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

video

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!

video

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

Clipped!

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!