Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I've left my camera at work for a few days, so I apologize for not updating on a more frequent basis! This picture was taken a few weeks ago, and it was posed to illustrate another story about Max and her inquisitiveness.

Thomas and I were making bean burritos, and one of the components is a "guacamole" which is avocados, olive oil, and garlic salt. The pit fell to the floor. Neither of us could find the pit, but I was planning on doing a thorough washing of the floor the next day, so I figured I'd find it then.

The next morning, I exited the shower, to find Max playing with the avocado pit! The pit is the most posionous part. I didn't want to take the time to take a picture, and I didn't want to post this story without a picture, so we posed this one a few days later.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I know that this blog is mainly about parrots, with the occasional lizard or fish story, but I wanted to share what's going on at my work. There is a nest high up, above our entrance. I first noticed this because of all of the droppings at our front door, and I really want to thank building managment for allowing nature to happen in the city!
Here is an up-close picture of our visitors. These three babies have been growing in the nest and will probably soon fledge. I am not an expert bird-identifier by any means, but based on other birds that fly around near my office and the nest, we think these are barn swallows. Aren't they adorable?

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Our parrots are not allowed to eat them, but I like to have some occasionally. A few months ago I was eating some when I ran across a pear-flavored one. I really do not like pear jellybeans, even though I do like to eat actual pears. I threw it in the garbage, but I missed. Max immediately flew over there, picked it up, then flew back to her playstand!

Since it had been years since she had had one, I let her eat it. They're not fatal to birds or anything; it's just unhealthy. She was so happy! In the first picture, you can see that she is exclusively focusing on her treat. In the second one, she is watching me to see if I'm going to try to take it away from her. And in the third one, she is taking a break from eating, confident I'll let her keep it.

Of course, I was very careful about making sure that all of the pear jellybeans made their way entirely into the garbage next time!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Beeps has been doing some strange stuff lately, which basically means he's being a caique. One of his favorite things to do lately is flip over on his back and pull himself along on his back. This wouldn't be a problem, except he often chooses to do this in the exact place where he or one of the other birds has just pooped, getting himself all dirty. I included a video of him doing this in an entry from July 9.

He decided to do this again this morning, as I was just about to leave for work. He had a big glob on his head, which he proceeded to shake off onto my arm (luckily I was wearing short sleeves as I was dressed for work!) I did manage to get this picture of him, but he was not very cooperative. He loves looking at the camera, so getting a picture of the top of his head was challenging!
Needless to say, he ended up getting his second shower of the day by 8 am!
Last night Rocky was in a bad mood because Thomas wasn't home. That little macaw can be so loud when he's angry!

Here is a video of Max. For those of you who can't watch youtube videos, here is a short description (the video is only 7 seconds long). It starts with Rocky screaming in another room, and Max asks, "Gimme a kiss!" I make the kiss sound, she makes the kiss sound. Then, I ask her for a kiss and she makes a fart sound!

Here is a video of Rocky just prior to bedtime. He was already in his cage. He started saying "Bye bye!" to try to get me to leave, and then he aggressively attacked his toys. I really think this is funny because he usually looks right at me as he's attacking his toys, or right after. I imagine that he imagines it's me he's attacking and not the toy! I stopped taping 3 seconds too early because right after the video, he then bit his leg, which means he's really angry!

As a side note, blogger has a service in draft where I can link videos directly from my computer, so soon I won't have to go through youtube anymore!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Here is a picture of our new albino cory cats prior to their release in our tank. Cory cats are perhaps my favorite fish, particularly the albino ones. We prefer to get our fish as small as possible and watch them grow.

In our tank right now, we have glowlight tetras, red skirt tetras, australian rainbowfish, cory cats (albino & bronze), otos, one female betta (we named her Pat), and possibly one bristlenose pleco.

Our pleco is very mysterious. We purchased her in early 2006, and we would see her regularly. Then we didn't see her for about 4 months, and we worried that perhaps she had died and the scavengers in our tank had eaten her body. But then we saw her some more! Our last confirmed sighting of her was December 29, 2006, so it's been a little over 6 months since we've seen her. I still search every day and hope that I'll catch a glimpse!

Our tank really isn't gigantic -- 75 gallons -- but we have a ton of plants and pieces of driftwood where the fish can hide, so it's almost impossible to get an accurate count of what's in there.

Here are the last members of out pet family, our fish tank. We had fish at our old house, but didn't set up an aquarium after we moved. We did miss the peacefulness of fish, but what really motivated us to set up a tank was Max. She started biting off her feathers, which is sometimes a sign of low humidity. We also thought it would give her something to look at while we were gone. We added a fish tank partly for our enjoyment, but more for Max.

Of course, as what happens frequently, Max continued to bite off her feathers until we purchased a humidifier for the living room, and she shows absolutely no interest in the fish. Calypso likes to watch the fish, and his cage is next to the tank. He is especially interested in watching us feed the fish. Thomas will take Rocky up to look at the tank, but Rocky just pretends to eat the snails and fish. Beeps and Daphne show no interest. Max does like to fly to the top of the aquarium and land on the lights. We think she might like the warmth on her feet.

We've had the tank up and running for about 18 months as I write this. We've had our ups and downs. We still have some of the original fish we bought for the tank after it was done cycling. However, we suffered substantial fish loss after a purchase last November of some rams that introduced ick into our tank.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What happened to Rocky? He mysteriously injured himself over the weekend. He has been playing amazingly rough with his toys lately, and we think we've discovered physical evidence of this. This first picture was taken of him after a shower. You can tell that I am taking the picture as his wings are outstretched and he is trying to show me how tough he is. I may have Thomas take a picture of him sometimes with me out of the room so you can see that his wings are not permanently outstretched!

In this close-up taken from the above picture, you can see red marks just outside of his lower mandible. What happened, Rock? He doesn't appear to be in any pain, and we'll watch it to make sure it goes away in a few days, or he'll be off to the vet.

I love how birds look when they're wet. Rocky in particular. He is such a gorgeous bird, and when he's wet, his colors change to an almost olive color. He's starting to dry, so you can see a mix of green and olive green in him.

Luckily, all of my parrots love to bathe, and they do so frequently!

These pictures are a little dark because we were in the basement and when I use the flash, Daphne often doesn't look right. She's now pumping iron, doing bench presses and lat pulldowns!

Seriously, she is one of the most well-mannered parrots I have been luck enough to encounter. She isn't fearful. Over the weekend, I went downstairs into our workout area to talk to Thomas, and she came along. She perched right on the equipment, so of course I had to get some pictures!

I've probably mentioned this before, but I don't think I could be without a budgie. They have such delightful chirps and a wonderful happiness about them!
If you do a google search for parrot soup and don't look at the disturbing ones giving recipes, you'll find stories of birds who dunk things in their water. We hadn't experienced this with Max, but once Calypso came around, we knew exactly what people were talking about! He takes many food items into his water, dunks them, then eats them. He also does this with non-food items!

Every day, I hide several 2X4 slats around his cage. He loves to find them, take them to his water dish, and chip them up like the picture shows. We also have a roll of receipt paper hanging in his cage. All of the parrots like to chew on this. Recently, he has been taking strips of receipt paper, rolling them into balls, and depositing them in his water. You'll notice that when I was taking this picture, Max had to fly over and make an appearance!

Friday, July 13, 2007

The picture turned out a little blurry, but I caught Daphne in mid-flap yesterday
After I took this picture of Rocky, I was shocked by its resemblance to the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Well, except for the fact that he's a parrot and has a head. This picture really captures some of his beautiful coloring. He almost glows at times.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

As I'm getting ready to leave for work this morning, I head into the living room to do my final check before putting the parrots away, and this is what I find: three creeps half hiding and staring at me!

Rocky, in his nest under his cage.

Elsa, with just her head sticking out, and Andreas, who is almost completely out of his sleep cave.
Last night we were preparing cut greens for the lizards, when Max flew over to help. I am trying to include a still picture that captures the essence of the story because I know a couple of people that can't access the videos. The video is pretty funny, though!

I don't think I've yet mentioned our lizards. Towards the end of Spring, a local pet store was going out of business. They sold parrots, so we'd occasionally go down there and check to make sure that things looked ok. We wandered over to the lizard section and saw these 2 uromastyx lizards stuffed into a tiny tank with improper light (no UVB), food (they are primarily herbavores but the cage was full of crickets), and other problems. We tried to get this out of our minds, but we kept thinking of them. They were older, and most people who purchase pets want young babies.

Thomas went down to the pet store on the last day they were in business, and these uros were still there. We didn't know what would happen to them, and with the fear that they might just be let outside or killed, we purchased them. Here they are in their temporary enclosure:

We got them in for a vet visit the next day, and they were pronounced to be in surprisingly decent health. The male had healed wounds on his tail and body, most likely from being kept with other reptiles (these guys are solitary). He had a toe that was necrotic, so our vet removed the toe and put in a stitch, requiring antibiotics for a few weeks.

They both pulled through and are doing amazingly well!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Here is Max, eating some ice. She really loves ice -- you can see in this picture that her eyes are pinned. Sometimes we'll put a cube in her water dish. As soon as she sees us opening the freezer, she starts dancing around and saying, "want some!" Her fascination with the ice involves licking the cold water off, and she'll drop the cube after a minute or so. We need to be vigilant in order to not have a little puddle on the ground! She has been known to fly to us while we were drinking ice water and trying to extract cubes for herself!
The parrots have caught baseball fever! Well, except for Calypso who was sleeping when I decided to take these pictures last night, and Max who refused to pose near any Phillies gear (Is she a secret Atlanta Braves fan? I hope not!)

They were pretty disappointed that the National League fell again, but they'll get on with their lives. This winning streak can't go on forever, right?

Rocky was the only one alive in 1993, when the Phillies last went to the World Series, but everyone is hoping that it might happen again soon! Luckily we have some of the good games on tape (ones the Phillies won), so we can remember what is was like back then.
All of the larger parrots continue in their clicker training! Here are videos of Beeps and Max doing some of their tricks.

So we've been trying to eat healthier, which means we've been blending and juicing. The parrots love the new concoctions! Here is Daphne, supervising the blending. I think Thomas was making almond milk out of almonds and water! He must have eaten it on his cereal this morning since the container was half empty, but I haven't heard how it tasted yet.

Most parrots will eagerly drink out of glasses, but not Rocky! When you put a glass near him, he tips up the lip of the cup and refuses to drink what's inside -- unless you hold him like he is below in the picture! And don't worry, it may look like we're feeding him chocolate, but it's really a blender drink made from greens (turnip, collard, etc.), strawberries, and a few cashews. I also made a video of this because Rocky is so funny when he drinks!

Monday, July 9, 2007

When Beeps realizes that the camera is pointing at him, he starts showing off and doing strange thing. Below, I captured one of his recent, strange, favorite things to do: turn on his back and push himself along. Unfortunately, he often decides to do this in a place where he or one of the birds has recently pooped, meaning that he gets dirty and needs another bath. And maybe that's why he's doing it.

I have never seen a bird that enjoys bathing as much as Beeps does. He takes at least one bath a day in his water dish, showers with at least (and sometimes both) of us daily, and often gets sprayed from a water bottle also. If I walk too close to their spray bottle, he starts getting excited and saying, "pretty baby!"

Clementines! We also bought a box of Darlin' Clementines from Trader Joe's. They are so delicious! The peel comes right off, and there are no seeds! The parrots all know what's in the box, so they get very excited when we go to that area of the kitchen.

Here are some pictures of the caiques eating their clementines. Calypso if the fluffier one and Beeps is the wetter one.

And of course, a couple of videos! Max and Calypso eating their clementines.

I hardly have any videos of Calypso because he often freaks out when I get the camera near him. However, he also freaks out while eating his first clementine of the day, so I thought I'd capture his freak out! He does this squeal when he gets very excited about things: beloved foods, warm foods, cold foods, baths, etc. It sounds like he's in distress, but he also does it when he's happy.

I should mention that the music in the background is by the band Bowling for Soup. This is Beeps's favorite band. The other parrots also enjoy their music, but Beeps LOVES them. They were in town a few weeks ago and we contemplated smuggling him in to their concert, but then just decided to listen to their CDs instead.
I finally uploaded my videos of the past weekend to youtube, so here are a few funny ones revolving around Rocky and his nest.

He spends a lot of time under his cage. When I call him, he'll come to the front and look at me, but then goes back under. Here is one sure-fire way to get him to come out: mess with his towels. A few months ago, we realized how important the towels were to him. We were eating dinner in the living room and I had grabbed one of Rocky's towels to use as a barrier between my legs and a hot bowl of soup. He did not stop screaming during our entire dinner. When I was done eating, I threw his towel on the ground, and he RAN to it -- we then understood why he'd been screaming!

And what does he do with these towels? The video below shows what he spends most of his time doing with them. He also likes to bring them to different areas of the room and then play with the towels some more.

The cherries have been fantastic around here lately. Unfortunately, most of the parrots will not eat them -- they throw them out of their bowls, but Rocky loves them! He saw Thomas with a bowl and climbed up into his lap to have some. It kind of looks like Thomas is bashing Rocky in the head, but that's just the angle on the photo!

I took this video and thought it was pretty funny -- look at how much he is loving the cherries! He left little macaw cherry footprints all over Thomas's shorts.

According to many different parrot publications, there are certain foods that are toxic to birds. Generally, parrot owners are told to stay away from avocado, onions, chocolate, alcohol, and caffeine. We try to provide our parrots with as healthy of a diet as possible, but Max is trying to make that difficult!

She lately has become obsessed with onions. That's right -- one of the food items she's not supposed to eat. For years we've kept our onions in an onion bowl on the island in our kitchen. But apparently those onions have become irresistible to Max over the past few weeks. We'd hear crunching in the kitchen and find her unpeeling the onions! We've since removed the temptation and placed our onions in a parrot-proof area.

Right before this picture was taken, I changed the garbage then threw out all of the onion skins she'd peeled. I reenter the kitchen a few minutes later to find out that she had gone to the bottom of the garbage, pulled out an onion peel, and started destroying it! We know one of her favorite things to do is pull trash out of the garbage and throw it on the floor (like a giant foraging toy), but we really thought it would be safe at the bottom of the can. I underestimated the allure of those onion skins!

She has suffered no ill effects from her obsession and we have taken steps to make sure this won't happen again!
I'm not sure what Max was planning on doing when she got into my wallet, but I caught her before she did any damage!

Last time she went through my purse, she came across a $20 bill (I very rarely carry any cash, but the time I did, she found it!) Luckily she just did a bit of damage to it, and I was still able to spend it, but I did worry about having a bird high on drugs as I would imagine in a body that size it wouldn't take very much, and so much cash has drug residue on it.
Rocky's still nesting! I think I've been discussing this a lot because it fascinates me. None of my parrots have been big nest-builders before Rocky, and his determination amazes me.

Here is a picture of him in the beginning stages of building his nest. Note that he has his 2 special towels near him and has begun to rip up the newspaper that we lay on the ground to protect our floors from their poop:

This is what is looks like under his cage after about 3 days of making his nest. I usually let him build for a few days, then I sweep up and he starts over again. Those towels are still in there! He has to be locked in his cage when I sweep up his nest and as soon as he is out, he starts shredding fresh newspaper and wood pieces. I have a few videos I'll add in another post.

Friday, July 6, 2007


Rocky has been extremely nestly lately. A few months ago, he started building a nest for him and Thomas in our newspaper recycling bag. He must have gotten upset with the fact that we would then recycle the newspapers and he'd have to start over, as he then built them a nest under our kitchen table. Being the good sport that he is, Thomas would occasionally join Rocky under the table, delighting this little macaw.

A few months ago, we bought Rocky a larger cage. He doesn't really use the interior space, but he loved the fact that this new cage went almost down to the ground, and decided to build his nest there. Can you see him below? I really did sweep very well about 10 minutes before this picture was taken!

This is what he did with a 2X4 slat in about 10 minutes. Most of this chipping was done with the 2X4 resting on Thomas's feet!

Here is a video of Rocky emerging from his nest. That's him laughing in the background. He often goes into his nest and makes strange noises, including laughing like a maniac. You'll notice I had to cut the video off abruptly -- he noticed me on the ground and decided this would be a great time to pounce!

I bought this scooter a few months ago, determined to teach someone how to ride it! So far, all 4 of my bigger birds have resisted by attempts. I have not given up on them and hope someday to use clicker training to get them to learn to ride like a pro.

However, Daphne is prefectly happy to perch on it, so I guess it wasn't a total waste! Of course, she is much too small to get this size scooter to move! But the picture was so adorable, I had to take it.

Budgies often are considered throwaway pets in our society. That's so unfortunate because people are really missing out on these little gems! She has such a fantastic personality and is a little treasure, always brightening my day!

I thought I had a macaw?

Sometimes Rocky likes to cover his head with his wing and spy on us. His eye kind of looks cloudy in this picture, but it must just be the flash.

Thomas and I joke around with him and say things like, "We thought we had a macaw! But we can't see him anywhere!" Rocky then laughs with delight and uncovers his head.

The funny part is that when he "hides," he always makes sure that he can keep one eye on me -- his nemesis. He actually is quite obsessed with keeping tabs on his human flock and will search the house calling out our names if he doesn't know where we are.

Max needs to recharge her batteries

Aah! I can't believe it's been a month since my last post. Now that I've gotten through all of the history, I can start doing funny day-to-day stuff that comes to mind. And I'll try to post more frequently.

A few weeks ago, I returned from my morning run, parched. I poured myself a glass of Gatorade and drank most of it. Then I woke up the birds and showered with Max and the caiques. As per my usual routine, I brought one of the birds upstairs with me as I got dressed and left the rest downstairs for a few minutes on their stands.

I came downstairs to find this! Poor Max was so thirsty, she had to drink my Gatorade! Nevermind her fresh bowl of water in her cage. You can see that her back is still wet from the shower.

Max is so inquisitive; she always keeps us on our toes. She has knocked over plastic glasses that were not strong enough to carry her weight, so I'm glad this at least was a glass!

Sometimes Thomas and I joke that it might be nice to have one of those greys that it afraid of everything. But we are only kidding as we love our adventurous girl who keeps us entertained with her new escapades!