End of the Year Potpourri

What’s it like to have 70 some birds living with you? Well mostly it dictates every day’s schedule. First on the list is to check waters. We use mostly tube-shaped waterers that can hold a couple days worth of water. But some birds like open bowls of water. Every morning, these are checked and any that are low or cloudy are pulled, cleaned, refilled, and replaced. Lovebirds like to stuff things into the waterers. So they are usually being changed daily. Then food is checked, fresh food handed around, and notes made on who is eating what and what we are getting low on. But the best part of having such a huge flock, if one of the birds is being cranky, there’s always someone else to cuddle with and play with. And when I pull up to the house, even if I have only been gone an hour, the chorus of welcomes is occasionally enough to bring tears to my eyes. I love my birds.

For the new year, my thoughts are about securing the future for my birds. And that’s kind of a difficult thing to think about. The finches, budgies, cockatiels, canaries, and lovebirds will probably not outlive me or my husband. And we won’t be replacing them when we lose them. The conures are a pot shot. But luckily it probably won’t be that difficult to find qualified people to take care of them. The difficult children to rehome are Maynard and the Congo African Grays with special needs. Maynard because he is so attached to me, and has been passed around so much already. He’s 26 years old, and might live another 30 years. Blind Io will also need a kind soul to take him in, and I would like him to be kept with Bo Dangles so he has some sense of continuity and family. Bo has no feet, but she is a fun and entertaining bird. She is getting to the point where she allows me to touch her more and more. I just don’t know who would fall in love with her like I have, and be willing to change her dirty towels on her shelf every day. The towels need to be taken outside and hosed off, then hung to dry. When I have gone through the week’s worth of towels, I wash them, and start over. I have to go to thrift stores to find suitable towels for her. She likes to chew on them, sometimes.

We’ve been putting up with our mouse invasion for so long now, it’s hard to think we might have won the battle if not the war. We got three high-pitch sonic generators yesterday, and today the noise from the rodents is gone. The house has lost the mouse smell in the back rooms and corners. And the two electronic zap traps we set out with yummy peanut butter haven’t caught a single one. (Last minute update: heard a few mice last night, and caught one in the zap trap.  SO close) I might put those out in the aviary next. It had been so bad that a mouse walked out on the bottom of Maynard’s t-perch which is next to my desk, and didn’t even worry about the fact I was sitting right there! I won’t even go into the horrid places I have found dead mice. With all the cleaning I have been doing and moving stuff around, the mice have been looking for other places to live. But today I think we may have actually gotten them to look outside of the house. In spite of the easy to get to food supply in the various cages, we have made it difficult for them to put up with us any longer.

Hope you holidays have been magical and your flock is doing well. I’ll be back on Thursday.

Seven African Parrots To Celebrate Kwanzaa

I am going to be a bit preachy here. I live by the belief that what happens to any one living being on this planet happens to all of us. So when I hear about some creature going extinct, it’s not just an impact on the ecosystem where the animal lived.

In the same way, holidays impact all of us, whether because we commemorate a miracle of lighs, a special mark in the seasons, or a feast of family, community, and culture.

According to the Official Kwanzaa Web Page: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/index.shtml
The Nguzo Saba (The Seven Principles) are:
Umoja (unity) – The Congo African Gray parrot is super intelligent and therefore valued in the pet trade. Efforts are in place to stop illegal netting and sales, but if we are not united in these efforts, the parrot, currently vulnerable in the wild, will move down the slope to extinction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_grey_parrot
Kujichagulia (self-determination) – Senegal parrots are sweet, loving companions if they are hand fed as young chicks. But if wild-caught, they never will be tame enough to be good pets. Their self-determination, if left alone and not tampered with, is to be wild and free, natural and beautiful. This trait has helped keep them at the status of Least Concern, perhaps proof that being impossible to tame is vital to survival. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senegal_parrot
Ujima (collective work and responsibility) – Lovebirds are little African parrots known for their devotion in pair bonding, and their aggressiveness in defending their nest and young. The peach-faced lovebird is luckily on the Least Concern list, and there are huge populations in aviculture and naturalized in urban areas outside of Africa. The cheery little birds work together during the breeding season to bring materials back to the nest. The female will strip off a bit of palm frond, tuck it under back feathers that she can then constrict against her bod, and when she has a full load, she takes this all back to the nest. An excellent symbol for collective work, everyone working together and meeting their responsibilities. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosy-faced_lovebird
Ujamaa (cooperative economics) – You may have heard a lot recently about a Cape Parrot. This bird was considered a subspecies related to two savannah-dwelling parrots, but now is seen as a separate species. This parrot is critically endangered, and has a very small area that it calls home. It is believed that only 400 survive in the wild, and the Cape Parrot Project is working to save them. But to save the parrots, you must save the trees that support them. To save the trees, you must bring the people into the plan, and make it work for them economically. This great video tells the story, and also explains that when you save the trees, you save all the wildlife that live in and around the forest. http://www.wildbirdtrust.com/portfolio/cape-parrot-project/
Nia (purpose) – Most birds reproduce through a method much like placing the openings of two bottles together. It’s called the cloacal kiss in aviculture. But if you are a parrot on an island like Madagascar, and you require several males to keep you fed during incubation of the eggs, you would be smart to evolve a specific purpose for mating. The Vasa has re-evolved phallus, and the female will mate with more than one male. She will also sit near her nest and sing complex tunes that lure males to her. These smitten males will feed her until the eggs hatch and she can feed on her own. Vasas also have a different look than other parrots, and ornithologists now believe they are the genetic link between parrots and raptors. Unlike most parrots, Vasas must have meat in their diet, and in the wild they hunt to fulfill that requirement. http://beautyofbirds.com/greatervasaparrots.html
Kuumba (creativity) – For many years, I have wanted to have a Jardine’s parrot. I met one and she totally won my heart. I tried to talk the owner into letting me host her, because his wife did not care for birds of any kind and would not let him keep any in the house. So the beauty lived in a big cage in a cramped shed with first parrotlets for company and later canaries. He could not part with her; coming to visit with her each day made his life more pleasant. And I can’t blame him. Jardine’s come in lesser and greater, and black wing, with the lesser being more common. They are a funny, playful, and creative bird that loves being watched during play. Hide and seek is a big favorite. They live in good sized flocks in the wild, so they are naturally social. But due to the pet trade, this parrot is on the CITIES II list as illegal to trap or trade. Let’s hope that’s enough to prevent decline. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-fronted_parrot
Imani (faith) – I started with the Congo African Gray, and will end with the whole family of grays. Officially, there are only two species, the Congo and the Timneh. I’ve seen both and I can tell the difference between them. Some people claim that there is a species or subspecies called the Cameroon African Gray, nicknamed the Big Silvers. These birds are larger, and have more silver than gray in their body feathers. The Ghana African Gray is heart-wrenching in that if it ever existed, through interbreeding with the Congo, it no longer can be identified as a separate species. And there’s a trend to encourage red factor grays to the point of having a completely red bird. Not what nature intended, by any means. It takes faith to let people say and do what they are driven to say and do, but not change your own integrity. We can save the birds that exist in the wild, if we have faith.
Thank you for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.

Ten Innovative Gifts for Birds

If you have a long list of folks who are expecting gifts from you, chances are you haven’t had time to look for special treats and toys for your companion birds. Tsk tsk. Well, if you act now, you might get these delivered for Christmas. And if not, you can celebrate Twelfth Night in January.

1. Foraging Pouch. http://www.petsolutions.com/C/Foraging-Bird-Toys/I/Foraging-Pouch.aspx?CAWELAID=1630127410&CAGPSPN=pla&gclid=CjwKEAiA2dSkBRCX8KmK5YrFviwSJACeYweCaJJ2gtV1WyfqQCDz0ajYOaenh9YmbOBIEy54C9uKKhoC1dLw_wcB If you haven’t introduced your parrot to foraging, this would make an awesome beginning. A busy seagrass mat decorated with blocks and oddments and stuffed with crinkle paper. Because of the small openings in the mat, you can insert nuts and Nutriberries, and it will be the very best thing ever.

2. All Living Things makes some wonderful toys, and this stack of colorful wood on a sturdy chain with a bell invites your companion to sink his or her beak into the toy and not your furniture. http://www.petsmart.com/bird/toys/all-living-things-chunk-bird-toy-zid36-14011/cat-36-catid-400038;pgid=MGto4LhQ3vRSRpYoHgGJHIKM0000V-v7TYiP;sid=827QGdqx1wXUGY4kbtuSHeq7EGWMvzm6r8jO23WL?var_id=36-14011&_t=pfm%3Dcategory

3. Nature Chest has a full page of new arrivals, but I most like the holiday colors on the Merry Coco bird toy. http://www.naturechest.com/merry-coco.html geared for smaller birds, it’s attractive and fun to chew on. Makes the cage look ready for the holidays.

4. While we are there, Nature Chest also has a fun fleece snuggler, great for the cold weather and entertaining for birds that might be feather pickers. http://www.naturechest.com/fleece-snuggler.html Lots of pretty colors, although you don’t get to choose which one you get. And note the warning about the bell at the bottom if ordering for larger birds.

5. Big Beak Bird Toys, as you might think, specializes in toys for the bigger parrots. And while a bit pricey, the Foot Fetish foot toys is a great collection that will keep everyone busy. http://bigbeaksbirdtoys.com/product/foot-fetish/

6. Bubba Bird Toys provides another great preening toy in Mrs. Moppsey. http://www.bubbabirdtoys.com/small-bird-toys/detail/flypage/25-mrs-moppsy-bird-toys.html?sef=hfp Cotton rope is one of the best materials for your beaky friends, and lots of different textures keep it interesting.

7. Molly’s Bird Toys web page is all decorated and bright for the holidays! And he is offering a “bundle” of three great toys for about $30. http://www.mollysbirdtoys.com/specialoffers.html (Molly is a male cockatiel mistakenly thought a girl, but the name lasted longer than the baby feathers) I really like the bundle idea, and there are several sets to choose from depending on the size of your companion. And all the toys are hand made, of course.

8. Drs. Smith and Foster is having a pre-Christmas clearance sale, so you can probably find lots of fun stocking stuffers there. I’m not sure how I feel about this product. http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=5059+5648+15954&pcatid=15954 It’s a toy cell phone for birds, which then encourages them to play with the real buttons on the real phone. At least, that’s my concern. It does talk, and that’s something parrots might like. My Congo African Grey, Bo Dangles, has a Babble Ball. The battery died long ago, so it’s just a Ball now. But when it talked, she loved it. She never started to say what it says, but she would laugh manically when throwing it around the cage. So it’s on the list for her.

9. What would Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Saturnalia be without special holiday treats? http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=parrot+treat&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=40067989567&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=7826594613368490340&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_3mvinzupug_b Lots and lots of choices here, something for every bird on your holiday list. Even better, after all the gingerbread cookies for the humans are done, make some treats yourself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuHeeC1RRTc

10. And as long as you have that do it yourself spirit, the last item on this list is how to make your own bird toys. You can recycle jewelry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRtkag3pQns or get ideas from the local pet store then order bulk parts on line https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zabsGpCN1d0http://www.funtimebirdy.com/bird-toy-parts.html And be sure to include some foraging toys. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzLJdwu-qZM

Have a great holiday season, keep everyone safe, and I’ll be back on Thursday.

Maynard’s Christmas List

My Amazon parrot Maynard is part child, part puppy, and part snapping turtle. I love him like a child when he calls me “Momma!” and like a puppy when he plays tug with my fingers, and maybe even like a snapping turtle when he lunges for my husband and misses. If I could get him whatever he wanted for Christmas, I certainly would. So I did a little daydreaming and thought about what he would want.

Maynard’s favorite toys are plastic things he can chew to pieces. Lids from yogurt tubs, small cups, plastic chain, and any empty container gives him hours of fun. His perch has a little flange where I can hook things for him to chew on, and it’s easy to punch a small hole in a clear plastic lid to anchor it to the perch. I think of that as his pacifier, because he will chew happily away for hours at a time. Sometimes I put a dollop of yogurt on the lid, and he cleans it off before destroying it.

The absolutely favorite lid of all, however, is anything red. Our peanut butter has a red lid. Our coffee creamer has a red lid. Not only hours of fun, but something about the red causes him to make the cutest chirp sound. Mike thinks it sounds like a chihuahua barking, but I find it to be a short, sharp call. I often wonder if it has anything to do with the red on the tails of double yellow headed parrots. Whatever the reason, he finds it very attractive.

Amazons are supposed to love bells. Well, not Maynard. He will give a bell a ring or a tug, but there’s no love involved. Totally not interested beyond the one touch. Maybe I need to read that part of the parrot book to him.

He does love almonds, and peanuts, and sourdough toast. He’s a pasta fiend, loves chicken too. A couple days ago he climbed up onto my chair while I was eating a ham sandwich. It never crossed his mind that I wouldn’t share with him, and of course I did. I thought Maynard would not like the mustard, but he rather enjoyed it. I went back to my reading when he wandered off to look for new nesting sites in the bathroom and linen cupboard. On his return, I told him the sandwich was all gone. He said, “Bye-bye!” and curled up to sleep on the chair.

So the ultimate present for this bird would be a red lid filled with almonds, pasta, ham, and yogurt. My mind boggles at the mess that would create, even if I kept it in his cage. The almonds would work, so maybe I do have a good substitute for the ultimate. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back on Sunday.

Eight Israeli Birds for Hannukkah

Israel is an amazing place. They have ostriches and flamingos. They have owls and vultures. And the national bird is a real beauty. So what better way to observe the feast of Hannukkah than by looking at eight birds from Israel?

The national bird is the Hoopoe, a singular species in its family worldwide, but found in Israel. The country voted on which bird should snag the honor, and the hoopoe won.



Another beautiful bird found in Israel is the Little Green Bee-eater. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaIpdjOCMDs From the sharp beak to the spiky tail, this litlte bundle of feathers is adorable. And it’s only one of three bee eaters found there.

Kingfishers in the Holy Land come in pied, common, and white-throated. Here’s a video of the pied catching fish.


And the beautiful common kingfisher doing the same.

The understated beauty of this Desert Wheatear is possibly what makes it a popular subject for videos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kYIslECWYw This one is especially enjoyable for the wind and ocean noises. There are over a dozen species of wheatears that pass through or live in Israel.

Three species of pelican inhabit the shores of Israel. I spotted the Dalmation Pelican on the list. They spend the winter in the Eastern Mediterranean, along with the Great White and the Pink Back. http://www.arkive.org/dalmatian-pelican/pelecanus-crispus/video-06.html

Another winter resident is the Demoiselle Crane, smallest and lightest species of crane. A delicate beauty, named for a French queen, they form lifelong pair bonds and when migrating may travel vast distances without landing. http://www.arkive.org/demoiselle-crane/anthropoides-virgo/video-09.html

Eye-catching stripes on the breast of the Olive-backed Pipit cause it to stand out as it searches for food. A ground forager, this little bird is related to wagtails, which you can obviously see while watching this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juu-JdceMoY Fourteen of 54 worldwide species of pipits occur in Israel.

Wrapping up the last Hannukkah gift, this adorable Hume’s Tawny Owl give a great example of the bird’s well-known call, and refuses to look directly into the camera. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSVkCyzidcA I could just take him home and cuddle him for hours.

Thanks for joining me on this commemorative birding expedition. May you and your family find peace together this year, wherever you are. I’ll be back on Thursday.

Holiday Safety

You see these articles every year. Don’t let your dog or cat have chocolate, don’t let anyone eat mistletoe, and for the love of all that’s Christmas, don’t let you pets eat the tinsle off the tree. Those are pretty much drilled into our heads by now. Unless this is your first winter with a pet, then you should start over and read those lists out there.

I want to address more about mental safety than physical. Because I have an Amazon parrot. Yesterday I showered while he was in a different room. I put on a dress he hadn’t seen in months, and brushed my hair flat. The minute Maynard saw me, he started hissing at me. I ignored him, and got a perch for him to step up. He lunged for my bare arm.

Luckily, he only bashes with his beak most of the time. Biting is rare and usually my fault. I figured he’d settle down once he heard my voice enough. I put him on the back of my chair as usual, and sat down to read. It didn’t help that the neighbors were having their roof worked on, and all the birds in the living room were on edge from the unusual noises and smells. Are all roofers that noisey, or did we just hit the jackpot?

Maynard seemed to settle down, and preened my drying hair as usual. Then I made the mistake of leaning back and making eye contact with him. He started bashing my forehead. WTF, bird? Who did I suddenly turn in to that scared him? Oh well, back in his cage he sat quietly on his perch, not calling for me or making any noise. I left for my meeting soon after that, and when I got home, my hair had dried, I changed into comfy clothes, and he was all better. He even played with me a little bit after eating tuna with me.

The Bird Channel has great input on de-stressing your birds. http://www.birdchannel.com/media/bird-behavior-and-training/bird-behavior-issues/steps-to-destress-bird.aspx.pdf The article mentions showering with your parrot, which was my first mistake. I didn’t take Maynard into the shower like I usually do, so he didn’t see me transform.

About.com lists signs that a bird is stressed. http://birds.about.com/od/birdhealth/tp/Signs-Of-Stress-In-Pet-Birds.htm Aggression? Check. At the first sign, I should have put him back in his cage to chill.

And Pets4Homes lists causes of stress. http://www.pets4homes.co.uk/pet-advice/parrots-and-stress.html Loud, sudden noise? On the nose.

Now we start decorating for the holidays, and might even introduce a big funny-smelling item that the parrot is not allowed to investigate. Shiny things are hung up, music plays from a stuffed toy, strangers come over at night, and no treats are given to the bird. STRESS! http://www.birdsupplies.com/parrot-pictures/holidays-parrots-and-stress/

Gatherings with the family might not be all fun and cheer. This article talks about a cockatoo who plucked himself bald in one day. Probable cause? Divorcing owners having a loud fight in front of the poor thing. http://www.birdchannel.com/bird-behavior-and-training/bird-behavior-issues/stressed-bird.aspx It’s almost a sympathetic magic, that the parrot picks up so much of your emotional situation. Be as calm as you can, even after getting home from a six-hour shopping expedition to the mall that resulted in one box of chocolates and a new bath brush. Not the best haul for your time invested.

This year, stay calm, shop on line, go minimalist with the decorations, and have a wonderful time. I’ll be back on Sunday.

The Birds of The Twelve Days of Christmas

Just so you know that I know, the first day of Christmas is Christmas Day. The Twelfth Day of Christmas, also called Twelfth Night, is traditionally the day the Three Wise Kings from the Orient showed up and lavished expensive gifts on a child so poor his birth took place in an animal food trough. There were also shepherds sleeping with their flocks in the dead of winter, and snow in the Holy Land. Here’s your salt grains.

But the delightful (for the first three rounds) song about the lavish gifts from a true love involve many birds, so here are some links and information about those birds. To start, here are the lyrics.


Swans. When shopping for wedding decorations, you will no doubt find lots of swan themes involved. These beautiful birds are symbols for lasting love. According to this page, http://www.whats-your-sign.com/swan-meaning-and-symbolism.html “When the swan glides upon the waters of our awareness, it might be a symbol of love, and a reminder of the blessings found in our relationships.” So this is a perfect choice of gifts to be traded between lovers who want a lasting relationship. There are 6 or 7 species of swans, and not all are as devoted to each other as the mute swans. Black swans come from Australia, black neck swans from South America. Otherwise, these water fowl are white and fluffy. They can be found in ancient poems from many places in the world. Leda and the Swan by William Butler Yeats is based on the legend of Zeus appearing as a swan so that he could approach the beautiful woman, Leda, and have sex with her. Leda bore a child who supposedly grew up to be Helen of Troy. In Celtic mythology, children of a king were turned into swans by their jealous stepmother. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_of_Lir I read a wonderful novel based on this legend, and have just now found it again! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daughter_of_the_Forest Romance, Magic, and Medieval Ireland! And it is only the first in a series, so these will be on my Christmas list! Ahem. Back to birds, sort of, I did mention that swans usually stay together for their lifetimes, unless they fail to produce a viable clutch in a nesting season. If a female swan wanted to stay single, she would just have to destroy her eggs. And that’s about as likely as me winning the title of Miss America.

Geese. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Yes, we call the entire type of bird by the female’s designation. Geese are found just about everywhere that people live. Domestic geese and wild geese need to have a pond or other water body to rest on, nest around, and find food in. What few people know, because we don’t share our lives with live poultry so much these days, is that geese are intelligent and will guard your property. http://www.metzerfarms.com/goosewelcome.cfm Geese are loyal, and live by the No Bird Left Behind motto. http://www.whats-your-sign.com/animal-symbolism-goose.html White geese are sacred to Aphrodite, and she is pictured at times riding one side-saddled. And who doesn’t know Mother Goose? The city where I grew up has a Mother Goose Parade every year on the Sunday following Thanksgiving to kick off the Holidays. Here’s great information on the many myths and stories about women and geese. http://deafpagancrossroads.com/2013/01/01/the-goddess-and-the-goose-the-sixth-day-of-christmas/ Native American tribes connect with various birds in many ways, so it’s no surprise they have many tales regarding geese, too. http://www.native-languages.org/legends-goose.htm

Calling Birds. Being a living thing, language changes. This is a reason it takes years of study to be able to read manuscripts written in Old or Middle English. And why some words we use had very different meanings just a few decades ago. Calling birds might refer to singing birds, like canaries. Or it might be colly birds, birds as black as coal. According to this authority, http://www.birdwatchersgeneralstore.com/TwelveDays.htm colly bird wins, and just means blackbird. A very common English bird related to our robin. So don’t even go down the Four Gospels’ path, okay? This was a very secular, happy song. I have no idea why anyone would want four of these birds. Unless, you know, you had a craving for pie. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_blackbird “The common blackbird was seen as a sacred though destructive bird in Classical Greek folklore, and was said to die if it consumed pomegranate.” No jelly for you!

French hens. The French have a great deal of cachet in areas such as fancy cooking, wine, cheese, and romance. They are also better than expected at ale and beer. And a plump, fancy hen could be almost guaranteed from a breed of French chickens. Wiki has the list of breeds http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Chicken_breeds_originating_in_France I picked the Favorolles breed, and like what I see. The hens are expected to weigh six pounds or more. They were used for both eggs and meat, but now are more of a specialty exhibition bird. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faverolles_chicken Just be sure none of the eggs laid by your chickens are hatched out under toads, or else you will end up with a cockatrice. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cockatrice Of course, we all know the chicken’s egg is a symbol of fertility, so maybe the true love was letting the gift receiver know to expect a large family. In Asian countries, the rooster was held to be a valiant protector of the land from evil and darkness. This link has a lot of myths and superstitions about poultry in general. http://tribes.tribe.net/b9b544af-89e5-4aa7-8dec-c917f83c3bd7/thread/cb9e614c-4a5b-4f37-a379-bf829862937a

Turtle Doves. No, this is not a genetic experiment gone horribly wrong, or a flock of mutant creatures. It’s a type of dove with a soft call that sounds like Turr! Turr! The scientific name turtur comes from that call. http://www.arkive.org/turtle-dove/streptopelia-turtur/ This bird might have been able to grip a coconut as it migrated from Africa to Europe. The Bible represents doves as messengers from God, so the many species of dove are all blessed by this reference. In Europe, the turtle dove is a symbol of devoted love, because the pairs mate for their entire lives. It’s also seen as a symbol of growth and prosperity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_turtle_dove And while still of least concern for conservation aspects, the seed plants it feeds on are being eliminated in much of Europe, so it is getting scarce.

Partridges. An old-world non-migratory game bird, rarely seen with coconuts, the partridge has been introduced to the United States and Canada. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/gray_partridge/id I find lots of references to the television show, The Partridge Family, and various semi-famous people with that last name. If you see anything about a partridge in Native American legends, you should know that the actual subject is a grouse or a quail. And the little birds with the cure curled feather on top of their heads? Like the animated ones in the opening of the aforementioned TV show? Those are quail. So here’s a legend of how the partridge built good canoes for all the other birds. http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/ne/al/al63.htm Here’s the story of how a young man died of love, at the hands of the partridge witch. http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/ne/al/al64.htm See, it’s all about love.

Those are the birds of the song. And here’s some financial input on the song. http://business.time.com/2009/12/04/cheapest-day-of-christmas-third-day-with-three-french-hens-for-45/ Not one hookbill in the list. Maybe I’ll do a Twelve Hookbills of Christmas sometime in the next few weeks. I’ll be back on Thursday.

Games Birds Play.

If you have a parrot or two or more who want to be with you every waking moment, then you need some skill at distraction to be able to visit the water closet, or eat, or even sleep. And you can also spend time playing with your birds. Even some birds that don’t get out of their cages much play some games. So here’s what we play at my house.

Player: Lovebird Jake. Game: Keep-away. Jake gets the first couple hours of every day as out time. He’s not clipped, because he and Maynard don’t get along, and if for some weird reason I have them both out at the same time, Jake needs to be able to escape. At the end of his play time, I usually need to sneak up on him and grab him. He will scream like I am cutting off his head. Depending on how long I have been chasing him and how angry I let myself get, I usually give him kisses and tell him he’s a cute boy so he settles down. A little treat in the cage also makes things better.

Player: Double Yellow Headed Amazon Maynard. Game: Chase the Hand. This game is not for the weak. Blood has been drawn. I move my hand under a blanket or towel, and Maynard gives it a killing bite. Most of the time, I get out of the way before the bite occurs. It’s that one in a hundred time that hurts.

Player: Double Yellow Headed Amazon Maynard. Game: Puppy. I sit in my comfy chair, my feet up on the ottoman. Maynard climbs up the ottoman, uses my legs as a bridge, then rolls over on his back. He gently bites my hand and fingers, then bites his own leg. I scratch his head, his face, and we go on for a while until he gets too rambunctious and bites hard. Sometimes he will go from this game to courting behavior, and I have to stop that. But when he starts the puppy game, he makes me melt.

Player: Indian Ring-Neck Wraith. Game: Annoying Sound Imitations. It’s hard to be upset with Wraith over these sounds. He does a car alarm, the answering machine beep when a message is waiting, cat meow, and a baby crying. He does say Pretty Bird and my voice or Mike’s saying something indistinct, but as if we were cartoon characters. The worst one is the answering machine beep. We have to check the machine, even when we know it’s Wraith. He has us well training. He wins.

Player: Blind CAG Io. Game: Overweight Pugs. Yeah, not much of a game, true, but for a blind parrot, it’s pretty impressive. The home he lived in before joining The Hungerford Home for Happy Hookbills kept a pair of female pugs of long lineage and poor respiration. When they get a wheezing and a whining, it’s funny but then it’s not. Ten minutes, usually is enough. Io wins when he lets the dogs out.

Player: Toeless CAG Bo Dangles. Game: Tug of War. Before Bo will let me scratch her head, which she dearly loves, she had to play tug. She has a bell hanging on a chain, that’s her usual favorite. She also likes to tug on the fabric covered swing that we put near her for her to chew on. Since she can’t perch, her cage has shelves for her to sit on or lay on. We started with wooden shelves, loosly covered with carpet. She moved the carpet aside and chewed or possibly carved the wood into a very attractive sculpture that did not work as a shelf any longer. Now she has a metal shelf covered in towels that are changed out regularly. Much better than carpet, as I can hose off the chunks and wash them regularly. Getting the soiled towel out is usually easy. But putting a clean one in? Tug of war! Bo wins.

Player: Elderly normal peach face lovebird Benny. Game: Hide and Seek. Benny came to us from a woman who had acquired him and a female, given them a nest box, and not expected them to have babies. And then didn’t expect them to do it again. She didn’t hand feed any of the chicks. The majority of the babies went to my bird club. I kept Benny and his mate, whom I named Jet (pathetic, I know), but after all that egg laying and feeding chicks, she passed away just a few short years after coming to us. Benny has been with us for at least 8 years. We set him up with a single bird that may be female, a cherry head lutino named Blondie. Her story is another “What were they thinking” episode, but she and Ben have been happy together for a long time. We think Benny may have had a stroke. He can’t hold his head up straight, it lists to the right. He can’t perch because he falls and he stumbles when he walks across the cage. He’s eating, and seems happy otherwise. I give them cardboard boxes to chew, and he loves to hide inside them. As he only has the one hiding place, he doesn’t win this game very often, but he’s a true player.

Player: Maynard again. Game: Button, Button, I’ve got your buttons. Maynard loves buttons. At first, he only chewed them but didn’t hurt the garment or the button itself. Then I heard a crunch. And pieces of pink buttons fell on the floor. Sigh. Okay, but no damage to the fabric. Then I fell asleep in a chair while Maynard played with my hands. I woke up to a shirt from which all buttons had been removed and all knots of thread holding the buttons had been removed, along with a good inch of fabric around them. Sigh. Maynard wins. I plan to go to a thrift store and buy some shirts with buttons to keep him occupied.

Players: Handfed babies Coco and Dinky. Game: I’m STARVING!!! Yeah, this is an obvious one. Every time they see me in the kitchen, then hear the microwave, they go berserk. And while I try to feed them, they bob their heads up and down rapidly, causing the formula to go all over them. The second part of this game is Bath Time! They hate that, but they get so messy I have to wipe them down. No real winners here except whoever gives these angels a forever home.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.