Monday, December 31, 2007

End of Year Reflections

2007 was a very good year for us. No major complaints! All of our parrots thrived, we added a friend for Daphne, saved 2 uromastyx, and avoided aquarium catastrophes that plagued us in 2006.

Unfortunately, there are so many parrots out there that don't have it as nice as mine -- or as nice as those owned by people conscientious enough to read about parrots on the Internet! The small parrot rescue where Thomas and I volunteer took in several hundred parrots this year. Parrots that once had loving homes but became expendable once they no longer fulfilled their owners' expectations. Parrots who were abused, neglected, and mistreated because they were acting like the wild animals that they are. It just breaks my heart that these wonderful, sentient beings are often so mistreated and misunderstood by humans. I wish I could do more, but have been trying to make myself understand that I can't save everyone and that bringing more parrots into my home at this point would only serve to shortchange the ones who already share their lives with us.

There are so many sitting in that shelter right now that I would love to bring home. And it's so easy to bring "just one more" in. But where does that end? Recently I gave a presentation on clicker training -- a fantastic way to bond and communicate with your parrot. At the end, I overheard one of the participants say, "This sounds great, but I don't have 5 minutes a day to spend with each of my parrots!" This is a person who went from having 2 parrots to 17 parrots in about a year and a half. They are still taking more parrots home, yet they don't have 5 minutes a day for each bird? What happens when the novelty wears off or when, in a few months, they wake up, realize they have 30 parrots and are sick of the noise/mess/whatever?

5 of my 6 parrots are second-hand (or more) parrots. We purchased Max from a breeder before we knew about the plight of unwanted parrots. There are so many untruths out there about needing to purchase a baby in order to have the parrot bond to you. This is a blatant lie, and it saddens me that so many people believe and repeat it. All of our birds, with the exception of Jeff Saturday who has been with us less than a month, are extremely bonded to us. And Jeff Saturday has made huge strides during this time so it won't be long until I can say that he's bonded as well. Rocky was 19 when he came to us, and I am hard pressed to think of a way in which he could be more bonded to Thomas.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this, but it's just something that has been bothering me lately.

The end of the year is always a good time to reflect and make goals for the next year. In 2007, my big goal was to read 52 books, and I was able to accomplish that! I had gotten away from reading the past few years, and rediscovered why I love it so much. I just started reading The Agony and the Ecstasy and it is fantastic so far. In fact, I can't wait to go home and read and was a bit late for work this morning because I had to read one more chapter (which turned into about 5). For 2008, instead of trying to read a certain number of books, I am going to read a few books that I have started in the past but never finished, including Citizens and A Distant Mirror. These have been sitting on my bedside table for several years now. I am also going to try to revive the dormant book club my family had started a few years ago.

As for knitting, that is something I learned how to do in 2007. It hadn't been a particular goal, but now that I knit scarves (I've completed 5 so far), I want to branch out in 2008. I have ordered circular needles and yarn from supercrafty and will teach myself how to knit a hat before 12/31/08. Maybe mittens, too, but we'll see how the hat goes!

We hadn't taken a vacation since 2005 due to concerns over leaving the parrots, but now that we've found a fantastic lady who is willing to take care of them, we went to Prague in 2007. The parrots were basically no worse for wear, so we've got two trips tentatively planned -- Madrid in February and Belgium in May. Thomas has an arthritic condition that could render him wheelchair reliant in the coming decades, so we want to take advantage of our good health while we can.

We also have been making a concerted effort to buy local as much as possible. We have a relationship with a local farmer where we get all of our dairy products (we're vegetarian or we'd get our meat from him as well). The cheese tastes much better, and knowing it's from cows, goats, and sheep that are not mistreated is a bonus. We've discovered several local wineries, and are in the process of signing up for a CSA for the summer. That's where we, in effect, buy a share of a farmer's produce and receive a box of fresh, organically-grown vegetables every week throughout the growing season. We did that in 2005 but were unable to make it work in 2006.

For all products, we're trying to be more conscientious, as well. I had to give up a long-standing amazon addiction when I found out that they support dog- and cock-fighting by selling paraphernalia (magazines, etc.) on their website. It's been a challenge to find companies that have similar values to mine, but I'm trying as hard as I can!

I'm sure in a rambly mood today. I hope that everyone had a wonderful 2007 and that 2008 is just as fantastic!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Over the past few days, we've noticed that Jeff Saturday and Daphne seem to be getting along better and better. They are still not preening each other (and Jeff Saturday does have some pin feathers!) but they are usually quite close to each other.

We attached a small platform to Daphne's cage about a year ago. One of her favorite places to be is perching below that platform. Jeff Saturday has taken to perching on top of the platform whenever she is there. And, if he's on the platform, she'll perch under it.

If something scares one of them, they will both often fly off at the same time and land in pretty much the same place. Yesterday, we retrieved them from behind the TV set, behind the lizards' tanks, and from under Calypso's cage. We never leave them out unattended as we don't want any of the larger parrots causing them harm!

In this photo, they are hanging out near the door to their cage. Sometimes they both hang out on top of the door by the wire. We've also noticed that they are either on the same level or Jeff Saturday is higher than Daphne. She is never higher than him. We're glad that things have been working out so well with them!

Also, Jeff Saturday is increasingly tame. He's still a bit hesitant to step up from his cage, but we've been working on that, and he's greatly improving. Daphne is one of the tamest budgies I've ever seen, so hopefully she's been giving him some pointers on living with humans!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Rocky at the spa

One of the early Christmas presents I received this year was a home-manicure set. Thomas has become enthralled with the buffing block. It's kind of hard to tell from this picture, but his fingernails are really shiny!

Last night, he got the wonderful idea to buff and shine Rocky's beak, since parrot beaks are made of similar substance as human fingernails. Here is Rocky receiving the treatment.

This is the after picture -- note how shiny his beak is! Rocky is such a good sport for Thomas's experiments. He actually likes participating in them and revels in the one-on-one attention.

Yesterday was not a good day for Rocky and me and our relationship. We had been making progress, but then I made the mistake of sitting next to Thomas while he played videogames. This is considered by Rocky to be part of his nest, so he jumped on me and gave me a bite through my shirt. Good thing I was wearing layers! He just made a small mark, and Thomas was able to remove him. This is about the only reason that I am happy it's so cold right now. I'm going to have to be extra careful around him in the summer when I start wearing tank tops again.

In this picture, you can see much of the wood chipping that had been accompanying Rocky's afternoon. This was about one hour of chipping wood surrounding Thomas. I didn't realize until I was jumped that this is an extension of his nest. We sweep up the wood chips several times a day, but Rocky is determined and continues to rebuild.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A couple of Rocky videos

I recently placed yet another order with TNT Bird Toys because they carry some of my parrots' favorite toys. Rocky absolutely loves the Wheel Tweet Foot Toy. Rocky was not a big toy-player when we got him; we know he went at least 6 years without toys before he came to us. So when I find something he likes, I stock up!

When the package arrived Wednesday, I took out one of the toys and tossed it towards him. He yelped with glee and started attacking and jumping on the toy. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera ready, and by the time I came back with the camera, he was more interested in trying to threaten me than play with the toy.

However, as you can see in the following video, he also loves playing with this toy when he is inside his cage:

I've been playing the ipod more lately instead of listening to the radio -- is it just me or have the ads increased to almost unbearable quantities? When "Hey Ya" by Outkast came on last night, Rocky got so excited. I have the music on a bit too loudly, so it's hard to hear some of the noises he is making. Also, towards the end, he was ramming his head into the bars. I reminded him that he wasn't a woodpecker and this might cause headaches, but he kept it up.

I've mentioned before that Max provides a soundtrack to our lives. Earlier this week, I realized a new sound that she picked up -- the sound of me flossing my teeth! She loves hanging out in the bathroom, so at night when I go to brush my teeth, she follows me in there and hangs out on the shower curtain. As soon as I grab the floss container, she starts making the little "pip" noises.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sending holiday cheer with parrots!

In the past, we've purchased bird-themed Christmas cards from National Wildlife Federation and sent our holiday greetings along with a professional picture of a cardinal or bunting. This year, we decided to join the growing trend of people who use their own pictures on their card.

Of course things don't always go as planned! I knit Rocky a scarf, to make it more festive, and here are a few of the pictures that we didn't use:

Daphne didn't want to pose next to this pine bough:
And although the budgies were willing to perch in front of our Christmas cactus, the lighting just wasn't right.
Thomas tried to take a picture of Beeps in front of the cactus -- he is our most photogenic bird, after all. However, Beeps was having a particularly rough day with regards to technology and jumped him as soon as the camera came out. Luckily, Thomas has reflexes like a cat, leaped out of the way of Beeps's impending attack, and Beeps flew back to his cage where he didn't have to come face-to-face with an evil camera.

Here is the best of the bunch, and the one that we sent out to everyone:

Festive, and involving knitting. What could be better?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


It's been awhile since I've written about the caiques. They are both doing extremely well. Calypso has been so loving and a joy to be around. They are tolerating each other a bit more, and while they still are not physically interacting, they haven't jumped each other in several months, either. Small steps!

I have been feeling guilty about the lack of foraging I make Calypso, Rocky, and Beeps do. As I've mentioned before, Max forages for her pellets, but the rest of the birds just get them in their food dish. I've been giving the others a few wrapped pellets every day, and they've been eating them. I tried to get a picture of Beeps eating one, but as soon as he saw me with the camera, he had to threaten the technology and dropped his pellet.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Jeff Saturday flew over to Thomas last weekend while he was playing some video games -- fitting in as part of the family!

If you look closely, you can see Rocky's head protruding from Thomas's T-shirt. Where else would he be?

Things are going pretty well with the budgies. They've been together a little over 2 weeks now. Jeff Saturday wants to be friends with Daphne, but she continues to rebuff his advances. At least she is no longer attacking him! We're hoping that with some additional time, she will come to accept him and they will preen each other. Jeff Saturday is molting and has pin feathers on his head. I'm sure Daphne could do a better job of removing the sheaths than Thomas or me!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Over the weekend, Thomas threw his scrub pants in a basket that was in the back hallway. Rocky went into the basket, dragged out the pants, and then started hanging out inside of the pant leg. I think this is the first time we've seen him hanging out in clothes that Thomas wasn't wearing.

I wish I would have gotten a video of him getting himself into the pant leg -- he was rolling around, all while laughing. I was enjoying the show, and belatedly remembered to grab my camera!

Of course, as you can see here, Max had to go over to investigate. It was hard to limit myself to 2 videos of this event, but they are both pretty short!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Over the weekend, Thomas was downstairs getting the laundry, and he'd left the basement door slightly ajar. Rocky went over, opened the door, and then proceeded to yell/mumble gibberish until Thomas came back up. I only got a video of the last part of this. When he wants to, Rocky can speak clear English; however, he often chooses to mumble nonsense instead, like here.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I couldn't decide which one of these pictures I liked best, so I'm putting them both on here. In the first, his eyes are slightly open, probably in order to keep on eye on me. In the second, he is in complete bliss and his eyes are shut.

Rocky and Thomas try to have some preening time together everyday.

Here's wishing everyone a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Budgie introduction going well so far

Thomas got home before me on Tuesday, and I came home to find the above scene. He said that when he got home, Daphne was guarding the water dish and Jeff Saturday was looking longingly at the water. So, he brought Daphne into the kitchen with him to let Jeff Saturday have the cage to himself for a bit. However, they started calling for each other, so he brought Jeff Saturday in the kitchen as well.

I ran into the same scene on Wednesday, so I added a water dish to the budgies' cage, and took this video of them calling to each other (the video itself is not all that interesting, but you can hear him calling from the other room).

This morning, I enclosed Jeff Saturday between my shirt and zippered second layer (it's so cold here I've been wearing several layers!) and did the birds' foods and waters. He loved exploring under there! I can't have him on my shoulder, or Max will buzz him and I don't want to scare the little guy. He is a little tame, but nowhere near where Daphne is, so I'm trying to get him used to being near people. He is hesitant to step up, especially on/near his cage, and will often fly off my hand. Daphne, on the other hand, runs over to be picked up and always stays on my hand, even though she is fully flighted at this time.

There has also been a large reduction in the squabbling between the two, so I feel fairly confident that he has become a permanent member of our family!

It has been so cold and snowy the past week. Today was the first day I had to run in sub-10 degree weather in quite some time. I did warm up, but it took longer than I remembered! I also had to jump straight into the shower upon my return home, neglecting my normal routine of getting the parrots up first, so they were a little miffed at me this morning!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I think the parrots are plotting a coup...

...or at least Max and Rocky are. Thomas had to work Saturday, so I was alone with the parrots. Rocky found Thomas's flip-flops, turned them upside down, and started preening/nesting with them. Max flew over to take part in the fun.

Then, the two of them started playing on the stairs, running up and down together. It was all very strange. Rocky will sometimes run up and down the stairs if he's calling for Thomas or me, but it's never been a place where he played. Max recently has begun hanging out on about the 6th step so that her body is mostly obscured but she can look at us through the railing. (Please excuse the dust on the railing -- sometimes things show up in pictures that are hardly noticeable in person. I have since cleaned them!)
Here is a video of the two of them racing up the stairs. I think Rocky got a head start. Plus, he was racing up, trying to attack me, so he had extra incentive to win!

Later, I realized Max was missing and found her resting at the top of the stairs, waiting to be brought back with the family.
I didn't get any pictures of this, but later on, I found Max and Rocky on the kitchen table, chewing up the same piece of newspaper. These two never get along! In fact, Max is jealous of Rocky and buzzes him at every opportunity. I have no idea what they're up to, but will let you know if I ever figure it out!

And here is one last video. I was hoping to get another video of the two of them climbing up the stairs, from the opposite angle. However, as soon as Rocky noticed me taking the video, he abruptly changed course and decided to try to get me instead. Since I know he can be sneaky, I expected an attack and he didn't get me. He has been quite aggressive since we returned from vacation. I'm not sure if this is due to our absence, hormones, or something else entirely.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

This is the video I mentioned last week. I should have cut it off earlier (and I don't have video editing knowledge/capabilities). Max loves to walk around with her head upside down, sweeping the floor (or counter, in this case), with the top of her head. She is the only one of my parrots to do this. Rocky will walk around with his beak on the floor, but his head remains in an upright position.

This got me wondering: is this grey thing? Or just a Max thing? Or do other types of parrots do this as well? And it made me think about Max's grey friends: Mooky, Jazzy, Harley, Tuchis, Shadow, Lucky, Einstein, T-Bone, Cinder (and I'm sure I'm missing some!) Do they walk around with an upside-down view of the world? Reading Mooky's and Jazzy's blogs makes me realize how much she has in common with them -- her mannerisms and behavior are often very similar!

Monday, December 3, 2007

We have another bird

Over the weekend, a darling budgie was surrendered to the bird rescue where we volunteer. He is a 4-years-old and tame. His previous owner died, which is why he was surrendered. I have been looking for a companion for Daphne for some time. Budgies are very social animals and do well when kept with others of their kind. I fell head over heels for this little guy, so we took him home.

Unfortunately, at this point, Daphne does not feel the same way. She's been pecking at him, and they've been hanging out on opposite sides of their cage. We'll give it a few weeks, and if she never warms up to him, we'll have to bring him back to the rescue to find a new home.

He came with the name of "Sundance," so we are planning on changing his name. I was thinking Stan, Gordon, or Victor, but Thomas wants to name him Jeff Saturday. That is the name of an Indianapolis Colt, but Thomas just likes the name, as we are not Colt fans.

I have more funny pictures and stories to share, but want this entry to be all about Jeff Saturday, so those will have to wait until later in the week!

Friday, November 30, 2007

More Prague Vacation

I did take a video of Max last night, intending to post it this morning, but left my camera at home. So, more Prague photos!

We got to our hotel around 8 am Prague time, but we weren't able to check-in until after noon. We were able to leave our bags at the hotel. So, we took our sleepy selves on a walk around Prague. We found ourselves on Petrin Hill, which was close to our hotel. We thought this tree was incredibly beautiful, and I just love the way it frames the buildings down below. The blue house, #22, is located on Golden Lane, in the Castle District. It was Franz Kafka's sister's house, and he is known to have stayed and written here.
And here is Thomas on our last full day in Prague. We had seen most of the sights that we wanted to see, so we were slowly ambling towards the few we had left. We came across this small city park and took a stroll through it. As you can see, we had a light dusting of snow the night before.
Here's wishing everyone a fantastic weekend. I will try to remember my camera on Monday for more parrot photos!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Prague vacation

We returned from Prague last night. Our flight was delayed, so we didn't get home until a little after 2 am. In any case, the parrots woke up when we entered the house, so we got most of them up for a few minutes of attention before we went to bed (both of us had to work this morning!)

Max was so happy to see us. She has this whistle she does when she's really excited about something, and she just kept doing that; both when we got home and when we were getting ready for work this morning. I was pleasantly surprised to see she hadn't plucked at all when we were gone. She is working on building a nest in the bottom of her cage, apparently.

Calypso always gets angry when we leave. It will take him a few days to get over it. He didn't even want to come out of his cage this morning! He did take food from me, though. I guess his anger at being abandoned is selective.

Daphne ignored us last night (perhaps she needs her beauty sleep), but was very happy to see us this morning.

Rocky was so excited last night! He kept saying "Hi Rock!" and whispering gibberish. Then he made his excited noises. This morning he was singing a lot and calling our names. He was sticking very close to Thomas this morning.

Beeps started beeping the moment we were within ear range of him. He continually repeated "Pretty baby, pretty babycakes" and "Hi Beeps" last night and this morning. He did not want to go back in his cage this morning and gave me a little nip. I promised he'd be out all evening!

The lizards survived and are still brumating. This morning I counted 9 Australian Rainbowfish and 3 Clown Loaches and didn't notice any dead bodies, so I believe everyone survived our absence there as well.

Thomas and I are so lucky to have the most wonderful person come over and take care of our animals while we're gone. Of course we missed them while we were gone, but knowing they were in good hands meant that we didn't worry at all!

And here are a few pictures from Prague. This is one of the many picturesque views of old buildings. I was quite surprised to see the variety of color in the facades. There were times when it almost felt like we were in a Caribbean country due to the colors of the houses (the freezing temperatures kept us in reality!)

Inside St. Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle complex, you can climb the steps to the top of the tower. I can't imagine the line when it's full tourist season! We were able to climb right up there, and were rewarded with some beautiful images of Prague. You may notice how dark and dreary it looks. The sun didn't shine for the first 3-4 days we were there, and after that, it was only intermittant. During the 7 days we were there, we probably saw the sun about 3 hours total. The tradeoffs you make with off-season travel! We are happy about our timing, however, as we've heard the tourist crowds during the summer are enormous.
And here is a view of the famous Estates Theater, where Mozart premiered his opera Don Giovanni. This is also seen in the Oscar-winning film Amadeus.
I'll be able to post more parrot updates next week; maybe tomorrow. We had a fantastic trip, but it's sure great to be back home!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thomas was playing more video games over the weekend. As soon as he reclines on the ground and Rocky sees an opening into his clothes, Rocky runs over there. He loves taking 2X4 slices in with him and chipping them up inside Thomas's clothes. One thing that is quite fun about Rocky is that whenever you call his name, he comes out from wherever he'd been hiding. He actually had been in Thomas's shirt with his tail sticking out, but when I called his name to get this picture, he turned around and stuck his head out.

Here are Beeps and Max hanging out on the bottom of Max's cage. They also like to be near Thomas while he's playing video games. This isn't the greatest pose (no one is paying attention to me!) but it's the only one I captured.

This will be my last post for a little over a week. We are leaving on vacation early tomorrow morning and I won't have access to a computer until I return.

I'm a bit concerned about leaving my animals, but my very capable friend will be taking care of them. This will be the first time we're leaving Beeps, Rocky, and Daphne. Max and Calypso have been through this before, but it's been almost two years. We expect to get back to our house around midnight. I thought we'd sneak in, go to sleep, and wake the parrots up the next morning. Thomas looked at me like I was crazy when I mentioned that and said we definitely would be getting the parrots up as soon as we get back!

Have a great week and I'll post pictures from Prague when I return!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The demonstration went well yesterday. Max was a bit nervous, so she spent most of the time in the back of the room, perching on Thomas. She didn't perform some of her tricks, but everyone was understanding.

Beeps, on the other hand, did a great job! He was beeping, whistling, and talking up a storm. He met up with the family he lived with before us, and was a perfect gentleman.

That almost didn't happen, though, as I almost brought the wrong caique! I was running around in my kitchen after work, getting everything ready. The caiques and Max were in the kitchen. A caique was doing flips on the stand cupholder. I assumed this was Beeps and, not looking closely, grabbed him and placed him in the carrier. Then, I grabbed the other caique (who I thought was Calypso) and tried to get him to go into Calypso's cage. He balked, and when I took a look to see what was wrong, I realized I had mixed them up!

They don't really look all THAT similar, at least to me. I've maybe confused them briefly once before. I just saw a caique doing flips and assumed it had to be Beeps since Beeps does this all of the time and Calypso never had. He must have learned how to from watching Beeps!

Here they are, one after another, so you can see them.

That's Beeps on top and Calypso on the bottom. If I had any computer skills, I would resize these pictures and show them side by side. Sorry!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tonight, the bird rescue where I volunteer has been invited to speak at a local bird club meeting. I will be doing a short presentation on clicker training, and Max and Beeps will be two of my demonstrators. I have been telling them about this for a few days, but I don't think they understand. I'll also take along a macaw from the rescue to show people what it's like to start training with a bird that has no idea what you're trying to do.

In attendance will be the family that rescued Beeps from his previous home and surrendered him to us. They haven't seen him in over a year and I can't wait for them to see his transformation! It will be interesting to see his reaction.

Here is Max in mid-flip on her rope figure-8. I have been implementing a strategy of "Nothing In Life Is Free" with her lately. This is a dog-training strategy that I actually don't know much about, other than the name. I have decided, in the interest of keeping Max challenged and engaged, that she must work for her food. She doesn't have a food dish and must find her pellets daily (I've hidden them around her cage). And when I give the birds a little treat, she must perform a trick. Doing a flip through the rope figure-8 is one of her more challenging tricks, so it's what I make her do for cheese. It's gotten to the point where when I take cheese out of the fridge, she runs to her figure-8 and does a flip, even though she doesn't get credit for that -- only when I ask!

Be back tomorrow with a report on the clicker training demonstration!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Things have been pretty crazy lately! Friday evening I broke out in a horrible case of hives. They were so itchy and over my entire body. They continue to come back, so I'm taking some medication and hope to be back to normal soon. Needless to say, I was sleeping a lot of the weekend and didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked.

The birds did not like the fact that I was home, but upstairs. On several occasions, Rocky climbed up there, calling my name and trying to climb up on the bed. He did not have good intentions, so I had to call Thomas upstairs to rescue me since I didn't have my stick.

Max also made her first trip all the way up the stairs. Normally she'll fly to about the mid-point of the steps and sit there, beeping and ordering us to take her where she wants to go ("Come here! Up! Good girl! Come here! Hello!"). But over the weekend, she made a few trips upstairs to visit me in bed.

Here are Thomas and Rocky enjoying their Sunday ritual: reading the paper. Normally I am running during this time, but took the day off this week.

One of the advertisements included little stickers for kids to mark what they'd like to receive for Christmas (Already? It's still the beginning of November!) Apparently Thomas decided that he would like Rocky for Christmas. Rocky didn't seem to mind the sticker on his head, but Thomas removed it shortly after I took this picture.

Friday, November 9, 2007

I think it's been several weeks since I've mentioned our aquarium. Things have been going really well on this front! The clown loaches have taken care of most of the snails. There are a few left, but I'm fine with that.

I was actually scared because I'd only seen 2 clown loaches for a few weeks, so I was worried that one had met his demise; however, I've since seen all 3 of them swimming around. We're at a good equilibrium now and have no plans to add any fish for the foreseeable future.

Watching the fish swim around the aquarium can be very captivating. I'll take each of the parrots over for a look several times a week. Rocky likes to pretend that he's eating the snails. Calypso is fascinated by the aquarium, so we've placed his cage next to it. Max (the reason we got the aquarium) is oblivious, although she likes to hang out on top of it. Beeps and Daphne like to watch it, but only for a few seconds until their attention is diverted.

In the above video, Thomas had just fed them, so the fish are very active.

Have a great weekend and I plan to be back on Monday with more parrot stories!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Here is Rocky playing with another new toy from the Parrot Asylum. I put this on his playstand in an effort to keep him busy for a few minutes so I could make dinner without having to keep an eye on him! When he's in the kitchen, he doesn't like to stay on a stand. He'd much rather follow us around. This means that I have to watch him carefully so that I don't get surprised by a sneak attack!

And here is my darling budgie, Daphne. She is molting big-time lately, so she's been rather grumpy. We've taken to calling her Zippy the Pinhead. She's standing on one of her favorite toys. My mom had given it to one of the other birds for Christmas a few years ago. Daphne has been working on this for years, slowly chipping wood off of the edges.
Last night, Thomas went upstairs for a few minutes. Rocky realized he'd been abandoned and went upstairs almost as fast as he could. At the end of this video, he says something incomprehensible, but in a rather funny tone of voice. While he is capable of speaking clear English, he often chooses to mumble!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A few days ago, Max flew to Thomas and landed right on his hand, trying to eat what he had in the spoon. Her favorite thing to say is "want some!" and she says it whenever she thinks someone is eating something. Thomas and I have fun joking about this when she says "want some" regarding onions, avocados, or any of the other things that she is not allowed to eat.

She has been so funny and well-behaved lately. We're hoping that we continue to see this side of her! We call her the soundtrack in our lives.

When we lived at our old house, a pair of French doors separated our living room from the breezeway. These doors squeaked when opened, and it took Thomas about two weeks to oil the hinge. He told me he'd oiled the hinge, yet it still squeaked when I opened the door. I soon realized that the door only squeaked when Max was in the room! She had exactly imiatated the squeak, and did it only when the door was being opened.

She also makes a swallowing sound when I pour myself something to drink. She makes the smoke alarm sound after a shower (it's only gone off maybe 5 times in 2 years at our house, but she remembers!) And when Thomas leans in to give me a quick kiss, she always makes the kiss sound! She is very observant and doesn't miss much.

I think my favorite thing she does is when Thomas or I put a coat or shirt on, she hunkers down and moves her wings around as if she were also getting dressed. We thank her and then she continues on with her day.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I haven't written much about the caiques lately. They are both still doing well! When Thomas or I finish a box of something, we'll often place it on top of someone's cage. They like to chew it up and it's an inexpensive way to give them some variety in their lives. Here is Beeps chewing up a granola bar box:

With Beeps, this ends up being a fun game of fetch, with him throwing the box off of the top of his cage after he chews on it for a bit, and then we put the box back on top of his cage and the fun starts all over again.

On Sunday, Max was foraging in Calypso's foraging bucket and found this toy. It's a very simple toy -- just 4 bell balls strung on some veggie-tanned leather. But it's a big hit in our house! Each parrot has at least 2 of them in their cage. Max was enthralled by this toy, and flew from Calypso's cage to her own so she could play with it. As you might imagine, Calypso was not happy with this. We tried giving them each the same toy, but they both wanted this particular one. Finally, Max lost interest and Calypso got it back.

He stopped playing with the toy when I came by with the camera. However, you can see his beautiful coloring here and since he rarely takes good pictures, I had to put this one here.
He is so beautiful and I am constantly telling him that. If he were a human, he'd have a big head!

Monday, November 5, 2007


As Rocky started launching himself towards me more frequently over the past few weeks, I thought we were heading towards a path of clipping, and I was right! He flew at me twice yesterday. This was the first time Thomas witnessed an attack, and he was surprised by its viciousness. Out came the scissors!

I don't feel too guilty about this, as Rocky never flew. I doubt he was fledged as a baby, so he probably doesn't know how to fly (his launches at me were very awkward). We are still keeping up on his exercise and hope that this clip might trigger some better behavior.

To be honest, though, I'm not holding my breath as he flew at me again this morning, but couldn't go as far, so I was out of his range quickly. At least I no longer have to treat him like Louis XIV, backing out of the room so that I could be ready for an attack!!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Here's Rocky attacking a towel. As I've mentioned many times, he is a very strange bird and loves playing with towels. He prefers towels to most bird toys. Something about his pose made me post this picture. He's almost at a right angle. You can also see that he has one longish tail feather. See it while it lasts!

My mom gets each of the birds a present for Christmas every year, and we've told her that Rocky would prefer brightly colored hand towels to anything she could buy. She thought we were joking! He usually plays with them on the floor, but we do have this purple one attached to the top of his cage. We do not let him play with towels unsupervised since we don't want the loose strings to strangle him or take off a toe, so he doesn't have any inside his cage.

Have a great weekend and I hope to be back on Monday with more pics and stories!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Here is a picture of Beeps playing with a toy that had been on top of Rocky's cage until I recently switched it out with a different toy. One of the nice things about having so many birds (4 of my 5) in a similar size is that I can rotate toys among them when someone gets bored with it, or if it just wasn't their cup of tea.

Beeps loves toys that make noise, and there are lots of bells strung along with the beads on this leather! He particularly likes to rattle the bells when we're trying to watch TV.
I ran a race last weekend, and when I got home, I took off my race number and placed it on the counter. Of course, Max had to come over and investigate. She is so curious about everything!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Guess who's 6?

Max was hatched on October 31, 2001, which means today is her 6th birthday! In true Max fashion, she celebrated by eating Thomas's folder.

Max is the parrot we've had the longest, even though she is almost the youngest (Daphne is younger). Without her, we never would have started volunteering at a parrot rescue and never would have met the rest of our flock!

On an unrelated note, over the past year, I was lucky to meet and befriend a wonderful lady who runs her own parrot rescue. We've given each other advice, talked through tough times (and good ones!), and forged a genuine friendship. I only wish we lived closer! Last month, she posted a video of Snowball, a cockatoo that had been surrendered to her rescue, on her blog. He loves to dance and does so with such exuberance and hilarity that it brightens your day! As you may know, Snowball has become an Internet sensation!

Tomorrow, November 1, Irena and Snowball will be appearing on the David Letterman show! I have my VCR all set up to tape this moment. Irena and Snowball have done so much to publicize the plight of captive parrots and to let people know about the existence of parrot rescues. I am hoping that this will end up paving the way for enough donations for Irena to build on to her facility, and to continue to provide excellent care for unwanted parrots. This honestly could not have happened to a nicer person!

So don't forget to watch Letterman on Thursday!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I bought these fun little 2X2 boxes from the Parrot Asylum. Max has been having a blast! I'll put a bead in there (you can kind of see the orange bead inside the box). Then I shake the box in front of her. She gets so excited and starts dancing around! Then, I give her the box. She must spend 10 minutes chewing through the box. I took about 20 pictures of her with the box, but I think this one is my favorite since you can see her eyes pinning and some of the damage she's caused on other sides of the box!

Rocky was hiding the other day, and I was able to capture this. Normally he keeps an eye on me, but I think he may have completely hidden himself! We're still uncertain whether we will clip him or not. He hasn't flown at me for a few days, but I've been very careful.
Here is a video of Max scurrying down the hallway between our kitchen and living room. She is such a little ham! She absolutely loves running around on the floor and will often fly down to the floor and then walk where she wants to go instead of just flying there. I love how she zig zags around. Apparently she doesn't realize that a straight line is the most direct path!

And here are two videos of Rocky. They're basically the same, but only about 6 seconds each. His laugh is just so infectious and I couldn't choose my favorite, so I'm putting them both here. He climbed up into Thomas's shirt, and then just started laughing! They were doing this for about 15 minutes until Rocky decided to climb out and explore something else.

Monday, October 29, 2007

As I've mentioned before, we always keep bins of 2X4 slices around our house. When Rocky feels the urge to chew, he'll go over and grab a slice instead of taking a chunk out of our woodwork. We didn't do anything to teach him about what was acceptable to chew and what wasn't -- sometimes their intelligence astounds me!

After he grabs his piece of wood, he'll bring it under his cage to chip, chip it over Thomas's feet, or the equivalent:
Rocky recently received a new toy from the Parrot Asylum. I placed it on the toy holder that's on the play top of his cage. Over the 6 months or so that he's had this new cage, I've placed maybe 15 different toys up there. This is the only one that's piqued his interest enough to climb on it and explore! Here are a couple of different pictures of him on his new toy.

This is photographic evidence of Max eating an apple. Of course, looking at it, it could also be a grape or piece of paper or a marble. I swear it's an apple! I have been giving her apples several times a week for almost 6 years. Only once before has she deigned to eat any. I honestly don't know why I keep trying. I was so excited when she took a bite! I guess persistence does pay off! Rocky never understood this quirk of hers since apples are among his favorite foods!