You Own A Parrot, Now What?

blue

I got Blue Fronted here.

Ah… the electricity of bringing home your new parrot.  The focusing on every single move they make, being marveled by just watching them strategically walk across their cage.  Seeing them pick up a pellet with their foot and eat is the coolest thing you have ever witnessed.  Hearing those morning shows that our beautifully exotic companions are so famous for.  These are all the wonderful parts of being the owner of a companion bird, but what happens when the glitz wears off and you feel like you might have made a mistake?

I know what you are thinking and before you put on your “judgey” caps, please read the whole story.

I received my first email from Jane about a year ago.  Jane is a forty something single woman who works in law office.  She commutes right down the street to her office from her loft and works part-time from home.  The building she lives in has a restriction on pets, but the HOA association does not have a problem with caged animals or fish.  Jane being the research minded person that she is, did her research into various species of parrots.  She owned a Cockatiel as a child and was absolutely in love with the idea of owning a parrot that was able to be her companion as an adult.  She went to a local rescue shelter to volunteer, clean parrot poop and feed love starved birds.  She also wanted to make sure that she knew what she was getting herself into.

blue-fronted-amazon-parrot-51a1d9688e8a9After a few weeks of volunteering a 16-year-old Blue Fronted Amazon came to stay at the rescue.  She was owned by one owner, who due to age and health issues could no longer care for her.  Jane said she was “instantly enamored” with this bird and the feeling appeared to be mutual.  Jane decided this was it and this was the bird that she would so lovingly give a forever home to.

“I want to make sure and do everything right”, Jane said in an email to me.  I thought, oh how I had that idea in my mind when I brought Dexter home.  I didn’t just want to do it right, I really wanted to make everything perfect.  I laugh now at that idea, because first of all, there is no such thing as perfection in life.  Second of all, as we all know, there is absolutely nothing even near to perfect when you own a parrot.  There is no perfect cage, no perfect cleaning schedule and no perfect behavior…. so Jane found out.

Jane bought a stainless steel King’s cage that was top of the line.  A few large Rubbermaid totes of parrot toys and set and automatic order with her pet store for Harrison’s pellets.  When Jane brought Fossy home everything seemed to be great.  She would step up on command, she loved her toys and she had her own corner of the loft with an extremely lavish bottlebrush playstand from The Golden Cockatoo.  A parrot’s dream.

I got Blue Fronted Amazon here.

I got Blue Fronted Amazon here.

After a few months of living with Jane, spring came and Fossy began developing some sever hormonal behaviors.  Screaming and biting were on the top of the list, also wanting nothing to do with Jane was the other.  So like many people, Jane logged on to various forums and chat groups throughout the internet.  She received a plethora of opinions and advice from all over the world.  One person told her to cover the cage anytime she made noise and another told her to slap her bird on the beak if she bit Jane.  The list goes on and on.  One group even ganged up on her and almost had her convinced to take Fossy back to the rescue.  I read something recently  “Remember, the comments that people you never met, make about you… matter.” ~ Bianca Del Rio and it hit a nerve.  We are told to ignore people’s opinions and comments, but it’s not always that easy.  Being hyper critical can destroy someone’s passion for parrots… so stop.

I receive a lot of emails on a weekly basis.  People from Ireland to Australia asking various questions about behaviors, toys, food and the list goes on and on.  Mostly emails I get are readers thanking me for making light of certain situations, telling it how I see it and having a very conversational writing style.  I have made some great “Bird Buddies” via Parrot Earth and I am very fortunate to call some good friends and I usually don’t like to get preachy with my readers because like I have always said, I do not claim to be an expert at aviculture or birds, I just have some education and some experience.  If that helps you, great!  If not I will damn sure find someone out there that is an expert and can help you.  The same thing applied to Jane.

I got bully here.

I got bully here.

Jane has not only been bullied online in these Facebook groups and other online forums, but they had her second guessing why it was that she even wanted a parrot in the first place.  She was berated and criticized because she was not doing what the self-proclaimed “experts” told her do.  If she did, she was crucified for that as well.  There was just a never ending cycle of hate and negativity.  In an email, I asked if she had ever thought about consulting a vet or professional behaviorist and Jane responded “you know I really never considered it, because information is so inexpensive online and readily available I just thought I would be able to ask other owners”.  So I asked, “what if they aren’t doing it right either?” Knowing Jane was ready to pack it in, I began emailing her a few times a day.  I made sure that she took Fossy to her bird vet and made sure there was nothing wrong with her physically before I put her in contact with a trainer friend of mine.

The next step was to get her out of those forums that were spewing all of the negativity.  There’s too much crap in this world right now, why willingly subject yourself to it and sign up for updates?  I chatted with Jane regularly and I convinced her to relax.  Everything isn’t going to be clean all the time, everything isn’t going to be perfect and guess what, birds are more resilient than we think.  They have been on this earth longer than humans and will probably outlive us after we are long gone.  In time everything found its natural rhythm.

I got Thank You here.

I got Thank You here.

Jane worked with Fossy daily, bought a harness and a Celltei backpack carrier and even takes her into work with her occasionally on Friday Pet Day that her office has (she has an office in the back that is pretty sound proof in case there is a squawk or two).

This morning I got an email thanking me for not giving up on her and not letting her give into her fears.  I was looking to get my spark back after taking a bit of a break from writing.  I needed to recharge and that is all that I needed.  Owning a parrot can be hard work and it can be a downright pain in the ass at times.  But there is a flip side to that coin.  Sometimes owning a parrot can be one of the coolest and magical experiences that a person can have.  You just have to take it day by day and sometimes minute by minute.  Don’t get frustrated and if you do, take a step back and start over.  Don’t give up because everyone goes through it and remember…You own one of the coolest animals in this world.   Just enjoy the ride.

Copyright – 2014 – Parrot Earth – You Own A Parrot, So Now What?

 

 

A Grey Area

emailI got another email from someone asking me what I thought about the difference of African Grey subspecies and if I had a favorite.  This is not the first time I have been asked this question.  I also got asked what I thought about the advice from online African Grey social media groups…. so I figured I would not just write about one topic, but two and chuck one big stone into the pond instead of two.

Dexter, my Timneh African Grey has been with me for almost five years and it has been a learning curve for me.  When I did my countless hours and months of research on African Greys in general I thought everything was going to be text book, or what everyone in an online group had told me.  Well that actually is rather a half truth.  There were parts that fit nicely into the square peg that people had informed me of and then there were the circular or triangular pegs that no way in hell were going in that square hole.

I got Grey map here.

I got Grey map here.

I couldn’t decide if I wanted a Congo or a Timneh to begin with, I had a friend who owned a Timneh when I fell in love with birds some twenty years ago, but I loves the size and color variation of the Congo.  I was told that Timnehs aren’t as neurotic or as shy as Congos.  I was also told that Congos are much better talkers than Timnehs, which again forms that square opening of opinion and then there comes the variation of truths that aren’t square pegs.

dexter 08-03-10 008Dexter was definitely not shy once I got him, in fact I believe that he was very happy to get the hell out of the situation that he was in  I felt as if we bonded almost immediately.  Now you have to keep in mind, I was expecting this sensitive bird that was going to require time to bond with me and time to get used to his environment.  According to the online advice I got, I was also expecting him to cower in the back of his cage for days, praying that nothing was going to eat him.  That could not be any further from what happened.  He was very anxious to explore his new environment and wanted nothing more than to spend time with me in whatever activity I happened to be doing.  So what happened to all the advice that I had gotten in my dozens of online groups.  Am I aware that every bird is different and just like people they have their own personalities?  Yep, I sure am…. however no one told me that.

PE1 003Cooper was a totally different bird of a feather.  You have to know that Cooper is a very large Congo, many people are intrigued by his size and his beauty, but even though he looks indestructible he is very sensitive.   Fear generally is his downfall, fear turns into excitement and apprehension which always leads to aggressive behavior.  Trust me, it took me a few pints of blood, several scars and years of feeling like a failure to piece that whole puzzle together.

So, does Cooper fit into the sensitive category that was preached to me?  Yes, but he is also not the talker that Dexter is.  Granted, he talks like a champ and can imitate just about any whistle or siren that he has ever heard but Dexter can out talk him with one wing tied behind his back.  I have to be very very careful about what I say around Dex, because he will generally pick up just about anything that I say that has any emotion behind it.  Let’s just say I learned the hard way after I stubbed my toe one evening.  I’ll let your imagination do the rest.

Iphone.7.30.2012 034I have several friends that own both Timneh and Congos and they live in perfect harmony with one another, even going as far as playing, preening and just hanging out doing their everyday activities.  However that is NOT the case in my house, I can get Dex and Coop on a perch together and one goes to one side and the other ends up at the opposite end.  Backs to one another and that’s it.  Reminds me of a homecoming dance in middle school.  They have beaked a few times, of course that is usually in the spring time, but otherwise it’s the Hatfields and McCoys, “you stay on your side of the line and I will stay on mine”.

When it comes to anything online, as I have written many times, you have to be careful.  Not everything you see on the internet is true, I know hard to believe isn’t it?  Not everyone has the education to back up their information, or they may be regurgitating something that someone has told them.  When I began doing research into my birds, I immediately started asking people who the public figures of the bird world were.  Who had been published and where I could get my hands on their stuff.  I read everything I could get my hands on and eventually started dreaming about parrot food, proper nutrition, behavior and foraging.  I was hooked and to my non bird friends, becoming an “obsessive bird dude”.  Eh, I didn’t really care…. I figured I would have my bird a lot longer than I would have some of those friends.

My rule of thumb when getting into anything new is “Ask questions”.  Ask until you are blue in the face and not just from one person.  Get several points of view, and read read read read read.  Did I mention read?  Yes, owning a parrot requires piles of books, hours of sifting through points of view online and putting those things that you learn into action.  It’s trial by fire sometimes and you will most likely feel like the greatest bird owner at times and then feel like someone kicked you in the stomach and ran over your foot because you made a mistake.  As much as some opinions about parrots want to make them seem that they are made of glass, parrots are actually quite resilient and have survived a long time on this planet.  As long as you don’t make one of the major critical errors, you will figure it out.  I promise.

birdsNow, do I prefer a Congo to a Timneh?  Well, I have to say that’s like asking a parent what child you like better.  However I will say that I get the diplomatic answer for that question…. but for me, I like both of my Greys for different reasons.   I love Dexter’s resilient spirit and quest for knowledge.  I love Coopers beauty and sense of grace.  I admire Dexters sense of unconditional love and forgiving attitude towards this world of ours.  I adore Cooper’s love for music and sense of rhythm when he thinks no one is watching.  I can’t get enough of the marvel I receive whilst watching them just climb atop a cage or play-stand, because it’s so calculated well thought and yet it’s nothing to them.

So, I guess my answer does sound like a parent’s response when asking which child they like better.  But then again, maybe it’s all just a Grey area.

Copyright – 2014 – Parrot Earth – A Grey Area

“Chats” with Jason Crean

chatsWhen I think about doing a “Chats” interviews with people, I think about the top priority for me…. Inspiration. Does this person inspire me?  Does this person try and shed a positive light in the world of aviculture?  Does this person do it, not for the ackolades or the attenion, but for the love of birds?  Is this person someone I would want to sit down and have a conversation with?  Does this person think outside the box and would I add him to my “Movers and Shakers List”?  For me, Jason Crean possesses all of these qualities!  

jason.1I became aware of Jason and his advocacy for parrots a few years ago.  He is a big deal in most bird circles and has the education/background experience to back up just about anything that comes out of his mouth. Did I mention he has is an award winning science teacher and has a master’s degree in biology with specialization in zoology among the countless other degrees, educational certificates and credentials that he holds.  I could mention them all, but we need room for the interview.  For more information on Jason, click here…(http://www.mrcrean.com/bio.html

Jason is also one of the brains behind Tea4Beaks ( a line of totally herbal, non caffeinated, organic teas for parrots) that is revolutionizing parrot nutrition.   He is very approachable and with the help of Irena Schultz, he agreed to take time out of his incredibly demanding schedule and do a little interview for Parrot Earth!  

How old were you when you fell in love with exotic birds?

I was 12 when I received my first Cockatiel and was immediately taken by their interactive and inquisitive nature.  Soon after, I purchased a second and then had babies.  I will always value this experience as it helps lead me into a career in biology.

What/Who inspired you to get involved in exotic bird advocacy?

Dr. Karen Becker, avian veterinarian and friend, has taught me so much over the years about new discoveries in nutrition and wellness which has brought me to where I am now, both in private aviculture and zoo consultancy.

What would you tell someone if they said they thought they wanted to bring a parrot into their home?

I tend to first ask what about parrots intrigues them as the answers are diverse and provide a great deal of insight. 

How many parrots do you own personally?

I own a few parrots including my Black Palm Cockatoo Rio, my Golden Conure Luna, my Parrotlet Mendel, my Green Cheek Conures Frick and Frack, and a Lorikeet named Snape.   I also own softbills including small species of Toucan, a hornbill and other smaller birds who fly about in my greenhouse.  Many of these birds take part in my live animal education program where we teach those interested about their care, behavior and wild counterparts.

jason.2What kind of birds have you owned throughout the years?

I have had many different species of birds over the years, from small parrots and finches, to the hookbills and softbills I currently own and raise. 

Where do new bird owners need to focus and what do you think they should educate themselves on?

Two areas on which I focus when I do lectures for bird clubs and organizations are nutrition and enrichment because I have seen much incorrect information provided to bird owners which lead to a host of problems.  Providing raw, whole food nutrition to birds is critical and yet many authorities including veterinarians and other professionals are not making these recommendations to those who want the best for their birds.  Good, healthy nutrition and providing an enriching environment can keep birds thriving, not just surviving, like so many of our animals are.  And this is symptomatic of how we take care of ourselves as people as well; we survive from day-to-day on poor diets and are largely inactive and this lifestyle tends to influence how we take care of our pets.

In your opinion, what are the top three things a parrot needs for quality enrichment?

A biologically appropriate diet:  There is no “complete” diet available for birds.  Parrots have access to countless food items in the wild and we need to offer them as much “dietary diversity” as we can in order to cover their nutritional bases.  Parrots have substantial needs when it comes to fat, but it must be good, healthy fats and many pet owners do not know the difference.  Nuts are an excellent source of the all-important Omega-3 fatty acids but many think nuts are poor in nutrition.  Peanuts, which are not a nut but a legume, should be avoided for this reason, but walnuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, almonds, and pine nuts are an enriching, bioavailable (easily taken up and used by the body) source of these critical fats in the diet.  Coconut oil is another fantastic additive from which any bird can benefit.  Proteins are also very misunderstood as many protein sources used in processed foods are not bioavailable.  If the protein is indigestible, it is wasted and can even lead to health issues.  A good whole food source of proteins is best which includes soaked and cooked beans, quinoa, and even live food like mealworms.  I also am a great advocate of using teas in bird husbandry as it is a great way to add nutrition to the diet.  There are countless benefits to the many brewed teas available and purchasing loose leaf, organic teas (that have been decaffeinated if necessary), is a great and easy way to enrich the life of any bird.

Enrichment items:  Things that keep the mind active and working throughout the day are necessary for good mental health.  When mental health suffers, it can manifest itself physically in a host of different ways.  I tend to avoid using the word “toys” because that perception is so limiting; there are so many ways to enrich the lives of our animals that may not result in a multicolored wood or plastic device that was made to destroy.  Don’t get me wrong, these are important and should be recycled consistently to always keep the birds thinking.  But there a great many things that can help birds keep active in our homes.  Enrichment specialist and colleague Robin Shewokis has done a great deal of work in this arena and has taught me how a simple paper grocery bag can be used in a myriad of ways to entertain our birds for hours on end. 

Environmental quality:  Air and water needs to be clean.  Birds are extremely sensitive to their surroundings and must live in an environment that is as free of pollutants as possible.  This includes not smoking, using fragrances or cleaning sprays anywhere near birds.  Birds also need light, especially unfiltered sunlight as much as possible so providing them this through any means safely is incredibly enriching.

The 2013 Midwest Bird Expo speaker panel

The 2013 Midwest Bird Expo speaker panel

 

How many avian conferences do you attend annually?  Which ones?

I attend the American Federation of Aviculture convention (afabirds.org) every year as a speaker and attendee.  This is one of the best, all-inclusive events any bird owner can attend.  I also attend the Houston Parrot Festival, which is another highly educational event.  Both of these bring in speakers from around the world to share their knowledge and expertise in the keeping of birds and the share information about these birds in the wild. 

What do you think the current avian community needs to do to inspire the “next generation” to get involved?

We need to stop being afraid to share our love of birds with the public.  We need to take our birds out and show people, especially young people, how wonderful it is to share our lives with these creatures.  I think many bird owners prefer to not make public the fact that they have parrots because of the loud extremists who have made it their business to make bird keeping illegal.  But we must counter this by illustrating what responsible bird ownership looks like and exposing young people to wonders of bird keeping. 

What are the top three qualities you think a good parrot owner needs to have?

To own a parrot, you must be patient, flexible, and, above all, nurturing.  Parrots are social animals, forming relationships with others and maintaining these connections for varying periods of time.  You must be patient in knowing that the parrot chooses with whom to form a relationship and how close that relationship may be.  You need to be flexible and adapt to this relationship knowing that it may change over time.  And nurturing these relationships through consistently positive, enriching interactions is vital to a life with a feathered companion. 

jason.5Tell us about a day in your life?

This is difficult for me to answer because some days are more hectic than others due to the many teaching positions I hold and consultancies I manage.  Typically, I begin the day by preparing the foods for the different species that I have:  Diced fruits for the softbills along with some live foods, diced fruits and vegetables along with sprouts, soaked grains and other food items for the hookbills.  I then head to the school where I teach to take care of the animals in our program there:  heaps of leafy greens and yellow-orange vegetables to our many turtles and tortoises, live insects and worms to our lizards and invertebrates, fresh Timothy hay to our chinchillas, and other diets to our diverse collection.  I began a Zoology Club at the school where our young people come in and help maintain our animal exhibits which has become a great outlet for kids who want to learn more about animals and their care.  After I teach for the day, I typically do some cardio exercise as that is my main source of enrichment!  After this, I may go to teach at one of the universities for which I work or whatever other work I need to do.  At the end of the day, bird dishes are pulled and all are washed thoroughly and fresh water is given.  One more round of live food in the form of mealworms and/or waxworms is thrown out into the greenhouse for one last foraging opportunity before the day ends.

media.warsThe avian community appears to be at odds via social media, what are your thoughts on that?

People can be very brave behind their keyboard.  And this has lead people to become more extreme than they would be if they were meeting people face-to-face.  I find this all very silly as the simple fact remains:  if we are to have a future with birds, we must work together.  There are simply too many self-proclaimed experts who talk in absolutes, using words like ‘all,’ ‘always,’ ‘never,’ et cetera.  Not all breeders are bad just like not all parents are bad.  Not all rescues are hoarders.  To group people into a single category without any real, in-depth knowledge about their practices is just plain wrong and dehumanizing.  I will continue to fight this on behalf of the birds for as long as I live. 

tea4Tell us about Tea4beaks.

TEAKS, or Tea4Beaks started several years ago after I received my first aracari (small species of toucan) Cricket.  It is no secret that toucans, mynahs, starlings, and lories are prone to hemochromatosis, a disease where iron is stored in the liver until it becomes toxic and fatal.  After researching, I found that decaffeinated black tea had been successfully used in zoos with toucans so we began to research this even more.  One thing that I had not considered was the fact that birds drink tea in the wild, from tree notches, for example, that catch rain water in which plant components continuously leech compounds.  After hearing Dr. Becker talk about tea, we began working with her to start blending teas for all birds, not just our toucans.  This has transformed into the many blends we now offer including Calming Skin & Feather which we brew for birds who pluck or self-mutilate not only to drink, but also to spray directly on the skin or affected areas.  We also have blends that research says have health benefits like balancing hormone levels, increasing fertility, reducing inflammation, supporting respiratory and digestive health, detoxifying the body and supporting a healthy immune system. 

Why do you recommend Tea4beaks?

jason.4

Jason and Dr. Karen Becker

We tend to focus a great deal of what our birds are eating but not really what they are drinking and I think we are missing an opportunity.  We could be delivering missed nutritional components inherent in the teas via their water source or mixed with food that they are already consuming and that’s where tea comes in.  There are so many well-research health benefits that we must, if we are responsible pet owners, consider every possible nutritional option to keep our birds thriving. 

If you could give someone tips and pointers about using your product, what would they be?

To reap the most benefit, tea should be brewed.  The tea components can be consumed in their whole forms and mixed with food, but steeping releases many beneficial compounds that may not be available otherwise.  Brewing tea in hot, not boiling, water is critical to maintaining the nutritional benefits.  And always be sure your bird is drinking its tea before taking away its plain, clean water source.  Some birds may see the tea as strange initially and, therefore, should always have a water source to avoid dehydration.

 What other products do you endorse or support?

I am a big fan of coconut oil as the health benefits are unending.  I take four tablespoons myself every day in some way and I have seen the results in my health.  For birds, I recommend a small amount every day mixed with food which helps with digestion, nutrient absorption, energy expenditure, skin and feather quality, joint health and so much more.  Coconut oil also has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal benefits so it does not spoil and can be used to cook as it does not denature at higher temperatures.  In contrast, I also highly recommend a healthy Omega-3 oil like flax-seed oil or hemp oil.  What many don’t realize is that these oils are very sensitive to light, heat and even agitation so they must be purchased from the refrigerated oils section at your local health food or grocery store. 

jason.3Do you think the world of aviculture is where it needs to be, or where would you like to see it progress in the next ten years?

I think aviculture needs to form a more united front against those who would take our birds from us.  And they are out there and in larger numbers than we would like.  I think the way to do this is to continue educating people about the proper care of birds and how they can successfully create a wonderful life with a bird.   I would like to see much of the nutrition information above as more common knowledge over the next decade as I think offering our birds these more biologically appropriate diets will eliminate many of the maladies that decrease the longevities of companion animals.  I would like to see this happen not only in aviculture, but also moving to more biologically appropriate raw diets for dogs, cats and other pets as well, all of which should be living much longer, healthier lives.

Who are your hero’s in the avian community?

There are so many that I cannot possibly name them all here.  Besides the aforementioned people above, Nancy Speed, President of the American Federation of Aviculture, has done so much work with her incredible breeding practices and has illustrated how much she cares for her birds.  Rick Jordan is a wealth of information and is always willing to share with others.  Irena Schulz of Bird Lovers Only has always been someone who was never afraid to push the envelope when showing the public how wonderful it is to share your life with birds.  Genny Wall who is always watching out for misinformed and poorly written legislation that threatens the rights of the bird owner.  And Alycia and Eric Antheunisse of Cedar Hill Birds who are always educating and exposing young people to joys of aviculture.

jason.6If someone said that they wanted to get involved in the avian community and advocate for parrots, where would you steer them?

The American Federation of Aviculture is a great place to start.  It is all-inclusive for anyone who wants to learn more about their birds.  I serve on the Board of Directors now and I personally invite anyone and everyone that shares their life with a bird to become part of our dynamic organization that continues its educational mission.  Our membership currently consists of pet owners, breeders, rehoming organizations, sanctuaries, conservation organizations, and others who support our educational mission.  We all need to come together and continue to enhance our knowledge of our feathered companions.  Forming relationships between us and our birds is important but without bird owners forming relationships between one another, we will be attempting to keep our birds on a broken foundation.  It benefits all when we can learn from one another.  

I am incredibly grateful that Jason agreed to do “Chats” and I have to say that his journey into aviculture is such an inspiration.  I hope that you read this and realize that there is so much good in this world and the “Movers and Shakers” are indeed out there… continuing to make a difference in this bird world of ours.

 

Copyright – 2014  - Parrot Earth – “Chats” with Jason Crean

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?