A Summer Letter From Sheldon

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

Getting a Second Opinion

Ah, social media.  Originally when social media began, we all were probably thinking,” this is the coolest thing since sliced bread”.  The ability to connect and chat with people all over the world in an instant.  How cool!?  Or is it?social media

For some it’s become a hinderance into development and the thinking process.  It’s even helped hinder an entire new generation of human beings.  There appears to be a new generation of people appearing in the social media stratosphere.  I call them the non-thinkers.  These non-thinkers are so preoccupied with getting things correct, they forget to remember that no one person has ALL of the answers.  Before the world of the internet, you had to get a professionals first opinion, possibly a second opinion and sometimes a third if you had a problem.  That meant you doing research into these opinions from experts and weighing out your options.  At that point you came to your own conclusion and made the determination of  what works better for you, not what some stranger on the Facebook tells you.

second_opinionNow don’t get me wrong, there is some amazing advice out there from people who have years and decades of experience with all things bird .  However it’s up to you to question them.  I know for a fact there are tons of new advances some of these experts don’t know about.  There are also things that “new” experts have never heard of because they lack the experience of someone who has been in the aviculture world for decades.  This is when it comes to you, the researcher (see what I did there, I put you in the category of the researcher or the person who is questioning) to get many opinions and weigh them.  Weigh the validity.  Weigh where they are coming from, weigh how long a specific item has been in practice.  Then you make the decision, not others making those decisions for you.  

With the new non-thinker, it’s easy to get an opinion and instructions and then do exactly that.  However when those instructions don’t quite work out perfectly or when those instructions don’t work out at all, the non-thinker now will place blame and take absolutely no responsibility for their lack of research or accountability for their actions.  Without understanding and admitting your own failures you cannot begin to learn from them.  Sometimes you learn more from your failures then you do your successes.  

“But an expert told me to”…. is what I have heard and seen numerous times, and my question is “did you do your research?”.  Of course that may sound a bit callous and that is absolutely not my intention.  My intention is to inspire you to ask questions. Ask your vet, groomer, boarder, toy maker, mail man, whatever. Just ask.  Keep questioning boundaries, that’s what the best scientists and explorers have done for centuries.  That’s how finding out how dangerous an all seed diet is, someone questioned what was told to them and the research began. The same thing is true about processed foods vs fresh food, simply, someone questioned what they were told instead of blindly following.   

researchNow before some of you get into a tizzy, I am not saying that using google or bing makes you a formidable force and you should go up against your avian vet with said information. I’m just saying it’s important to know what is going on and have all of the information possible.  Personally I prefer to be proactive with my animal’s health and not reactive when something unforeseen goes wrong.  I take the time, so I know the options before I weigh them.   

So the next time something comes up about your birds, before you have that knee jerk reaction and do something just because someone has told you to. Open up that computer, phone or tablet and use whichever nondenominational browser you choose and start reading.  Information is power and it’s up to you to use it! 

Copyright – Parrot Earth – 2016 – Getting a Second Opinion

Got a light?

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!

Pretty amazing, right?  I remember doing all of my research on candles, perfumes teflon and any other non-natural items, before bringing Dexter home and why all of these items are harmful if not fatal to our feathered companions.  So, we are on the same page as far as this goes?  I hope so.  
Now that being said, let’s talk about cigarettes, e-cigs or vaping and marijuana with your pets.  
parrot-smokingYes, in this day and age, with all of the science out there and with this thing called the internet, people still smoke around their animals.  It baffles me.  I’m confused why you would trap your animal in your house, while you puff away on your Marlboro red and think that’s ok.  Firstly animals have different respiratory systems than humans, clearly.  But why would you take an animal with the most sensitive respiratory system in the animal world and smoke around it? I understand smoking is an addiction, and I smoked a pack a day for many years.  I also, never smoked in my house.  Hey I’ll be honest, I still enjoy the occasional cigarette when I have a cocktail, I find it’s refreshing. But, my birds aren’t around and it’s always outdoors.  A few years back we helped a friend of ours who smoked in her condo for two years and asked us to prep it for selling.  During this process, we washed walls and windows, which were saturated with nicotine.  It was so bad in some areas it looked like tea running down white walls and glass.  I could only imagine what was on the furniture or on the dishes in the cabinets.  
vaping-300x200For those of you who “vape” in your house, I have news for you.  You may be taking out some of the chemicals from cigarettes and your e-cig may have those fancy flavors, but you are still expelling nicotine and other hazardous chemicals.  Nicotine that is going to get on your furniture, clothes, walls and be more importantly inhaled by your birds and other pets.  
I understand that the way you live your life is your choice, yep I totally and absolutely agree. That is your constitutional right and it’s none of my business. But when it comes to the lives of your animals, they didn’t ask you to spark up and I doubt they ran over and grabbed a match to help you light up either.  
Living in a state where marijuana is legal has its challenges.  I don’t have a problem with someone using marijuana, as long as it’s done responsibly and legally.  I do have a problem with hearing when people “smoke up” indoors with their animals, or when they purposely get them high.  You have no idea what the adverse reactions can be and you never know how much marijuana is going to cause marijuana toxicity. Yes it happens. Chatting with a few of my friends who happen to be veterinarians, it happens more than anyone really talks about (click here).  It’s also usually lied about in the beginning stages and then eventually confessed.  Sometimes the animals survive and other times they do not. Also, let’s not forget it can be illegal. 
SV-no-smokingSo, what have we learned?  Get off your butt to have a but.  Go outside and smoke whatever you are going to smoke.  Don’t be selfish and jeopardize the health and well-being of your animals. It’s pretty simple and it’s just common sense.  
For harmful ingredients in smoking, click here.
For harmful items in e-cigs click here.
For marijuana toxicity in your pets, click here.
Copyright – 2015 – Parrot Earth – Got a Light? 101

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