to a new beginning.  They are always challenging but usually rich with many benefits and blessings.

Chipper is a veteran traveler, having made the trip to New Mexico once before (but ended up only visiting).  Sam has made a trip to California.  Steve is also a veteran traveler when he flew with me two years ago by Southwest Airlines from his foster home to Oregon.  Charlie is Oregon-born and never gone further than 10 miles anywhere.  But as long as he’s next to Chipper, he won’t mind the trip.  The two cockatiels will have a lot of fun.

My greatest worry has been how to shoehorn Steve from his cage to which he is inextricably bound by his phobia of being outside his cage.  But I think I came up with a solution:  getting him used to his travel cage gradually by making it a “sun porch” off his main cage via his food hatch.  With the lure of a pecan in the shell, he easily comes and goes now between his cage and his travel cage, as you can see from this shot:

Steve sampling goodies in his travel cage

It is a morning ritual now that Steve comes to visit his travel cage for his breakfast goodies:  apple, a bit of home made mash, etc.

So Steve and Sam will accompany me in the front passenger seat, and the cockatiels and Bun Rab in the back seat.  It should prove to be quite an adventure!

…and still hot!

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

We’ve had some great spring/early summer weather with mild temperatures and lots of rain.  But summer finally caught up with us in the last two weeks with triple digit temperatures and some humidity (usually it’s pretty dry here).

Bun Rab copes pretty well, armed with frozen water bottles and a fan blowing directly on her.  Here she is cooling her heels against the bottle:

The avian flock seems to be fine with it, so long as I give some misty showers each day.

Steve still won’t come out of his cage except briefly to his ledge outside of the food hatch door.  But he does come out each night there for head rubs.  Lately, he’s even been venturing out to play with a toy I got for him last year.  Up till now, he’s been too afraid of it, but I’ve been using it myself to show him that it’s not going to  hurt him and it’s not scary after all.  It’s a fun toy that has 4 buttons.  Each one, when pressed, has a different sound:  “hello!”  “hello, bird!” “I love you” and a short recording of laughter as a bird might interpret it.

Steve has finally found out how to apply the right pressure to get it to say something.  Now, he presses the “hello!” to get my attention.  He’s perfectly capable of saying “Hello,” as I heard him answer my cell phone ring with a loud “HELLO!”  But he usually chooses not to talk.

Steve is finally also developing a playful side.  After I cover him up for the night, he clanks up and down his cage and waits for me to lift the cover to say a final good night by hanging upside down and soliciting touch and head rubs through his cage bars.  It’s hard to believe he never knew how to play before – such a basic part of any normal African Grey’s nature!  It’s taken him nearly two years to get to this point.  I can’t imagine how sterile and empty his life was before.

He’s just as phobic about coming out of his cage as he was when I adopted him, but he’s made some great progress in the past two years.  I couldn’t be more pleased.  And I think he is too.


Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Bun Rab catching the breeze

After a very cool spring and early summer, we’ve finally gotten very hot weather.  Bun Rab – with her shedding fur coat – is not liking the heat!  I will often find her standing as close as she can get to the fan in the living room, fur flying sometimes.  (I have to enclose electrical stuff, out of reach of her sharp teeth, which is why the fan is caged.)

The birds, having heat-loving DNA, don’t seem to mind it at all.

Stay cool, everybody!

A Night to Forget

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Wow!  It’s been a long time since I posted.  Other things in my life have taken precedence.  But all members of my flock are doing well.

Well, except for last Thursday night, when an explosion like a bomb went off in the complex I live in.  I don’t know how it happened, but a neighbor’s SUV crashed into the spare bedroom of the unit next to mine.  I was asleep, as were my birds.

We were not asleep for long.  All the birds began flying for their lives inside their covered cages, as instinct would have them do.  But, of course, cage bars don’t allow for flight, so all my birds lost feathers.  Sam and Steve lost one each, Charlie – for some reason being the calmest – lost only a couple of small ones.  And Chipper lost all but 2 of his flight feathers, so he basically cannot fly right now.  Poor guys!

Lost feathers, all in one night!

On my way out the front door to see what happened, I flung the birds’ covers off, so at least they could see.  Normally, I tend to them first, but not knowing what had hit the house and if people and house were in danger, I had to do first things first.  Fortunately, no one was hurt, but it was a very scary evening.  Now I know what it’s like to be hit by a bomb.  We were all pretty shaky through the next day, but as of today we are all back to normal.  The car was towed away, the hole covered up till repair work can be done.

And a rainbow appeared last evening to assure us that all will be well:

Birdy Activities

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

All is well with the flock.  It’s been awhile since I posted last, but the 4 parrots continue to be good boys.

Spring is nearly upon us, so that means hormones begin to show themselves.  With careful dietary restrictions, Sam has managed to be a very good boy and he is nearly not hormonal at all, compared to last year when I seemed to have an unending string of months in which I struggled with Sam’s hormones.  I find I have to cut out ALL fatty and sweet treats, such as seeds, nuts, apples, and other sweet fruits.  He’s safe with a daily raw Sugar Snap pea, bits of raw cauliflower, a piece of raw whole wheat pasta, and tiny bits of “Mary’s Gone Cracker’s” crackers.  Fortunately, he likes these treats.  But he always looks for nesting areas, nonetheless!

Sam in a Kleenex box

Steve, however, needs lots of small treats as he is more of a forager than a player of toys.  I try to keep the treats very small but frequent to keep him interested.  Once in a while, he gets to tackle an organic almond in the shell.  He generally takes about 3 days to break into the shell, unless he’s really intensely interested.  The first one he tried took him only a concentrated 10 minutes.  But he takes a more leisurely go at it nowadays:

Steve working on an almond in the shell

And there are days when the vet needs to be seen for various trims.  I have “Wingabagos” for 2 birds, and this time it was Sam and Chipper who had the honor during a recent visit.  Here they are sitting next to me in the front passenger seat, which Chipper strapped in and Sam tucked in front of him:

to the vet...

We Have a New Bookworm (or: Chipper Strikes Again)

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

I know, the titles are pretty cryptic!  But this concerns Chipper’s love of books (see a previous post here) and his influence on our newest flock member, Steve, our rescued African Grey.

Chipper the cockatiel, at age 11, is our oldest and first flock member.  From the time he was a baby, books have been his #1 source of fun. He gets super excited about them and surrounds all his play and being busy with books.  He croons to them, he chews them, he flies on them.  How?  With the help of his human slave (me), of course.

I ask Chipper if he “wants to go for a ride,” and he usually does.  This is Chipper, ready to “fly” with his magic book (this one entitled The Shape of Mercy!!), with the aid of my hand.  I run through the house with book and bird in hand.  He grasps my finger tightly, bends down as if streamlining his body for the wind, and cries loudly “Weeeeee….!!!”

Steve, who has been watching these antics for a few weeks, has been getting increasingly excited about them.  Every time Chipper “flies” past his cage, Steve puffs up his feathers with happiness, his eyes pin, and he moves closer to the cage bars to watch.  Believe it or not, this is the first time in one year and 3 months that Steve has ever shown excitement and a playful side.  He has never, apparently, know how to play.  All these months since he came to our flock, I’ve supplied toys of all kinds.  He often chews on some of them but never explores or plays with them or shows excitement about them.  I seriously doubt he ever played in his life.  It is very sad to think that even when he was a baby, he was deprived of the joy of play and not given encouragement to just be.

I gave Steve his own book (Comanche Moon – I buy these thrift store books based on their size, not contents!) and he is quite tickled with it, providing another way that he and I can interact.  Here he is showing some feather puffing.  He’s going after Chipper’s book!

Note how flared Steve’s tail feather are – he puts everything into playfully chomping on the book!

I’ve always known the value of play for my birds, but none of them have problems being playful.  Having never had such a repressed bird as Steve has been, the concept of how healing and freeing play is has been underscored.  In the last couple of weeks, Steve has been much more relaxed and easy with me.  His resilience to change and sudden things that happen in life are that much easier for him to take in his stride.  I even saw him peering intently at the bottom of his cage (he never goes down there) and environs, as if he was seeing it for the first time.  I think being playful has opened new pathways in his brain, making him more exploratory and less fearful.

Chipper Had a Good Day

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Once in awhile, the stars seem to line up for Chipper and he has a really, really excellent and totally satisfying day.  This was one of them.

Although you don’t see Chipper here – he had just been covered up for the night for bedtime – he is SINGING his heart out.  He had just gotten a new book, which he loves to chew and covet, I had just flown him around the room, and he was just feeling fine!  So, here he is, whistling his way to a satisfying sleep: