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!