Friday, September 28, 2007

Thomas works second shift today (3 pm - 11 pm) and I have a very flexible job, so we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather this morning and go for a hike at one of our favorite places. I just love it that we have this beautiful state park about 30 minutes away from our house!
I took this picture towards the beginning of our hike. The chipmunks were really noisy today! This guy was just sitting there, chirping/clicking at us! We also saw a couple of squirrels running around with nuts in their mouths, but they were too quick for me to get their pictures!
Along the way, we saw these beautiful mushrooms. I have no idea what kind they are. They were quite tiny -- although that's hard to see from this picture!
Of course, we were also hoping to see some color on the trees, but there wasn't much yet. We did see this gorgeous tree, though. We'll have to come back out here in a few weeks when the colors will be even more impressive. We did not see anyone else on our entire hike this morning -- it was very peaceful!
And since "parrot" is in the title of my blog, I feel like I should include at least one parrot picture! This was taken of Beeps, a few months ago. I can't remember now if he was showing off or threatening me, but I loved how I captured him in this pose. He is just so funny!
And with that, I wish everyone a fantastic weekend and I will be back posting on Monday!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I have my camera back! I am so excited about this, obviously. I'm starting today's entry with a picture of Beeps. Not for any particular reason, but I think he just takes amazing photos. As I've said before, Calypso, who is much prettier in person, does not appear well in pixels!

I usually don't show too many pictures of the lizards, as they are not too exciting. In fact, I haven't seen Andreas in over a week since he comes out when I'm at work and is in his hide box when I'm home. Elsa is out and moving around much more frequently. Here she is, tunneling under a wood formation we have in her tank:

Don't we just have the most helpful birds ever? Here Beeps is giving Thomas a hand with the crossword puzzle. It looks like he needs help!

This picture is not of the highest quality, but here is Rocky coming to get me. He is walking from our living room into the hallway. You can see that his mouth is open; he is calling my name. Lately, he's been hiding behind that wall and when he hears me walk down the hall, he calls my name and jumps out to get me! Since I laugh and think it's funny (I can't help myself!), I'm encouraging this behavior. I do always carry my step-up stick with me, so I'm not in any danger of receiving a bite as long as I keep my eyes open!

I wrote the other day about Max enjoying the milk out of Thomas's cereal bowl -- here's a picture of Rocky doing the same thing. I may try to capture this on video. Thomas always leaves the spoon in there, and Rocky climbs on the bowl, throws the spoon off in disgust, and then starts drinking the milk.

I'm leaving you with what might be considered parrot porn. I have spoken with some of my parrot-owning friends, and many of them have birds that love their feet. Rocky falls into this category! Apparently there is something exciting about Thomas's feet. I certainly don't see it! But when Thomas is not wearing shoes, Rocky runs over, preens his feet, and often starts regurgitating to them. On more than one occasion, he has ended up with warm, partially-digested food on his foot (but better that than in his mouth -- that's happened as well!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

So I start the day by finding out that someone has hacked into my ebay account and sent unsolicited spam to a bunch of people. Argh!

Here's a picture of Max, caught in mid nose pick (or would that be nares pick?) It's from a few months ago, but I never found the right occasion to put up such a classy picture before.

I have started reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, partly in preparation for our Prague trip (much of the story takes place in Central Europe, from what I understand). So far, so good, but a little scary to read when I'm home alone at night!

I should have my camera back for tomorrow, so I'll leave this one short and hope to post some new pictures soon!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Since I'm still temporarily camera-less, I'm posting a few more pictures and a video that I have saved on my computer. In addition to being part-fish, Beeps may also be part-bat. He loves hanging upside down! Here, he was displaying because he saw the camera. I just love it when he gets all fluffy!

Beeps came into our house about one year ago -- the end of September, 2006. As I've mentioned before, he is supposed to have bit his previous owner so badly she had to go to the ER (I must say, I have a hard time believing that as he has bitten us a few times and it wasn't that bad). All we've seen out of him is a loving, inquisitive, intelligent caique. He is so expressive and wonderful, and I can't imagine our lives without him!

Here he is on his stand:

Doesn't he just look like he's posing; the way he has his left leg lifted? I had removed the tray portion of this stand so that I could wash it. Of course, he had to go down and investigate why it looked so strange!

We now have more stands than parrots. We used to have one stand in the kitchen, and Max and Calypso had to share. This wasn't working, so we purchased another, identical stand. Less than a month later, we took Rocky in, so we purchased the small stand that Beeps is on in this picture. Less than a month after that, we ended up taking Beeps home. We decided that since our house was full, we'd better not buy any more stands! And it seems to have worked since it's been a year since we've added anyone to our flock.

Speaking of stands, here is Max on Daphne's stand. This is was too small for an african grey, but she must like the swinging sensation, and not mind that the whole stand tips over under her weight! You can see she's even perched resting on one foot!

I don't mention my budgie, Daphne, often enough on this blog. Probably because she is so well-mannered and doesn't cause me problems! She is a huge toy player, and her cage is packed with toys. Here is a little video of Daphne playing with toys inside her cage.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I have just confirmed with my mom that I will retrieve my camera Wednesday evening, so my next new-picture post will be on Thursday. In the meantime, I decided to go through some old pictures that I had. After reading Mooky's blog and seeing some of the beautiful nature photography, I was reminded of a hike through Bong Recreation Center that Thomas and I took last Spring. We had just gotten our camera, and were trying to capture as much wildlife as possible! I was so excited to see this bluebird on a house!
And then to actually capture the red winged blackbird in flight! In an earlier entry, I think I mentioned that Max had a red winged blackbird "friend" at our old house -- they would call back and forth to each other through the window.
Thomas is quite observant, and he noticed this frog (toad?) along the trail. He was quite well camouflaged!

We also do wildlife rescue for our local wildlife rehabilitation center. Earlier this Spring, we were called out because some baby ducklings had fallen into a sewer. This often happens in the Spring. The mother duck's feet are large enough so that she can walk over the sewer grates; however, when she leads her babies over the grate, they fall in. Unfortunately, we weren't called until about 10 hours after observers noticed the babies fall in and the mother duck frantically calling for her babies. Witnesses reported at least 4 baby ducklings. Thomas was only able to rescue one -- the others had wandered off into the sewer system by the time we arrived. The mother watched what we were doing, and we were able to reunite her with one of her babies. We watched her walk her baby to a nearby pond. Unfortunately, the only picture I took of this reunion was quite blurry. This was before I was blogging, so it didn't seem important at the time!
My parents arrived safely from their European vacation, and their parrots are back at their house! Alfie was so happy to see my mom; he kept giving her kisses. Unfortunately, I left my camera at their house, so I will be new-picture-less for a few days until I can get my camera. And I had already taken a few pictures over the weekend in anticipation of blogging! Maybe I'll be able to make the trip on Wednesday evening. It's a little over an hour each way -- now's not the only time I wish we lived closer!

Friday, September 21, 2007

So when I first started this blog a few months ago, I was worried that I'd quickly run out of things to write about. After all, every day seemed pretty much like the same thing! But as I'm working on remembering to take pictures and tell specific stories, I've realized how varied these days that all seem the same tend to be! Now I"m worried that those few of you who come here and check in on what I've written might tune out because some of my entries have become so long! And this will be one of those entries...

First, I had a fantastic evening with Calypso! I have been clicker training him, but he is not the sharpest tool in the shed. He is incredibly loving, though. Anyway, for months, we have been stuck on the first step of clicker training -- targeting. I would try to get him to do something else, but he wasn't interested. Targeting held his interest, and I could see after each successful target how proud he was that he'd accomplished his task. But last night, he learned how to shake hands!!!!! And I was even able to take a halfway decent picture of him! I am so excited about this, and can't wait to teach him other tricks, even though it will be slower going than with my other birds.

Here is another picture of Elsa with her head under her wood. I'm including her in today's entry because of the way I found her food dish when I came home from work. I remembered Wednesday night that we had run out of fresh greens for the lizards. Not wanting to run to the store at that time, I went Thursday morning instead. The grocery store I went to did not have a huge selection. I ended up purchasing some chicory endive and some carrots with the tops on -- the parrots will get the carrots and the lizards will get the tops. Elsa went through her greens, ate all of the chicory endive, and piled the carrot tops off in the corner. What a funny lizard!

I've probably mentioned here before that I have to use a stick to get Rocky to step up. I am actually amazed at how well this works. If I try to have him step up on my hand, he attacks me. But offer him a stick, and he steps right up and doesn't even go for my hand that's holding the other end of the stick. Whenever Max sees the stick, she goes over and starts chipping away at it, and then doing weird things. Here is a video of her playing with my stick, but the real reason I included it is because at the end she asks me for a kiss and then when I ask her for a kiss, she gives me one.

Last night, I ate a few mixed nuts as an appetizer. We order roasted, non-salted nuts from this site, which I would highly recommend. (We also order dried fruit -- their strawberries are fantastic; the apples, not so much). What we normally do with the nuts when we offer them to the parrots is put a nice selection in our hand, and then offer the open hand to each bird so they can take out their favorite. Rocky takes whatever is closest, Calypso takes the largest cashew, Max takes any cashew, and Beeps takes the largest nut. I'm not a huge fan of the brazil nuts, personally, so last night, instead of giving them a choice, I decided to thin out the brazil nuts and give one to everyone. Here are the caiques eating theirs (notice that Calypso's eyes are closed -- back to bad pictures for him!):

And then, I was planning on taking a picture of Max eating hers, but as soon as I walked away from the nuts to photograph the caiques, she had flown to the counter and grabbed a cashew out of the bowl!

As you probably know, Rocky loves Thomas. I can't quite figure out the relationship we have. He wants me around, but he doesn't want me to handle him. He follows me around the house and calls my name. Thomas had to spend last night at the hospital for his job. When I'm alone with the birds, Rocky is completely different. He refuses to stay on his cage; instead climbing up on the other birds' cages. When Thomas is home, Rocky spends most of his time interacting with us or under his cage, building his nest. He will not work on his nest unless Thomas is there. Last night, Rocky refused to stay off of the other birds' cages, which meant he had to spend more time inside his cage than he normally does. If Thomas had been home, he would have screamed to be let out. But since he wasn't there, he was content to stay in his cage and play. Thomas will get home this morning, and he tells me that all of the birds treat him as though he's been gone for a month!

I use safflower seeds as my treat for clicker training for Max and the caiques. I had pulled out my container of safflower seeds, but then left the room for a minute. I return to find Max attempting to eat the seeds through the plastic container, saying, "Want some!" I asked her if she wanted to train, and she started dancing and then flew to her stand where we train.

We don't usually buy nuts in the shell for our birds. We buy shelled nuts for ourselves, and they eat those. Plus, since we have small and medium sized parrots, they can't open some of the tougher nuts. I suppose we could start to crack the nut for them, but we don't. My parents do buy pecans for Alfie (their quaker) and sent along a bag of them -- enough to share with our parrots -- for while we were bird-sitting for them. Alfie needs his pecan cracked for him, but he prefers eating it this way to a shelled nut. There was a pecan on our kitchen table this morning, and Max flew over there to play with it. It kept her enthralled for well over 10 minutes. That is like a lifetime for her! The only other things that capture her attention for so long are marbles and new toys. I couldn't quite figure out what she was doing with this pecan. It kind of seemed like she was trying to open it, but then sometimes it seemed like she was trying to sit on it (as though it were an egg). Here is a video:

Thanks for reading, if you've made it this far! I hope that you all have a fantastic weekend! Tomorrow I pick my parents up at the airport and drop their birds off -- these two weeks really did fly by! They're probably getting ready to have their last European dinner right about now. Although their birds are funny and well-behaved, I'm looking forward to just having our 5 parrots to look after!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Beeps absolutely hates it when anyone tries to clean the house. He particularly hates sweeping, but is not fond of any cleaning activities. I like to use this excuse when my house isn't up to par :)

And look at him -- he is saying, "I am so adorable, you can't possibly be talking about me!" Oh yes, I am!

I was unable to get any pictures of this, but last night the parrots were on their stands in the kitchen and I was making dinner. Thomas grabbed the broom and started to sweep the kitchen. I told him he'd better hide the broom and put Beeps in his cage, or wait until the parrots were back in the living room. Even though this has happened before, he laughed me off!

As he made a pass by Beeps's stand, Beeps jumped off and landed on the small of Thomas's back (he was shirtless at the time). All of a sudden, he starts dancing around the room and screaming, "Get him off! He's trying to paralyze me!" Beeps was biting him at the spot of his spinal cord. Luckily, he did not go very deep and Thomas was ultimately ok. He refused to let me take a picture of the beak marks on his back.

I am so careful around Beeps with cleaning and technology -- hopefully Thomas will start taking this more seriously as well!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Here is a picture of Rocky's naughtiness. You can see that the cockatiels' travel cage is right next to the couch. Rocky sees this as an invitation to go on the couch whenever he wants to. At least he is not destructive! We think he does this because he is very needy and knows he gets attention when he goes places he's not supposed to be.

Thomas has a bowl of cereal for dessert almost every night (yes, I think that's kind of strange, too). Max gets so excited because she knows that she gets to lick out the milk that's at the bottom of the bowl. Rocky has also discovered that he likes to lick the bottom of the bowl, so there can be some competition for his leftovers. The milk is actually nut milk that we make by blending water and nuts.

Here is Max helping Thomas make his lunches for the rest of the week. Does she ever love peanut butter! He left his bread unattended for a few seconds as he went to the fridge to get jelly, and she pounced on her chance to eat up. I'm not sure if you can tell from this picture, but her eyes are pinning away.

And here she is with a huge piece of cheese. Can you believe her? We had cut up some cheese to eat cheese and crackers as an appetizer. As soon as one of us was a suitable distance away from the cheese, she flew over there and started helping herself! I apologize for the poor picture quality, but she was perched on my hand and I was unzipping my camera from its camera bag and trying to take the picture, all while thwarting her from eating this cheese. I did win, by the way, although she took a few small bites. I still cannot get over how much cheese she wanted to eat! When I use cheese for treats, she gets maybe 1/20 of what she's currently holding.

All of these pictures were taken last night! Thomas and I were joking that if you went by Max's actions last night, and her desperate forage for food around our house, you'd think we starved her.

I think I've mentioned before that Max will sometimes hang out in the kitchen by herself at night while all of the rest of the house's inhabitants are in the living room. We listen to make sure she stays on her stand and check on her every 15 minutes or so. Earlier this week, I went to check on her and found that she had just started eating a stick of butter that had been left out. Luckily she hadn't eaten much before I stopped her. I didn't get a picture of this as I was more concerned about her not eating the butter. Apparently she didn't get the memo about how parrots shouldn't eat a lot of dairy!

Monday, September 17, 2007

I have mentioned that we are bird sitting for my parents' quaker and pair of cockatiels while they are on vacation in Europe. Here are their cockatiels, Jill and Jack, eating millet. I have been having so much fun watching these guys. They are extremely bonded to each other and start frantically calling to each other if they are not right by each other. Occasionally something will scare them and they both go flying off their cage, and they sit there calling to each other, even though they could just turn around to reuinte! But perhaps the funniest thing with them is when they both want their heads preened. They will sit there and offer each other their heads until finally someone gives in and preens the other one first.

And here is their quaker, Alfie. He is a funny little bird, and recovering from some mutilation. My parents spent over $1,000 at the vet, and no reason could be found for the mutilation. They ended up adopting Jack and Jill, hoping to provide Alfie with some additional company, and ever since they joined the flock, he no longer mutilates.

I thought this was a funny picture. Thomas has not played video games for several months, but pulled them out again on Friday. I joked he was like the Pied Piper because as soon as he sat down on the floor, the birds went over to find him (except the cockatiels and Calypso!) Rocky runs over to Thomas any time he is on the floor, hoping to wedge himself in his clothes somewhere. He sits near Max's cage, so she goes over to that side of her cage. First she empties out her foraging bucket by throwing as many things at Thomas as she can; once it's empty, she hangs out on the side of her cage, near him. Beeps almost never leaves his cage, but he did Friday night, to go to Thomas, and then Alfie climbed down to find him as well! We rarely allow parrots on our shoulders because of the potential damage, but Thomas wanted to play video games and they wouldn't leave him alone, so I was able to take this picture!

And of course, a few pictures of Max. Here she is, eating a pellet. I wrap all of her pellets, and I think it is absolutely adorable how she uses the wrapping like a little shell to make sure that she can eat every crumb. What was even funnier about this picture is that she had a dish of seed and vegetables on top of her cage, but she apparently wanted a pellet as she climbed in her cage and found one.

Can you see the marble in her foot? I don't even remember how we figured this out, but she loves marbles! We call them her little treasures. We're not exactly sure what she does with them, but they keep her occupied for 10-15 minutes at a time. She sits there like this, holding it in her foot. Sometimes she rubs the marbles on her head.

Sometimes she holds them in her beak, like this. We hide a few in her foraging bucket and foraging drawers and when she finds one, it's so much fun to watch her ADD-self calm down and treasure her prize.

I am still knitting! Thomas and I are taking a trip to Prague in November, so I am making each of us a Prague scarf. I made mine first, out of this gray boucle yarn. I cast on 20 stitches, but somewhere in my novice knitting world, I ended up adding another stitch, so it was 21 for most of the way! I had hoped to do some sort of pattern, but boucle yarn is not the best yarn for novices to use, so I just did knitting. I didn't measure the scarf, but it is longer than I am tall (5'6"). On Friday, Thomas and I stopped at a yarn store and purchased the yarn for his scarf. My scarf in enveloping the yarn that will become his scarf.

Everyone has told me that once I start using natural fibers, I may become a yarn snob and no longer able to use acrylic. I fear they may be right! This is the progress I made on Thomas's scarf yesterday. I cast on 21 stitches and am doing a K1P1 pattern. However, I ran into a snag because after I had knit about 8 inches or so, the yarn had come apart and was knotted together! I wasn't sure what to do, so I just knit it in. You can kind of see in this picture that it then came apart! I was worried I would have to pull everything out and start again, but I managed to just pull out about 4 rows and get everything back to how it should be. However, my knitting for the night was paused as I do not know how to start knitting in a detached piece of yarn. My job today is to research that so I can continue knitting tonight (why don't I have the Internet at home!!!!)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The parrots (well, at least Rocky and Beeps) love it when the weather gets colder because they like to burrow in our clothes. I should clarify. I would never let Rocky burrow in my clothes (at least while I'm wearing them) or I would come out looking like a victim in a slasher movie.

I couldn't find Beeps the other day, and here he was, hiding in Thomas's shirt. He stuck his head out when he heard me calling his name; until then he was just a little bump on Thomas's chest.

And since Beeps has never been one to not pose for a picture, as soon as he saw that I had the camera out, he had to poke his head out even further!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This is the sight that greeted me when I wandered into the kitchen the other day to grab a snack. Rocky in an embrace with his favorite person, Thomas. Notice his ratty tail from floor walking and too-rough toy playing. Rocky loves the physical embrace of Thomas. If I tried this with Max, I would have a very unhappy bird on my hands!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I am pretty upset that this picture turned out so blurry! I've probably mentioned here before that I've been clicker training my parrots. With Max, we play a little game where I tell her she's costing me money and needs to get a job. We shake on it. Then I ask her what kind of job she wants to get and she performs tricks based on my questions. For example:
  • ballerina (turns around)
  • philosopher (scratches the base of her head as a "think" motion)
  • greeter (waves, which is fast up and down movement of extended foot)
  • security guard (lifts up her wings)
  • crossing guard (holds her foot up with toes extended)
  • boxer (punches out her foot into a ball)
  • bait shop owner (turns her head to listen for worms) This is what she's doing in the above picture

We have so much fun with this little game, and it provides us with almost endless tricks that she can learn. Right now she is working on perfecting taking a bow and then I'll ask her if she wants to be an actress. I never know what she's going to learn next as it depends on what she decides to do during training and what I reinforce.

Here is Beeps, ripping up the real estate section that was lining the bottom of his stand. He was doing this amazingly cute dance that I was trying to catch on video. However, as soon as he sees me with the camera lately, he runs to whatever newspaper is handy and starts ripping it up. I thought this was a funny picture since the real estate market isn't exactly what it used to be, and he seems to be sending that message :)

As an aside, we've been working with Beeps on his flying. He is really good at navigating around corners, etc., but very bad at landing. In the past, his landing method was to crash into a wall and then tumble down to the ground. We were actually thinking that we were going to have to give him a light clip so that we could work on landing, but in the last week or so, he really seems to have gotten it. We're still working on this, and also on him flying with volition instead of just staying where he is and beeping until someone brings him where he wants to go.

And here is Elsa during her soak last weekend. She is all puffy right now, as she wasn't exactly happy that I was soaking her. She is going through a molt, so she needed to be soaked. You can't really tell from this picture, but she has her entire head under water.
Of course Andreas also got a soaking. His molt is really progressing. If you look at pictures of them when we first got them, they barely look like the same lizards. You can see that he still needs to molt out skin on his legs and the lower portion of his tail. Apparently this may take several molts to occur.

Monday, September 10, 2007

My parents are currently on a European vacation, which means that Thomas and I are watching their 3 parrots ( a quaker and a pair of cockatiels) for two weeks until they return. As their normal cages are too large to fit into my car at once, they are in smaller travel cages for the duration of their stay with us.

I didn't take many pictures over the weekend, but I had to get a picture of this. The cockatiels were hanging on top of their cage. Rocky must have noticed a little cookie that they had in their seed dish, so he went inside of their cage to eat it! You can see the size of the door in this picture -- he can barely fit in there!

This temporary cockatiel cage is actually bigger than the cage he spent the first 19 years of his life, so maybe he felt at home? After he finished the cookie, he came out and started wandering around to forage for more food that the other parrots had dropped.