Mister Rogers’ Shoes

mrrogers_imageThis time of year makes me think about shoes.  Yes, you read that right, shoes.  I begin to think about the opening sequence of Mister Rogers’ neighborhood and how he had his outdoor sweater, and outdoor shoes. To some Fred may have been a snappy dresser, this may have also been the behavior of someone who is germaphobic or has an extreme case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder other wise known as OCD. Maybe he was just a very clean man, I guess the real reason will remain a mystery.  But there is a lesson here.

Spring time brings about a lot of amazing things in the world. Trees fill in, flowers start to bloom, bees and other insects appear and the wild birds begin to have babies.  It’s a beautiful natural circle. The list of projects builds and the weather is just lovely enough to get most of them done.  While this is going on, sometimes what you bring in from the outdoor world is left on the bottom of your priority list, or on the bottom of your shoe.  

If you are like 80% of garden or yard people, you use fertilizer on your grass, shrubs flowers etc. This section does NOT include Organic garden or yard people, instead this is for the consumer who believes in Miracle Grow or other commercial fertilizers.  Both can work and they have different results, but ultimately it’s your decision.  It’s not my job to tell you what to do, instead warn you about what you are tracking in your house after you spray your lawn or garden.  There are also Pesticides when you step into the Weed n Feed variety of fertilizers, which are a two for one shot.  Fertilizing and killing those pesky lions that aren’t really so dandy (dandelions) unwanted insects and other nuisance weeds.  The chemicals alone in those mixtures would stump some of the best science minds not to mention

pesticide“Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are linked with cancer or carcinogenicity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system. Of those same pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, 23 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources, 24 are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms vital to our ecosystem, 11 are toxic to bees, and 16 are toxic to birds.” ~ eartheasy.com

Spring also brings out household insects which we have to spray the outer perimeter of the house with an insect killer.  It works effectively, but again, you have to follow the directions of when you can interact with the areas that have been sprayed and how long it takes to dry.  Not all products are created equal, DO YOUR RESEARCH and if you have a gnawing feeling in your gut about it, DONT USE IT.

Parrots and other birds are already susceptible and vulnerable to so many environmental hazards, imagine what these things could do to them.  Bottom line, you have to be Extra careful.  When we are out doing yard work, we have our yard shoes and clothing separate from the rest of the house.  We take them off, and wash them the minute we walk in the doorway.  The last thing you want is your parrot or other animals playing or ingesting these chemicals. Even if you garden organically, you don’t want to track in some of the items used in Organic fertilizers being ingested by your feathered companion.  The bottom line with your household animals, you can never be too careful.  

cockatoo grassAnother reminder, if you have your birds outside playing in your grass or flowers, make sure they aren’t in any danger.  Many chemicals are still on your plants and grass anywhere from a month to a year, so you never know how safe your yard truly is.  Not to mention on your yard furniture, decks and walkways.  

Sometimes the goal for having that perfect yard is the finish line, but you seem to forget about the steps you have to go through to get there and essentially you forget all about Mister Rogers’ Shoes.

Copyright – 2015 – Parrot Earth – Mister Rogers’ Shoes

The Birds, No Seriously The Birds!

Over the past few years, I have been asked to add a little more personal flair to the blog.  My readers have been curious about daily life around the Parrot Earth house and I decided that in 2015 I would give up the goods and open up a bit more.

house.2As some of you know we had just moved into a new house, it’s was a long time to get here, but none the less here we are. I am very proud of all that we have accomplished and we have a beautiful home to show for it.  However, “with the sweets comes the sours”.  A couple of months into residency at Greywood House (yes we named the house, how back east) we had a leak in the roof that leaked down an upstairs wall and puddled in the basement ceiling.  Now let me tell you, I was not please, especially since we got a “roof certification” which we were told that the roof would last a minimum of five years before needing any work.  Well come to find out a roof certification is not worth the paper it’s really printed on (for you future home buyers).  It’s just a piece of paper for the bank so the financing on the the loan will go through. That was lesson number one.  Fast forward two and a half months to another leak, this time upstairs coming out of the smoke detector (thankfully it notified us through the alarm company, otherwise we would have not known until morning) and eventually a hole in the ceiling while trying to find the leak.  holeYep, I said a hole in our lovely new ceiling, which has since been patched and only took a month to find someone to do it.  Not the dreams that most new homeowners want realized. “Why is your roof leaking?”, you may be asking yourself… well let’s talk irony shall we? As you are reading this you know Parrot Earth and the work that I strive to do for parrots. I even try to do my part for wild birds and feed them in the back yard with feeders here and there.  Let’s not to forget to mention the hummingbird population, because who doesn’t love those little guys? Two words spring to mind when answering the question of what is doing damage to our roof. Simply put, it’s THE BIRDS!

I got the little flicker here.

I got the little flicker here.

Yes, you read that correctly BIRDS and one in particular, described on internet sites as “The Glorious Northern Flicker Woodpecker” was the culprit.  In the Pacific Northwest there are these trees that I do not particularly care for and are called pine trees, and yes I am aware I live in the wrong state not to like pine trees, let’s move on shall we?  They inhabit almost every nook and cranny and are quite messy.  Interesting enough, our property is surrounded by them and their lovely little needles that they drop EVERYWHERE gather in the valleys of our new home’s roof and attract birds.  Birds, more importantly the newly renamed “The Little Flicker” comes along and look for bugs. Their sharp little beaks punch holes in the roof like a precision drill, therefore bringing the Seattle drizzle right into your living room.  After days upon days of research, we made the decision to try measures that would be both affordable and gentle to the environment.

To buy your own Maybe or Mavis, click here.

To buy your own Maybe or Mavis, click here.

Welcome Mavis and Maybel, our decoy owls.  Mavis is solar-powered and her head moves every minute, or with every little gust of wind. After pulling them out of the boxes our dogs, Sheldon and Baron were terrified of the decoys.  I took that as a good sign, considering they didn’t know what an owl was.

So, on the roof they went and it appears that birds in the general vicinity have taken a leave to a couple of houses down.  There was a recommendation that they be moved every so often, so they don’t start to blend in the with the scenery.  We also tied Irritape to the roof, which is a loose era decent streamer looking thing that spooks birds if they come near it, because it changes color and looks like it moving.  Irritape doesn’t last as long as you would like it to in a windstorm.  In fact it whips around and snaps, of which you will no doubt find the pieces in your yard, but at least they are pretty.  Another thing that worked AMAZINGLY well while we were coming together with our game plan was a suggestion from my mother-in-law. Mylar balloons from the local dollar store.  Blue, red and silver were the variety we bought and tied them to just about anything that we could.  They moved enough and had a reflective surface that frightened off any potential roof damaging little Flickers.  

I am not pictured here.

I am not pictured here.

We consulted a roofing specialists in our area and were going to replace the valleys on the house with metal flashings, so the needles no longer gather. After time and budgeting, we were able to add the flashing to the valleys of the roof ourselves, which ended up saving us about $1000 and that was music to my ears.  Streaming wind socks of different shapes and sizes were also added to the roof as a deterrent.  

Also my bird buddy Irena Schultz suggested that we provide food for the little Flickers in the form of suet feeders placed here and there on the property, which I gladly did.  I try not to be mad at the little flicker for doing what nature has programmed him to do, however the costs weren’t helping my forgiving attitude, nor my naturalistic outlook.  

It’s been two months since “The Glorious Northern Flicker” seemed to go on his merry way.  Was it the solar owls on the roof, was it the irritape?  Could it have been the mylar balloons?  Possibly the windsocks or the metal flashing?  Or was it all of it.  I can honestly laugh about the situation now, kind of.  We went through some sleepless nights during that time and I went through a lot of hours on the internet and phone talking to experts on what could be done. Let’s not forget the bottles of vodka, but that’s off the record.  But hey…  At least no birds were harmed in this learning experience. Hopefully someone can use some of these tips before they incur thousands of dollars of damage! But really, who thought it would have been The Birds, No Seriously The Birds!

Copyright – 2015 – Parrot Earth – The Birds, No Seriously The Birds!!

With the Sweets, Comes the Sours.

Click here for pinning african grey.

As parrot owners we all have one thing in common, parrots bite.  There is no way to get around it. You can’t put it on a plate and make it pretty to serve to the unsuspecting or unknowing, it’s just a harsh fact of owning these beautiful creatures.  They bite, and when they do, it sucks.

Dexter my Timneh grey who I have had the longest in our little flock usually bites me once a year.  Is it an episode in terror that he has been planning?  Nope.  It’s usually around spring fever time when all parrots go a little wonky.  It’s the one time of year that you have to pick your battles and walk away.  Sometimes it’s not the easiest to walk away from and your feelings get hurt.

photo (2)Cooper, who I refer to as Cujo of my household, has his moods.  He can be pig-headed, cage aggressive, cunning and a down rain pain in the old keister.  However, I try not to lose faith in him.  He makes it extremely difficult to love him sometimes, but when he lets his walls down, your heart literally melts in your chest.  There are months that go by where his beak does not shred my skin like paper, there are months where he steps up without launching at my hand like a junkyard dog going after a trespasser and there are months when Cooper lets his true personality shine.  That’s when I tend to relax and lose focus.  Cooper is just being Cooper, and that’s when it happens.  WHAM!  I understand that he has not been premeditating the strike like the planning of a bank job, it’s just that I haven’t watched his body language, and his trigger points that indicate the attack is coming.  Of course when this happens, it hurts.  It bothers me to the core.  I feel horrible, not only for my physical wounds, but for the gauge to my ego.  I feel as if all the work that we have done is just tossed and out the window.  When any of the other birds nip me, it does not affect me the same way.  Of course the same intent and aggression is not there.

I've had this plaque for 24 years.

I’ve had this plaque for 26 years.

Birds are naturally prey animals and innately suspicious creatures.  They have their defense mechanisms, just like any other animal out there.  So biting may be the way that they communicate to you that they aren’t happy with the way things are going and want to say “No, I don’t want to go” or “I don’t want to come out of my cage”.  A friend of mine and I were chatting about a bite wound and he asked “well your birds talk, can’t they simply say no I don’t want to go” and I responded, “yes they understand certain things, but english is not their first language”.  If you think about it, it’s true they mimic, understand and can formulate their own sentences, but that’s not every bird.  Some birds don’t even talk at all; so how are they going to communicate?  Physically. Our first reaction to physical threat is fight or flight, our adrenal system takes over and usually doesn’t allow for “talking it out” until the brain has made the decision of which path it is going. Fight avenue or flight drive.

Click here for Parrot Problem Solver.

Click here for Parrot Problem Solver.

For those of you out there with a bird that bites, educate yourself and the “why” will make itself known.  Birds usually don’t bite for no reason and some with severe aggression issues have been conditioned that way.  There is always a cause and effect in any behavioral scenario and it’s up to you to find the root. Try and tell yourself it’s nothing personal, lord knows I try to tell myself that very thing.  

With every beautiful thing there is always a counter balance, the yin to the yang.  With parrots and their beautiful magnificence, there has to be the other side of the spectrum. When your parrot bites you, shake it off and breathe,  it’s nothing personal.  And remember, “With the sweets comes the sours”.

Copyright – 2015 – Parrot Earth – With the Sweets, Comes the Sours

 

 

Safe and Sound

I got my photo for Macaw Rescue & Sanctuary here.

I got my photo for Macaw Rescue & Sanctuary here.

I am not sure if you’ve heard, but there was a bird-napping situation at Macaw Rescue & Sanctuary.  A number of parrots were stolen in the dark of night.  Prior to this the owner, Bob Dawson, had never felt the need to lock up his birds or his acreage.  In fact he has never had a problem in the last twelve years he has been on the property, until now.  What you need to know is Macaw Rescue & Sanctuary is out in the woods of Western Washington, and when I say, it’s out there…. it really is out in the middle of a forest.  Also, any of the Dawson’s enclosures are far from the front gate, so in order to pull off this feat, you would need an experienced memory of the property and what birds are where.  This has legitimately shaken the Pacific Northwest’s bird community to the core. Other bird thefts have occurred in the area as well, however it is not know if they are related to this incident or each other. 

I understand that the current economic climate is a freezing blizzard for some, however when you begin to take birds from a sanctuary for the purpose of selling them or setting up a breeding operation, I believe there is a special place for you in hell.  In case you don’t believe in hell, then I believe there is an instant Karmic debt that is coming your way.  

This whole situation got me thinking about security and what measures do we have in place to protect our birds. When we were searching for this house, I wanted a compound feel.  I grew up in the country on a farm and with the phrase “did you close the gate?”.  Hey, I love the feeling of gates, locks and privacy. It keeps unwanted people out and a feeling of safety in. 

backyardWhen we found this house, which is surrounded by trees, fencing and gates, I knew it would be a perfect home for us and our animals.  We built a large fence in the immediate backyard area right after we moved in.  Some thought it a bad investment and just thought we should stick with the worn down chain link that surrounds the property.  However because of Sheldon, our Golden Retriever, and Baron, our adorable Miniature Schnauzer, we made sure the fence came first and they were safe.  Our animals did not ask to come live with us, and because of that, they get treated as a member of the family. Now they have a nine thousand square feet fenced back yard that allows them more room to run than some dogs get in their whole lives.  It also allows us to have another level of security when the birds are in the back yard getting some sunshine.  We don’t have to worry about someone walking up and snatching them right out of our yard. 

palmAnother thing I am conscious about is windows.  We have blinds and window covering on all the windows. They are easily opened for light but I always make sure they aren’t open all the way, especially facing the street. Why announce to the world that you have expensive exotic parrots in your home?  In the bird room I placed palm plants in front of the front facing windows. This allows for that “jungle feel” and light is able to peer through.  More importantly, it also doesn’t allow eyes to peer in from the street.  I also have a reader that planted shrub bushes in front of her bird room windows, to prevent lookie-loos from peering in.  

We also have an amazing security system. I remember when they were rather expensive in the past, but now they have reasonable systems which are not only affordable, but you can also install yourself. Most even come with cameras.  There is a certain (insert pun) secure feeling with having a security system. 

Storm doors!  If you own your home, they can not only be a lovely way of getting air and natural light into your home, but they lock and they can be another barrier between you and your front door. 

Last year one of my readers left her grey unattended for five minutes on her porch while she went in to make some lemonade and when she returned, her grey was not only gone, but so was the small cage he was in.  She of course is still devastated and has hope someday she and her grey will be reunited.  But how? Microchipping is a great way to leave a digital signature on your parrot.  Is it a guarantee that you will be reunited? Unfortunately no, there is no guarantee, but it’s better than nothing. It’s very affordable and convenient when you get your parrots annual vet exam. 

legbandIf your parrot has a leg band, write down the information.  This is an easy indicator to give law enforcement if your bird is stolen.  It’s even a great identifier if your feather friend flies out a window and someone needs proof that he/she is yours.  

Photos!  If your bird has any identifying marks, take pictures.  Even if he/she doesn’t, take pictures.  The smallest thing can help in bringing your bird home. Did I mention, take pictures?

These are a few suggestions and the probability of your bird being stolen is low.  But, why make it any easier for someone to take your companion.  Think like a thief and look for “ins” and opportunities that could occur and create a way to prevent them.  Unfortunately in this day and age, we have to be more careful than ever.  People aren’t as nice as they used to be and those people who want to take advantage, will.

So take care of yourself, your family and your flock.  You could be the only thing that will make things around your home, safe and sound.  

Copyright – 2015 – Parrot Earth – Safe and Sound 

 

 

Cleodora

willowWhen we bought our much larger house, I definitely wanted to look into bringing another bird into our flock.  Of course I couldn’t decide what species and what personality we wanted to add to our home.  Granted, every bird its its own unique personality, some species are a little more vivacious than others.

Of course I sent out some feelers on a few birds that I had seen here and there, but for some reason I was a bit reluctant.  That was until the day I saw Avian Retreat, a local rescue,  advertise a Congo grey female that was just coming in. Cleo was owned by a gentleman who purchased her after his wife passed away. He owned her for six years and unfortunately he passed away as well.  Cleo then went to live with the daughter and son-in-law of her owner. She immediately bonded with the son-in-law of her original owner and adopted him as her person. They, being a dog family, tried to work together with Cleo in making it an easy transition into their home, however it just didn’t work out.  We all know that when you bring a bird into your house, you have a vision of how things will go and sometimes that works out and then….well, sometimes it doesn’t.  I laughed when I wrote that last sentence,  because all too often in adopting or fostering older birds that we have, when we brought them home 90% of the time it all went incredibly NOT as planned.

greyssundayI look at things as “meant to be” and I truly believe it worked out the way it was supposed to.  Avian Retreat made sure Cleo had blood work done and was in perfect health before they even contemplated coming to the house for a house check.  After that was done, we agreed that Cleo’s current owner needed to come out to the house as well, I personally think it was a wonderful idea and it allowed Cleo’s current family to see where she was going and who she would be living her days with.

Cleo has been an absolute gem to have in our home, and is making an amazing addition.  They boys like her, but are keeping their distance.  She has in a very relaxed state ever since she came through the front door.  There are times that she is a bit nervous, but for the most part she is settling in nicely!  In fact she reminds me of when I brought Dexter home, just so easy-going and go with the flow kind of bird.  If only that would rub off on Cooper, well one can dream.

Copyright – 2015 – Parrot Earth  – Cleodora