Friday, November 28, 2008
I'm so glad we made that decision! Especially as Thomas will not be around a lot over the next few months, due to work, so the parrots and I got to spend a lot of time with him yesterday!
The greys were eating in the same way; they'd both take a bite at the same time and hold the food in their foot at the same angle.
Of course, then Max would try to hit Stella in the head with the figure-8 swing, or Stella would start chasing Max around the room.
On holidays, my group of running friends meets in the morning for a festive run. It was such a great way to start my day. Then, when I got home, Thomas asked me if I wanted to go on a short hike with him at a nearby park. Of course I said yes. Here is a picture of one of the trails:The sky was so blue! We didn't see a lot of wildlife around; only a few ducks and geese on the pond. There were many people out with their dogs, which was nice to see. Including a lady with two shelties -- Mary, I thought of you! The shelties kept barking at us. Their owner got quite embarrassed and said, "You'd think they'd never seen people before!" We just laughed -- if Rocky were a dog, he'd be a big barker!
Since I had a fair amount of time I home, I decided to make a butternut squash macaroni and cheese recipe that I found here. We had a butternut squash from our CSA and weren't quite sure what to do with it.
Here's the raw squash, ready to be roasted:After it was roasted, I scooped out the seeds and offered them around to the parrots. The caiques and Rocky enjoyed them; the greys, not so much.Another reason that I wanted to make this is I could use my new casserole dish I bought from this gallery. Unfortunately, it's going out of business, but there are still some nice pieces available!
Here was the final product. It was pretty good, and I loved the way the squash meshed with the rest of the food. However, I used soy milk instead of cow's milk, so I think the taste was a bit off from what was intended!We also -- finally -- got around to making applesauce. It was worth the wait, and not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.
Using the food mill:
The finished product:Enjoying the finished product:I'm hoping to use some in my baking as a replacement for oil, to make the food a bit healthier. The whole process took about an hour, including much unattended time when the apples were cooking, so I see no reason why we can't do this on a regular basis. I just have to figure out how long I can store apples over the winter. I'm sounding like an apple snob, but I have a feeling the reason this was so delicious was the orchard apples we used. I don't know if grocery store apples would be the same.
Not all of the past few days' cooking was a success. Also in our CSA, we got a head of red cabbage. Not wanting it to go to waste, I found a recipe for red cabbage and apples. I had really high hopes, but was rather disappointed. I think I'm just not a cabbage person.One final picture. The greys follow me back and forth between the living room and kitchen, much as Rocky does to Thomas, but they fly instead of walk. When they're in the kitchen with me, I try to interest them in what I'm doing and give them little spurts of attention.
In this case, I gave Max the wrapper from some ingredients I was using. She proceeded to tear it up. I also tried to give some to Stella, but she kept dropping it on the floor. That didn't stop her from keeping an eye on Max, though!
I hope everyone has had a nice few days and has a great weekend! Thomas will be working this weekend, so I'm hoping to get some reading and knitting done.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
This led to a discussion of, when interacting with or seeing pictures of a bird that's the same species as one of their pet birds, can people tell the difference?
For me, generally, the answer is yes. When I read of Nani's antics and look at pictures of her, for example, never do I think that she looks like Beeps or Calypso.
However, the one exception to this, for me, is the bird that I've had the longest, Max. To me, some timnehs look nothing like Max. But others... I've just started reading about the adventures of Harley, and although he does many things that remind me of Max, when looking at his pictures, I am not confused.
At the rescue where I volunteer, I'd guess I've seen around 20 timnehs surrendered over the years. When handling most of them, I never got confused. But there was one exception. He was a male timneh, interestingly, also named Max. They looked identical, and had very similar mannerisms. I narrowly avoided a lip bite once when I was bringing Shelter Max up to my lips for a kiss before putting him in his cage. This was a reflex, as My Max has come to expect this. I had never done this with any of the other timnehs. Luckily I saw his eyes flash as he approached my face, and I remembered I was dealing with a bird I didn't know well. As I pulled him away, he struck, hitting air, and I was spared.
I also cannot tell the difference between Max and her sibling in the baby pictures I have from the breeder.
I know this is Max, because all of the single-bird pictures I have are of her:And, after we'd decided on buying Max, her breeder sent us this picture because it made her laugh. She was trying to take a picture of Max's sibling to send to his new owners, but curious Max stuck her head in there. She labeled Max for me:But in the rest of the joint pictures I have, I have no idea who is who. At the time, I'm sure she identified them in the e-mail, but I no longer have those:I've never confused Stella with another congo, quite possibly because of her unique plucking pattern. And Daphne, with her unusual coloring and 1/2 English background, looks not even remotely similar to any other budgie I've seen. But the rest look pretty much like all the other fully feathered specimins of their own species out there. I just think it's interesting that I don't get confused by them!
We had been eating pizza, and I put my plate with the uneaten crusts on it on the floor. (Like savages, we eat in the living room because it's easier on the parrots). Rocky saw that, ran over and picked up a huge piece of crust (Also, we make our own, so it's not super unhealthy. However, this was a BIG piece for a little macaw). He was very determined and running, so we wanted to see what he would do. He ran to the inside of his cage, put the crust in his water dish, and then climbed down and ran up the couch and onto Thomas.
About 10 minutes later, it was like a realization came to him. He quickly descended from Thomas, ran to his cage, fished the crust out of the water and started eating it. Thomas went over to grab it out of his beak, and he continued eating as fast as he could until it had been taken away.
Thomas and Rocky were showering together this morning, and Thomas was regaling him with a medley of songs from Guys and Dolls. Whenever he'd sing "Luck Be A Lady," Rocky would get excited and sing along loudly, and every time he'd sing "Paul Revere," Rocky would start making his angry sounds. This happened several times, and made me laugh each time. Must be a Brando fan. I'm going to have to watch the movie soon to see if the actual songs elicit similar responses.
Beeps flew into the living room from the kitchen yesterday and attempted to land on Thomas's chest. However, he misjudged his landing and flew right into Thomas's head instead. Beeps was unhurt.
Thomas and I were working out last night at the same time, something that rarely happens. Rocky was on his stand next to Thomas's elliptical machine, and I was on the treadmill, on the other side of Thomas. Rocky spent the 30 minutes making threatening gestures at me, except when his favorite commercials came on, at which point he'd stop to dance.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I got home from work and went into the living room to say hi to everyone. This is the scene that greeted me -- Thomas on the couch with his two buddies (Beeps is not nearly as hormonal when I'm not there, so Thomas felt safe having him on his chest).
I went back into the kitchen to open the mail and eat a snack before starting dinner. Rocky climbed down from the couch and walked into the kitchen, which provided me with the opportunity to take a picture of the way I raise my foot to him that prevents him from attacking me. My heel remains on the ground, and the front part of my foot is raised towards Rocky. Even though he wants to attack, he respects this body language.
After taking that picture, he started walking away from me, so I filmed him. This certainly isn't the most exciting video I've ever taken, but it shows the way he nonchalantly walks around our house. You can hear the clicking of his feet on the tile, which is a sound I'm always listening for; I don't want him to be able to sneak up on me!
I have no idea why she thinks that pans are more appropriate perches than the three parrot stands or any of the other acceptable perches in the kitchen. After quickly taking this picture, I removed her, but it was yet another reminder of why we need to remain vigilant of keeping her locked up while cooking.For dinner, I made another recipe from my favorite cookbook, How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. The recipe was for beer-glazed black beans, but since I had the right amount of navy beans cooked and ready to go, I substituted them instead.
I took this picture towards the end of the cooking process. Another success for this cookbook (and for the cast-iron pan)!
I was at the stove, tending to the meal, when I looked over and saw that Max was helping herself to my partially-eaten muffin. She had already been given a small portion, but that was apparently not enough for her!When I had a few minutes in between stirring the beans, I'd stop by Max's stand for a review of some of her tricks. In this video, she's shaking my hand.
One of the great things about clicker training is that you only need the clicker while training the trick. Once the parrot knows what she's supposed to do, it's no longer necessary. And since Max loves showing off how smart she is, she'll perform tricks for praise. During our formal sessions, I still use food treats, but if I have a few seconds here or there, I'll ask her to do a few tricks, like here.
I haven't been teaching Max any new tricks lately; we've just been reviewing the ones she knows. I need to get my act together and figure out something else for her to learn. The obvious choice would be retrieve, where she learns to pick up an object and place it somewhere else. This is the base for so many tricks, like ring toss, basketball, etc.
I've tried teaching this in the past, but have been unsuccessful, and I get frustrated. Max picks up on that, and since training is supposed to be fun for both of us, I haven't pushed it. I'm hoping that by putting it out here on the blog, that will kick me into gear to work on retrieve again!
Rocky's been banned from sitting on the curtain rod after he made a few menacing gestures my way and I realized that I wasn't willing to take the risk with him. He can shower with Thomas.
As I've mentioned before, it gets too hot for Daphne to handle, so she stays in her cage.
For months, the greys and caiques accompanied me, and all was well. However, Beeps's hormonal impulses over the past few weeks have rendered him too unreliable. I'm anticipating he'll make it back to the level of acceptable shower companion shortly, but he's not there yet, leaving me with Calypso and the greys.
Yesterday, I lost another companion. The three parrots were on the rod, with shampoo bottles separating them, as seen in the header of my blog. As I turned to enter the shower after brushing my teeth, I noticed shampoo dripping down the door. Stella had chewed a hole in the bottom of the bottle!
She is unable to sit up there without a barrier to the other parrots, so she's temporarily banned from my showers until I can find a different parrot-separater.
That leaves me with just Max and Calypso, who are delightful. They don't even need to be separated as they stay on their own sides.Stella appears to have not ingested any shampoo, or at least to not have suffered any ill-effects from her escapade. I supposed I should have anticipated this happening, given they are parrots, but the previous 3+ years of showers in this house, including almost 7 months with Stella, never saw any of them attempt to chew through the bottles.
Monday, November 24, 2008
This was the first time the parrots had eaten them, at least in our house, and they were a hit with 4 of the 6; Daphne and Stella being the holdouts.
Could Max stuff any more into her mouth?Beeps, as he is still hormonal, had to eat his inside of his cage. He doesn't seem to mind being in his cage. Over the weekend, we noticed that when he starts to get to the point where he wants to attack us, he's been going inside his cage, of his own volition. It's very strange. Perhaps because we've been closely watching him and telling him to go inside at the first sign of an imminent attack.
Here is a partial list of things that will trigger a vicious attack (I am missing many items):
- Humans eating
- Changing the food and/or water dishes in any of the birds' cages
- Paying attention to the lizards
- Reading books on the couch
- Feeding the fish
- Sitting on the floor
- Watering the plants
- Saying the word "Babycake"
- Being in possession of any kind of technology
- Touching newspaper
Saturday, we went to a different local orchard and purchased a half bushel of apples in anticipation of making applesauce the next day (Sunday). However, our plans were derailed.
Thomas's pager was beeping Sunday morning, and he got called into work an overnight shift for someone who called in sick. So, he had to go in from 9 am Sunday until noon Monday. What's most frustrating is that he's sick himself, and probably sicker than the person who called in (this thought is based on previous experiences with this individual). Grrr...
Therefore, I unexpectedly had the house to myself on Sunday, so I did a fair amount of cooking, baking, reading, and knitting. I could have made the applesauce, but it was something we wanted to do together, so will have to wait until later in the week.
As I was finishing up dinner, flashing lights from outside turned my living room into a mini disco. I kept peeking outside to see what was going on, without being too obvious. Since I was home alone, I was a little jumpier than usual. I was peeking through the blinds near Max's cage when I came face to face with a guy. He was standing in my front garden, inches away from my house!
My imagination going into overdrive, I called Thomas on the phone, and made him stay on the line while I asked the guy what was going on. Apparently there was a water main break right in front of my house and they needed to measure the pipes.
Just a few of the trucks that were out there; notice the green grass:They must have fixed everything up, and just in time since it snowed last night, so I woke up to this:Pretty, but not fun for driving. I stayed home about an hour later than usual so as to miss as much traffic as possible. Luckily my commute is not long and my boss knows I hate driving in snow!
Here's my little pepper plant. We never got around to harvesting the last of the peppers; it looks so sad and cold out there.I still am having trouble believing that it's only November and already I've had to shovel. I'm trying to stay positive and look at it as a bonus workout, but I don't know if I'll be able to keep that attitude up for 6 months!
Friday, November 21, 2008
At least once a day, they'll chase each other around, which I take to be a form of play, but I'm really not sure. For example, Max will be on the chair, so Stella flies to the chair which makes Max fly to the counter. Then Stella flies to the counter, which makes Max fly to the stand. Then Stella flies to the stand, which makes Max fly to the top of the refrigerator. Always at this point, Stella then flies to the shoes. If Max is on the fridge, there's a 90% possibility I'll find Stella in the shoes, and vice versa.
Stella with the shoes:
Last night we had nut & carrot burgers. Stella was in her cage because Thomas was cooking the burgers, but that didn't stop Max from coming over for a taste.
Shortly after taking this picture, I remembered that one of the main ingredients is onions, so I pulled her away. I tried to get her to spit out the piece she had in her mouth, but when she realized what I was doing, she became even more determined to eat it. Luckily it was a small amount so it appears that no damage was done. Silly parrot!
Stella has been imitating many of the things Max does. All of the words she's picked up at our house (which haven't been many) come from Max. She was watching one of Max's training sessions earlier this week and tried to do the same tricks Max was (unsuccessfully, but I'm hoping to eventually teach them to her as well).
To be honest, Max is probably the best-behaved bird in our house, so if she had to choose someone to emulate, I'm glad it's Max and not Rocky!
November has been a great month since Thomas was on a less-demanding rotation. That meant he could often leave for work a little later than usual, allowing time to eat breakfast and shower with the parrots. On more demanding months (including December and January, unfortunately) he is out the door an hour before the parrots wake up for the day.
A breakfast ritual he and Max share is that Max gets to lap up the remaining soy milk in Thomas's cereal bowl. Max waits patiently (well, as patient as you can expect a grey to be -- she does make begging postures and repeat "want some!" in an effort to get Thomas to eat more quickly), and when Thomas is done with his cereal, he puts the bowl on the counter. Max flies over and helps herself.
Wednesday morning, I heard him say, "Max is not going to be happy about this!" as he offered some of his remaining milk to Stella. Surprisingly, Max did not seem to care as she got the bowl to herself after Stella got a bit.
I've really been hopeful in the past few days that a relationship of sorts may develop between the two of them over the years. Even if their relationship never progresses beyond the point it is today, I imagine it must be some comfort for them to see another grey in the house.
Here's wishing everyone a great weekend. Our food mill came yesterday, so I hope to have applesauce pictures on Monday.
Andreas, however, has been a bit more visible lately. I didn't keep track, but I think I went more than a week without seeing him in October. Several times during the month, he would be out when I got home from work, but immediately retreat to his cave when he saw me enter the house.
We've switched their substrate to a sand mix again, after discussing it with their vet. These uromastyx are so frustrating! There is precious little good information about them that I've been able to find. There are big disagreements on substrate, diet, enclosures, etc. I want to provide them with the best life that I can in captivity, but I don't even know what that is!
We've been discussing building them a huge habitat in a spare bedroom; hopefully that will be a winter project.
I have written before about Max's love of being showered. She gets so excited whenever I have the plant mister in my hand and will follow me around, saying "want some!" until she gets showered.
She loves getting misted so much that she will willingly go in her cage for our bird sitter now because she gets rewarded with a bath when she does. In fact, I've been doing a fair amount of training with her (just reviewing tricks she already knows) with the reward being a few sprays. And that gets better results than when I use food as a reward!
When Stella came to us in May, she was terrified of being misted. We slowly worked with her on this. She'd watch us spray the other parrots. We'd spray the air above her head so that the water would gently fall on her. We'd talk in happy, excited voices about how fun it was and tell her how pretty she was as we sprayed her. She'd get a special treat afterwards.
Our work is paying off, and while she still does not yet enjoy showers to the extent that Max does, we're heading in that direction.
Last night, I had sprayed her first. I always place her on the sink when I spray her so that she knows what to expect. Parrots like routine, and I think it made Stella happy knowing that she didn't have to worry about being sprayed unless she was on the sink.
Then I moved on to Max, who was on her usual place on the stand. After a few sprays, Stella flew over to the lower level of the stand and started making begging postures. She was begging to be sprayed. Success!
Of course, then I had to worry about making sure neither felt slighted with the mist! In the background, especially in the beginning, you can see Beeps hanging out on the stand in the background.
I recently subscribed to Paste Magazine, which includes a CD of new music in the magazine. I got my first issue yesterday and couldn't wait to listen. As soon as the first song came on, "Why Can't It Be Christmastime All Year" by Rosie Thomas, Rocky and Max started dancing. (Beware: the song is very addicting; I can't stop listening to it! And if you click on the Rosie Thomas link, it will play in the background!)
When Thomas came home from work, I wanted to show him the parrots' reaction, so put the song back on. The beat moved him as well, and pretty soon Rocky, Max, and Thomas were all dancing.
Regular readers may recall that Beeps does not like dancing. He's like the mayor from the tiny town in Footloose. Thomas decided to take the risk and dance anyway. With predictable results.
Just as I give Thomas the warning that Beeps is attacking, he ducks down and Beeps circles back to a stand. They must have done this about 10 times last night. If nothing else, I guess Beeps got some exercise.
When we want to dance without worrying about getting bit, we have to make sure Beeps is locked in his cage.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
As I briefly mentioned in yesterday's post, Thomas has been a little sick for the past few days, but was feeling much better yesterday. In fact, he was feeling so well that he got a bit giddy about it, which encouraged Rocky to be wacky, and it turned into a vicious cycle of encouraging each other to do wacky things.
I wish I would have started taking this video a few seconds earlier. Rocky was walking around on the table, when Thomas jumped on him (being careful not to hurt him, of course).
Later on, after dinner, Rocky climbed onto the couch with us for some attention.
He hung out in the hood of Thomas's sweatshirt for a few minutes:
Thomas will occasionally make Rocky fake talk, like in this video. He had done it several times before I filmed, with Rocky telling me how much he hated me. I asked Thomas to have him say something appropriate for the blog (i.e. nothing mean about me), and, in doing so, I found out who Rocky would have voted for in the recent election:
Rocky's laugh is infectious and contagious. We'd been doing a lot of laughing last night. Not only because Thomas was in such a good mood, but also because "The New Adventures of Old Christine" was on.
I didn't want to post this video since my laughing is in the background, in the beginning. Note that that's not my real laugh -- it's the laugh I use to encourage Rocky to laugh. But, Rocky got going at the end, so I'm posting it. Not for the first time do I wish I had video-editing skills!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
That's Rocky -- Max -- Beeps up there. Stella was in her cage because I was making vegetarian chili and couldn't risk her going near the open flame on the stove.
Calypso must have a sense of when I need to leave. Again, today, he was soliciting my attention when I came in to say my final goodbyes to everyone. He didn't want attention last night or earlier in the morning when I had time. Good thing it's OK if I'm a few minutes later to work than originally planned.
Sugar Selections mentioned in the comments that she wants to make apple butter. Me too! I really hope my food mill gets here so I'll have it for use on Saturday!
Over the weekend, Rocky was hanging out in Thomas's shirt. Similar to what he was doing on videos I posted here. He especially likes doing this when Thomas is wearing sweatshirts.
I like it when he does this because I can pet him through the shirt and he thinks it's Thomas so he likes it! At any rate, Rocky was in Thomas's shirt, and Beeps flew over to hang out with Thomas. He was intrigued by the movement, so he'd walk over there and gently explore the lump that was Rocky. As he got bolder, he got a little rougher with Rocky, who finally came out from under the sweatshirt. This shocked Beeps, who flew back to his cage.
The lizards have been extremely active. I think possibly they got shocked out of their brumation when the house got down to 53 degrees and then back to normal. I've seen both of them every day for about a week, and they're even eating. I'll try to take some pictures, if they're out today.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
In the comments from a few days ago, Doodle Bird asked essentially if I thought hormonal female caiques were worse than hormonal male caiques. Unfortunately, I can't give a good answer. First, as always, I have to add that each bird is an individual, so even things that generally are true about a certain type of parrot may not be true for every specific example. Both of my caiques as males, so I don't even have any anecdotal thoughts. I know that Sonja has a female caique that was going through some hormonal issues last year.
In my house, I have three male birds (Beeps, Calypso, and Rocky) and three female birds (Max, Stella, and Daphne). Way too small of a sample to draw any conclusions; plus the males are all new world species whereas the females aren't. That being said, my males tend to get aggressive during hormonal times, whereas my females tend to get nesty, destroying toys like crazy, but retain their sweet personalities towards us.
Last Friday was another pickup of our fruit CSA. As usual, lots of apples and pears.We have an overabundance of apples in our house right now. I have ordered a food mill that should be arriving by the end of the week; I hope to make applesauce this weekend.
In the meantime, I decided to make another apple cobbler. This one was even more delicious than the last one! The crust was better mixed as I decided to follow the recipe and use a food processor instead of thinking I could dirty fewer dishes and mix by hand. I also greatly decreased the sugar (using only 1/4 c. instead of 1 c.), which allowed more of the apple taste to shine through.
We finished the last of it last night, so I'm going to try to leave work a little early tonight so I can make another one.**********************************************
I have recently begun participating in a forum with an Iron Chef component. A different food item is proposed (like winter squash) and members make dishes using that ingredient. This month was a bit different, with the challenge being to cook something from Cooking Light instead. I still haven't convinced myself that cooking is as much fun as baking, so I made these Lemon-Cheese Bars. I changed a few things from the recipe, but they also turned out well. Now, if only I can focus my attention on meals instead of desserts!
I have mentioned before that Max doesn't really like apples. Actually, that is an understatement. Ever since she was a wee chick, she refused to eat apples. As I was making the cobbler Sunday, she would not stop saying "want some!" as I peeled and cut the apples. I kept telling her she didn't really want some, but she was insistent. I gave her some to prove her wrong.
And then she shocked me by eating it. A still photo:(I love how Stella is keeping an eye on her)
And a video:
Calypso is still not back to normal after our trip; it's taking much longer this time than in the past. I suspect hormones are to blame. However, he made it very hard for me to leave for work this morning.
As I was saying goodbye to everyone and letting them know I had to go to work, he started wolf-whistling at me, making kissing sounds, and crouching down into his begging posture. I walked over and started scratching his head through the cage bars. He grabbed my finger with his foot and held hands with me for almost 5 minutes. He'd preen me occasionally, but it seems like he just really wanted to be in contact with me. He's done this before, but rarely.
Yeah, I might be leaving work early today.
Monday, November 17, 2008
The greys were sitting pretty close to each other and not fighting! Of course, they weren't exactly preening each other, but it's a start.
When I got the camera, Max put her foot up, like I was going to pick her up and rescue her from the congo who'd dared try to perch near her:
Then, she started doing this weird thing where she was picking at her toes. Stella seems to do this when she's nervous, but I've never really noticed Max doing this before:Finally, she did one of my favorite parrot body language moves; one that's saved me from dozens (scores?) of Rocky bites over the years:
I've noticed many parrots make this move over the years; they put their foot up, toes extended, towards the offending parrot that they want to keep away.
Soon after we got Rocky, I decided to try it with him. He was approaching me on the ground, primed for an attack. I lifted my foot up towards him, and he immediately retreated. I no longer fear an attack because he really respects this body language! (Of course I have to stay on alert for his attacks so that I can get my foot in the "stop" position!)
Of course I wanted to try to get this on video as well, so you can see some of the body language in action. Sorry this gets a bit boring at the end!
But there's more action here! I've watched this video at least 10 times, and can not determine who's at fault for the altercation, though I'm strongly leaning towards putting the blame on Max at this point.
Perhaps my hopes for a grey friendship are premature. It will be interesting to see how they are with each other 20 years from now!
Friday, November 14, 2008
This picture is kind of grainy, but you can see the bird on the right taking flight. Thomas was using the zoom to try to see what kind of birds these are. Pelicans, maybe? (EDIT: a friend just told me they might be egrets?)This squirrel was trying to get into the bag Thomas was wearing (he would have been disappointed since we didn't have any food in there.) He actually had his front paws on the bag, trying to get inside! Unfortunately, Thomas didn't notice at first so he couldn't get the picture in time.And some of the interesting waterfowl that were hanging around.There was so much activity at St. James's Park! If we didn't have things to do and it had been a tad warmer, I think we could have spent all day there!