Polly Want an Artichoke?

What do parrots eat in the wild? I googled Parrot Diet in the Wild, and was offered a choice of types of parrots. So lesson one for today is that parrots eat different things depending on where they live in the wild. And the next thing we will learn is that they eat different things depending on the time of year. Fruit trees don’t have fruit in Winter.

Therefore, look at your parrot and click through this link until you find an exact match. http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/parrot/ Okay, maybe not that link. Lots of fun videos there, but not so much help in identifying parrots. Presumably you have an idea of the type of bird you live with. Check this link to see if you guessed correctly. http://www.parrots.org/index.php/parrotgallery/catalog/

You have identified your parrot as an African Gray parrot. Congratulations! Considering your parrot is green and red, you’re way off. http://www.parrots.org/index.php/parrotgallery/category/C1/ But I understqand your confusion because this site lumps all the yellow headed Amazons into one page. http://www.parrots.org/index.php/encyclopedia/profile/yellow_crowned_amazon/

What does your wild Amazon parrot eat? First of all, whatever is available because they are opportunistic foragers. So sunflower seeds, peanuts, cheese, toast, none of these are available in the Amazon rain forest. https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071019061629AAdpIqK there is a surprising lack of pellet feed in the jungle, too. http://www.plannedparrothood.com/diet.html That link has a good overview for all birds, and then specifics by species.

I like this food pyramid idea. http://www.holisticbirds.com/pages/foodpp1002.htm Basically, you must know your bird. At 26 years old, my DYH Amazon, Maynard, is not too open to change. He is also very vocal in communicating his dislike for being left out of any meal. If either of us go into the kitchen, it must be because we picked up telepathically his need for a snack. I believe he came to us already programmed this way. That’s my story, I am sticking to it. (Wow, in September we will have had the pleasure of his company for a year!)

Bird Tricks is a very commercial site, but there is still excellent advice there. http://www.birdtricks.com/blog/the-4-most-important-components-of-a-healthy-diet/ I value the reminder to give your birds fresh water at least once per day. Maynard likes to soak whatever comes to hand in his water bowl. Now and again, he will go back and try to pick it out again. Very funny to watch, and if it’s bread, he’s out of luck. Oh, and if you can use bottled water, that’s great. We would have been broke years ago if we tried that. Luckily we can use Brita-type filters and remove some of the bad stuff. Our outside birds, however, get hose water for their baths, which is very bad. Someday we might be able to correct that. Their drinking water does come from inside through the filter process.

Pellets? Yes, but not as the only food offered, and only organic uncolored. My opinion, but fairly well substantiated. http://www.all-pet-birds.com/parrot-food.html Seed and nuts? Very little for the big birds, but those beaks were designed to let them open Brazil nuts and palm nuts. Some such option is good now and then, and lots of things to chew on to maintain beak health. For the smaller birds, if you have one of the many grass seed birds from Australia, you must provide a daily selection of high quality seeds.

Of course, different birds will always need different diets, and you should learn as much as you can about your companion birds. Plus there’s nothing wrong with sharing your food with your bird, but remember how much smaller they are than a person. If your diet isn’t keeping you in top shape, be cautious about sharing it. http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-diet-and-health/bird-nutrition/good-table-bird-food.aspx

Lories have a very different diet than above. Many birds are more fruit oriented, and some need more protein in the form of insects. Always learn about your bird’s species requirement, then move on to discover your own bird’s preferences. I hope you have many long years of feeding the very best to your flock. See you on Wednesday.

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Reunited and it Feels so Good!

I know I haven’t lost my birds and been reunited with them, but knowing that the threat of having to rehome them is gone, I am getting that kind of vibe. So here are links to some great stories about parrots coming home again.

The ways a parrot can be parted from you are many. Being stolen at gun point in an elevator is not that common, but happened to this lady in New York City. http://www.myfoxny.com/story/23024796/nypd-ex-con-steals-and-sells-pet-parrot

More often, the burglar breaks into a house and steals the parrot. Not often, these birds are recovvered. Especially if the thief is a bit dim. http://www.wltx.com/video/921851919001/0/Stolen-Macaw-Parrot-Reunited-with-Owner

And the number one reason parrots are lost is that the owner took the bird outside. A fully flighted bird that loves you and will never leave you can still be startled and fly off in self defense. http://connecticut.news12.com/news/chatty-parrot-reunited-with-owner-in-fairfield-1.8442004

As nearly happened to me, this man was forced to sell his macaw due to financial issues. Glad to say that all is well with him and his macaw. http://www.sundaypost.com/that-s-life/funday-post/in-other-news-2.1544/parrot-reunited-with-owner-after-22-years-1.434936

No story with this video, but love the voices in the background at the end. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5srakmh01-w

The key to getting your missing bird back is to advertise, call the papers and news stations, put up flyers, and don’t give up. http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/look-missing-george-parrot-reunited-7295379

Not every story has a happy ending, and some losses are more tragic. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/pulido-344960-sparkey-park.html

But remember there is always help available, and it doesn’t hurt to contact every possible responder. http://prayersforourpets.blogspot.com/2013/03/patron-saint-of-lost-animals-st-felix.html

Have a wonderful, safe day and I will see you on Sunday.

Bird Supplies

Since I mentioned the cost of keeping a large flock of parrots, finches, doves, and button quail, I thought I would share my favorite places to get supplies. These are either stores near me or on-line businesses that I trust.

My number one store is Magnolia Bird Farm. Their prices on seed are the best around. They have a store in Anaheim, that I have never visited, and a store in Riverside. That store is the one I mean when I talk about Magnolia. I often describe it as Disneyland for bird people. They have an astounding range of birds for sale, a room full of hand fed and tame babies, and a room of pet birds surrendered or sold back, for many different reasons. Going in there to give some love to these unflocked birds is good for you and them. Here’s a great video of the outside aviaries. They have more in the warehouse. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eP5HbKsAsK0

Currently the rising cost of gas prohibits these fun jaunts to Magnolia, so we get our seed at A Bird Haven in Escondido. This store recently did a remodel, and have a fun tiki theme to the place. They put birds out on stands in the bird room, and you can handle the parrots at your own risk. They do ask that you sanitize your hands before and after handling the birds. They have a sister store a bit south of there, named Our Feathered Friends. I love to wander around there if I am in the area. It’s smaller but still manages to pack in lots of stuff. http://www.ourfeatheredfriends.com/content/company/index-stores.htm

Depending on what we need, we also go to the Escondido Feed Store. They have good prices on dove mix and scratch for the quail. http://www.escondidofeed.com/escondidofeed/Welcome.html

On-line, I like Bird Supply of New Hampshire. http://www.birdsupplynh.com/ I ordered seed hoppers from them once, and some arrived cracked. I let them know so they might pack them with more care, and they sent me replacements at no extra charge. Plus there are always free samples in the order.

Rockport Roost has been reliable and fast. And they explain everything you need to know about the order process on their front page. http://www.rockportroost.com/index.html

For finches and canaries, I rely on Lady Gouldian Finch for the things the big parrot stores don’t always have. Great service, and they even featured my aviary on their site once. http://ladygouldianfinch.com/community_aviary26.php
http://ladygouldianfinch.com/

Cages by Design has a local sales woman who attends bird marts and is one of the nicest people I know. They have wonderful cages, not currently in my price range, but nice none the less. http://www.cagesbydesign.com/

Lots of bird parents prefer to make their own seed mixes. And while that might work for some, it’s too much trouble at the moment for us. That’s why I love Abba Seed. The company has a great ethic as far as product quality and effectiveness. They make their own bread for birds and grind it up to add to the seed mix. Sadly, Mr. Abbate Sr. passed away a few years ago, but the company continues to carry the same excellent products. Bonus; They now carry some plain seed for mixing your own!
http://www.abbaseed.com/index.htm

My Safe Bird Store carries some seed, but mostly nuts and dehydrated fruits and veggies. They have a wonderful and helpful device on their site so that if a product is currently out of stock, you can put in your email address and get a notice when it’s back. http://www.mysafebirdstore.com/FOOD-NUTS_FRUITS_VEGGIES-1.html

The more parrot food you can make yourself, the more you will save money and the more control you will have over what goes into the food. Here are some great ideas on what to use.
http://tracees.hubpages.com/hub/SAVE-MONEY-WHILE-MAKING-YOUR-OWN-HEALTHY-PARROT-FOOD

If I were to make seed mixes for my birds, I would doubtless have to create a Bobo mix, because she hates the dried red peppers, and will only eat almonds if I cut them in half first. And an Io mix, because he likes some pellets in his food and also likes the almonds cut. Maynard’s mix would have more almonds, peanuts, no chili, and no pellets. They all love sunflower seeds, but those are more of a treat. Too much fat to be a regular food.

Next week, we’ll look at seed vs. pellets and the best optimum diet for Parrots! See you Wednesday for something fun.

One for the Money

Everyone thinks that if I were to unload all my flock, I would no longer have any financial hardships or problems. Really? I sold two cockatiels for half of what it costs to feed the whole flock for a month. It’s more of a time investment, not so much the expense. I don’t make money from breeding, especially if I handfeed them, so breaking even now and then is wonderful.

To be honest, I once spent $100 on a zebra finch when I took her to a vet. She had an abscess on her face, luckily that was easily healed. And if I did take my parrots in for their annual well bird check-ups, the cost would go up. Luckily my birds – knock wood– are wonderfully healthy.

The sad fact is that I will be rehoming or selling most of the flock. Not only is it time to bring expenses down to lowest possible, I also want to concentrate more of my time on writing. Also, down the road, Mike and I hope to move to Oregon or Washington State. There may be a small, temporary move before that, and I want to be in the position of power and choice, not wait for the event to catch me by surprise.

Some of the birds will move with us. I cannot live without them, the special birds that are either blind or have disabilities. The ones who are attached to me. The ones no one else would want. So I thought I should look at the information available for moving with birds.

This is a cute story and really good tips.
http://www.lipetplace.com/2011/04/16/traveling-or-moving-with-pet-birds/

And similar advice from the experts at The Bird Channel.
http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-travel/bird-dos-and-donts/no-hassle-travel-tips.aspx

This is a short move, but this is a sweet setup for the birds. Envious? Me?
http://trainedparrot.com/Moving/

Here’s a parrot who lives on a moving vessel!

I have a dear friend who emigrated to Israel with her cockatiel. Here’s information on moving internationally with birds. http://www.tailfeathersnetwork.com/birdinformation/movinginternationally.php

That’s about it for this Wednesday. See you on Sunday. Be sure to have a good week and give the birds some love from me.

Bird Song: A Parrot’s Perspective

Human ears usually like canary song and other song birds. I have met some who don’t care for the trill, but I like it. Test your tolerance with this great video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m86rRjlPuRA

But bird song, in fact all the noises made by birds, are not designed to attract or please people. These are the way an avian being communicates with flock, family, and most important of all, the prospective mate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUczRWWBXro

We do seem to like to hear our parrots singing like people. What does that say about us?

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/parrot-sings-his-heart-out-video.html

But they like to hear their own songs, the ones passed down father to son, mother to daughter. Finches are great singers, with zebra finches each having their own trumpeting. If you have the pleasure of several generations of finches, you can hear the basics from the original bird and the changes in each generation. Here’s a pretty basic song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaC6D1cW1Hs&feature=kp and some science on the whole process http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023090758.htm
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130612093647.htm
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100616090223.htm (I could read these articles all day!)

I had a pair of male spice finches whom I believe were brothers. They sang very quietly, and wanted to find girls very much. When one would sing, the other would stick his beak almost down the singer’s throat! Wish I could have video taped some of that, I loved it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7wIF_ZTOaA

But back to parrots. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has recording so calls of almost every parrot on the planet. World Parrot Trust has the list of birds. Is that cool or what? http://www.parrots.org/index.php/encyclopedia/audio/

Have fun storming the audio library, and I’ll be back on Sunday.

Bird Song: A Parrot’s Perspective.

Human ears usually like canary song and other song birds. I have met some who don’t care for the trill, but I like it. Test your tolerance with this great video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m86rRjlPuRA

But bird song, in fact all the noises made by birds, are not designed to attract or please people. These are the way an avian being communicates with flock, family, and most important of all, the prospective mate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUczRWWBXro

We do seem to like to hear our parrots singing like people. What does that say about us?

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/parrot-sings-his-heart-out-video.html

But they like to hear their own songs, the ones passed down father to son, mother to daughter. Finches are great singers, with zebra finches each having their own trumpeting. If you have the pleasure of several generations of finches, you can hear the basics from the original bird and the changes in each generation. Here’s a pretty basic song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaC6D1cW1Hs&feature=kp and some science on the whole process http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131023090758.htm
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130612093647.htm
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100616090223.htm (I could read these articles all day!)

I had a pair of male spice finches whom I believe were brothers. They sang very quietly, and wanted to find girls very much. When one would sing, the other would stick his beak almost down the singer’s throat! Wish I could have video taped some of that, I loved it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7wIF_ZTOaA

But back to parrots. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has recording so calls of almost every parrot on the planet. World Parrot Trust has the list of birds. Is that cool or what? http://www.parrots.org/index.php/encyclopedia/audio/

Have fun storming the audio library, and I’ll be back on Sunday.

Dreamland Revisited

Asking again for help in keeping a roof over the flock: http://www.fundme.com/en/projects/5063-This-would-make-a-great-novel And now on to the pros and cons of the birds I think I would like to add to the flock.

I love toucans, but I know a person who has had one and as she grew older and busier, the bird became more than she had time for. In their native land, toucans are seen as conduits between mortals and the spirit world. http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/toucan/ They are popular birds at zoos around the world, and nearly universally loved. I am fortunate to live near Toucan’s Emerald Forest, a breeding and viewing garden for many parrots and toucans. Here’s the care sheet they put out for Toucans: http://www.emeraldforestbirds.com/CareSheet.htm The pros are a loving, cuddly, playful, and intelligent bird that is quiet, not destructive, and rarely aggressive. The cons are special diet, lots of fruit so liquid poops, and special pellets with very low iron content. The birds are prone to iron toxicity, a fatal condition. And they have rather short lifespans for parrots, only 20 years.

Toucanets, and aracaris are close relatives to the toucan. The curl-crested aracari appeals to me visualy, and the one that I have ever interacted with had a very endearing personality. Since the care, pros, and cons are similar to toucans, here’s a video of a curl-crested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qafjzPI7ouM and here’s one that won’t make you motion sick. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB2HX3HWuvQ

Oh, did I mention price tag as a con for the toucan family? Yeah, Emerald Forest doesn’t even list their prices any longer, you have to call to get a quote. And add $200 if you want hand-raised, pet quality birds. http://www.emeraldforestbirds.com/Prices.htm

For many of the birds on my dream list, price is the leading negative, closely followed by housing costs and special diets. But how could you say no to a hyacinth macaw if someone gave you one? Why yes, I do know someone who has a hyacinth, the gentle giant of the parrot world. http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-species/profiles/hyacinth-macaw-2.aspx My friends named their hyacinth Molly, and I got to know about her through early emails. Molly had a rough start in life, fighting a hidden infection for the first year. When the vet finally pinpointed the problem, and Molly got better, she became a very different bird. The change was so obvious, even to friends who didn’t know the parrot every well. Molly loves tickle time and playing hide and seek with her mom. She got out and flew away once, but her dad followed her, and spent a night in the car watching her. Finally she landed on top of a business and he managed to climb up to get her. She went home and has stayed safe since then. Here are some videos of these beauties: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OT47T1IAVU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8qVZITdqgY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0kRKuU0Zzo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pdo2g70zQZo

I would love to have a macaw, but I know my limitations with the big birds. See notes on price, cages, and food. However, the mini macaws could be my solution. http://animal-world.com/encyclo/birds/macaws/MiniMacaws.php Like little dogs, they come with all the big bird behaviors. And they are usually under a thousand dollars. A Hahn’s macaw runs about $800 at the time of this post. Here are a few videos to show you just how cute these little guys can be. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgSY1U0G-F0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YuvDYydbWo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1X9KoQXeB5E https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csY6yXG9uAE

I do have budgerigars, or parakeets, but I only had one English type budgie, and he lived only long enough to give me a few half and half babies. And he wasn’t the most Englishy English budgie I had ever seen. A local budgie club had a bird show, and let me tell you, those show birds were beautiful and impressive. Here’s general information about budgies: http://www.parrotparrot.com/species-guides/english-budgies-parakeets/ and more info: http://www.englishbudgie.com/ and show birds: http://www.budgerigarassociation.org/apps/photos/photo?photoid=170633320 and a breeder: http://www.chopmisthill.com/english_budgies The prices here are all under $100, which is a steal!

And finally, I would be thrilled to have a mynah bird. I grew up in the local Rectory, where my mother was housekeeper and cook for the priests. And one of the priests had a mynah. I could sit and watch the bird for hours. There was a plastic cover on the wall behind the bird cage to keep his food from sticking to it. This bird could talk, but only when no one was in the room with him. Mynahs are fairly easy to care for and interact with. http://www.birds.com/blog/mynahs-as-pet-birds/ They eat fruit and a low-iron pellet diet, and apparently are in the same price range as aracaris. http://www.softbillsforsale.com/sale/hill-mynah.asp Here are a few videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYNCAT6NJ8c https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4Wm3Ocki4I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMEccNLXcQc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9EVxnOYFRE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4NsNfPun7A

Seems like the only bird on my list that might come home with me would be an English budgie. You think Benedict Cumberbatch would be a good name for a budgerigar? Think about it, and I will be back Wednesday.

It Don’t Mean a Thing if it ain’t got that Swing!

Most parrots I have known love swings. Even if they don’t like swinging so much, they will dangle from a swing and use it as a pass-through while traveling around their private world. Some of our cockatiels fight and fuss over who gets the swing today. Hence the plethora of swings in that cage. So since I am running behind on just about EVERYTHING lately, here are some swinging bird videos:

Enjoy and I will be back on Sunday.

Dream, Dream, Dream

Escapism comes in handy some days. I try to keep a positive attitude, most of the time, but sometimes the circumstances are stronger than I am. Once more, we face the possibility of losing all our flock and having to move into an apartment. While we do what we can to create a better outcome, and our miracle gathers momentum to get here, I have been dreaming of the beautiful parrots I’d love to share my life with. (If you would like to help, please click here: http://www.fundme.com/en/projects/5063-This-would-make-a-great-novel )

Of course I’d love to have a cockatoo, just about any species, although I really love the little bare-eyed ones. Pros of this parrot include they are usually love sponges, velcro birds, and members of the family from day one. Cons, well, loud is not as much of an issue when we already have 4 sun conures, but because the ‘toos can have separation anxiety and also might be difficult to keep occupied, they tend toward self-mutilation. http://www.mytoos.com/

I’m mentioning the Black Palm Cockatoo separately because I didn’t know they existed until maybe a dozen years ago. I turned a corner at a local bird mart, and there were 6 or 7 beautiful black ‘toos playing catch, drumming, and in general acting like little aliens who mean no harm to our planet. They seem to have all the same pros and cons as bleached cockatoos. http://www.all-pet-birds.com/black-palm-cockatoo.html

Have you had the joy of watching a pair or more of fig parrots hanging upside-down somewhere? I had that pleasure at a friend’s private collection, and became so enchanted with the darling birds that I put them on my dream list. I don’t really want to have one as a pet, it’s much more fun to see them doing their own thing. In fact, I’d love to see them in their natural habitat in New Guinea. I could take them off my list then. But I may settle for a painting of them from the man who has the ones I first saw. https://beautyofbirds.com/figparrots.htm http://gaminiratnavira.com/Tropical1-38.html

I had the pleasure of bird sitting for a friend who has a lorikeet. Odd story about this bird, she was at a pet store in the local mall. Mike and I stopped and looked at her, played with her, and I thought some day I would want a lori. Then this friend says she got a lori at the mall! Same beautiful bird, and I got the chance to know her better. Bella is a beauty, and clever. She says kiss, kiss, and Good night, and Mama! And she hops around on one leg while carrying the favorite toy of the minute along with her. So that’s the pro side. The cons, well, you have to be able to find the special nectar food lorikeets eat. And to afford it. Plus you need to be able to deal with the liquid poops. The cons, well, they can be aggressive to other birds and some people. They are smart and will need to be kept entertained through foraging and toys. They can be loud. Before deciding to adopt a lorikeet, go to any of the many zoos that have lorikeet landings and listen. The ones at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, back when it was plain old Wild Animal Park, would land on an arm and drink the nectar from a cup. When the cup emptied, the birds would nip the arm or hand, squawk, and fly away. https://www.petco.com/assets/caresheets/bird/lory-and-lorikeet.pdf

The Golden Conure, also known as the Queen of Bavaria conure, is a beautiful creature. Positively stunning. Imagine my surprise some years ago to find someone in the parking lot at my office with two of these parrots. You see, I work at a welfare office. These birds are worth thousands of dollars. The mind does boggle from time to time. And maybe the guy with the birds had only been giving a ride to a friend. The pros of goldens includes being able to talk about “my queen,” the extreme beauty of the parrot, and the wonderful conure personality. The cons, as with almost all conures, includes the noise, the destructive chewing indiscriminately, and the price tag. $3200 for one bird.

http://animal-world.com/encyclo/birds/conures/queenbavaria.php

No, that’s not the end of the list by any means, but have other writing chores to do. I will post something quick on Wednesday, and get back to Dreamland next Sunday. See you then.