Archive for the ‘Parrots’ Category
Steve finished with a shorter second round of antibiotics and is doing well after an initial low-energy period after his ingrown feather ordeal.He’s now back to be his version of “active,” which is a very, very slow form of active for most African Greys. He’s just a quiet and slow-moving guy. However, once in awhile, he really gets mischievous as happened today: he really, really, wanted a soaking bath. I usually spray him, but he continued in his water dish. So I provided a low tub of water for him, which he splashed his head into, and then upended most of it onto his play station. It was good to see, even if a bit messy!
Sam is being adventurous by accompanying me on my daily walks (that is, when it’s not too cold or too hot). I recently bought a nifty (though expensive) small walking carrier made by Celltei that can be worn like a back pack or worn in front (which I prefer, so that Sam feels I am close and he can see me). Sam LOVES the carrier! Here he is, waiting for “walkies.”
The carrier sits on top of his cage, where he plays during the day. I will often find him quietly sitting inside, just hanging out serenely. I love being able to include Sam in more of my activities, and this is a great boredom-buster. It tires him out too – an added benefit. This is the small size, though it borders on being almost too small. But it works for a Jardine’s Parrot. It would be too small for an African Grey.
Dr Linda Contos saw Steve on his follow-up to his first appointment, where it was discovered that his bloody underwing was the result of ingrown feathers. The wing is still pretty raw but healthy – he’s not worrying or chewing there any more, so the removal of those ingrown feathers did the trick. The doctor felt, after reviewing all his vet records from Wisconsin (during which time he was in the rescue facility and was being seen by the vet who handled birds from the rescue) that his original bloody underwings probably began with ingrown feathers that no one discovered. All along, it was thought to be a behavioral issue. At one point, the sores were so bad that the vet recommended euthanasia if there were no improvements. That’s when Mary decided to foster him and give him a new chance. And that’s how I found Steve, through Mary’s blog Parrot Musings.
I’m very happy to find that Steve is much more resilient about vet trips, now that he knows he’s mine and I’m his. He must have come to that conclusion a little while ago, and things are starting to open up for him. Even last year around this time, he wasn’t sure he was going to be hauled away yet again. Steve continues to have a very sweet, gentle nature. I’m so glad he’s part of my family. And he can be darn cute and winsome as he shows in this picture:
Steve is feeling mellow and quiet after his dose of antibiotic and Metacam, following a very bad day on April 16 when I took him to the vet for the first time in 2.5 years! He has been problem-free for that long – and he needed that long a stretch without vet interference to heal from his bad experiences from previous vet visits in Wisconsin. But this time I had to bring him in. I noticed that some of his feathers were growing weirdly on his left wing and he was beginning to fuss with them, pull feathers, etc. Then I noticed a spot of blood on his beak, so I got him into see our new New Mexico vet, Dr Linda Contos, at Ventana Animal Clnic in Albuquerque. She’s an avian vet and very good with birds.
He did indeed have two ingrown feathers under that wing and a bad infection, so she removed the offending feathers and began him on a course of antibiotics. I was very impressed by Steve – after his initial protest about being hauled out of his travel cage, he was very calm. The doc said that owing to his previous history of mutilation under his wings, it didn’t surprise her that some feathers are ingrown. They form little abscesses and cause discomfort. She did not advise putting a collar on him to prevent him from chewing further, since he is a calm bird and that previous chewing was for a specific reason – to relieve his discomfort and pain – rather than from an emotional or behavioral issue. Collaring is extremely stressful. I agreed – Steve is a happy bird and no longer has a reason to feel abandoned and neglected and he rarely pulls his feathers unless the humidity is extremely try (I keep a humidifier on next to him here in the desert to avoid the feather picking and try to keep the humidity between 38-50% RH). The doc also said that Steve almost seemed even grateful that the offending problem was removed.
The doc also showed me how limited his wing muscles are – which I already knew – and that he will never be able to fly. The good news is that we examined the other under wing and it was totally healed and pristine. It’s just that the skin is thin and the muscles atrophied. And because he is so hand shy and phobic about being forced out of his cage, it’s unlikely that muscle rehab is in the near future, if at all.
It took Steve about 24 hours before he began looking and acting like his normal self, but we’re back to his normal routine of foraging on his play station in the morning, and all looks to be very good for his future. And he doesn’t appear to have held it against me that I had to towel him to get him out of his cage!
Steve is doing really great these days. After a settling period from his move from the Pacific Northwest to the high desert Southwest in New Mexico, he’s starting to blossom! For readers who are not familiar with his story, Steve is a rescued African Grey who was emotionally neglected for his first 6 years and had self-mutilating issues. He’s also extremely hand phobic and has had fear issues about coming outside of his cage.
But, I’m happy to report that he’s now easily and willingly moving outside his cage on a daily basis to forage for treats and to chew on toys – this is more than I ever thought might happen! I had been pretty concerned about his apathy and lack of interest in fun, so he’s now learning, thanks to the help of small pecan tidbits from our two old pecan trees in our New Mexico backyard. I set up a tray on top of a rolling cart and load it up with toys and interesting bird-safe objects. Steve then comes out of his cage via a food hatch. The tray is essentially his “back porch.”
Here is Steve foraging for small nut treats that I’ve wrapped inside mini muffin baking cups. I poke them inside toys he has to chew open to get to the treats. Or I hide them inside other toys. I’m making it increasingly hard for him to get to, so this is stimulating him to be more creative and brave.
The result of this serious foraging business? Well, a brain that is stimulated and less bored, a bird that learns to play with toys (or at least be curious enough to chew them). A normal African Grey would be all over this tray and into everything else, but Steve has been severely stunted as a youngster, so he’s very slowly making up for lost time. Steve is still phobic of hands inside his cage, but maybe that will come in time.
For now, I’m overjoyed with the more tangible result: A huge and glorious mess!
And we did not bust at all, but had a great trip, even though I was very tired from the start, having had little sleep after a marathon packing/cleaning day before. Steve and Sam were crammed in travel cages on the front passenger side, the two cockatiels in travel cages were in the back seat that had been flattened. Bun Rab was right next to them in her fairly spacious cage. After an initial getting used to the positioning, everyone soon got used to their places and seemed to really enjoy the ride.
During the trip, there was some chattering, but mostly everybody understood this was a long-haul trip and just settled down. Everybody ate well – Sam nearly ate non-stop, dunking his pellets in water and slowly eating the outsides like ice cream cones.
It was exhausting hauling everybody’s cages into motel rooms, but they were all real troopers. I couldn’t have had better companions. On day 2, I drove for 11 hours, getting us to Williams, AZ at dusk. And by the afternoon of day 3, we were flagging. Near Gallup, NM, we stopped under a shady tree and all of us napped silently, listening to the birds outside chirp in the early fall heat.
On day 3, we all rolled in around 2:30 pm. My mother had just returned home from the hospital, having contracted West Nile Virus a couple weeks previously. I had fast-forwarded my trip to New Mexico by an entire month so that I could be here to help Mom and my sister. Mom nearly died, but with many prayers and a dose of very good luck, she pulled through without complications. We are soooo very grateful she lived to tell the tale.
Meanwhile, my living quarters weren’t ready because I had arrived a month early, so I camped out in the living room of Mom’s house with my bird cages parked in various places and Bun Rab penned in beneath the dining room table to be out of the way of traffic. Chipper and Charlie had to bunk together, to save room. That worked, but sometimes the racket of competitive singing and one-upping was very hard to bear. But, again, all the feathered guys were very flexible, even getting used to my sister’s Maltese dog Maizy.
By October, we all moved into my new “cabin,” and then it was time to get used to another home – the 3rd one in 2 weeks. Steve regressed quite a bit, but that was perfectly understandable.
Once settled, though, things fell into place and we’ve now been here since then, enjoying family life again and being together again for the holidays – so far: Thanksgiving, a beautiful Christmas, and a very cold January.
Sam is the most easy-going and adaptable of the flock, and he has been happy with everything – no matter what changes I make, rearranging his cage position, changing the routine, he’s happy-go-lucky because he gets to be with me most of the day (I work at home).
And Steve has been generally pretty darn happy too. It’s taken him all this time to progress to this miracle moment of venturing OUTSIDE of his cage without hanging onto it by one leg!
And now, for a little light humor, I give you Chipper! Just click on the link following:
And Bun Rab is ecstatic! She gets to have the entire run of my cabin – no cage.
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:
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!
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.
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!
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!
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: