Planning for the Future.

FutureI just read a post online and it gave me the writing jolt.  For those of you that may not know, writing comes when it comes, and you have to strike while the iron is hot, as they say.  This post had resonance and is rattling around in my brain, “I’m planning on a trust for my birds, because I want to make sure they are taken care of”. Pretty powerful words, right?  I mean, we all love birds, and we want the best for them, right? We’ve looked into planning for our retirement, yet, how many of us have taken the proactive initiative to plan for their future? 

While typing this, I realized that we actually don’t have current and up to date wills. To be honest, there was a time in my life where I lived pretty “freely” and wasn’t much of a planner and just thought I would “figure it out”.  Of course I think that’s before you get to the certain mind-set, where you realize your mortality.  One of my favorite quotes for aging is “you spend the first 40 years trying to kill yourself, and the last 40 trying not to”.  Aging isn’t for the faint of heart and it isn’t something that is for the faint of heart.  Taking a step back and making sure that your birds have protection and there is a clear and concise plan of where you, as their owner, want them to go is so important.  You are the one that makes them breakfast every morning and cleans cages and knows all of their little habits and quirks, of course you should have a say in their final home.  

While helping a few birds here and there find their way, we have run into the story of “my mother/father died and I need to find a home for her birds”, and the first question I always ask, “was there a will,were there any final wishes or arrangements made?” and nine times out of ten the answer is, “no”.  

Personally I want to have a hand in where ALL of our animals go, and make sure they get the same quality of care they would receive in our home.  I think that would be the biggest peace of mind if you were ill and could no longer care for your pets.  Knowing they will be taken care of down to the smallest detail, would definitely give me peace of mind.  trusts

There are ways to start planning:

1trust 

noun \ˈtrəst\

: an arrangement in which someone’s property or money is legally held or managed by someone else or by an organization (such as a bank) for usually a set period of time

Trusts are set up to hold money and a trustee will make payments to the sanctuary or home of your choice.will  

1Will

noun

A will is the legal instrument that permits a person, the testator, to make decisions on how his estate will be managed and distributed after his death.

There are now a lot of options for a will if you cannot afford an attorney to draw one up for you.  However I have seen some do their own wills and I would recommend you get a professional to help, if you can.  

pet_collagePreparation is important, because in the end, our animals won’t have the voices that we want them to.  They won’t be able to speak up and say where they want to go.  So, do them a favor and do some prep work.  Think about if you weren’t around, where you would want them to go or who you would want them to be with.  Many think parrots are going to be a burden and they look for the nearest sanctuary.  However that is not always the case, you may have struck a chord with a relative that would love to take your flock in, or maybe a neighbor that helps house sit or a friend from work that comes over for happy hour?  There are so many options, get creative and ask around.  

Because you never know what can happen when you’re Planning for the Future and trust me, they will thank you for it.

copyright – 2015 – Parrot Earth – Planning for the Future

 

Birdie’s Day Out

jail_break_1127455A week ago, I was perusing our local neighborhood blog, I saw someone had listed a “found” parakeet.  I read the post and looked at the picture, they had the poor little guy in a kids laundry hamper with a bowl of water.  There was also a description of the situation and the little guy wouldn’t even eat a “cracker”.  This made me a little nervous.  I was not sure how long he had been out, how long it had been since he ate and if he was ill.  The Pacific Northwest is going through a dry and hot spell.  Temperatures are soaring into the 90’s and for up here, that is a lot.  The Seattle area is usually a lovely and comfortable 78-82 degrees for most of the summer, however we have been dealing with 90+ reading for weeks.  

I immediately emailed the person who had the parakeet and let them know who I was and what I do.  Come to find out, the person was an old friend of mine and someone I use to see quite often.  He said they had no idea what to feed him, or what to do, his wife was terrified of the little bird and would not handle him. Within five minutes we were putting on clothes (this was at 11:30pm) and grabbing our lovebird’s travel cage.  

keetWe arrived at the house, which was just three minutes away and had the little guy in the cage and on our way home.  It wasn’t until we got home I realized something wasn’t right.  His beak was covered in what appeared to be scales. For anyone that is familiar with Scaly Mites or Knemidokoptes pilae, and you have other birds in the house, it makes your cringe.  Thankfully we always take precautions when bringing in a “new” or unfamiliar bird into the house and put them in quarantine in the basement office. Because of everything I assumed this little guy had been through, surviving a number of days in the wild, in high temperatures with limited food and water, I figured he probably just wanted to sleep.  I made sure I threw in some millet in the little food dish in case he wanted some comfort food (and I also figured if he was going to eat anything, it would be millet), so I covered the little cage and hoped for the best.  

keet.3The next morning I woke up, asked my husband if he was still kicking and the answer was, “yes”.  “Wonderful”, I replied.  It was time to put out the bat signal online. I asked for advice from some of the most knowledgable people I know, and I got a ton of information, on how to treat the mites to how long.  Because other birds are susceptible to scaly mites, I had some pondering to do.  I made the decision that I didn’t want to risk an outbreak.  I called around and chatted with an acquaintance of mine, who works at a local pet store.  They would be able to treat him in a quarantine area and also put him on antibiotics immediately.  Ah, a breath of fresh air.  

keet.2I made sure all the Lost/Found and local neighborhood blog was aware that he had been taken to the pet store and no one has made any inquiries about the little guy.  I talked to the pet store (they think he is well into his teens) and they are going to make sure he goes to a loving home or find a rescue for small birds, where he can live out the rest of his days.  

This time of year, it’s easy for accidents to happen.  Heat goes up and windows and doors get opened.  Unfortunately, I have spoken to some people who believe that it’s ok to set their birds free during this time of year.  Since exotic birds aren’t acclimated to eating outdoors, nine times out of ten, they starve to death or are killed by predators.  Please, take measures to make sure your bird doesn’t escape.  Also, make sure you have the information from bands (if they have them), photo’s and take recordings of your birds whistling and communicating. This will help if your bird gets out and needs a way to find his way back home.  

Copyright – 2015 – Parrot Earth – Birdies Day Out

 

That Cozy Feeling?

angry-parrot-500x406I get a lot of readers who write inquiries to me on a pretty regular basis.  If I don’t know the answer, then I will find someone who will.  I love being stumped by a situation or problem and then learning something new along the way.  I think that’s a humans lot in life, constantly learning and getting better.  The world of aviculture is continually evolving and things that once were “THE BE ALL END ALL” items and ideas, have actually become outdated and antiquated.  It’s okay, that’s life, as long as we get better and not bitter.

“Our new bird is extremely cage aggressive and won’t let us come near their cage, but is fine when they are away from their cage.” is a line I have seen in many a message and email.  My first question is, does your bird have a birdie hut/tent/cozy/snuggie of any kind? Nine times out of ten, the answer is, “yes”.  I fostered a Lovebird years ago who had snuggie tent is her cage, it made her the meanest bird that I think I have ever seen.  She quickly got the nickname “devil bird” from friends that would come over and visit.  At the time I thought her little birdie hut was adorable and didn’t have the faintest idea that could be the root of her “evil” behavior.

willowCleo, our newest grey came with a snuggie tube sort of thing, and she was what?  You guessed it, cage AGGRESSIVE!  You couldn’t stick your hand in to get her if your tried. When her cage came into the house I immediately knew we were going to have trouble. I got rid of that thing as quick as someone would hold open the garbage can lid.  Within a couple of hours, her demeanor and body language began to relax.  Granted, she was still territorial but she would allow you to touch her cage doors and change her water dish or even adjust toys. Within three or four days her aggression was almost gone.

So, why will my bird snuggie tent cause this behavior?  Simple, nesting behavior.  Birds do not have sleeping bags or a tent in the wild.  They are “cavity nesters” and dark enclosed spaced give them that little tinge of hormones that say “let’s have babies”. Giving a bird any sort of nesting material, which would be a warm, dark enclosed space says “let’s get territorial because there will eventually be eggs here and they must be protected”.  As bird owners dealing with mood shifts and other external factors, why give them something that could potentially be mood altering and also extremely dangerous.  

tent.birdieBird snuggie tents are made of fabric, personally I don’t like anything fabric because it is incredibly hard to clean and keep sterile.  Not to mention those little pieces of fabric that after being chewed on can be ingested causing a crop impaction. It could also become a danger by strangling your little companion and even possibly getting a foot caught and breaking it.  A few years ago a reader’s sweet Sun Conure got her foot stuck and pulled out a toe and bled to death while she was at work, what a horrible thing to come home to.   

I know that as parrot owners we want to make the best environment and make it the most comfortable for our little feathered companions, but when it really comes down to brass tacks, why give them something they wouldn’t get in the wild?  Why put your bird in danger for That Cozy Feeling?  

Copyright – 2015 – Parrot Earth – That Cozy Feeling

 

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!!