Friday, August 29, 2008

Greys on the sink!

Thomas came home from work last night and poured himself a small bowl of pretzel snacks to tide him over until dinner. Stella made a bee-line for the food and helped herself. You may notice the shininess on her beak. That may or may not have been made by me giving her a kiss when I had chapstick on :)

As I've mentioned in previous posts, she has decided to claim the sink as her main perch in the kitchen. This can be troublesome when we're trying to cook! Last night, Max decided to join her on the sink.

I'm still somewhat hopeful that they will strike up some sort of friendship, but I'm not holding my breath. Shortly after I took this picture, Stella made a move towards Max who immediately flew off to the safety of her stand. Prior to taking this picture, Max had been inching away -- notice her foot on my salad bowl!Of course I have a couple of Rocky pictures!

Our new morning routine includes me putting him in the bathroom while I change foods and waters. The other alternative is to keep him in his cage during this time (where he screams) because he tries to attack me. He really likes the bathroom.

Yesterday, I noticed that he had backed up into a bottle I had on the curtain rod (to separate the parrots when I bring them into the shower with me) and was holding it in between his wing and body. He did this again today. It does not appear to be sexual since he's not moving at all and is no more aggressive when I have him step up and bring him back to the living room. (He's puffed up in the picture because of the camera, but normally is not puffy!)When I enlarged this picture on the computer this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could see his tongue preening Thomas. We rarely allow our birds on our shoulders, but Rocky was in a very loving mood last night and was insistent. Thomas understands Rocky's body language, and rightly surmised that Rocky didn't have any bad intentions.This week has flown by so quickly! I have another race tomorrow, but Thomas is working, so the pressure is off on trying to beat him! I wish everyone a fantastic long weekend!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Answer to questions in the comments

I got a couple of questions in my comments from yesterday, so I thought I would answer them in a post instead of the comments.

First, the easy one! Richard asked where I get the wood I use to make toys. Rocky and Stella go through wood like crazy, so I would go broke if I couldn't make my own toys! We have a home improvement store in our area (it's not national) that sells untreated pine 2X4s, 2X6s, 4X4s, etc. Untreated is the big issue. In my area, The Home Depot only sells treated wood. You might also have a family-owned lumberyard in your area that would be willing to sell you wood. Here is a list of wood that is safe and unsafe for parrots.

Then, we take a mitre saw and chop up the planks into bird-usable sizes. Thinner for the caiques, thicker for the others. Some we drill and hang on wire, but the 2X4s are perfect size for everyone but Daphne to hold in their feet and chip, and that's what they often choose to do!

You can just use regular food dye for the wood, but we've found that our parrots will chew non-dyed just as well and since we're trying to eliminate artificial dyes from their food whenever possible, we give them undyed wood.

If you don't have, or know anyone with, a mitre saw, you can purchase pre-cut wood. The place I would go is The Parrot Asylum, from which I've always received quality components and fantastic service.

I really like making my own toys because it allows me to customize for each individual bird.

Also, thanks for letting me know about the broken link. I will fix it as soon as I post!

Onto the less pleasant question, posed by Shannon, about plans for parrots since there's a good chance they may outlive their owners. Beloved Parrot gave some good answers, but of course I have to be a bit more wordy!

First, this is something that Thomas and I have thought a lot about, even though we're relatively young (early 30s). You never know what can happen! What scares me the most is the lack of control over what happens to your parrot once you're gone. Perhaps I'm jaded by being involved in parrot rescue, but I've come to the conclusion that the majority of people who own parrots shouldn't have them.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that we get at least 20 birds, every year, surrendered to the rescue where I volunteer that haven't been allowed out of their cages in over a year. My own severe macaw, Rocky, was kept at least 6 years in his cage, not allowed out (and that's only what they admitted to). The ridiculously small cages, lack of toys and perches, and filth that we see every week is enough to bring me to tears. The horrible things that come out of these parrots' beaks, and you know that someone was yelling those things at this helpless creature. I'm tearing up now. I could go on with stories of neglect and abuse -- thrown out of a moving car in February in freezing weather, an individual with suspected Munchhausen-by-proxy that plucked her own bird -- but I try not to think about specifics too much as my goal is to remain a relatively optimistic person.

Obviously, I think the best solution is to find a responsible, bird-loving person that you trust.

Good luck with that, especially when you have several birds you'd need to place.

Finally, after going off on my tangent, I arrive at Shannon's question about willing your bird to a rescue. My biggest concern about this is that many of these are basically headed by one or two individuals. What happens when the head of the organization dies? Ideally, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, plans are in place to keep it going, but I know that's not always the case. Also, many organizations have issues with funding. If the organization is suddenly unable to bring in enough donations or the director is unable or unwilling to cover expenses him/herself, will they start selling birds (adopting into inappropriate homes) to cover the mortgage? Or skimp on food, toys, heating? With some of the bigger organizations, are the birds getting the one-on-one time they need? Especially in a sanctuary situation where the bird is there for life, so the number of birds keeps increasing but only decreases when one of these long-lived birds dies?

Beloved Parrot mentioned some organizations, but I don't have any experience with them. I do know there was controversy recently when it became public knowledge that one of the people on the Gabriel Foundation's Board of Directors is a large-scale breeder. Personally, I don't think I'd want to put any of my birds under the care of an organization with those ethics.

The organization that I like the best right now for long-term prospects is Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Each of my parrots recently virtually adopted one of their counterparts at this organization (although there was only one caique, so Beeps "adopted" a severe macaw, and no budgies, so Daphne "adopted" a cockatiel). They are large, well-funded, and I have been impressed with everything I've read about them. We're hoping to go out there in the next few years to see it for ourselves.

I must confess that despite a lot of thought on our part, we've personally done very little action. If Thomas and I were to die tomorrow, Rocky would go to Birdlovers Only. I know the director quite well and I know she would find him a great home or keep him. He's just so difficult and I can't bear to think of him being abused or neglected again. Calypso would go to my friend who is great with parrots, but already has a full house so she can't take everyone. Her instructions are that her parrots be euthanized on her death so I feel confident that he wouldn't be neglected or abused again, either. My parents would take, at least temporarily, Max, Daphne, Beeps, and Stella. Obviously this isn't a permanent solution (Max and Stella are likely to outlive my parents). However, those four are great birds so it would be easier to find good homes for them. Not that Rocky and Calypso aren't great birds, but they are more challenging and therefore, in my mind, more likely to be subject to neglect and/or abuse.

Since we still have a fair amount of years to live out a natural life span, I'm really hoping that we outlive the parrots. I'm also hoping that my younger siblings will become bird people, or perhaps have children who are.

Probably not the succinct answer you were hoping for, Shannon, but what else did you expect? Brevity is certainly not a strong point of mine!

I guess the bottom line is that I don't think there's a perfect solution, and it's nice to know there are other people out there thinking about things like this :)

Washington trip recap

Since I forgot my camera (again!) and didn't really have any great pictures on it anyway, I thought I'd share some pictures from our recent trip to Washington, DC.

On our first night in town, we walked around the monuments at sunset. I really liked the way that this picture turned out. You can see the famous Lincoln statue in the background, and the sunset was unbelievably colorful!If anyone will be in the Washington area, I would highly recommend a trip to the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. In addition to seeing fantastic art, they recently enclosed the courtyard and this was one of the most pleasant places we found to hang out for a bit. It was extremely peaceful, and we loved lying on the benches and looking up at the ceiling.

Thomas joked that he may start a career in insect photography. I will spare you the pictures of flies and bees, but here are two of his favorite butterfly pictures. I believe one was taken at the zoo and the other at the botanic gardens, but I can't be sure.This goldfinch was pretty well camouflaged by the sunflowers near where he chose to perch! We saw him while sitting outside of the US Botanic Garden, waiting for it to open.We did quite a bit of hanging out in gardens! Much of our previous travel has been in off season, when the gardens are nowhere near their peak beauty, so we really enjoyed this aspect of our trip, even though it did mean that we were there during some pretty hot times!

These birds were taking turns cooling themselves by bathing:There is a rose garden right outside of the Smithsonian Castle, and I think these were my favorites (although there were many beautiful flowers to choose from, so let's just say they were near the top!):Because we're Smithsonian members (which I would highly recommend to anyone as you get a fantastic monthly magazine -- that's actually the main reason we decided to vacation in DC!), we got to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Castle, which is the visitors' information center and where some administrative offices are located.

This tower of taxidermy was in the behind-the-scenes section. This was the only parrot that I saw in that tower. I like to think he died a natural death and then was preserved:We had a wonderful time at the National Zoo (another Smithsonian entity). We took tons of pictures, but I'll only put a few of them here.

They have a wonderful Amazon exhibit that starts on the lower level with giant aquariums. Although I'm not sure why they were in the Amazon exhibit, we saw some Australian Rainbowfish......just like what's in our aquarium at home.I did feel a bit bad for our guys that they have nowhere near the options in their lives as these at the zoo (or those in the wild, for that matter).

Then, on top, there's a replica of a jungle, with free-flying birds and a few other creatures. Of course it was the birds that interested us most!

I found this guy to be exceedingly beautiful, and he kind of seemed to be following us around. He reminded me a bit of a cardinal.And this guy was sitting on his nest -- I don't think this was in the Amazon exhibit, though. Even though it's only been a week, my mind is starting to get fuzzy on the details!Every night, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has a free concert at 6:00 pm. We had a great time listening to an artist we had never heard of before and ended up buying his CD. We went up to the terrace, which had lovely views. Here is the Jefferson Memorial -- we never made it there, unfortunately!The morning of our departure, we had a few hours to sightsee, and we took a trip out to see the National Cathedral. Woodrow Wilson is buried there, the only president buried within the confines of DC.

I was struck by how beautiful this statue of Washington was with the light streaming in filtered by the stained-glass windows.Once again, we had a fabulous trip. I do love traveling! Even though I miss the parrots, and I think it's a bit unfair to them to leave them for so long. I'm glad to see that they're starting to understand the routine that takes place when we leave. It now takes much less time for things to return to normal once we get back, and they're starting to feel more comfortable with our bird sitter. Since you never know what will happen in the future, we're trying to travel as much as we can now while we have our health and the means to do so!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Another short entry

It's taking me a bit longer than I thought to get things settled after our vacation, both at home and work. Even though I was home last night, I took only two pictures! Also, I've been too busy to go around and read everyone's blogs, which means I'm 2 weeks behind. Argh!

In any case, Max amazes me with her dexterity. She is folded almost in half in order to preen her stomach!
Rocky climbed up on our plant stand last night. He has a way of posing in such an adorable manner. Something about the way he cocks his head!
That's all I've got for today. Perhaps tonight will be a bit more eventful.

I went to the farmers' market today and bought salad mix, onions, tomatoes, and a few other things. I've been going through salad withdrawal the past week and a half without our farmer's wonderful mix. I told him I have no idea how I'm going to get through the winter! He told me that he'll be low on salad mix for next week, so I'm going to make sure that I get there right when it opens. What an addiction to have -- something that's unavailable half the year. (And not to sound snobby, but grocery store greens mixes just don't do it).

If I get really crabby in October and start having mood swings, you'll know why!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back into the routine

The humans and animals in our house are getting back into our routines.

For Stella, that apparently includes eating my breakfast! I left the room briefly to give Rocky a piece of apple (he was hanging out under his cage) and returned to find this.
I was amazed at how much she ate, and how quickly! Max won't even lick apples -- they're that undesirable to her.

As I mentioned yesterday, Stella's flying improved exponentially while we were gone, even though she apparently didn't fly at all during that week.

She is in a rather nesty mode, and has been flying down to the kitchen floor and then trying to squeeze herself in the space under the dishwasher. While I'm pleased that she's able to fly down (that is one of the harder flight skills to learn but so important in case you need to call an escaped parrot down out of a tree), it can be frustrating to have to interrupt my breakfast 10 times to pick her up off of the floor. I don't want her getting too comfortable down there!

I don't have too much else to report as I had a meeting last night after work and returned home after Thomas had already put the parrots to bed for the evening. I really regret agreeing to volunteer for certain things when it takes me out of my house for the evening.

But I should be home all night tonight and will hopefully have more pictures!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm back!

We're back from our vacation and had a wonderful time! Hopefully I'll be able to post pictures in the next couple of days; I don't have my camera with me right now. I also should have time to go around and read everyone's blogs by the end of the week, after I get situated at work again.

The morning of our trip, Thomas received bites from the three usual suspects: Beeps, Rocky, and Stella. I'm not sure how they think that will make us want to spend more time with them :)

The parrots survived our absence. I got their report from the wonderful lady who watches them when we're out of town; I'll call her S.

S said that every day, Max came out, flew to Calypso's cage, and then carefully supervised S's every move. She'd fly around the house a bit towards the end, but wouldn't leave the living room until all of the food and water dishes had been changed. S had a bit of a problem last time with Max not wanting to go back in her cage when S had to leave. Always thinking, S told Max that she'd get a shower once she got back in her cage, so Max looked forward to going back in because she loves showers!

Calypso loves S and her daughter, so he had a good week. As usual, he was too excited to be handled when we got home, but was back to normal Monday morning, so he recovered in about 60 hours this time.

Daphne jumped to the back of her cage when S opened the door and wouldn't come out.

Rocky didn't swear at anyone this time, so an improvement! S had one issue with him towards the end of the trip. He went under his cage and wouldn't come out. I told her next time to wave a towel in front of the cage. He finally did come out, but this delayed her departure from our house by several minutes.

Beeps, like Calypso, loves S and her daughter, so he had a good week as well. He was only too excited to trust for about 12 hours this time, and Thomas and I were both able to avoid post-trip bites.

Stella wouldn't come out of her cage for the first four days or so. After that, she would come out on top of her cage, but didn't fly around and resisted attempts by S to handle her. She must have spent the week plotting future flying maneuvers as she impressed us with her skills this weekend! She's made many living room to kitchen flights, made U-turns when choosing a different path mid-flight, and has been flying to the floor regularly.

I don't think that the lizards or fish even realize when we're gone!

So, we had a great trip but are very happy to be back. The parrots are definitely getting used to us leaving and returning.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Welcome Wagon

Two quite funny things happened yesterday; however, I wasn't able to get either of them on camera.

I got home first after work, and Max, Stella, and Calypso were with me in the kitchen as I went through the mail and started getting ready for dinner. Beeps was playing with some new toys on his cage, and Rocky was under his cage, ringing a bell.

As soon as the garage door started to open, signaling Thomas's return, Beeps flew in, happily beeping, and Rocky ran in as fast as he could, making happy gibberish sounds.

I tried to get Rocky to come over to the door that goes into our garage so that he'd be right there to welcome his mate, but instead he ran over to the sliding patio door and started saying Thomas's name. Smart guy -- it turns out that Thomas had gone out back to harvest a tomato instead of coming right in.

Rocky really follows Thomas around like a little dog. He had gone upstairs to change out of his work clothes, and look at how fast Rocky follows! He didn't even stop to threaten me with how big he is, like he usually does when I try to film him on the stairs.

Stella's flying continues to improve. I am seriously doubting whether she was fledged as her landing skills are very poor. Her in-flight skills are also not fantastic as it seems to take her a lot of effort to propel herself forward. Despite that, she is really enjoying flying and doing much more volitionally. Yesterday, for the first time, she took off from a stand in the kitchen and landed on her cage. Previously, she'd only flown when she was in the same room with her target destination.

But her landing definitely needs improvement, which brings us to the funny story. She had taken off from one stand in the kitchen and wanted to go to the other stand. She did a lap around the room, and came in for the landing. Unfortunately, Calypso was perched on the stand, and she tried to land right on him! He took off, just in the nick of time. I'm still not sure whether this was intentional or not (given her poor landing skills, I don't think so) but it was funny to watch! The entire stand was open, and she tries to land on the caique.

One of her favorite places to land in the kitchen is on the side of the sink. Yesterday, during one flight, she ended up in the sink itself.

Here she is, on the stand (and pretty much the exact location) where she tried to land on Calypso. As usual, that's Beeps hanging out on the metal stand in the corner. Poor guy -- everyone picks on him! He'll be going to the vet in the next month or so as I want to make sure he's not hiding an illness that's making everyone try to drive him out of the flock.Max is going through a molt, so her chest has been looking a little scraggly. Given our past experiences with her plucking, I get a bit concerned when I see copious amounts of feathers on the bottom of her cage. However, when she feather destructs, she bites the feathers off at the shaft, so I could tell that these were molted.

This picture turned out a bit blurry, but she had this feather on her head for a few seconds before she realized it was on there and preened herself back to normal.

We leave tomorrow, and the parrots don't seem to realize that anything unusual is happening. We'll be doing a bit of extra cleaning tonight (always nice to come home to a clean house!) as well as packing, so they'll probably figure it out.

We have told them that we're leaving, but their behavior hasn't changed on account of that. I'm expecting Beeps to try to bite one or both of us, so I've been on caique watch the past few days.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Corn is a big hit in our house. With the exception of Daphne, who eats very little human food despite my best efforts, all of the parrots love corn! Here's Max with a chunk.

A few weeks back, I posted a picture of my favorite bird at the rescue, a greenwing macaw. He was adopted, so this blue-and-gold had the opportunity to capture my fancy. Isn't he absolutely gorgeous? He wasn't handled for quite some time, so we're teaching him how people can be fun! He loves to exercise, so one thing we do together is I cup him under his chest and run around, with him flapping -- assisted flying.I had a surprise when I went to the rescue last Saturday -- one of my favorite birds of all time (he'd been adopted out several years ago) had been returned. This just breaks my heart -- the disposable mentality so many people have with their pets. But I don't need to get started on that again!
This dusky lory has such a fantastic personality! He reminds me very much of the caiques. When he was here last time, one of his very favorite things to do was curl up in the hood of Thomas's sweatshirt! He is so incredibly tame and funny. I have a hard time understanding how he's found himself homeless at least twice in his young life.
This is a video I took over the weekend. Thomas was playing video games, and had found a terry cloth belt. Knowing it would drive Rocky nuts, he wrapped it around his neck as a scarf. Rocky enjoyed playing with and attacking it!

At the farmers' market today, one of the vendors offered me her amazon. This is just getting ridiculous. I really need to stay strong in order to keep our flock at its current level. So hard not to take everyone home!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More vignettes

The way Thomas's residency is set up, he has some months where he works 80+ hours per week and has to spend nights at the hospital, and other months where he does a rotation in a clinic, which means that he more or less works a normal week of around 40 hours and has weekends off.

August is one of the latter months, and the parrots, especially Rocky, are happy to have him around more! This relaxed schedule means Thomas has had more time to play video games. I'm not sure how he maintains his ability to play when he has a macaw on his arm!

Or on his lap...

I was working on organizing our back bedroom over the weekend. Rocky loves the back bedroom; probably because he's not really allowed to go in there. We keep the door shut at almost all times. I had the door open so I could hear the radio during my organizing. Of course my nemesis/stalker had to come in. He walked right on to the bookshelf as though he owned the place.

I wrote last month that Max was, with greater frequency, chasing Beeps into a corner stand we have in our kitchen. This morning, Calypso also chased Beeps into the corner! You can see that Beeps doesn't seem too distressed by this as he's chipping a wood piece. But we have been carefully monitoring all interactions as we don't want any injuries to occur.

After this incident, they both got another lecture about how they are both caiques and should be friends!This was Max, a few days ago, licking water off of the cherry tomatoes. I think it's great when she perches on the bowls like this.Thomas called to say he'd be a bit late coming home from work, so I had dinner ready instead of waiting until he got home so we could prepare dinner together. With Stella's new found love of flying and getting into trouble on the counter, this was more challenging than it would have been a week ago.

I was on the other side of the kitchen, when I looked up and noticed her throwing lettuce out of Thomas's salad! Then she ate some cheese and, as you can see in this picture, one of his walnuts! Luckily Thomas got home soon after, so we were able to tag team our mischievous parrots.

Also, let me apologize that I haven't had time to go around and visit everyone's blogs recently. I really hope to be able to do so this week. My time has been spent trying to plan our vacation, for which we leave on Saturday. The date has really snuck up on us and we've not done much planning. Eek! I want to make sure we don't miss anything, so I've been spending most of my blog time investigating Washington DC.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Coming out of her shell

Under the heading of "be careful what you wish for" is the recent behavior of Stella. She has really come out of her shell (even more) lately and really started flying with volition over the weekend.

She made several flights over to the couch while we were watching the Olympics, and this morning she made several flights over to the table and counters. We have a lot of work to do with her on which places are and are not acceptable to explore (for example she is really drawn to the stove and I don't want her hanging out there, even when it's off).

Here she is nibbling away on some zucchini bread that Thomas made (and you thought that grey parrots eating was the province of Max on this blog!)
I snapped this picture of her on our counter this morning. I just love the expression on her face. So wide-eyed, innocent, and beautiful!
Thomas called me over to watch a game he and Stella have been playing recently. These balls are such a huge hit at our house, but I've been having trouble finding more to buy. It will put my Internet searching skills to the test!

It's not just parrots that are testing my resolve of no more pets. This adorable iguana was left, abandoned, in an apartment after her owner was evicted. Who does that? She is incredibly sweet and looking for a new home. She was happy to sit on my lap for quite some time.
Over the weekend, Thomas informed me that he's changed his mind about what specialty he wishes to pursue after his residency is finished, and that this may necessitate a move on our part. He's willing to stay here, but he truly would be selling himself short (which is also what the program director for that specialty told him). He already sold himself short on the caliber of the medical school and residency program he chose because I didn't want to move, and I don't think it's fair to him to insist that we stay, yet again.

If we do relocate, possibly across the country, we have to worry about moving and finding housing for the 6 parrots, 2 lizards, and fishtank that we already have. We really can't be adding any more animals. But I'm trying not to think or worry too much about that until it becomes a certainty!

Friday, August 8, 2008

No pictures today

I did not take any pictures yesterday, so this will just be a wordy post.

I have realized that I may have a mini attention issue. I am in the process of reading about 10 books. Some of those have been put to the side, but there are 4 that I am actively reading (in that I am reading at least a chapter every other day).

In case anyone cares, these are my 4 active books:

I am trying to finish at least two of these books over the weekend to bring my in-process books to a more reasonable level. Which meant that I did a lot of reading last night and not so much picture-taking!

I am also in the middle of three knitting projects, which may not sound like a lot, but since I am not a fast knitter, these three projects are likely to last me until the end of the year. And I bought more yarn last week!

Yesterday I offered a container of trail mix to the greys and caiques, allowing them to pick their favorite morsel. Based on previous experience, I expected the selection to go as follows:

Max: cashew, Calypso: raisin, Beeps: filbert, Stella: almond

Thomas's guess was:

Max: cashew, Calypso: filbert, Beeps: filbert, Stella: almond

It appears we know our greys but not our caiques! Or perhaps the greys are just more predictable. Their actual selections were as follows:

Max: cashew, Calypso: walnut, Beeps: walnut, Stella: almond.

Walnuts! The caiques have NEVER chosen walnuts before! And they chose them on the same day, when neither saw what the other one selected. It was very strange and I'm going to have to pay better attention to see if the caiques often pick the same item.

Hope everyone has a good weekend! We're volunteering at the bird rescue again, which means I get to spend time with my new boyfriend, a blue and gold macaw. I will try to take pictures of him so you can see how handsome he is! My old boyfriend, the greenwing macaw, was adopted so I had to move on!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Potato Eater

Thomas made a new kind of stirfry last night with different vegetables we got from the farmers' market. Rocky had to come over and investigate:
He grabbed out a piece of potato and settled in to eat it:
Later on, Thomas offered him another bite of potato, which he gladly accepted:
Later on in the evening, we were all in the living room, with the exception of Max who had flown into the kitchen to hang out by herself for a bit. I heard some strange noises and went in to investigate.

I found her exploring an empty glass that had been left on the counter.

I took a video of what she was doing with the glass. Was she angry that there wasn't anything in there for her to drink? Or did she just enjoy the sounds it made? In any case, we'll have to be more careful about leaving glasses around since I would have not been happy had she broken it by pushing the glass off of the counter!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In my pants. Are you jealous?

I took this picture of Stella last night. It's so hard to get good pictures of her, and I really liked this one. All of my parrots like unwrapping things, and she is certainly no exception!

We had another mini harvest from our tomato plants. The red one is a celebrity and the green one (and the one cut up) is a black krim. It was pretty tasty. We have many more out on the vine, so should have a decent harvest soon. I'm hoping to make tomato sauce, but I'll have to stop myself from eating them all first!First, let me say again that we had swept the entire living room when we got home from work, and the parrots had been out for a couple of hours chipping wood and shredding newspaper before I made the following videos. Despite our parrots' best efforts, we do not constantly live in squalor. I must say that I truly didn't understand how messy parrots were until Rocky and Stella joined forces in wood chipping!

As I've mentioned before, I always have to keep a close eye on where Rocky is, especially if I'm going to be walking around. I have to protect myself from the sneak attack! I wanted to get up to refill my glass of water, so I asked Thomas if he knew where Rocky was since I couldn't see him. "In my pants. Are you jealous?" came the response.

Rocky loves chipping wood while hanging out in Thomas's clothes. As it's been a warm summer, he often goes shirtless, so Rocky had to get creative about where he chips.

I was trying to get a video of Rocky emerging from Thomas's shorts, but he knew I was there and refused to go back in. Instead, he had to chip while standing close to Thomas's shorts. The main reason I'm including this video is because of Ms. Nosy hanging out. Of course she had to see what was going on.

Rocky was in fine form last night. Within the past week, we've started playing a new game. Last week, the water bottle was on the floor, and I said to him as he passed by, "don't attack the water bottle!" Of course, he had to go over and attack it immediately. This made me laugh, which made Rocky laugh, and it's something we've done pretty much every night since then. It's all in good fun as he actually doesn't do any harm to the water bottle. Watch how he circles around it with his beak running along the floor and then does a sneak attack.

And this is one of my favorite things that he does. He'll grab a ball or other toy (this is a small plastic top) and throw it around, playing fetch with himself. Sometimes he plays fetch with us, but often he plays by himself, and we occasionally join in, like when Thomas makes the top spin here.

Days like this one make me amazed that he was able to withstand at least 6 years confined to a small cage. He's been with us almost two years (he came to live with us on August 17, 2006) and I am blown away by the personality changes that we've seen during that time.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rocky Freakouts

I did not use my camera much last night, so this should be a (relatively) short post.

Rocky does these freakouts occasionally, which really make me wonder about his past. Did he live with people who moaned, groaned, and freaked out? Or is this some sort of strange severe macaw behavior that he'd engage in anyway?

I'll try to get a really good freakout on camera some time -- he usually stops once he realizes he has an audience.

I was trying to zoom in on him here, which ended up making the entire video fuzzy. However, the audio on this video is better than the other one. He often says words during these freakouts, but we rarely can understand them.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Love Bites

Another full weekend at our house!

Friday night did not start out well. I was sitting on the couch, reading a book, when Beeps flew over at me, totally unprovoked, and bit me on my shoulder! It was a bit past their bedtime, so we put everyone to bed and went upstairs. The next morning, I was eating breakfast, when Beeps flew over and bit me on the shoulder again!

I'm still not sure what his problem was, but it's been 48 hours since the last bite so I hope this won't be repeated! My battle scars:
As you can see, the bites were not severe, but the second one was right where my sports bra lays when I run, and I had a race the next day! Luckily, I just put Aquaphor all over the wound, so the fabric wouldn't rub against it.

Speaking of the race, thanks to those of you who wished me well! I had a fantastic run. It was a 10 mile race. I beat Thomas by a little over 7 minutes, ran a personal best, and even took first place in my age division. That has never happened to me before! We went out for hot chocolate to celebrate. Thomas also ran quite well and was pleased with his finish.

Late last week I got an e-mail from a person who has become a friend: the lady that saved Beeps from being released outside to his certain death. She does animal rescue on the side, and asked it I knew anyone that might be interested in an injured pigeon that had been brought to her. I looked at this picture and thought it was a dove, so I told her that the bird rescue where I volunteer could take her in and find her a home.
My eyes deceived me since this was, indeed, a pigeon! Thomas and I have volunteered at a wildlife rescue center for almost 6 years so you'd think I would have known that! In any case, he looked the pigeon over (his medical training comes in handy even though it's with people and not birds) and realized that she wasn't injured at all. We released her back outside, and it was so gratifying to see her flying outside, free again. We sat there and watched her flying for about 10 minutes; even when she was just a speck in the sky.

We had our first non-pepper harvest over the weekend. It's a type of tomato called "mortgage lifter" since the person who created the hybrid was able to pay off his mortgage by selling the plants. I hope it will be tasty -- we've sure been enjoying the tomatoes from our farmers!One herb available at the farmers' market is mint, and Thomas bought some a few weeks ago. Since then, I've had to go to the market alone, and he always hopes that I've bought more (sometimes they're out). I did buy some last week, and he made his mint concoction. It's actually not that tasty. He just takes mint leaves, blends them up, adds water, and refrigerates. Max seemed to like it, but I don't understand why.
One of the toy pieces I ordered from Grey Feather Toys were these accordion tubes. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with them, and had a few on the kitchen table in the hopes that inspiration would hit. Thomas picked it up and started blowing into it, making a rather irritating noise. Of course, the parrots loved the noise! I'm not sure I've seen Max dance so fast before! Warning: the high pitched noise is really irritating, so if you'd have sensitive hearing, I'd recommend turning your volume down or skipping this video!

Last night I heard more raucous laughter coming from Rocky in the living room. Of course, I had to investigate. He was lying on Thomas's chest, and Thomas was giving him the business.After my weekly floor washing, I must have placed Stella's and Rocky's cages a little closer to each other than they were before. Here is Stella with one foot on each cage:And here she is, getting ready to chew up his wood toy, even though she has exact replicas in her own cage:Even though Rocky has never shown any parrot aggression, we removed her back to her own cage -- we don't want to take any chances!

Since I'm on a Stella roll, here she is unwrapping some parrot candy that we got from The Parrot Asylum. It's a small piece of wood wrapped up in colored paper.
Everyone in our house loves them! Here is Beeps. He'd already removed one side of the wrapper!
And, finally, another video that comes with a warning. I have mentioned that Beeps is one of the strangest, funniest, dancers we have ever seen. He also will not dance if he knows the camera is pointed at him. I had to place the camera on the counter in the hopes he'd ignore it. Unfortunately, while he sometimes will dance just with music, he much prefers dancing when Thomas and/or I sing. And we have bad voices. Warning: really bad singing to follow. I would recommend turning the volume off before you watch this video!