Thursday, January 31, 2008

More adventures with Max and Rocky

The other day, Max flew in to find us in the kitchen, and she looked like this:

She's not even cleaning up after herself, mashbeak! She came to find us, probably because she knew we were making dinner. Here she is, hoping to try a bit of our dinner, vegetarian chili. You can still see the steam coming off of it! I warned her several times that it was hot (which she understands) and then got her away from temptation soon after taking this picture.

As an aside, when we first got Max, we gave her a spaghetti noodle that was too hot (we thought it was fine, but apparently not!) She loves noodles, so she gulped it down, then must have realized it was too hot, and pulled the entire noodle out of her body, using her foot. Since that time, we've been MUCH more careful with the temperature of the stuff we serve them.

We thought it was rather funny that her next move was to this:
Rocky was hanging on to Thomas's shirt, and when Thomas went into the pantry to grab something, Rocky jumped off and landed on the wire shelves that are on the door.
Here he is after righting himself, as though a pantry door were a perfectly normal place to perch. I should rename this the Max and Rocky blog. If I didn't have them, I don't think I could keep up a blog about my parrots. The rest are relatively well-behaved (and therefore kind of boring, for a blog).

In other news, I was worried that we'd lost a couple of our Australian Rainbowfish, as I could only count 7 for a few days. Happily, all 9 were there last night, and no one looked sick.

Daphne and Jeff Saturday are sharing a cage again. He seems to have completely healed. We still hope to get them a larger cage soon, but this one will do for now. Jeff Saturday has been stepping up almost all of the time, even from inside of his cage. Yea for progress!

It has been ridiculously cold here still. To run this morning, I had on 2 pair of pants, 2 shirts in addition to my running jacket, a ski mask, hat, and 2 pair of gloves. And parts of me were still cold! I had to go back to bed after my shower and warm up before I could face the day. I am very much looking forward to spring! Already I've noticed the sun coming up earlier and staying out later. So now I just have to survive the next few months. Tomorrow is a treadmill day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sometimes the packaging is as fun as the toys...

We got a package in the mail yesterday, full of toys and toy-making supplies. Thomas and I are feeling a bit guilty that we're leaving for a week's vacation, and want to make sure that there are plenty of things to keep the parrots occupied while we're gone.

I opened the package and there were large sheets of tissue paper in there to help keep the contents from moving around. I placed a sheet or two on top of everyone's cage, and all of the bigger birds played with it. Here is a shot of Beeps on his back, playing with the paper.

And here is a video of him, attacking it in true caique fashion:
video
At the end of the video, you can hear Rocky start to scream and then Beeps stops playing. Rocky thought it should be dinner time (I came home from work a couple of hours earlier than normal, so he wanted to eat dinner at 3:30 instead of 5:30). Here is a picture of him in mid-scream. It's a bit blurry because I had to zoom to get the shot -- had I moved closer, he would have stopped screaming.
Here's Max, playing with the paper:
I took this video over the weekend. I love it because Thomas and Rocky are sharing their breakfast, in such a natural way. Thomas doesn't even have to look up when he makes the subtle move to offer some to Rocky. If you listen carefully, you can hear Rocky make one of his fake eating sounds, which means he likes the food. They are eating Bob's Red Mill Apple Cinnamon Grains cereal, so it's healthy for parrots.

video

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A parrot treat discovery

I get so excited when I make a discovery of a new treat or toy item that the parrots love. This happened last week. I ordered food from Parrotnutz, a company that makes home-baked items. I could not believe how much they all loved the food, especially the logs, nuggets, and squares. Even Thomas, who tends to be quite blase about new food, was impressed at how much they all loved these. After the first night, as soon as Rocky saw me with the logs, nuggest, and squares, he started making fake chewing noises, which means he wants some!

Beeps, enjoying his nugget. He wouldn't even drop it to make intimidating motions towards the camera -- you know it's got to be good!
My beautiful Calypso, eating his log, but still displaying for the camera (he doesn't usually look so puffy!)
Here's Max, the pickiest of the bunch, eyes pinning as she eats her log.
We also ordered some muffins, which they like OK, but I'm going to try a different type next time, and some mash. We got Summer Breeze Fruit Mash for the caiques, and Sweet Treat Mash for Rocky and Max. The caiques loves fruit, and Rocky and Max need more fat in their diet. Of course, they love the mash, and it's so easy to make! We have an electric kettle, so I boil some water, let their food steep, and then serve. Here's Rocky, enjoying his mash:

We're working on getting the budgies to eat their mash, but at this point, they still prefer fresh vegetables.

Anyway, our order from Parrotnutz was a resounding success! We received fantastic customer service, and the owner loves to customize the items that are baked fresh so that they will appeal to your birds. We highly recommend them and will be placing another order soon!

Friday, January 25, 2008

A couple of days ago, Thomas was trying to read a magazine (fascinating profile of Steve Martin in Smithsonian). Of course, Rocky was right there, making reading difficult. This particular article had a subscription card sticking in the middle, so he played with that as Thomas tried to read. Finally, he gave up and finished the article upstairs, in bed.
This is what I came home to yesterday. All of the parrots have been in extremely destructive moods lately. Max in particular. She had this toy from Parrot Asylum in her cage for well over a week. I'd hide some pellets in there, but she did not destroy it. Then, I came home yesterday to find out that she'd destroyed everything she could in one day! What goes on in her head? Why did she practically ignore the toys for a bit, and then take it all apart? Anyway, I love it when they play with their toys (that is why we buy toys for them!) so I was very happy to see this!
And here she is, playing with another toy from TNT Bird Toys. I thought these foot toys would be too big for her, and had ordered them with the intention of giving them to Rocky. However, Max loves them and plays with them frequently. She rips all of the paper off, and then loses interest. However, Rocky likes to throw them around after the paper has been removed. That's one of the benefit of having similar-sized birds -- toy sharing!
And here is Andreas. I think I've mentioned that he has been a lot more fun recently. We had been feeding him greens only one time a day, but have noticed that he seemed a little hungry at night, so we've started to feed him twice a day, and he's happy about that! (He always had seeds and pellets available to him, so we weren't starving him!) Here he is, munching on his evening meal. He still has not completely molted; it's taking a lot longer than we thought it would.
And we cannot believe how quickly time flies by. It's Friday already, and almost the last day of the month! December and January were Thomas's two worst months of the year, work-wise, so we're happy that it's almost behind us. Rocky is looking forward to having his mate around more! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Another Rocky video

In my attempts to befriend Rocky (which I suspect are futile), I have started rubbing his feet when he is in his cage. He does seem to like this and will often start making these purring-like noises. However, during the past couple of weeks, he has added a new dimension to this game. I have attempted to capture this in a video, but it's hard to do when I'm filming. I think you can get the general idea from this video:

video
He sticks his foot out to grab my finger, then he tries to bring my finger to his beak. When my finger does not go through the cage, he instead bites his leg. In the video, he wasn't able to grab my finger (my depth perception was apparently off), but you can see him stick his lower leg through the bars, and then a few seconds later, you see him make a half-hearted attempt to bite his leg.

I got to work a bit later today than anticipated due to Andreas. He was glass-dancing and running around his enclosure. Since I understand how frustrating it can be when you have excess energy, I let him out to run around the house for about 10 minutes. He loved it! I don't do this very often, so all of the parrots were enthralled by him. They kept moving around their stands so that they could get a better view of him, and Max was gently swaying back and forth.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Daphne no longer has her own perch in the kitchen. We've tried a variety of models, but every time Max decides that she wants to wrap her own feet around the budgie perches. Fearing for Daphne's safety, we eliminated the budgie perches and instead place her somewhere close to us. Last night, I placed her on our fruit bowl. I thought she looked so pretty, framed by the apples.

Not wanting to jinx anything, I haven't written about Jeff Saturday lately. He is doing extremely well, and the two budgies have been allowed supervised visits together. We're pretty sure that he injured himself by flying into the TV (even though he is clipped) and then Daphne wouldn't let him rest on any flat surfaces to heal. (My supposition that he had a tumor was based on my experience with Lenny and, thankfully, it seems I jumped the gun there!) Jeff Saturday remains in his hospital tank until we can decide whether to put him in a separate cage or get them a much larger cage they can share.

Last night, we had popcorn for dessert. Mine was sitting on the counter, waiting for me to top it. Of course, Max had to come over and investigate. Here she is, looking at the popcorn (it's not exactly a "before" picture since you can see small popcorn pieces on the counter and around her beak):I love the way it looks like she's sizing up the food! And here she is, covered in popcorn pieces, and in the mess she made on the counter. You can also see some carrot pieces around her beak that she hadn't yet cleaned off. I have a very messy bird!

Monday, January 21, 2008

COLD!!!

It's been so cold here the past few days. I worked the finish line at a local 5K, and was wearing:
  • 2 hats
  • ski mask
  • 2 neck warmers (occasionally used as ear warmers)
  • 2 scarves
  • 7 shirts
  • winter jacket
  • 6 pair of pants
  • socks
  • fleece-lined boots
  • 6 chemical warmers

And I was still cold! 6 pair of pants! I could barely maneuver because of the bulk. We were joking about whether I had any clothes left at home.

The parrots were happy that they got to stay inside.

Nothin much new to report on the parrot front. Rocky has maintained his fascination with the office, so it's now one of the first places we look when we can't see him. It seems like he's through the worst of his hormonal issues for a bit, but there's no guarantee of that! We've recently noticed that in addition to "pretty baby!" and "babycakes!", Beeps has added "hi Beeps!" to his vocabulary. I forgot to take pictures over the weekend, but will try to have some later in the week!

Friday, January 18, 2008

A missing parrot

Our new morning routine involves me placing Daphne in Jeff's aquarium with him so the budgies can have some time together, letting Rocky out to play on top of his cage in the living room, and taking Max and the caiques with me while I shower, read the paper, and eat breakfast.

Despite the fact that he'd love to see me evicted from my house, Rocky is generally well-behaved in the mornings and spends his time on his cage, or else on Beeps's or Daphne's cage (which is OK because Beeps is in the bathroom or kitchen with me and Daphne is in Jeff's aquarium). I can tell if he's getting into trouble because our floors are all hard, so I can hear his nails clicking on the surface.

And then today happened. I left everyone in their respective places (see paragraph #1) and ran downstairs in our basement to place the clothes that had been in the washer into the dryer. This took me much less than one minute. As I came back onto our ground floor, I did my normal look-around to make sure that everyone was where they should be. 5 of the 6 were. Rocky was nowhere to be found.

My first fear was that he was hiding, waiting to ambush me. He is very good about peeking out to look at me when I call his name, and I could not find him in any of the usual spots. (Although, to paraphrase Mother Superior talking to the nuns looking for Maria in The Sound of Music, considering it's Rocky, maybe I should look in all of the unusual places?)

About 15 minutes later, I found him in our second floor office. I thought that door had been closed, but apparently it was open a crack, enough for him to open the door, enter, and then shut the door again. I have no idea how he managed to climb down from his cage, run clicking across the floor to our stairs, and then make it into the office while I was gone for such a short period of time.

I'm glad he heard me calling while I was on the second floor and poked his head out! I don't know how long it would have taken me to check in the office with the closed door. When I had him step up on his stick, he gave me a big, "hello!" as though he hadn't just scared me. I don't know how I could explain to Thomas I'd lost the being that, as I was told the other day, "loves me more than you do!"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Whistling futility

In the post just prior to this one, I mentioned that we don't work with any of our birds and their speech. It is slightly different when it comes to whistling. Of my 6 birds, only Max and Calypso whistle. Over the years, I have made intermittent attempts to teach them certain tunes. Generally, these have not been successful, but every once in a while I'll get the bug anyway and try another tune. Lately, I've been working with them and some Mozart. This usually means that I'll get their attention and then whistle it as we shower together or as they watch me prepare dinner.

Calypso doesn't really like to be videotaped, so I have to just describe his reaction. As I've mentioned before, he is very sweet, but not the brightest bulb. When I go to him and start whistling, he starts whistling back, but not in a way that's reflective of what I'm doing. He makes up his own tunes, which mostly just repeat the same tone over and over, with slight variation. He came to us knowing how to whistle "Charge" and will do that sometimes. But he is so earnest when we are facing each other and whistling back and forth. He absolutely loves doing this, so I set aside any expectations and we start whistling together. I will try to get this on video at some point.

Last night, I videotaped a little session with Max. (Note: in both videos, that is me doing the whistling. I am not a good whistler.) She is so funny! In this first video, she does whistle a tiny bit, but starts dancing also. Then, towards the end, you can hear her say, quickly, "gimme a kiss!" (I have mentioned often her obsession with kissing).

video

I included the second video because of what she does towards the end. She knows I want something from her, but she does not quite know what I want (Max: I want you to whistle the Mozart). So she goes over and does the latest trick we've been working on during her clicker training. I'm not quite sure how the final trick will end up, but right now, she goes to the cup holder on her stand and does a half-flip so she ends up hanging upside down.

I've thought about having her flip back up (this is a trick that Beeps does), but she already flips around her figure-8, so it might be something different. I keep hoping she'll make a move at the end that will decide what direction we go. Ideally, I'd be able to tie it into the routine we do where she's looking for a job and showing off the skills she has. Not sure what, though. Acrobat, perhaps?

video

In other Max news, she's at pretty close to 95% for flighted recall. We've been working with her to recall to rooms where she can't see us, and to recall from scary places and to scary places (a couple of back bedrooms that we keep closed off). We will never take her free flying outside (way too risky for us!) but we work on this so that if she does ever get outside, we'd have a better chance of getting her back. We do not expect that she will get outside as we are extremely careful and have implemented a double-door system when entering and leaving our house, but you never know.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Talking is an issue that's recently come up on a couple of parrot lists that I'm on, prompting me to think about the talking (or lack thereof) that takes place in my house. We've never placed an emphasis on talking in our house -- no lessons, CDs, etc., figuring that whatever they pick up, they pick up.

Although Max has said other words and phrases (including many that we've only heard once), the majority of her frequent talking has to do with ordering us around: come here, up, want some, gimme a kiss. That last one is her favorite. She is constantly talking about kissing, asking for kisses, making kissing sounds.

A few mornings ago, I was pouring myself a glass of orange juice. As Max says almost any time food is involved, "want some!" Then she flew to the counter, grabbed the cover to the orange juice container, and started drinking the drops that had stuck to the lid. Even though she knows she always gets a few sips from my glass, she could not wait.

Our rescue birds (everyone but Max) came to us eating only seed. We had to introduce the bigger ones to pellets and everyone to fresh food. Rocky was particularly resistant to eating fresh food. The way we converted him was by taking a wide variety of different fresh vegetables and grinding them in the food processor so they were small pieces. Then, we put a layer of minced vegetables over his evening dish of seed. In order to get to his seed, he had to forage through the vegetables. Pretty soon, after accidentally eating some vegetables, he realized that they tasted good! This is one way that they get vegetables from us. It's really easy to prepare about a month's worth at a time and freeze the containers in portions that last us about 3 days.

Here Rocky is, after dinner one night. He walked into the kitchen from his cage in the living room without cleaning off his beak. The threatening pose is because I'm taking the picture.
He really wants me out of the house so he can have Thomas to himself. Sorry, Rock, I'm staying!

Monday, January 14, 2008

I feel bad about making a comment last week about how it almost feels like I'm single at times. Thomas was having one of the worst days ever on Friday. One of his patients vomited on him. Then, another one threatened to kill him by strangling him with her phone cord, punched him in the face, and bit his arm several times (luckily she was missing teeth so the result of this was just a creepy gumming). No more complaints out of me as I know he has it much worse!

He was home quite a bit this weekend, though, and the parrots were so happy. Last week I talked about how we were so excited that Beeps's flying ability has improved. I guess this is another example of "be careful what you wish for" as he now takes every opportunity to fly to us when we're on the couch. Generally, I find this adorable, but it did get to be a little much as I was trying to knit or read and all of a sudden a caique was on my hand! He is spectacularly good at landings, though.

In this picture, Rocky was under the blanket with Thomas when Beeps decided to fly over. Rocky had to investigate what all of the fuss was about.
Unfortunately, Beeps's eye turned out goofy in the picture, but he loves hanging upside down. We'll often find him in his cage, hanging upside down, and when he's perched on our hand, he'll do a flip so he's hanging like this.
Rocky's hormones are out of control and I really wish there was some way that we could ease the pressure on him. I know that it can't be comfortable for him to feel like this! On Saturday, he jumped from his cage to the couch, landed on me, and bit me on my head. He didn't do much damage as my skin is stretched tight against my scalp so he couldn't grab on to much, but it was still uncomfortable and in the moments before Thomas could get him off of me, I was terrified that he might bite me in the face. The reason, as far as we can tell? I was sitting on the side of the couch where Thomas usually sits and he was mad about that. Needless to say, I am being very vigilant around Rocky and hoping that he returns to his normal self soon.

Thomas was showering, and when he has parrots in there with him, that means singing. You can hear Thomas's voice, but Rocky is the reason I'm putting this on the blog. He's singing and dancing a little. Max is on the far right-hand side, and you can see her dancing. Beeps was on the lower level towel rack and not in the video, but he was dancing as well.

video

Friday, January 11, 2008

I was home alone with the parrots the other day (I swear it almost seems like I'm single this month!) Daphne, Max, Beeps, and Calypso were in the kitchen with me, Jeff Saturday was in his recovery cage, and Rocky was alone in the living room. I had brought him in the kitchen with us, but he decided to wander back into the living room to be alone.

Suddenly, I realized that there were strange laughing, shrieking, and moaning sounds coming from the living room. I knew they were Rocky's happy sounds, and I wondered what he was doing that made him so happy.

He had climbed up onto our couch and was playing with the blanket that was there. He was burrowing under the blanket and doing other strange things. I played with him for about 10 minutes, covering him up to shrieks of happiness, calling him to come out, and then covering him again, etc. I finally decided to take a video, which didn't turn out as well as I would have liked, but you can still get the idea.

video

On a different topic, Max's jealousy is starting to drive us crazy! She has an extreme jealousy of Beeps, which manifests itself in her buzzing him or buzzing us when we're holding him. She's recently had to go inside her cage when I'm training Beeps (otherwise he has to be on the lookout so he can duck in time for her buzzes and doesn't concentrate on what he's doing.)

We're trying a bunch of different things to calm the jealousy down, but think that a lot of it is just her inherent nature, possibly made worse by her hormonal issues right now. What is so bizarre is that she is not at all jealous of Calypso. They are both caiques! I'm hoping her jealousy starts to go away soon as we're hoping to have another 25 years or so with Beeps and that will be a long time if the animosity continues!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Here is Daphne perching on a little toy. I've been making a point to give her more one-on-one attention lately. Max and Rocky are so demanding that they end up taking a larger-than-their-fair-share portion of our time. The caiques are less demanding than Max and Rocky, but still require a lot from us. The budgies are so easy going that sometimes their needs get overlooked. Jeff Saturday is still recuperating, which leaves Daphne. She loves the extra attention she's been receiving, so I'm going to have to keep doing this!

Here are a couple of videos of Andreas that I took this morning. I was trying to show how he glass-dances. I'm not entirely sure why they do this, but I assume it's because they want to come out. When I notice them doing this, I'll take them out for a few minutes and let them get a little exercise.

After I put him back in his tank after taking him out this morning, Andreas went into his hide for about 3 minutes, and then came out again to bask. These uromastyx are so different from anything I've experienced before; I just hope I understand their needs enough to provide them with a good home.


video

The only reason I'm also putting this second video on is because of the background noise. I just had the radio on this morning and didn't notice how appropriate the background sounds were until I watched the video again. As the song says, "fall to the ground," Andreas falls over. Then, you can hear Rocky saying "bye bye" after Andreas falls, just as I shut the camera off.

video

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The other day I was doing some cooking and had premeasured out the sour cream needed for the recipe. I wasn't keeping a close enough eye on my ingredients, as I found this:

Just look at her beak; coated in sour cream! For anyone who knows me in real life, I do keep a closer eye on my ingredients when I'm making something that will be shared outside my family!

Yesterday morning, I had cut up an apple and gave a small piece to the birds that eat apples (Rocky and the caiques). I left the caiques and Max alone in the kitchen for a few minutes. Unsupervised, with the apple. I returned to see that Beeps had flown to the table and created this destruction of one of the slices:

The most frustrating part is that I don't think he actually ATE any of the apple. He was just destroying it! I placed him back on his stand and offered him what was left of the decimated slice, but he turned his nose up at it. Calypso was more than happy to take the apple, although he barely ate much before dropping it on the ground.I know the head-on picture isn't the most attractive, but you can still see Calypso's beautiful colors. Even though I see him every single day, his beauty stuns me.

After the apple incident, Beeps came over and wanted to be picked up. How could I possibly resist this little adorable bunch of feathers?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Flying and Mr. Popular

A relatively new development that I don't think I've mentioned yet here is that Beeps has been flying with volition! For quite some time he would fly someplace when we'd launch him in the direction and tell him to "go to your cage" or "go to your stand." However, he now will often choose to fly someplace and can navigate corners and other surprises (e.g. if a door he expects to be open is closed, he doesn't run into the door, he quickly adjusts his path mid-air). He's not as proficient of a flyer as Max is, but we are so proud of him! We expect that he will continue to improve on his flying skills.

Lately, Thomas and I have been playing catch with Beeps. I'll give him a gentle toss and say "go to Thomas" and then we praise him when he does. Then Thomas will give him a gentle toss and say "go to Mary" and Beeps flies to me. When he flies, it seems to take much more effort than it does for Max. He really has to flap those wings! His flying style is very similar to Calypso's -- we're not sure if that's how caiques fly, or if it has something to do with the fact that these guys never learned to fly as babies.

Thomas was sitting at the kitchen table reading a book. Beeps was on his stand when, without warning, he decided to fly to Thomas's arm. Thomas has been working quite a bit lately, so the parrots are happy when he is home and they try to spend time with him.

Max is extremely jealous of Beeps, so when she saw that Beeps was on Thomas's arm, she had to fly to the table so she could also be near Thomas. At that moment, Rocky was climbing up Thomas's pant leg, also trying to be close to him. I snapped this picture, and was so pleased at how well it turned out. Max was threatening Rocky and trying to have Thomas all to herself.

Thomas grumbles about the fact that the parrots give him so much attention, but deep down I think he really likes it.

I didn't get any pictures of this, but last night he was playing video games, and Beeps, Max, and Rocky were all vying for his attention. Rocky and Beeps would be happy to share him, but Max wants him all to herself, so this can cause problems. She is just incredibly jealous of Beeps in particular.

This morning as I was bringing Max and Beeps into the bathroom to shower with me, Calypso flew over and landed on my back. I was so pleased because he didn't want to be left out and he was flying! Calypso knows how to fly, but prefers to fly with help. I think it's a confidence issue. I support his chest as he flies around the house. This is one of his favorite things to do. Whenever he chooses to fly unaided, I reinforce like crazy because I want him to be as proficient of a flyer as Max. Also, because of Calypso's background, when he takes proactive steps to be part of the family, it gives me hope that he'll be able to put the past completely behind him someday and be a "normal" bird.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Here's Beeps, playing on top of his cage. I love the way his colors stand out, along with those on the brightly colored toys. He was playing with the toy, which is what I was attempting to capture with my picture, but turned to look at me at the last moment, and he seems to have a shocked look on his face.

I have some sad news on our budgie front. It appears as though Jeff Saturday has a tumor. From the time we took him home, I was a bit concerned about the color of his legs, but chalked it up to nothing major. A few days ago, we noticed that he was having some trouble with his right side, and made movements similar to those that Lenny did as he started his downward health spiral. He sometimes has a bit of trouble perching, unless it's on flat surfaces, and Daphne had been knocking him off of flat surfaces. We think it's just instinct on her part to drive out weaker members of her flock. In any event, we've placed Jeff Saturday into his own cage, with plenty of flat surfaces and some heat to help him feel more comfortable.

Budgies are very prone to tumors because of inbreeding, among other factors. We had hoped to not run into that problem with Jeff Saturday since he's the color of wild budgies, and therefore we assumed there was less inbreeding in his past. We don't know how long he'll be with us, but we're hoping that we'll still have him for a long time. It's amazing how these guys can touch your life in a pretty short amount of time -- he's been in our house just over one month.

Onto more pleasant thoughts...

This morning I realized that I only had about 70 more pages left in The Agony and the Ecstasy. I was going to read for 10 minutes, which then turned into one more chapter, and finally the end of the book. I did get up early to read, and also stayed in bed about 30 minutes longer than normal so I could finish. This is the best book I've read in a long time. I could not put it down and have been persuaded that we must visit Florence, Italy in the next year or two.

The birds like routine and were puzzled as to why they were still in their cages. The aquarium and lizards' tanks are on an automatic timer, so the parrots feel that they should be up as soon as they see the lights. Normally if I'm not down when the lights go on, I hear Max saying "Hello! Come here!", Calypso whistling, Beeps beeping, the budgies chattering and Rocky ringing the bell at the bottom of his boing. This morning, Beeps, the budgies, and Rocky were performing their usual calls, but Max and Calypso pleasantly surprised me.

I heard Max saying, "Gimme a kiss!" and then Calypso would make a kiss sound. Then Max made the kiss sound. Back and forth this continued, with Max occasionally asking for a kiss, for probably around 5 minutes.

They were happy to come out of their cages for breakfast, and we continued the rest of our morning routine.

I can't believe it's Friday already. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

In the continuing saga of wildlife goings-on at my work, here are a flock of wild turkeys that were wandering around as I left yesterday. Because it was a holiday, I was the only car around. I just loved seeing their footprints in the snow!
As I went to do a load of laundry yesterday, I pulled out what was in the dryer and then placed it at the bottom of the stairs to take with me on my next trip up to the bedroom. You may have noticed the strange assortment of clothes contained within -- darks, whites, towels. I don't know what Thomas was doing when he put that load together! But, Rocky loves laundry and made his way over, throwing out the clean clothes on the floor. Shortly after taking this picture, which I've nicknamed, "King of the Laundry," I brought the basket upstairs and placed Rocky back on his cage.
Here's Max, playing with a new toy from TNT Bird Toys. It is called the Wheel Tweet Large. Every single bird in my house loves this toy. I was saving it for a special occasion, but Max was driving me nuts yesterday. She kept flying over to me, begging for attention. I tried to read while petting her, but she wanted my undivided attention, so she started doing naughty things: perching on the aquarium, buzzing Beeps, chewing on the wall. I knew that a new toy would capture her attention and let me read another chapter in "The Agony and the Ecstasy" (This book is so good! I can barely put it down!)

Below her new toy, you can see a dog toy that we strung up on chain and filled with coconut fiber that we bought from The Parrot Asylum. There are a couple of wrapped pellets for her to find. Max loves foraging!

I haven't been writing too much about the lizards lately. They had been brumating for a while, which is kind of like hibernation. There isn't a lot of good information about uromastyx that we've been able to find. I was starting to get worried about them as Andreas had gone about 2 months without eliminating anything from his body. Weeks went by where neither emerged from their cave.

Then, about a month ago, we purchased new lights for them. These had been recommended by an Internet friend, Donna, who uses them for her bearded dragons. What a difference these lights made and I highly recommend them for anyone with lizards.

In the past month, Andreas is a changed uro, and his personality has been coming through in spades. He follows us around, and tries to be as close to us as possible. When I put my hands in his tank to change his food, he comes over and moves his head so that I pet him. He is a very personable and friendly lizard.

Here he was getting sick of me taking his picture, so he went back in his cave. However, as soon as he saw that I'd put the camera away, he came back out and was begging for attention!

Elsa, our female, is not as friendly as Andreas. She isn't mean at all, but prefers to not be handled. It will be interesting to see if she warms up to us as the years pass on; perhaps she just has a more aloof personality!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

On one of our last nights in Prague, we ate at a pizzeria that served our pizza with freshly shredded parmesean cheese on top. It was less finely shaved than what you find at a typical restaurant in America. We loved it! And decided to try it. Here is the cheese, waiting to go on the pizza. Of course Max, the cheese-monster had to come over, investigate, and steal a few pieces. I only took one picture before shooing her away and didn't realize that her eyes turned out wonky until I looked at the picture today on the computer.

Here is Rocky. Thomas was doing the crossword puzzle, and Rocky wanted to join in. I wanted to include this picture because Thomas was wearing the latest scarf I'd finished. I just love the colors, and I think they set off nicely against Rocky's brilliant green.

I've mentioned before on the blog Max's love of ice. I had left a glass of ice water, unattended, on the counter. She had to fly over and help herself. It appears as though she's learned that she is too heavy to safely perch on these orange glasses -- she's stretching herself out as tall as she can go. The last time she tried to perch on the cup, it tipped over and we had a cold mess everywhere! In this picture, her eyes are partially pinned, showing how happy she is.
And here I've captured one of Max's less dignified moments. From the looks of her feet, she had been parading through large globs of poop. I searched all over, but couldn't find any piles with parrot footprints in them. In any event, we had to get the caked-on poop off of her feet, so she went into the bathroom for a little foot bath. She also got a little lecture about being more careful where she walks, but we doubt that made much of an impression on her.
And yes, we do still have caiques, budgies, lizards, and fish. I will try to get some new pictures in the next week or so.