Friday, August 31, 2007

Max: then and now

I was going through some old pictures of Max again, and found this cute baby one. She's so tiny, with such dark eyes! And she looks so innocent!

Here she is on her rope figure-8. It's actually a dog toy, but I have attached it to her playstand with a clip. We were doing our clicker training one day, and she beaked the figure-8, so I clicked and gave her a treat. Within a minute, she was doing flips through this toy! It wasn't something I had set out to teach her at all. She has a lot of fun doing this and will often do flips even when we're not training (and she doesn't get a treat then).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Here is another photo of Beeps chipping wood. I know I just talked about this a few days ago here, but this really is such a fantastic thing! Parrots seem to have this need to destroy. When our first caique, Calypso, came to us, he needed to have frequent beak trims because he did not play with toys to wear it down naturally. But ever since he started chipping up 2X4s, we haven't had to touch his beak!

If you're not handy, don't have the tools to cut them yourself, or aren't able to find untreated 2X4s near you, I'd recommend buying some from The Parrot Asylum. It's the only place I've found that sells them; plus they have fantastic service and prices!
Have I already posted a picture of Max in the fridge? I can't remember, so this may be a repeat! I like to watch parrot videos on youtube in my spare time, and I found one of a timneh dancing in the fridge. Of course I had to try this with Max! She does love it in the fridge, but as we don't want to cool the house down so inefficiently, she doesn't get to go in here very often (we always leave the door open, of course!)
The next youtube video I am going to try to emulate is one I saw of a severe macaw that pretended to be a bowling ball and ran into 10 empty water bottles that had been set up like bowling pins, knocking them all down. I am on the lookout for a cheap set of plastic bowling pins, like what kids play with! Of course, when I video this, it will go on the blog!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

As I mentioned in an earlier post, because of our snail infestation, I was determined to add some clown loaches. On Sunday, we purchased 3. On Monday morning, two of them were dead. This was quite distressful as we were giving our local fish store one last shot after infecting our tank with ich last November. The remaining loach seems to be doing well. Since they like to exist in little colonies of at least 3 loaches, if he survives the next 2 weeks, we will go to a different store and purchase some more.

Thomas and I agreed that we will never frequent that pet store again.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Let me apologize in advance for what is sure to be a long entry, but I have the whole weekend to write about! Rocky will be the focus of today's post. Here is a picture of him begging. I have seen many other macaws beg like this, but not any other kinds of parrots. I wonder if this somehow relates to behavior in the wild? Anyway, when he is in his cage and wants to come out, he hangs his beak over a bar and lightly flaps his wings. You'll notice that only his beak is holding him up!
I decided that I wanted to take up a new hobby, and decided to learn how to knit! So I printed some instructions off of the Internet, headed to a local craft store for some yarn and needles, and voila! Most people will knit a scarf for their first project. So what do I knit? But a parrot scarf! Here is Rocky modeling my craftiness.
I guess the color don't really go with his feathering! But he was a good sport, as always. None of the other parrots were interested in wearing my scarf. I guess I'll stick to grateful, human recepients for my next projects!

And here is a video of Rocky eating a plum. This is the first time that we've had plums in our house since Rocky has lived with us. He got so excited when he saw it, so we decided to let him explore. He really loves them, as you can see!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Three angles of begging:

Please, please give me head pets!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Here is Calypso, in his hiding place. I like to hang (preferably big and fluffy) toys around a perch in each bird's cage so that if they want to go somewhere private, they can. Of course, then I go and take pictures of them in their private spot!

The red behind Calypso is almost like a fleece taco shell. He cuddles into it every night and is absolutely adorable.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Here is my adorable caique, Beeps. I don't think that he's ever taken a bad picture! He seems to know where the camera is and strike a pose every time.

And here is my first caique, the one who turned me into a caique-nut: Calypso. I don't think he's ever taken a good picture! Which is really too bad because he is the most gorgeous caique ever (and I'm not biased or anything!) However, when the camera comes out, he puffs up and starts swaying, so the photos are usually blurry. Here is a picture of him doing one of his favorite things: chipping up slices of untreated 2X4s. I hide a bunch in his cage every morning, and when I come home from work, they are all chipped up into his water bowl.

Here is a video of Beeps chipping up a 2X4. I really cannot say enough good things about this inexpensive toy! All of my parrots love chipping them up. You can vary the thickness (and therefore the difficulty) depending on your parrot! We keep a basket of 2X4 slices on the floor, and when Rocky feels he needs to destroy something, he will walk over and get one instead of chewing up our woodwork or the fishtank (we learned the hard way about this!) Even Daphne chips these up, although her chips are more like slivers and one slice lasts her about a year, whereas everyone else can go through over 20 in a day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Not that we'd ever enter them in parrot shows, but none of my parrots could ever win. With the possible exception of Calypso, but that's only if looks were the only consideration (his personality among strangers is quite fearful).
Take Rocky. He does have this gorgeous green sheen -- he almost looks like he glows in the dark -- but he can't grow a decent tail to save his life! He is such a rough toy player, and a committed ground walker, that his tail is always breaking off. We joke that he has more of an amazon tail than a macaw one!
Here is a picture of a severe macaw that was recently surrendered to the parrot rescue where we volunteer. Look at that gorgeous, long tail! Then look again at Rocky. You can see it particularly well in the second picture when he's in his food dish.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Is Rocky a severe macaw, or a yellow-collared macaw? Yesterday he found a LiveStrong bracelet, and started flinging it around the kitchen table. One time, it landed on his head. Of course, that got me thinking that it might be fun if he wore it as a necklace.

Now, before anyone starts accusing me of animal cruelty, Rocky is very compliant. He loves wearing clothes (which is quite strange for a parrot) although we rarely put any on him. One of his favorite things to do is flip a winter hat over his head and walk around on the floor. I'll have to remember to get some pictures of that after we take our winter clothing out of storage.

He calmly posed for pictures with his new accessory, then we removed it. This guy keeps us laughing all of the time!

Friday, August 17, 2007

I took quite a few pictures and videos of things that happened last night, so I apologize in advance for what is sure to be a long post! As I was uploading these into my photobucket account and naming them, I realized that there is a common theme -- combat!

Here is a picture of the snails vs. my aquarium. Unfortunately, pictures cannot do justice to the problem we're facing. The snails are probably plotting their coup of the aquarium as I write this! There are hundreds, possibly thousands of different kinds of snails all over my tank! None were introduced intentionally -- they came in as freeloaders from plants. However, as I mentioned in another post, I do not feel comfortable with just killing them. I think we're going on a clown loach hunt this weekend, as they eat snails.

Then, we have the match of Max vs. Salvador Dali! Here is a still picture, for those of you unable to watch videos, followed by a video. Thomas and I visited a Dali museum, and I later bought this little Dali finger puppet as a souvenir. What does she have against surreal art?

Here is the video: As you're watching this, you can hear a couple of thuds; Max even raises her head to investigate.

Here's what those thuds were: Rocky was on the kitchen table throwing off two foot toys and my car keys!

Speaking of Rocky, he had a couple of his own bouts (aptly named, I suppose!)

Rocky vs. purse:

Rocky vs. newspaper:

The music in the background is, once again, by Bowling for Soup. The parrots just love their music, especially their song, "Ohio (Come Back to Texas)"

The parrots were upset to hear about discord involving one of their other all-time favorite bands, their hometown Violent Femmes.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

In sad news, yesterday we discovered the body of our beloved female betta, Pat. Here she is above, in happier times. Pat had such a zest for life! She'd sometimes school with the Australian Rainbowfish, or with other female bettas, when they were in the tank.

Her favorite time of the day was dinner and she was always the first one swimming over to get fed. She also seemed to recognize her humans, and would swim to the front of the tank and interact with us. Rocky loved to pretend to eat her.

I don't think we'll have bettas in our tank anymore. They have short lifespans, compared to other fish, and it is so hard losing one.

In happier aquarium news, our new cory cats (albinos and julii) have settled in. They have invigorated the older green cories, and our tank is so much more active! We're definitely planning on adding a few more cories to the aquarium, and possbily some clown loaches, if we can find some small, healthy ones anywhere.

We've also been thinking of setting up a nano reef tank. We're still in the initial planning stages of this, and if we do anything, it probably won't be for another year or so.
I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned on here before how much Rocky loves plants. We have two areas in our house where we keep our plants. One is on a wooden plant stand over by where the parrots have stands. Rocky will often hang out in the plants, biting off dead leaves and just checking things out. I've heard somewhere that parrots need a job, and we joke that Rocky's job is our gardener.

Yesterday, for the first time ever, he headed over to our second plant area, which is in between our kitchen island and our patio door. He hung out among his plants, talking to them a bit and dancing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I told some friends yesterday that I would work on a blog entry illustrating how Max forages for her pellets. I imagined what this would look like, but, as often happens when you're dealing with parrots, Max got in the way and had some ideas of her own! I like to think her influence makes this a lot better!
Every morning, I take my roll of adding machine tape and rip off 20 squares of paper. Her Harrison's are next to the paper, so you can kind of see the size. Then, I wrap the paper around the pellets.

As I was doing this last night, Max was watching me, and as soon as I wrapped the pellets up, she started dancing around and saying, "Want some!" Of course I couldn't resist her, and I think it's pretty cute how she eats her pellets now, so I took a video:

Here are images of how I hide pellets in her various toys. While we do have some that were designed specifically for foraging, pretty much any toy can be used in this capacity! However, you do have to take into consideration the foraging skill level of your bird, and not start too hard, or they'll give up. Max is pretty much a master forager now, so I don't worry that she won't have enough to eat! Here are examples of how I hide pellets in 4 of her toys:

The Mother Lode (this last one) has about 5 pellets hidden inside of it!
Here again is where Max's influence on this entry is felt. As I was hiding a pellet inside the Dexter's Doodad, I saw the look in her eye and knew she was going over to get it (both the Dexter's Doodad and the Mother Lode were bought from TNT Toys, in case anyone wants to order one for their own bird). At the end of the video, she drops the pellet. She does do this sometimes, as her cage is lined with newspaper, so then she'll climb down there to eat.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I was trying to find a picture of Max when she was at her worst feathering. As we did not have a decent camera then, I do not have many pictures of her, but you can see her downy chest from this picture. Max does not pluck out her feathers; she bites them off at the shaft. She has much improved on this behavior, but is still not 100% fully feathered (as you can see from other pictures of her). But we love her anyway! At her worst, over a year ago, she had bitten off all of the feathers on her chest, legs, and back. Currently, she has bitten a few off on her lower chest area.

One of my dear friends owned a timneh, and her mother made this sweater for Katie (note the "KT"). Although Katie enjoyed wearing her sweater, Max didn't! But, we put it on Max anyway, just so we could take this picture. Max really didn't mind, but she didn't want to keep it on for long! At the time I jokingly threatened to make her wear sweaters if she didn't stop the plucking, but of course we were kidding!

I was going through some old photos, and found this one of Ethel and Calypso on a stand. It was taken about a month before Ethel's death. I wish I would have had a better camera, and a video camera back when Ethel was around. The pictures I have of her do not fully capture her personality. Actually, if I'm making wishes, I'd wish that she was still around, because there is a huge void in our lives now.

Although I loved Ethel and she loved me back, Thomas was her special person. Ethel was fully flighted, and when she heard Thomas come home, she'd fly right to his shoulder and walk over for some kisses.

She had an amazing will to live, as her tumor made her weigh double what she should. It makes me so sad when I hear people refer to budgies as "starter birds" or "throwaway pets." Their intellect and delightfulness is often discounted, perhaps due to a "bigger is better" philosophy.

Unfortunately, many budgies never reach their potential as companions, because people leave them alone in small cages with limited interaction and not enough toys.

As I've mentioned many times before, I know that I will always need to have a little budgie jewel in my life!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Max got a new toy -- the Mother Lode from TNT Bird Toys! One of Max's favorite things in the world is getting and exploring new toys. This toy will be perfect for foraging, as the knots are close enough together for me to hide her pellets or other treats in there.

Don't worry -- all of the other birds also got new toys from this company; I just haven't taken pictures of them playing with them yet!

Here is Max, caught in the act, again! She knows that she is not supposed to go on the light fixture. Among other reasons, I don't know what materials are used, and I don't want her ingesting anything harmful.

She knows that she is not allowed here, but will often fly here for attention. When I tell her, "Off!" she'll usually fly to her stand. I just love her body language in this picture -- "I'm so cute, you can't possibly be mad at me, right?"

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Here is a super short video of Beeps saying Babycakes. Doesn't he sound possessed?
Here is a picture from a few months ago of Max in the fridge. When I have time, I like to watch parrot videos on youtube, and I had seen one of a timneh dancing in the fridge. I wanted to see if I'd get the same reaction from Max. She loves ice cubes and cold showers, and also loves the fridge! Here she is exploring. She did dance a little, but only when I sang to her.

I don't do this very often, because it's a waste of energy to have the fridge door open so she can hang out in there.

Interestingly enough, she also likes warm places. She hangs out on top of the aquarium lights and on top of the fridge. She is so funny :)
I woke up Monday morning to find something very strange going on in my aquarium. About 8 of my glowlight tetras were hanging out at the top, at about a 45 degree angle. You can clearly see two of them doing this at the top of this picture, and if you know what you're looking for, another couple off to the right.

I did a water test, and everything was within the proper parameters, so I don't know what they were doing. Do they do this frequently and I just hadn't noticed before? I'm going to have to keep an eye on that!

Speaking of the aquarium, we added five julii cory cats over the weekend. They are very active and fun. And, our old, green cory cats have been invigorated by the addition of the albino and julii cories this past month. They're acting like they did a few years ago when we first got them!

We are amazed at how big one of our green cory cats is. He's a giant!

And a pleco watch update: we still have not seen her since late December. We are afraid that perhaps she no longer exists.

We also have a snail infestation! Thomas wants to round them up and throw them in the garbage, but I am not allowing this. We're hoping to add some clown loaches to the tank (they eat snails) to help with this problem. I'm not sure why I'm ok with adding fish in that will eat the snails, but I'm not ok with just throwing them in the garbage. These are all snails that smuggled their way into our tank via live plants that we purchased a few years back.
Most of my parrots don't really get along with each other. One exception is Max and Calypso. Now, they don't ever preen each other and I would never cage them together, but they are able to share a playstand or cage top without fights erupting.

Max does not like our other caique, Beeps, and she buzzes him occasionally. But she and Calypso whistle back and forth and Calypso doesn't mind when she eats his food.

This picture is of Calypso's cage. He had already eaten his dinner, and Max came over to pick out what he missed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Here is a picture of Rocky doing 2 of his favorite things: hanging out with his chosen person, and eating apples.

We are just amazed at how much Rocky loves apples! Max will not eat apples (we've been trying for over 5 years!) and while Calypso will eat them, they're not a favorite.

If Rocky sees you by an apple, or by anything that looks like an apple, like a tomato, he starts making his vomit sound (this is the sound he uses when he wants something) and making begging postures! He has been disappointed a few times when we only had tomatoes in the house, so now we try to keep apples on hand for him.

Usually he gets his own chunks to eat, but here Thomas was kind enough to share his apple with Rocky!

We recently ordered different kinds of wood from Pet Products by Nature. Our guys chew tons of soft pine, so we decided to give them more of a challenge. Many parrots love chewing the bark off of trees, and ours are no exception!

I love this picture of Max because you can see her eyes pinning -- a sign that she is truly happy!

And Beeps was just as happy to have his wood. He loves destroying things! Although the wood components come pre-drilled, and I strung them up on chain, all of my parrots prefer to hold the coins in their feet and chew them. I guess that just means we have more components for their foraging toys!