Room to Breathe.

I got organized here.

I got organized here.

Recently, as you may have read, I ordered a double stack cage for Dex and Coop. It turned into an episode in patience and that is NOT one of my best qualities.  Overall it did become a learning experience of which I am very happy about.

Not too long ago a fellow blogger buddy, Patricia Sund,  did a series of articles about cleaning house and getting organized.  It fueled a movement with her readers and inspired people to start sluffing off the old and putting things into their place and every place it’s thing.  I am not out of that circle. Closets got cleaned, cupboards got rearranged and we started to make plans.  Plans of the things that we no longer needed, returning the items we have borrowed from people and just really wanting more room.

photo (11)When you are in a smaller house, which is not uncommon here in Seattle, you have to figure out the creative ways to make room.  It’s funny that in winter, you start to feel that suffocated feeling and before you know it spring is knocking adding that inspiration to truly indeed, clean house.

Before we had the greys in separate cages and Hugo the lovebird has his mansion and it became too much.  Above all I refused to sacrifice the comfort and space of my birds.  Someday I hope that I can come back in this life as one of our animals, because they definitely do have priority and aren’t “wanting” for anything.  After months of research and figuring out measurements that right cage popped up and I just couldn’t see finding a better space saving option.

cage.beforeThe cage arrived in pieces, without the directions, but hey “S$*t Happens” right?  We got it put together in no time and let’s just say that it’s a massive tank.  High Quality is right, this cage weighs about 250lbs and each individual cage actually bigger than the cages that they had before.  Since my greys have had different cages prior it didn’t take them much time to get curious about the gray duplex that was planted in the living room.

cage.afterAfter getting Dexter and Cooper in their new flat, we pressure washed the old cages and let them dry overnight.  We made the decision to keep the cages, because they are both beautiful California Cages and as we bird folk know, California Cages are so rare they are like cigarettes in prison.  After letting them fully dry, we plastic wrapped them and placed them in storage. It’s kind of a nice feeling to know that we have back up cages, just in case we need them.

standWe also bought a beautiful perch from Golden Cockatoo in Florida!  Which I want you to know that they are a delight to deal with and the shipping across the country was not a problem at all.  They use FedEx and the stand came in a couple pieces which only required a ratchet wrench and three minutes to put together.  The quality is superb and both of the greys love it. I wanted to make sure that the greys had a stand they both liked because with a double stack cage, there is no playgym on top to utilize.  With this stand they get plenty of away time from their cage and personally I think it makes for a much happier parrot.

So…. take a little time this spring and make some space saving changes in your household.  Your parrots will thank you for it and you may get a little extra room to breathe.

Shipping Guaranteed?

I got free shipping here.

I got free shipping here.

Not long ago, we had a realtor and were looking for a bigger house.  To me space and organization are a key to a healthy life.  I am one of those people who likes bins and labels and for things to be put back in their place.  It just helps the flow of my house and since we don’t really have a ton of space or storage here, I like to make it as space conscious as possible.  Recently because the market isn’t flooded with amazing properties that fit into our requirement list, we decided to put the house hunting on the back burner, for now.  

So that being said, I am always looking for ways to slim down congested areas and give us as much room as possible.  Egads, I have come up with some great ideas and we also have gotten rid of a bunch of crap.  I like the “if you don’t use it in 6-8 months, you don’t really need it” philosophy and for the most part I try to stick to it.  However there are some things that I refuse to get rid of, because I know that we will be in a bigger house someday and somethings are just too pricey to replace.  The only thing I can say is thank god for an attic and a friend that doesn’t use her garage.  In the pursuit of the ultimate free-flowing spacial feng shui, I checked some measurements of the grey’s cages.  I had pondered getting a double stack cage for them for years but hadn’t really found one that I was too keen on.  I also noticed that they have been getting along a lot better and could stand to be in the same vicinity without insane cage aggression.  Also considering that birds don’t have cages in the wild, I like the idea of mixing things up for them a bit and trading them back and forth in the upper and lower cage.  Currently they are across from one another and I try to switch their cage location and their toys, even for just a little variety, because as we all know a bored parrot is never a good thing.  

doubleWhile looking for a cage I thought in detail about what I wanted and what I would not settle for.  I wanted high quality, similar  size measurements to what they have now, proper bar spacing and a personal favorite accessory, a seed guard.  Pretty simple right?  There was a fateful day I felt like the clouds had opened up and the sun cam beaming down on my head.  Or so I thought.  I was so ecstatic about finding this unicorn I reviewed their shipping procedures and ordered it.  The order was guaranteed processed and shipped in 1-2 business days.  It was Tuesday.  

After the 1-3 days passed and I had not received a shipping confirmation, complete with a tracking order, I sent a quick “touch base” email regarding my order.  I did not hear back until exactly one week after my order was placed and four business days after my email.  I was then informed that they do not have any cages in stock (which is NOT what their website portrays) I was informed that they “drop ship” which means they are the retail middle man.  Hey I am familiar with drop shipping, I know that many internet based companies use it; in fact I use a drop ship company to print and ship my Parrot Earth T-shirts (which are available NOW *wink wink*), but my customers know that.  Drop shipping keeps costs down so you don’t have to keep a large inventory in stock.  

Little did I know that when I ordered from this company in “Iowa” that I would be expecting a shipment from “Louisiana”.  As time went on, I wondered, “where is my cage?”.  So I sent another email asking for a shipping confirmation and tracking number.  I honestly felt like it was an imposition when I finally got a reply.  I checked the tracking number and it said the cage was being shipped to California, we are located in Washington.  So I then contacted the company and asked if another freight company would be bringing it north to Seattle.  Three days went by before I got a response.  I even contacted the freight company with no help.  Eventually I was contacted and apparently given the wrong tracking number.  With this tracking number I was able to find out that the cage was shipped from the distributor in Louisiana, there was no regular company that shipped to Washington and it was handed off to another company that services our area.  Meanwhile for four days the cage sat on a loading dock waiting for the new company to pick it up.  When it was picked up, I had to call all parties involved again for a “new” tracking number.  I was then told it would be expedited due to my “inconvenience” however I know from my customer service days, that’s a lovely tactic to get you to shoosh and don’t make a scene.  

I got tracking here.

I got tracking here.

The tracking number said it would be delivered today.  However the truck was late and the appointment is scheduled for Friday.  I can wait that long, I feel like this has been one of those learning experiences that I will never forget.  Oh, did I mention the shipping company wanted to charge me (remember this was free shipping)an additional $75 for a special “lift gate truck” because the cage is in two pieces and fastened to a palette.  After being talked down to and sniped at by the person and knowing shipping from back in the day (I worked in the Montgomery Ward Warehouse as a shipping clerk)I won’t exactly tell you what I told the person I was speaking to but it was along the lines of “I will cut the straps off the boxes and hand deliver the cage myself and you can stick the palette where the sun doesn’t shine”.  Needless to say I will not be doing business with this freight company after all is said and done and especially the company where I ordered the cage from.  It’s been an episode in terror.  I just hope the cage is five hundred times better than this shipping ordeal.  Fingers crossed.

When ordering a cage or large purchase from a company that is out-of-state ask some questions.
1. Do you have the item in stock or do you “drop ship” from a distributor?  If they use a distributor ask where they are located.  
2. What method of shipping do you use? (Fed Ex, UPS, or a freight company)
3. Does your normal freight company ship to my area?  If not, what secondary freight company will they use to make sure my purchase delivered?
4. Do you guarantee Free Shipping?
5. How long will my order take to ship?  If they cannot give you an exact date, can they at least give you a ball park. 
6. Get tracking numbers and contact information!  If your order goes awry (which it possibly could) it’s good to be organized because depending on who you will be talking to, they all have different numbers.  
I got Customer Service here.

I got Customer Service here.

Customer Service in this our world has depleted, I was in the restaurant/bar management business for 17 years and I always took great pride in helping people and making sure they were satisfied.  I learned my work ethic from my mother “do your best or don’t bother” was the motto.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that motto is used anymore.  There are those rare and wonderful instances when you get a good representative or customer service experience who gives you hope the whole world doesn’t hate their job.    

Don’t settle for mediocre customer service, you’re not helping yourself or the people who are doing the job.  Give compliments where they are due and ask simple questions like…. 

is Shipping Guaranteed?

Copyright – 2014 – Parrot Earth – Shipping Guaranteed?

 

 

 

Under Construction?!

detourI don’t know about where you reside, but here in the Pacific Northwest when Spring comes and the sun starts to make more regular appearances, there is a single color starts to make its way prevalently into every neighborhoods and  our roadways.   Orange!  It’s everywhere, road construction, detours, asphalt patches and most recently in our neighborhood…. construction to build green storm water drains.  I could give you the long version of what that means, but I will give you the shorter explanation.  Basically they are tearing up the parking strips in various neighborhood blocks, to insert large drains into large swales which will filter the storm water and then go into our water supply.  Hey, I am all for green alternatives to just about anything that will help this dying planet of ours.  In fact, when we purchase a house we are going to install solar panels.  So… what’s the big deal?  As some of you know, living with parrots and animals is already a bit challenging, add trucks beeping, jack hammers, backhoes, and giant soil levelers that make the house feel like it’s in a low-grade earthquake for hours, it proves to be irritating.  I’m trying to see the larger picture.

constructionWhat you can expect during construction

  • Bioretention Swales constructed in two seasons – March to October 2014 and March to October 2015
  • Each block will take approximately two months to complete
  • Work hours in compliance with City of Seattle permits, which typically allow work between 7 am and 6 pm Monday to Friday
  • Local access at all times for homeowners and emergency vehicles
  • Pedestrian access at all times

How long is this going to last?  Well, the upside we are in the final three(ish) weeks left.  It’s been going on since March and patience are beginning to wear away.  We are no longer able to park in front of our house (which for us isn’t necessarily a problem because we have a driveway in our backyard) but there are elderly people on our block that don’t have that luxury.  No parking signs that say, possibly no parking until “mid or end of april”, makes them seem organized right?  They also begin their construction at 7am and work sometimes well into the evening.  Which is not a problem for me, because I figure the longer the hours then the faster the finish line arrives.  However, the animals do not seem to see it that way.

Both of the birds have adopted all of the construction noises that go along with it.  Various truck beeping, jackhammers, slamming, metal clanging just to name a few.  Cooper and Dexter are also beginning their ascent into spring hormones, which means my skin will soon be tested for thickness and healing ability.  I will also be tested to see how fast I can bleed out after one of Cooper’s episodes into “crazytown”.  This construction is also wearing on them.

construction2With the combination of factors I cannot control, I am trying to keep them busy with chew toys or soothing music on the radio when they are taking their mid day nap, just so every little noise doesn’t startle them.  I also try to spend that little quality alone time with them, so they get a little extra nurturing and security.  Lord knows that when it feels like the world around you is exploding around you, it’s nice to feel safe.

While writing this article, I noticed that there is a large crack in the ceiling plaster in the bird room, no doubt aggravated by the seismic activity caused by their giant ground leveling machine.  My aggravation for this project has gained an all time high.  Granted, it is not the end of the world, but home repairs and patch jobs are a chore when you have birds.  Making sure that everything is dry the air is safe for them to breathe before you return them to the area is the top priority.  Guess it’s time to call the plaster man.

I know that the all of the animals at Parrot Earth headquarters will survive… but will I?  The end of April cannot come fast enough.

Copyright – 2014 – Parrot Earth – Under Construction

 

 

 

Attack of the Killer Parrot

nice38Ah, that moment when you bring you new re-homed parrot into your household.  You buy the right cages, the right food, a delightful collection of toys and a wide selection of fresh fruits and veggies to offer your new companion.  You’ve done all the research and read/bought every book you can get your hands on and feel confident in making a lifetime commitment.    You take a breath of fresh air after putting your treasured new buddy in his cage, covering him and letting him get acquainted with his new environment.  You diligently check on him to make sure he is “okay” and eventually after a bit of time you want to start interacting with your “dream bird”.  You open the cage door and offer a dehydrated banana as a treat.  Your new friend comes out of his cage and gives you this adorable look and comes towards you, “aw look how sweet he wants a treat”, you say to yourself.  He then leans in for the banana and WHAM, instead of taking the sweet offering of a banana from your pinched fingers he has decided to chomp down on your finger, cutting through the skin like paper and drawing blood.  It’s a case of “Attack of the Killer Parrot”.

angry-parrot-500x406This ladies and gentlemen is a much more idealistic and realistic view on what can happen in your household when you introduce a parrot into a strange environment.  Most of the time a person will have their idea of what will happen or should happen, instead of going with the flow.   I should know, this very scenario happened to me with my Congo African Grey Cooper.  Does this happen with every parrot?  No, in fact my Timneh African Grey Dexter was just the opposite.  Essentially, just like humans, each bird is unique and different and carries their own set of baggage with them when they pack up and move.  When you re-home an older parrot, or like I did re-homing two greys in their teens, it is almost impossible to know how they are going to get along in your home.  There are no guarantees, but that is also not a “get out of parrot free card” either.

dex.coopCooper really taught me a lot about my patience level and myself.  You see I grew up on a Barley farm with horses and other animals.  I was taught that you dominate and be the master of your domain and that includes your animals.  I won’t go into details, but I saw some horses mistreated as a child and I knew that I didn’t agree with it, nor would I be that person.

Even though parrots can talk and understand wide variety of human arenas, they still are not fluent in English.  They cannot say, “I’m having a bad day and I really don’t feel like target training today, maybe tomorrow”.  The only way that they can convey “NO!” to you, is in body language that later will turn into a bite, if pushed.  Imagine something thirty times your size cornering you and demanding you “step up”.  I don’t know about you, but that would flip my switch and I too would come out biting.

photo (11)So, how do we handle our aggressive birds?  Take a step back and try to figure out where the root of the problem is, instead of the symptom.  For example; his previous owners husband mistreated Dexter, and wore hats almost every day, so we figured out quite quickly that we could not wear hats when we first brought Dexter home.  Eventually we started wearing hats and dropping a treat into his bowl.  Therefore making it a positive experience, as opposed to the terrifying ordeal he went through with getting swatted at or hats thrown at his cage.  Now he does not care who is wearing a hat, just as long as you are not handling him.

Macaw Rescue 010Also look around at the environment, you would be very surprised what toy and cage placement can do.  There may be a “looming evil plant” too close to the cage; they may have too much interaction with outdoor elements.  Seeing too much stimulation walking down the street can panic a bird.  My greys are in their own nook with a very large picture window and because we live on a busy street we keep the curtains gathered in the middle.  This offers light and a glimpse of outside, but cuts out the many people walking their dogs or parking to take a bus downtown.  We had to do this because of alarm beeps, panic behavior and calls every time someone walked down the street.  I always say, who needs a watchdog when you own a parrot, they can see twice as far and will alert you twice as fast.

When you interact with your bird, take a second to realize what energy you are bringing to the table.  Because Cooper used to use me as a chew toy, I realized that I was bringing fear and apprehension to the table.  I didn’t look at it as a new interaction; I was the one bringing the past with me.  A parrot’s behavior can be affected by their past, but we as humans remind them of it.  It is our job to help abused parrots, but also allow them the dignity to heal from their previous abusive experiences and enjoy better quality of lives, not remind them every moment that they were abused or broken in some way.  Animals are like kids; they crave structure and a sense of security.  When you have those in place, you would be surprised what you can accomplish.

photo (2)What are your reactions to getting a bite?  Do you yell, flail, or yank your hand away?  This could also be reinforcement and your parrot may find this absolutely hilarious.  Parrots are smart enough to create their own entertainment and if they can control you in the process, well then “Game On”.  Hey I know parrot bites hurt like the dickens, but sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and bear it.  Cooper and I eventually had a “come to Jesus meeting” and I let him bite the crap out of me, and I refused to back down.  This changed the narrative in our relationship.  I no longer would react to his prompts and he now realized that I was no longer his puppet.

Body language is another tool you can use.  Parrots are prey animals and are keenly suspicious, that’s how they have survived thousands of years on this planet.  Eventually you will gather enough personal information on your parrot that will enable you to identify when they are going to strike.  Some parrot’s pupils will pin and others will puff their feathers in order to look as large as they can.  Whatever way your bird likes to express that it is hocked off, it’s important that you know how to identify it, because this is going to help you eliminate pushing the envelope.problem solver  Humans want animals to respect them, but there is a fine line between respect and fear.  Respect will get you a lifetime bond from an animal, including your parrot.  Fear will do just the opposite.

Your bird’s body language will also help you know when your bird is up to participating or is not feeling it.  Either way, it’s a matter of you allowing your bird to make decisions.  This will not only make for a happier bird, but it will make for a more trusting bond between you.

Just because you have gotten some good bites, does not mean that your bird hates you.  Get back on the horse and try again…don’t rush it take your time.  Trust me, your bird has a lot of time and you will be spending a lot of time together.  Do your research, read books and articles.  Remember that you are not perfect.  And remember that you have to do what is best for you and your bird(s).

Copyright 2014 – Parrot Earth – Attack of the Killer Parrot

A Little Look See

It’s almost the end of 2013!  I cannot believe that this year has passed so quickly!  It’s usually this time that I like to reflect a bit, look back and see if I actually learned anything.

expo.flyer.revamp2013 has been a year of triumphs and tragedy.  I was asked to be on the board of directors for Flight Club Foundation a local non-profit organization that hosted the Seattle Parrot Expo 2013.  I was also co-chair of the event.  That in itself was a chore and I learned about myself and others by planning a “new” event from the ground up.  Seattle proper hasn’t had a parrot event for a little over ten years and I was absolutely impressed with the job that we did and the turn out.  I truly think that we did a great job with a little unification of parrot lovers in the Pacific Northwest.  I cannot wait to see what they come up for next year!

I got my photo for Macaw Rescue & Sanctuary here.

I got my photo for Macaw Rescue & Sanctuary here.

I got to visit come local rescues and sanctuaries and see the differences and various ways that things can and should be running.  I learned that just because you knowingly move next to a parrot sanctuary such as Macaw Rescue & Sanctuary doesn’t mean you cannot manipulate the local government to start a witch hunt.  Unfortunately, it is something that Bob Dawson is having to deal with and I personally wish him well in getting everything sorted out.  Macaw Rescue & Sanctuary is a wonderful place and is taking care of the majority of “throw away” parrots in the Pacific Northwest.

Parrot Earth Sponsor a Parrot Program ran through the year, helping raise money for specific birds that had a special story and required special care or adoption guidelines.  I am not entirely sure that it was a giant success, but I believe that it helped give some rescues that normally go under the radar a bit of exposure and publicity.  Now instead of a sponsor a specific parrot, we are featuring a specific rescue monthly.  It is doing amazing things, again for getting a little needed exposure.

parrot confidentialI did a few reviews of some documentaries, like A Place to Land, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, Blackfish and the infamous Parrot Confidential.  Some of them got published in other publications, and some have been read worldwide.  It was a great feeling to know that my words, thoughts and opinions have traveled so far and made a difference, even if it is just to a few.  Keep an eye out here and there, you just may see one of my articles floating around out there.

We fostered some birds here and there, until they could find homes that they deserved.  Bella was a very tiny Timneh grey with personality plus!  Gryffin was a doll, but alas the dynamic duo Dexter and Cooper were not so fond of him.  However through the phone tree, he has found a forever home where he is spoiled rotten!  It’s just amazing how the powers that be step in and make things happen!

clayWe had to put down Clayburn, our fourteen year old Golden Retriever and that nearly killed us.  He was such an intricate part of the Parrot Earth family, the birds even loved him.  I still miss him, and think of him every day.  I know that he is up there running with a tennis ball along the beach with no pain.

With the passing of Clayburn the house needed a little energizing, so enter Baron.  Baron our little miniature Schnauzer, who does not know he is little, fit the bill.  He has created some much-loved chaos and fun.  Now I cannot imagine our home without him.

Downton-Abbey-downton-abbey-23439226-1600-900I learned a bit about myself, social media, and writing this year as well.  Social media can be a slippery slope and if you are not too careful you can get sucked right in.  Unfortunately I had to write about my opinions of various forms of bullying via social media this year.  A couple of times, people I know, who only have the best intentions,  unfortunately fell victim to the “vipers” that can creep around Facebook and other social media outlets.  It was disheartening to see them ganged up on like piranha during a feeding frenzy.  I needed to take a break and re-evaluate who I wanted to associate my brand with and who I did not.  I also was disappointed that I let the venom spewed in a cyber world affect my love for the avian community and most importantly take away from what I originally wanted to set out and do.  It’s unfortunate that we now live in a world where you can make anonymous and disparaging remarks about people you do not even know, without consequence or repercussion.  But, such is the state of the world and you can only be the change that you wish to see in it!

chatsI had great “Chats” with some pretty influential and earth-shaking folks in the bird world.  Lara Joseph, the up and coming trainer extraordinaire, whom I respect immensely.  I got to stop a whirlwind of rumors by interviewing Mollywood sanctuary regarding their move to Hawaii.  Vicki LeClaire of Miss Vicki’s Parrot Village was another one of my favorites.  She has such a gift with people and parrots alike.  I admire truly what she is doing and I just love her gumption.  Not to mention she has a great sense of humor, which makes my job a lot easier.  Last but not least, the fantabulous Irena Schultz.  This woman is truly one of my sheroes.  She has been trying to make, not only the avian world, but the world in general a better place.  While running a rescue Bird Lovers Only, Irena found the time to appear on David Letterman with her dancing cockatoo Snowball and traveled the country promoting Snowball’s book.  Oh did I mention that Snowball was even in a Taco Bell commercial?  Add manager to Snowball to all the list of things she has accomplished.  Irena has been so supportive to my writing and Parrot Earth and I appreciate her very much!

I got my Star Trek logo here.

Overall this year I learned more about me as writer, bird owner and as a person.  I still love writing about birds and I’m expanding into other writing projects.  The focus here at the PE blog is on the quality and not the quantity of content.  By writing the Parrot Earth blog I want  my readers to feel things and relate to a fellow parrot enthusiast, not sell DVDs, because in reality my writing is about you.

Along the way I learned to relax and not be so uptight about my birds.  As fragile as they are, they are also very tough and not made of porcelain.  Being a “perfect” parrot owner is probably never going to happen…I believe that you can be a great one, but no one is perfect.  You have to do what’s right for you, your birds and your home.  As long as your birds are getting a great quality of life and you are continually learning about new advancements in care… you’re good.  If you make mistakes along the way, it’s ok.  We have all been there.

I’ve had so much fun and cannot wait to see where Parrot Earth progresses!  Thank you for going on this journey with me, reading my progression this year and helping make Parrot Earth what it is today, my labor of love and cultivation of my owning parrots.

Copyright 2013 – Parrot Earth – A Little Look See