As you know, or you should know, birds have one of the most sensitive and efficient respiratory systems in the animal kingdom. In days of old, miners took canaries into mines with them for this very reason. For a wonderful explanation of how and why watch the video below!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
When 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.
Another 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.
If 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
Back in July, I wrote an article and did an interview about All Parrot Rescue and The Brewers, Sonya and Steve. You can read the interview in its entirety here. A few weeks ago I was sent the information on their court date and unfortunately was unable to make it. I contacted Sonya for information, however at the advice of her counsel, she had to decline any comment.
The Brewers were not sentenced to any jail time, but 240 hours of community service and probation, by Judge Julia Garratt. “Many times, a set of circumstances arise where truly good people do really stupid and potentially dangerous things,” she told the couple.
According to Kiro7, Cheri Eir-Jones plans on bringing trying to persuade the courts to give her back the birds that were taken.
Kiro 7 News was in the courtroom and broadcasted this video on their newscast.
I think this is a learning situation for the avian community. It shows that things can escalate very quickly and there is always going to be another persons view and their truth. If this teaches anything to anyone, learn the local laws in your area, know your rights as a rescue and as an adopter. Schedule regular home checks. Review your contracts and know if you are signing something that is truly legally binding. If you are going to repossess birds for whatever reason, make sure you have law enforcement there, so there are no “he said, she said” moments. Also, have your own camera for evidence. It’s very important to protect yourself.
I have worked with the Brewers in various projects and even fostered a bird for them, a Timneh Grey named Bella. In my opinion, they have great intentions and do great work for the birds that they take in at All Parrot Rescue. I have also never had any kind of negative experience with them or anyone at All Parrot Rescue. I hope they are able to continue the very much-needed rescue and adoption work that the Pacific Northwest so desperately needs.
Personally I like to look at situations like this with an open eye and try to learn lessons from them. I have my own views and in this case I will leave it up to you to decide. I wanted to make sure that I brought this case to light, so others may learn from someone else’s heartache.
Because as Dr Maya Angelou said…
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, you do better”.
Copyright – 2015 – Parrot Earth – When Parrot Adoptions Go Wrong *Update*
Every year about this time, I like to do reflection time. I love to focus on errors in the past year and see if maybe I learned anything from those errors, therefore making me a more rounded person. Sounds good doesn’t it? Yeah, sometimes it takes a few times slamming your hand in the metaphorical car door before you get the idea.
This year has been one of happiness and stress. We spent over a year looking for the perfect home, not just a house that would “work” but a house that we could make a home for our entire family (cats, birds and dogs). If you have never house hunted before, let me just explain the amount of stress that one incurs. The constant hustle and bustle of firstly finding said house, then the competition to buy said house can be utterly horrific. There are constant ups and downs, the excitement of getting the offer accepted is like winning big at the casino. However the realization that there may potentially be over $100,000 in repairs is enough to make you feel like Mike Tyson just punched you in the gut. Yep, we had that happen and we were smart enough to walk away and wait for the house that was truly indeed “ours”. In the end we ended up with an acre of land and the birds have their own room. My husband and I also got separate bathrooms and offices, which I truly believe is the key to a happy marriage.
I wrote some great articles and even had some published overseas in various publications. I did some freelance writing here and there which made me grin from ear to ear. There is nothing quite like putting it all out there on the page and it be appreciated by the reader.
Parrot Earth grew on Facebook “Likes” and blog subscribers, not to mention daily views and emails thanking me for starting the website and blog, which of course, at times brought tears to my eyes. It’s nice to know that what I am doing with birds is making a difference.
This year has also been a learning experience for people running rescues and people working in them. One rescue in particular was written about by a guest writer who later asked to be anonymous, it was such an amazingly emotional story, it had to be broken up into a series of three chapters. 1 2 3 There was another article “When Parrot Adoptions Go Wrong” written about a rescue who “repossessed” a bird that was allegedly being neglected in the house she was adopted into. This brought on a legal battle that is currently going on and charges of assault and theft. However the bird was relinquished back to the rescue and had various infections and was very ill from the alleged abuse. This story is still unfolding and I will try to keep you updated as much as it develops.
I got the chance to get to know some of my hero’s and “movers and shakers” in the bird world and I happy to say that some have become good friends.
I also learned some things about myself this year, especially being active in the avian community. It is incredibly important that going into any diverse niche group of people, you have the ability to develop survival skills and a thick skin. There can be some venom spewed and those keyboard vipers (as I like to call them) can really force you into a retreat. It really can get to a person. Personally I have seen a lot of great aviculturists go into retirement over being bullied via social media and the internet (yeah, that thing that was supposed to bring us all together). In fact I lost an amazing writer over the scrutiny of social media and it’s a damned shame.
Friends have come and gone this year, over various things, I believe that people are meant to come into our lives for a reason, there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. It stings at first, but accepting the fact is almost inevitable.
My charity foundation raised another $12,000 for local charities and that is something I will scream from the rooftops. There is one thing to do what you love, but when you can do everything that you love it’s the best feeling in the world.
I got my scathing email of the year from someone who didn’t appreciate me expressing my opinion on MY BLOG, because I don’t like to let my parrots run all over my house and chew on baseboards or kitchen cupboards or my new furniture. I politely responded with an appreciation for taking the time to contact me, for the occasional four letter word(I’ll let you use your imagination), misspelled word, grammar and a link to the poisonous ingredient fact sheets for varnish, paint and other toxic household chemicals. Surprisingly,I never received a response.
Overall 2014 has been a year of successes, wisdom, more gray hair and understanding of myself. I don’t have to be the best and most knowledgeable parrot owner in the world, but try my best. I also don’t have to be the best writer either, just the best writer I can be. “When you know better, you do better”. I also don’t always(I’m working on it) have to be the “last word person” because 95% percent of the time, you can’t change anything by having the last word, you’re just sucking up more oxygen (and I learned the last word person usually has a problem with control and self-esteem).
I know I have been a bit vague about what 2015 holds….
Parrot Earth is expanding into rescue work and foster placement. I believe that writing about parrots is good but I want to do more. Very soon the applications go in for our 501 (c)(3) and the next chapter begins. Thank you for supporting another year with my baby “Parrot Earth” and my crazy journey in aviculture, keep reading and we will see you next year.
Happy New Year!
Copyright – Parrot Earth – 2014 – 2014 in a Nutshell