The Friend Zone

Written By: B.D. Butler - Feb• 26•18

Click here for Friend Zone.

I have always believed that nature always has its course, and you can go with the flow, or be swept away in the current.  When dealing with animals, especially those feathered friends we have brought into our lives, it’s very important to remember who exactly they are.  Wild animals who haven’t been domesticated through several generations like the dogs and cats we share our homes with.  Rather making them servants to their instincts and their bodily intuitions and not really understanding social conventions and human expectations (without extensive training of course). 

I got Ross and Rachel here.

Dr. Jason Crean and I did a podcast on the epidemic of Anthropomorphizing in the parrot community.  Surfing the interweb this morning, I realized it is something that I should write about again. You’re probably thinking Anthropo-WHAT? Yes that long word animal owners don’t care for. The premise is not complicated, at least for the animal, it’s our brains which seem to have the problem wrapping our heads around it.   Let’s break it down, remember Ross and Rachel from Friends?  Their pouty passive aggressive relationship which was on and off again?  The tension filled glances across a room with the swelling music in the background, because the other was not ready or couldn’t find the correct way to communicate feelings?  Remember those dramatic moments when they would finally come together, only to be dashed a things didn’t “work out” a few episodes later?  Guess what, in your birds mind you could be Ross or Rachel.  

Click here for Lovebird Regurgitating.

If allowed, a parrot will develop a “mate” bond with its owner.  It doesn’t even have to be during the horrible hormonal season(s), you may have been tossing your parrot signals, similar to the pouty lip quiver and squinted eye look Jennifer Anniston is so known for in her career. Has your loving bird regurgitated for you? My Timneh, Dexter has, and at that time I know I have to stop what is happening, and put him down.  It’s the most beautifully disgusting behavior your bird can do for you.  I understand when it happens, it’s time for me to (1) evaluate my behavior and physical contact or (2) look at the calendar, temperatures, daylight schedules, thermostat and possibly begin Hormone Havoc from Greywood Manor Provisions (Shameless Plug – don’t judge).  The simple act of regurgitation is very loving, indeed.   However it’s a sign of possible hormonal problems to come. 

I got this quote here.

A friend of mine, who has no experience with parrots, recently adopted a Citron Cockatoo from a dire situation and it was either her house or euthanasia.  She, being an avid animal lover and advocate, chose to save a life.  I was  immediately contacted, and we went over the basics.  Food, cage, and where not to touch, especially since Cockatoos have more of a tendency to develop mate bonds faster that some other species of birds. In the past few months she has become very smitten with her new companion and with the correct information on boundaries, positive reinforcement, diet etc. they are good friends.  This is a perfect example of “when you know better, you do better” – Dr. Maya Angelou

Recently I was chatting with a friend who owns a parrot store and she was explaining a wild behavior of presenting foods to your bird in/on cages.  In the wild a parrot will generally head to the highest point, you know because who doesn’t want the eagle eye view from a penthouse especially if there are predators in the world below.  Usually a mate will search for food while their mate is tending to the nest. The mate will then “present” food.  Now, think about cages with food dishes and a play-top.  Our greys had them, and I found it odd that one would only eat his “chop/mash” on top of his cage and refused to touch it inside.  Cue the aggressive behavior and wanting to rearrange my husbands finger placement.  It was all due to me “presenting” him with food and me encouraging an inappropriate mate bond.  

We humans, tend to blame the animal for “their” behaviors and create labels.  “That bird is a biter”, “that dog is aggressive” or “that cat tries to kill me” (which may be true, I’m not too sure how much I trust felines). Instead we should “take responsibility for the energy you bring into the space” and think about the precursors to the behavior and what you could have done to get a different outcome. Maybe your bird is a biter due to excitement, or maybe your dog is aggressive because you have not used positive reinforcement in order to get him not to be food aggressive. Don’t label, it’s not proactive and more importantly, it’s not fair.  The interesting thing about animals is they are very resilient.  They don’t bring up their “trauma” as much as we do, they merely react to various environmental conditions.  It’s our responsibility to get the education on training and recognizing these behaviors, especially if we want to have a happy bird in our midst. 

I got Perfect Storm here.

Honestly, I think that’s always what upsets me the most when March/April comes.  The entire year, you have let your bird have free reign over their dominion (your house). Feeding them inappropriate foods, allowing them to roam finding caverns for potential nests. Letting them chew up your baseboards and door framing therefore providing materials for said nest. Eventually there will be a time your bird will start to take ownership over you, therefore causing problematic behavior for “challengers” who may want to steel your attention or affections. This is when you see the video of the parrot chasing the Shitzu on the couch and the owner laughing and thinking it’s hilarious because they got 10,000 views on Facebook and Instagram.  What you don’t see is when the Shitzu and owner have to get stitches because the parrot has attacked the dog and the owner went to break it up and got bit in the process. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. You allow them to climb all over you, play in your hair, stroke their feathers in inappropriate places, sending them signals you are their mate because they believe you are “preening” them… as any good mate should do. Some bird owners provide them with small warm cute cloth tents to cuddle in (click here to read the article I wrote about them), letting them play in boxes or shred newspaper in the bottom of their cages, giving them nest like options and materials. Realistically you are hitting all the right erogenous zones and making a lovely dinner for two with a nice Chianti. So cue the Marvin Gaye music, you have created a perfect storm.  A perfect storm of sexual frustration, inappropriate mate bonding and hormonal breeding/nesting behavior.  Add breeding season on top of it and the first warm weather surge of the year and Craigslist is full of people who “can’t” handle their birds any longer. “My bird all of a sudden changed and hates me”.  That may very well be, but it’s up to you to take a step back and look at all of the factors which have gone into this chaotic potion.  Did you add a little bit of this, or a little more of that?  Is your bird reacting to environmental conditions? Are you being proactive? Did you do the research and reading before purchasing or adopting said bird? Did you know about these behaviors, and how easily you can create a hormonal bird who will most likely start aggressive behavior, barbering, plucking or mutilating out of frustration and abandonment issues?  You would really be surprised by the number of emails or social media messages I have asked that exact question and the answer has been, “no”.  Breathe, it can get better and with some patience and a game plan, it will get better. It’s a matter of perspective and not being a defeatist. 

In our house, the birds have multiple playstands TONS of foraging options and get TONS of enrichment opportunities. They are not allowed to wander around the house and chew on things or find caverns for nesting.  They are used to their “areas” and aren’t allowed to scurry about on the furniture and attempt to make a pile of splinters out of our Indonesian credenza.  It can be done, it’s all about being consistent and the most important thing I learned from my buddy Lara Joseph it’s about giving them positive reinforcement when they are in and staying in their designated areas.  Also, allowing them to roam and chew on things can be a health hazard, you have no idea what chemicals are in your cabinet’s varnish or what kind of paint is on wall or wooden trim.  

You may be thinking, “I didn’t know”, or “no one told me”…Pssst. Guess what, I didn’t know either, and that’s ok.  Life is about learning along the way and personally I try to allow myself to be open and absorb. I continuously have my Oprah “Ah-Ha” moments and I am so eager to learn from those who have walked to path before me and those who are trailblazing new ones. There are so many ideas and paths to explore, there are also so many “experts” out there; video blogs, written blogs, podcasts and other great sources of information.  It’s a matter of you choosing what fits best for you.  Everyone is different, and that’s ok, but just remember what’s best for your birds and allowing them to have the best quality and quantity of life.

We are still learning about our companions and what they truly need to live along side us, but remember giving them mixed signals to fulfill our own needs and emotions isn’t necessarily what is best for your bird.  It will only make your birds life more difficult and their life with you frustrating.  

After all, it’s about them… so keep them in “the friend zone”. 

Copyright 2018 – The Friend Zone – Parrot Earth

 

 

 

Re-Energize

Written By: B.D. Butler - Nov• 05•17

Hi out there.  I woke up this morning with a definitive urge to write.  Not that I haven’t had this urge before, it just so happens to be a time when I had the opportunity to do so.

When I was a kid, I never truly understood the need and want for there to be “more hours in the day”.  Trust me, that outlook has since changed and I really wish there was another ten hours in the day.  Writing about parrots is hard.  Not that it’s difficult to write per se, there is only so much you can write specifically about birds.  They eat, talk, poop, make us laugh and repeat.  I decided to take the angle and sway it a little to the left, and change the filter.  Parrot Earth came along when I began my crazy journey into the world of birds, and since that time, a lot of things have changed.  Social Media has provided us with things such as blogs, video blogs and websites, which are a wonderful resource.  Social Media has also helped us get in contact with professionals and be apart of a greater learning system, clubs, groups and the lives of other bird lovers.  Granted, Social Media has not helped with online temperament, not has it helped with online manners.  There are still those keyboard commandos out there, we are just a little more equipped to handle them.  Maybe we’ve just become a little more tough skinned or we just don’t pay attention, either way we have come into a place of social media comfortability.  I’ve noticed it’s easier to Unfriend, Unfollow, or Unlike a person or group, than throw venom into the void.  Fighting with people who have to have the last word are sometimes just not worth it.

During my journey, I have also learned more about myself.  My mother swears its age and I’m coming into my own, which I will say is probably the case.  I think the older you get your “give-a-sh#tter” (as my mother refers to it) turns off.  You stop worrying about the little things and you also realize who’s important and more importantly what you will put up with. You have the freedom to let your own Ouiser Boudreaux, from Steel Magnolias, fly and embrace those funny hats and bib overalls.  It’s also much easier to release those negative people back into the wild where you found them.  It’s also easier to let those “last word” people have just that, the last word.  In the bird world, there are some different personalities and in essence it comes down to who you want to associate yourself with.  I will admit, I almost packed up and left the avian community.  I got tired of the vitriol spewed to the masses.  However I chose to take a break and do some self-care.  I got into this community for a reason, and I intend on staying and making a difference.  Even if it’s to a handful of people, it’s worth it.

In the last year we began a non-profit, called The Gilded Feather Foundation.  Our foundation does fundraising for many animal groups and some two-legged too.  We have some extremely vital people on our board, and three of them work for other non-profit organizations.  You always need to surround yourself with the best people, and we truly have.

The Gilded Feather Foundation brought forth the Northwest Bird Expo.  There are many avian events annually, and we wanted to bring some of our friends in the avian education business to the area.  It went smashingly, especially for a first year event.  We had Dr. Karen Becker (#1 followed holistic vet in the world) Lara Joseph (owner of The Animal Behavior Center and international trainer) Patricia Sund (fellow blogger and writer of Parrot Nation) Dr. Jason Crean (advocate for raw food diets and avian activist) Jamie Whittaker (from the Indonesian Parrot Project), local vets from The Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine, Dr. Anneliese Strunk and Dr. Alicia Mclaughlin.  Boy…. you want to talk about the educational energy in one space.  You could have easily powered an entire city with the brain power in these lectures.  The vendors who came and sold were also amazing!  We had toy manufacturers, stores who closed down to set up in the vendor hall, artists who came from out-of-state to exhibit their artwork, a tarot reader and intuitive animal healer and representatives from some of the best sanctuaries in the state….just to name a few.

With any good event, it’s hard to think about making the same impact we did during the second year.  We also want to make something unique and different from anything happening in the country.  So as Coco Chanel said “less is more”.  We are slimming things down to a one day OUTDOOR event and expanding into all animal and nature lovers.  This event will now be the Northwest Animal and Nature Festival. We are so excited to be partnering with The Olympic Bird Fanciers and Discover Burien to make a truly unique event for all.

Our company Greywood Manor Tea & Provisions has been a blockbuster of a success and some amazing things are coming with that.  (that’s all I am at liberty to discuss about that, and if you haven’t checked out our products for birds, you need to).

After some reflection on blogging, the avian community, non-profit organizations, events and bird people…. it’s time for a reemergence .  It’s time to write again and bring some of my experiences into the collective.  Sometimes we learn more from our mistakes than we do our successes, and it’s all a matter of perspective and allowing yourself the chance to “re-energize”.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright Parrot Earth 2017 – Re-Energize – All Rights Reserved

Busy B

Written By: B.D. Butler - Nov• 18•16

busy-beeI know some of you who have been reading and following Parrot Earth have probably thought, “what gives?”.  Hey, I don’t blame you.  I have wondered the same thing a time or two, at least the past few months anyways.  I have been trying to find the time to write, really I have.  Writing is something that helps me feel grounded and helps me sort out the many many many thoughts in my head. Did I mention I think a lot?  It’s true.  So this past few months have been so hectic, I haven’t necessarily been able to get to it with my schedule being the way that it has.

greywood-banner3Greywood Manor Tea & Provisions has been extremely successful this past year and we are busier than ever. Especially with the glowing reviews and results we are getting from our devoted customers! I am constantly researching new products that would be beneficial and safe for animals in your home.  I am so proud and thankful every time I get to hand blend an order for our customers.  It’s like a feeling of sending a handmade present to a friend.  We definitely pride ourselves in our branding and want every opening of a package from Greywood to be an experience.  Not just some delivery from another pet supply distributor.

2b-copyAfter several requests from friends and colleagues in the avian community, we have constructed a planning team and we are putting together the Northwest Bird Expo.  We pulled out all the stops in the speaker list and am extremely excited to what each individual speaker brings to the table.  Our speakers include the amazing international trainer, Lara Joseph.  She is one of my favorite people and if you haven’t found her beloved Animal Behavior Center online or Facebook you are truly missing out.  Next up we have my buddy Jason Crean, whoops  I mean Dr. Jason Crean.  He went out and got a EdD this year, but don’t worry he isn’t too high and mighty, yet. I kid, I kid. Then we have spunky “Chop” guru and my buddy, Patricia Sund. We are working on getting her the veggies and choppers so she can show our attendees the fun of doing chop, not just sitting in a chair and learning about it. I don’t know about you, but I personally learn hands on. Last but certainly not least we have one of the most followed veterinarians followed on social media (in the world), Dr. Karen Becker DVM. We interviewed her for From the Perch, A Podcast and I tell ya, she has more information about birds in her pinky, than I have in my whole body.  She can talk about anything, and it’s a joy to listen to. I personally talked with many members of the avian community and wanted it to be the best experience for anyone from a novice parrot owner to a seasoned parrot owner, could take away the feeling of, “I learned something and I can apply it to my daily life”.  Our team consists of people with amazing organizational skills and experience working with non-profit events and event planning. Not to mention the positivity and team work atmosphere! gilded-feather-logo As any leader should say, “I am no one without the people I work with and lean on”. We have an amazing accountant for the non-profit organization we started, The Gilded Feather Foundation.  TGFF is the backbone of the operation, the concrete foundation to build our goals. We are also very excited about what we will be doing with other non-profit organizations in the future.  To be honest, it’s an exciting learning experience and I have learned so much about myself and others during the process. Our event is in a Seattle suburb (just five minutes away from the Sea-Tac international airport) Burien, WA.  Our venue is the beautiful Burien Community Center, which to me screams Seattle culture.  It’s quirky, intimate and surrounded by natural lighting and foliage.  I could not have wished for a better venue for the first year.

So in the back of my mind, if you are reading this, you have been losing sleep over why I have not had the time to sit down and write anything.  (that was total #sarcasm in case you don’t have the same dry and sarcastic sense of humor I do).  Now you know, all the good things which have been keeping my away from my keyboard.  I am working on getting my schedule a bit more regimented so I can make the time to write and not neglect Parrot Earth, which is so very important.  So, until then.  Be good to yourselves and your birds!

copyright – Parrot Earth – 2016 – Busy B

 

 

A Summer Letter From Sheldon

Written By: B.D. Butler - Jul• 26•16

Dear Birds,

cleoThe summer has begun, very slowly it seems.  Time has gone by since the last time we really had any issues, especially having moved into a much larger house. Let’s just be honest, shall we?  Having you in your bird room has been total heaven, of course except when those instances I walk by you when you are on your parrot stands and you insist on flinging food at my head. I find it rude, not only because it frightens me but because it makes a mess!

Our owners work very hard at keeping the Manor clean and you’re not helping.  I’m not trying to damper your artistic vision but trying to become the next Picasso by tossing your food at my head or the wall isn’t going to work. I’ve heard humans refer to parrots as a “blender with the top off” but this is getting ridiculous.

sheldon.dogsIn previous letters I have addressed your calling my name and scolding me, but with the two Miniature Schnauzers who also live here, it’s getting confusing.  They don’t know you’re kidding.  Yelling, “No!” and “Come here” or “Wanna go outside” would be confusing for the average dog.  Maybe you’re playing your mind games again, and possibly on purpose. Either way, not cool.

So in closing this letter to you Dexter, Cooper, Cleo and little Hugo I would appreciate keeping your vocalizations to something directed at the masters of the Manor and also please stop using my head as target practice.  I don’t appreciate fresh vegetables and fruits getting intermingled with my fur.

Until next time,

Sheldon

Digital Enrichment

Written By: B.D. Butler - May• 04•16
I got YouTube here.

I got YouTube here.

In today’s world, things are a lot more hectic than they used to be.  Oprah taught us the term multi-tasking and we excel at doing just that.  Sometimes I wonder where the time goes and wish there were more hours in a day to get things done. That includes keeping my parrots happy.  I strive very hard at keeping new toys in their cages, rearranging perches to keep things new and offering enrichment opportunities when I can.  This includes a HD flat screen tv in their bird room. 

I wanted to make sure the birds had a beautiful space to live in, and they really do.  Lots of light, plants, stencils on the walls, their own radio and we added a flat screen tv in the corner.  Because we stream everything and only watch Roku & Apple TV we use Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube to stream movies and videos for the birds.  I personally like to play jungle sounds or rainforest sounds for them.  I figure it’s as close to the wild as they will ever get and it’s amazing how many sounds they have picked up.  If you have cable, we used to leave the cartoon network on when we were gone.  

Here is one of my favorite videos I like to play. 

Our birds go nuts for it!  They call back to the birds in the video and it adds that extra bit of nature to their world.  I will admit the greys do entertain the crap out of us, especially with all of the noises they can pick up.  Zippers, garbage trucks, text notifications, microwaves… the list goes on and on.  But my favorite is the noises they have picked up from cartoons.  Personally I like the old school cartoons from my childhood like Gummy Bears, Smurfs, Scooby-Doo (we hear the occasional Zoink or Jinkees) but I will also put on some of the new CGI movies and Dream Works films for them.  The brilliant colors and sounds really keep them intrigued.  

Here’s an episode of the Gummy Bears:

So when you are going to wake your birds up in the morning I out on some rainforest sounds and let them wake up “in the jungle”.  Or if you want to teach them some cartoon noises, turn it on… it’s enrichment in a new and fantastic way. It’s so easy and entertaining!  Especially when life gets crazy and you can’t devote 100% of the time with your birds.  You’ll be surprised how much they will love it!

Copyright- 2016 – Parrot Earth – Digital Enrichment