Shopping Spree

I Miss Magnolia!

Okay, I may have told you before that Magnolia Bird Farm in Riverside is the Disneyland of bird stores. There’s cages for sale, seed, supplements, dishes, nuts, greens, hand-feeding formula, and BIRDS! Really, they have birds for sale at the bird farm!

Not only do I miss going to the bird farm and seeing the huge lizards in the outside aviaries, but I miss driving up there with my husband, taking back roads and avoiding the freeways. We have seen some beautiful stretches of land as we pick different routes each time.

We haven’t been in a very long time due to the high price of gasoline, and the lowered standard of living the Republicans think will magically make a job appear out of nowhere. Sorry, this is not a political blog, thank the Creator!

Instead, we make do with seed from the Escondido Feed and Pet Supply, a very nice place that has bought finches from me in the past. They have an awesome cat, and chickens in pens outside. They also have rabbits and the occasional guinea pig. (It’s a nice store, they just have a low-tech, really derpy web site)

For more specific bird needs, we visit A Bird Haven, which is a sister store to Our Feathered Friends. While not quite up to Disneyland level, it is like one of those smaller theme parks where miniature golf is played. We have gotten to know some of the staff there pretty well, which always makes us feel good about a store.

One of our friends from A Bird Haven opened his own exotic birds and plants store a few years ago. Golden Sun is fun, crowded, and full of some unusual birds. It’s a bit out of the way for us, and every trip there is special.

When we get to travel south of here, we look forward to stopping at a number of bird stores. Omar’s Exotic Birds is one of a chain, but the place is always clean and lots of friendly staff make sure the birds are happy. My bird club had the pleasure of listening to Omar speak on Bird Behavior. He’s certainly in the right business.

Also in San Diego is a newish store called BirdSmart. Be sure to watch the video, it’s adorable! I haven’t been into that store yet, but in its former life as Bird Crazy, I had the pleasure of several visits.

So on my wish list right now is a trip to Magnolia Bird Farm. But in the meantime, I’ll go wherever the birds hang out. See you on Sunday!

More Budgie Goodness

(Hooray, finally got a photo of the aviary to put up!)

The bird in the Guiness Book Of World Records for the largest vocabulary is a budgie. Sadly, he took his nearly 2000 word vocabulary to the Rainbow Bridge.

I thought I had seen a film about Puck, but can’t find it right now. Here’s a cute budgie talking away:

And many more: , ,–H2Pbc , , , ,

And an English Budgie. You can tell by the forehead and the accent.

Disco has long been a favorite of mine:

Here’s how budgies communicate without using human words:

I hoped to see this when I checked the nest box today: which will lead to this: but while there are five eggs in the next, Diller didn’t start sitting on them until last Wednesday. So another week of patient waiting.

If you don’t want to talk to your budgie, maybe you just want the bird to entertain you:

The biggest problem here is that someone will see these cute videos and think a bird straight out of the pet store will act the same way. I think of a friend who has an adorable love bird, very playful and sweet. A neighbor who bird sat for them fell in love with “Mo” and bought a love bird of his/her very own soon after. The new lovebird looks exactly like Mo but has a totally different personality. Luckily for the bird, the new owner takes full responsibility and provides the lovie with a great home.

If you buy a budgie, find one from a breeder, be sure the bird has been hand fed and well socialized. Expect the bird to have an adjustment period when you bring him or her home. Not all birds talk or learn tricks. Not all birds stay tame, especially if you put them in a cage and don’t let them out to interact with you.

As I have said before, get the biggest cage you can afford. Provide the best diet you can, even if you pluck dandelion greens from your yard to supplement seed and pellet.

Wing clipping is controversial, and I understand both views. But when taming a bird, the wings should be clipped. This means do not allow your bird to be out when cats, dogs, or bigger birds are also out. Once you have bonded with your bird, however, you can judge if the ability to fly is positive or negative. Be sure to keep doors closed and windows screened or closed whenever full flighted birds are out. We often ask people to step around to the back door if the birds are flying. Also ask people and children to be careful with the birds if they don’t mind the budgie landing on them. And keep Poop-off wipes handy.

Give your birds access to a supply of calcium at all times, but especially during mating seasons. Fresh water daily, with a little iodine and apple cider vinegar is esential. Some budgies love to bath, as you see: And some prefer to roll around in wet greens and leaves: (Love the dog in this one)

And that reminds me of a few more details. Trees rarely grow with their branches all the same size, and all smooth like dowel perches. The perches that come with a cage are not the best for your birds. Get the most natural perches you can afford.

Dishes should not be placed under perches where feces will fall into the food. Covered dishes are good but be sure the bird is not afraid of it.

And finally, toys fill in the time between play with you. I don’t recommend mirrors because the budgie may think it’s a real bird, and want to bond with it instead of with you.

There you go! Have a great week, and I will be back on Wednesday.

Something About Birds

I bet you think I forgot to post today! You’d be mostly right. I remembered overnight, and had a rough time sleeping, but could not get up to write at the time. And I had to get my blog about writing out first, so I ran out of time.

I thought I’d post about bird watching or migrations, like that. San Diego is an awesome place to watch for birds. We have everything from the pelicans and water fowl at the beaches to the birds of prey in the mountains, and everything in between. Including the odd little road runner. Not entirely flightless, it’s still not the nemesis of coyotes as portrayed in certain animated offerings

The humane society where my husband and I volunteer to walk dogs one night per week is at the base of some impressive hills. We have had the pleasure of seeing beautiful birds there. Most recently, we saw a vulture at the side of the drive into the buildings. It lifted up as we passed, just a few feet from our car. Breathtaking. and

Not long ago, we observed a western bluebird, drinking from a hose bib. The dogs and humans ere allowed to get pretty close without interrupting this activity. Obviously we saw a male.

There are some adorable finches with very orange heads, almost red. These are the house finch, a native to the area.

While not limited in range to my area, the red wing blackbird is prominent in the walks around lakes and rivers here.

But probably my favorite bird to look for is the common mallard duck. Once you see them in flight, you will always recognize that ungainly body and wings that seem too small. Here, they come in the fall, and in early Spring, you will see the strings of ducklings following around behind the parents. Did you know that almost all domestic ducks are descended from these hardy stock? Funny how common companions can be full of surprises.

We get lots of Canada geese these days, too.

And we have egrets and herons that nest here. We see loads of humming birds, mostly Anna’s and killdeer pretending to be injured to lead you away from a nest.

There are over 500 species of birds on San Diego county, and you’d have to be crazy to not notice them. Did you know that there are only two species of parrots that migrate? No, they aren’t in Southern California. They migrate seasonally, not just in search of food in random patterns. How cool is that?

See you on Sunday!

How Not to Breed Parakeets/Budgerigars

I’m very excited that in another week or so, I may have baby budgies hatch in the bird room. I have done absolutely nothing to make this happen except provide a nest box. As Dr. Ian Malcolm says in the first Jurassic Park movie, “life, uh… finds a way.”

When I decided to try to breed parakeets, which I call budgies, because not all parakeets are budgies, but all budgies are parakeets, uh. . . where was I? Oh, I did loads of research. Budgies don’t like to breed unless there are lots of other budgies around them. Be sure to have one more nest box than breeding pairs. Make wet leaves available daily so the hens can roll in them and then bring the moisture to the nest and the eggs.

My first budgie flight cage had six sides, was very tall and very narrow. We could not always get the birds out of it easily if the need arose. And the door wasn’t the best sort. I lost two birds on different occasions that way, but one had just come to me and had clipped wings. That lucky budgie came back to the flock. The other one, a beautiful gray bird, probably joined a hawk for dinner. Ah, well.

So I got a better cage, square, with a solid top and two doors. Mike cut openings at the back for four nest boxes, and we put in three pair. From friends, I had learned that budgies don’t like nesting material of any sort. But there’s a greater chance of splayed legs if there’s no strata for the chicks to sit on. Dry playground-type sand is the ideal thing. The hen can’t carry it all out of the nest, and the chicks have support as their legs develop. I also learned that budgies need eucalyptus leaves for the enzymes which stimulate breeding. I was Ready.

One of the birds I had that I thought was a male turned out to be female. That’s a nice story that I will share another time. But my blue male had no trouble providing service to the two girls, and soon I had eggs, and soon chicks. These were the happy days. As the years passed, I lost a hen, and was given a beautiful girl from a friend. Her name was Miss Tick, and she settled in to the aviary well, I thought. I was so excited to find her in a nest box, laying eggs and sitting on them. Sadly, I had an aggressive hen in the flock that I was not aware of. Miss Tick and her hatched chicks were killed, and the unhatched eggs thrown out of the box. I still feel sick when I think of that desecrated nest.

I was able to identify my aggressive hen and give her away. But I had then an imbalance that never quite righted itself, more males than females. So we got rid of the big cage, switched the budgies into a tall flight cage, and did not provide nest boxes. I have one female to five males out there. Not sure if she’s a happy girl, or if the boys are frustrated, or what.

Last June we received a pair of budgies from a neighbor. The pair were kept in a classroom and much loved by the students. We were just expecting to keep them for the summer, but no one came to claim them in the fall. Because they were not staying, we kept them inside in a cage instead of introducing them to our flock. They are cute blue and white birds, cheerful and playful. Last week, Mike discovered an egg on the floor of the cage. He says the hen looked embarrassed. She wanted nothing to do with it.

When I found two more eggs in the cage, I decided to set up a nest box and see what happens. We just learned too that the teacher who had the birds in the classroom went to another school, so the birds should be ours. And that makes me very excited. Baby budgies are some of the sweetest birds you’d ever want to have.

So until I can share progress, here are some videos to keep you entertained. Here is an adorable pair courting: another pair mating,

Hatching and growing:

And fledging:

It’s been one week since I put the box up, and they need two weeks to hatch. That is one of the fastest incubations in the avian world. Stay tuned, and maybe next week we will share good news!(By the way, I haven’t yet found the photos of the aviary, but I will keep looking.)

Spring Clean Fling Part 3

So now we step outside, and see the dove flight cage and the budgie flight cage. Not as I would like them to be, but serviceable for our needs. The dove cage started life as a really nice double decker cage. The friend who gave it to me had turned it sideways and done unspeakable things to the structure of the cage. Originally, I had Mike install it across the airlock from the big aviary, and we put the non-breeding outside cockatiels in it. And then we discovered how mean the doves were to the button quail, and put the cockatiels back and the doves in the auxiliary cage. Later, when I wanted two breeding cages for the love birds attached to the air lock, we decided that the doves didn’t need the extra safety of the lock, but love birds would for sure.

Once the cage had been re-purposed directionally, the bottom tray was discarded and did not make it to my house. Here’s a pretty close example of this cage. Only the one in the link is square, and mine is more rectangular. Also it doesn’t have the middle slot for a tray and grate. In any event, we just keep the inside bottom grate clean and scrape the cement slab below it regularly. The doves are not as messy as some birds.

The budgies are in a cage like this, but has no legs or wheels. We cut down an old, rickety cage rack and it works very well. The cage has an ordinary plastic tray like these cages use:–Case-of-3-White–Prevue-FO610_p_483.html#.U036E1eTLwo so it’s simply a matter of scraping the grate, pulling out the dirty tray and shoving a clean one in. Parakeets or budgies, whichever name you prefer, are messy and busy little birds. So there’s lots of seed, feather, and waste to clean up.

I got a good deal on four breeder aviaries last year at this time, and wanted to set them up for the love birds, as mentioned above. All the miscommunication you can imagine happened around two of these cages. Mike wanted to build stands for them, but didn’t want the doors to be a security issue. We finally got to a realization that if we adjusted the air lock and put the cage doors there, problem solved. Unfortunately it was too late in the year by then to move the love birds out. I selected two pair of cockatiels and set them each in one of the cages. They survived this human interference but I don’t know if any mating will result.

On this page of the Wingz catalog, upper right corner, is a cage similar to the four I bought used, of which I only have use two so far. Not exactly, but these were set into the side of the air lock across from the big aviary. Side by side, on nice wooden stands, but there are no trays here and I clean out under them periodically. On that same catalog page on the upper left you see an air lock just like the one we have. That needs a good shoveling out at the moment. Let me try to draw what the aviary complex looks like.

Well, that was not successful. Anyway, the Aivary is the biggest job of cleaning, naturally. The doorway is narrow, so I take a bucket and shovel in with me, and put a greens can ouside the air lock. Then it’s fill, carry, dump, fill, carry, dump, repeat until we get down to concrete. We give the button quail scratch, but they also love the seed from the dishes above. So while being careful to not shovel up a quail, I also leave some of the ground seed behind. Mostly I want to remove the seed that gets wet when it rains, and is getting moldy.

The quail learned that when I shove up some of the seed, especially the damp stuff, they can find all sorts of yummy buggies there. I love watching them dash in as soon as I walk out and clean up the wildlife.

I don’t think I can get close to the aviary by using links to web pages, so I will in the next few days change my photo on the blog to one of the aviary taken some years ago. At least you will see the solid walls and roof that Mike put on it.

Have a good week, and I hope to have good news on Sunday!

Bonding with Avian Companions

Ever since Maynard, my Double Yellow-headed Amazon parrot came into my life, I have marveled at our bond. Not that I’ve never been bonded with a parrot before this, but never with one who talks back to me.

Sunny, my female sun conure, holds the position of first close bond I had with a parrot. I’d had a disappointment with Zazu, the male sun conure given up to me from someone I talked to on-line. The bird loved Mike, and so defended him from me. Sunny came to the first bird mart I chaired for my bird club. She arrived with the Free Flight staff, one of several parrots available for adoption.

I put out my hand, and she stepped up without even being asked. She started a feeding behavior against my thumb, and I fell in love. With a little juggling of finances, we were able to pay the adoption fee and take her home. She spent the entire day at the bird mart sitting on my shoulder and making cute noises. No one could believe she hadn’t been with me for years and years.

She and Zazu got along very well, and are still bonded to each other. Sunny’s bonding with me continued until I brought Jake home, at which time she though I had lost my mind. He attacked her, she attacked him, and I had to make a choice. Sunny had Zazu at least. Jake would not tolerate another bird in his cage or around me.

Jake took at least a day or two to bond with me. He was bred by a good friend from the bird club, and purchased by a woman with two teenage daughters. In all the time he lived with them, he almost never got confined to his cage. The girls handled him, played with him, fed him, and snuggled with him. He became the center of the universe for that family. Sadly, the woman lost her job and then her home. She had to move into an apartment, where no pets were allowed. She returned Jake to my friend, and so my friend put him on the opportunity table at the club. My ticket held the luck that night, and Jake came home with me.

I love to have him out in the mornings, and he loves to share my oatmeal or apple. When his wing feathers grew back in, he loved to fly around with the other love birds and chase them away from me. With his wings clipped, he will stubbornly make his way to the floor and walk to wherever I am or he wants to be. Jake will sit on my shoulder for hours, preening and sometimes sleeping. In cool weather, he will burrow under my shirt. And he cannot talk without fluttering his wings and tail. So cute.

The two bad habits he has are biting and not coming to step up when he knows you want to put him in his cage. The first one will usually cause the second one. He had a third bad habit when he came to me, in that he was only a year old and wanted to mate with my hand. I would immediately turn my hand upside down, and he had to stop to move somewhere that didn’t slope. He only tries to do this now at the beginning of spring, for the most part.

One of the cutest things he does is take a bath in the kitchen sink. I have to keep my hand in the sink, so he can climb up and out if he wants to. I never knew the smell of wet feathers could be as bad as wet dog smell. But he’s so happy when he gets a bath, he doesn’t seem to realize that he only moistened the tips of his wings, his tummy, and his legs and tail.

Creamsicle, called Creamy, is a truly awesome cockatiel. I bred him in my aviary, and had a friend hand feed him. When he came back home, he was destined to go on the opportunity table. Since he was a sweetheart of a bird, I held him back for the February drawing. By then, Mike had fallen in love with him and didn’t want to let him go. I had not been paid in advance for the bird, so there was no issue in keeping him with us.

I have mentioned before that Creamy has the softest feathers I have ever felt on a cockatiel. He likes to sit on shoulders, and likes to investigate ears. He likes to serenade us with the songs of his people. He is such a delight and such a rare treat. And even though we don’t let him out of the cage very often, due to several factors, he stays sweet and bonded to us. Unbelievable.

Here are some links for more information about –

Love birds:


And sun conures:

Have a good week, I’ll be back on Wednesday.

Spring Clean Fling Part Two

Taking up where I think I left off, we’ll talk about cleaning the three larger parrot cages and the outside aviaries and flight cages. However, I have made a change to one of the cages I discussed last time. My lovebird Jake has moved to a smaller cage today. If it works for him, then he may stay in it. If he doesn’t like it, I’ll clean the old cage and reinstall him in it. The most curious thing for me is a new waterer I gave him. If he can figure it out, then it will stay with him. cage waterer

Maynard will be next, as he is extremely tame and easily handled, well, by me. His cage is relatively new and easy to clean, so there will be minimal time for him to be in a different cage. A couple notes about his cage, we don’t use the skirting because we walk in to them in an amount unequal to the good they do. Also, the wood dowel that came with the top play area had very little traction to it. So Mike took it off and we got a knobby, curved branch and wire-tied it to the metal supports. Maynard quite likes it.

Next would be Blind Io, because his cage is small and easily cleaned. But moving him is going to be traumatic. He’s gotten so much better with us, and the attention we give him. He likes to get his beak touched before we go to bed, and he makes smooch noises until we comply. He also has gotten very calm about me touching his feet when I feed him, because I tell him what I am going to do and I stop when he gets too unhappy. He does not like to have his cage moved for cleaning behind or under it. Wrapping him in a towel and shoving him in a totally unknown cage will not be his favorite way to spend a warm spring day. However, if I think I can get the cage clean enough by just removing the grate and then the tray, that’s a possibility. I can’t find an exact duplicate of his cage, this is about the closest: Remember to discard the skirting, and think of it as narrow, with a square door and a good 8 inches of dome above the door. The done is a simple curve, not the fancy one in the photo. And the top does open, but Io is too scared of it.

Bo Dangles will be another challenge. She is an aggressive bird, and none of the tips I have read and tried have worked with her. She does allow me to groom some of her head feathers for short times. At one point I was taking her out of her cage and letting her play chihuahua on the floor. But I had to keep my feet up or get bitten. And her cage is an enormous iron thing to which we have added wooden trays to replace the ones that had been there at some time, I guess. We have laid plastic trays over them and cage sides for a grate. But she has had her wicked way with them, and the entire bottom could use a revamp. We were using wooden shelves covered in carpet. But A. she chewed the shelves to bits and B. she poops so much that the carpet needed cleaning daily. Now we have a metal shelf and we just removed all the carpeting. A couple times a day, the shelf is wiped down. She’s not too sure she likes this.

Bobo has the disadvantage of not being able to perch, so often she hangs by her beak and stumps and poops down the side of the cage. So the whole thing needs to go out and be hosed, brushed, and so on. This is probably as close as I will get to the cage, but the door on her cage is bigger, you have of course already removed the skirting in your mind, and there are no opening for food and water dishes. There are hoops inside, permanent structures, for that purpose.

Hey, looks like I have talked myself into a third part of this. The outside cleaning is simple, but I don’t want to make this any longer right now. Otherwise I may never get the cages cleaned. Have a great week, see you on Sunday!

Mourning of Companion Animals

Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. – Ecclesiastes 3:19

At those times when Maynard is most like a puppy, rolling around on my lap, biting my fingers and his leg, coming when I call him, or following me around, I am rather happy that I most likely will not out live him. At 25 years old, he has a life expectancy of 60+ years, meaning he may be around for 35 more. Whereas I, even with getting my health into better shape, as well as my body, and working to get off medications, at nearly 60, may squeak out another 30 years.

Losing Maynard will be devastating, much more than other birds I live with. My first cockatiel, Palafox, lived to be 21 years old, and when he died, I went into shock. And while I have mourned many cats and dogs over the years, they always had the grace to give me some warning they were failing and it was time to let them go. Palafox just left. No chance to say goodbye, and a nagging feeling I had done something that caused his death. Several months after he died, I finally sobbed out to Mike that I thought I killed him, and thankfully he reassured me that I was mistaken.

Recently I have laid to rest two cats that were very dear to me. One reached the age of 16 years, and the other made it a month shy of her 21st birthday. I had the financial blessings of being able to have them cremated, and keep the ashes with me. With my dog Dusty, and with my daughter’s cat Ceo, we were not so well off. Nor did we have a large enough freezer. Dusty was the best dog I had ever had, Even her bad habits weren’t that bad. And the fact that we have not been allowed to have a dog since she passed makes it difficult to heal that loss.

We do keep our birds that pass on in the freezer, and once a quarter, as close to the solstices or equinoxes as we can, we have a bonfire in the pit in the back yard, and send them on the rest of their journey. I try to remember the names of each one each time, but often they were just chicks who didn’t make it or one of the budgies who looks exactly like two others.

Pet monuments is a big business. Even the humane society where I volunteer has tiles you can buy and have your pet’s name immortalized. The tiles are set into the pavement around the center fountain in front of the building. Los Angeles has a pet cemetery that started as a donation of land from a wealthy family to the SPCA in 1928, making it one of the oldest memorial parks for pets on the West Coast.

When Palafox died, I didn’t even think about finding a support group to help me get over the terrible grief and guilt. These days, there are wonderful people who understand the attachment between animal and guardian, and help those in need.
According to Uncle Wiki, people have buried animal remains with their dead for eons. The oldest pet cemetery on the East Coast of the United States is in New York, in what started out as an apple orchard. Hartsdale Pet Cemetery is also the site of the first memorial to service dogs who died in wars, starting with World War I.

In London, there is a beautiful memorial to animals who served in past conflicts, and if you click on the history link, you will see they remember not only the dogs, but also horses, mules, pigeons, “Elephants, camels, oxen, bullocks, cats, canaries, even glow worms.”
Poets have been moved to commemorate animal companions through their art, most famously George Gordon, Lord Byron. And while not a traditional memorial, the Hemmingway Home and Museum continues to nurture polydactyl cats there. The first avian memorial I found is a web page maintained by Planned Parrothood:

This page has memorial markers specifically for birds, and notes that most of the popular companion parrots have a longer life span than cats and dogs. They recognize that a deep bond and special relationship can grow between humans and parrots. That’s nice. And here are more recognizable bird stones:

Palafox is buried in the back yard at the house I now live in. I’ve always wanted to put a statue of St. Francis of Assisi to mark the spot. Growing up Catholic and loving all animals, I had an natural afinity for this holy monk. Statues of St. Francis often depict him with birds around his shoulders, and incorporate dishes for seed or water in the design. This site has a lovely bit of art showing him preaching to the birds:

I hope he had better luck with that than I do. See you on Wednesday.

Indian Ringneck Parakeets

Rain Check: My plan had been to continue the theme of spring cleaning the outside cages, but it’s raining today. And I had a three-day weekend. You would think that having an extra day off would make it easier to find time to write, but you would be wrong. And so I apologize and I am putting that off until next Wednesday.

Instead, I present some great videos of Indian Ringneck Parakeets doing what they do best. Bothering other birds. Talking. Eating in a park. Stealing peanuts. Making more ringnecks. Singing for his supper. And giving the bunny some love.

Have a good week, and we’ll talk again on Sunday.