Thursday, April 30, 2009

No parrots -- all about fitness

Not parrot-related at all, but since I've been posting a bit about fitness and running, I thought I'd write a post including some of my favorite links.

Here is a link to a beginner's health and fitness guide. Even if you're not a beginner, I think it's worth a read.

Stumptuous has a lot of great information, especially for women getting into weightlifting. I started lifting again a little over a year ago and the transformation in my body and strength has been amazing. I'm angry with myself that it took me so long to start back up!

If you'd rather go off-line to learn about lifting, there are two books that I particularly like. The first was the textbook for the weightlifting class I took in college. You can probably find it at the library, or pretty cheaply used. It's called Getting Stronger by Bill Pearl. I regularly refer to this book and did the beginning routines when I started lifting after a hiatus of about a decade.

The second book is New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler. I haven't read the men's version, but have heard it's equally good. I haven't done these routines, but have many friends who rave about them. I plan to start in October, after the marathon when my focus switches away from running more.

If you want to work on getting stronger but don't want to join a gym or buy equipment, you can google "prison workout" or do a program like this one. Although, it's not hard to create your own home gym. Thomas and I created a fairly decent one with dumbbells, a bench, and a rack with lat pull-down machine. I think it cost us around $100 about 10 years ago, and you can often find deals for equipment on craigslist.

I have previously mentioned the 100 push up challenge, from which I am currently on hiatus but will begin again in late May/early June. Last fall, despite my running and other activities, I couldn't even do one full push up; I was able to do over 150 in a night with a few minutes' break in between sets earlier this month.

For people who want to get into running, the couch to 5K program is a good one. I haven't done it personally, but know many people who have. They have podcasts and forums to help motivate you. I've found signing up for races has been an important factor for me to maintain my fitness and endurance. In my area, there are several 5Ks taking place pretty much every weekend throughout the year.

There's been information coming out about how steady-state cardio might not be necessary for good health. I'm sticking to my distance running since I enjoy the camaraderie and mental health benefits I receive, but that's great news for people with more limited time! You can try High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or tabata (if you hit "print version" on the bottom of this screen, you get it in a readable format instead of that horrible black background!) I try to do these on occasion, although not nearly as often as I should.

I love this website about the World's Healthiest Foods. For people who are trying to eat local, the websites for Local Harvest and Slow Food might be interesting. One of my favorite things about summer is going to the farmers' market and the previous links can help you find some near you.

Of course, my favorite cookbook is How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. Tons of healthy recipes that focus on whole foods. Plus, he writes with a style that teaches you how to cook without you even realizing it! He'll list different substitutions or make suggestions about modifications you can make. Before I knew it, those things started to come more naturally! As an example, look at his Simplest Bean Burger recipe. That's how the entire book is! There are no rigid rules! Do what you want; experiment and use what you have on hand.

Also, there are tons of blogs and websites out there chronicling healthy eating, like this one. For fitness, I particularly enjoy reading MizFit and Cranky Fitness.

If anyone else has any other favorite websites, leave me a comment and I'll incorporate them into an update in this post!

Kitchen helper

A few days ago I was in the kitchen with the greys. I heard someone walk over to the almond container, crack one open, and start eating. I assumed it was Stella. I was wrong!
Max has been unable to open almonds by herself, so I'm not sure if she figured out a way or if she found one that was partially open. In any case, she was pretty happy with herself!

Earlier this week, I was making dinner -- Vegetarian Split Pea Soup. It's super easy:

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
8 c. water
vegetable soup base (you could also use bouillon cubes)
1 pkg. split peas (I think it's 16 oz)

Boil 8 c. of water along with enough vegetable soup base for 4 c. of water (if I use enough for 8 c., it's really salty!) When the water is boiling, add the split peas that you've rinsed in a colander. Partially cover and simmer for about an hour. Stir occasionally, especially towards the end. It's delicious! If you don't have soup base or bouillon cubes, you could probably just use water, but then you'd need to season it at the end. Or at least I would.

I had a bunch of carrots, so I decided to experiment and throw carrot chunks in there in the beginning. It worked very well and I'm going to try to keep carrots on hand in order to do this in the future.

I left my carrots unattended for a few seconds to stir the soup, which attracted a curious grey:
She took a few chunks, but then she started getting really excited. She loves carrots! I worried that her excitement would cause her to escalate and I'd wind up with an entire carrot flung off of the counter.

So Max was removed to her stand and placated with a carrot chunk:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Special delivery

We got a package in the mail yesterday. I did not allow Rocky to play in the peanuts as he did last time, but he managed to find a couple that escaped from the box as I was unpacking my pottery.Static electricity at work, sticking a peanut to his beak and chest. Thomas eventually got him cleaned up!

A few questions

Since I'm a bit behind on blogging lately, I thought I'd answer a couple of recent questions in a post instead of in the comments.

Mallow asked:

What is your routine for keeping motivated during the winter months when it's too cold, dark & dreary? Couch potatoes want to know! :)
First, let me confess that I am quite a lazy person. Napping is one of my hobbies! I would much rather sleep in than get up early and run before work. Especially in winter when you're getting up without even the hint of sun in the sky. But, I know how wonderful running and lifting make me feel, so I've made them a priority in my life. I've incorporated in my exercise routine a strategy I learned through parrots -- setting myself up for success.

I joined a running club several years ago and, through that club, found a group of people that get together every Sunday for a run. I've made some amazing friends this way, and know I'm getting at least one longish run in per week. I now actually have running appointments set up 5 days a week. There is no way I'd get up at 4:40 to run by myself -- the warm bed would overtake my good intentions -- but knowing that someone will be waiting for me motivates me to get up even when I don't really want to! And at the end of the run, I'm always happy that I did so! Most larger cities have running clubs, or you might be able to find a running partner on craigslist.

I also find it helpful to write on the calendar my exercise for the day. I don't like seeing too many blank spaces, so that's another way I help to set myself up for success, by adding a bit of accountability.

Another thing that helps me is setting goals. I'm a very goal-oriented person, and several of my 2009 goals were exercise-related. For example, I want to average at least 26.2 miles per week (that's the distance of a marathon), get at least one PR in a race (accomplished!), bench press half my body weight (accomplished!), and complete the 100 push up challenge (temporarily halted, will try again in late May). These kinds of things help me think of myself as an athlete rather than someone who runs just to be healthy, and that mindset means I need to keep active.

Mallow, I know you can do it :) It's become so routine now that I get crabby if I go more than a day or so without vigorous exercise. Fifteen years ago I would have laughed at you had you told me this is how I'd turn out. I wasn't an active person and was carrying around quite a few unwanted pounds.

Doodle Bird, in response to this post, asked:

Why are you more protective of Calypso?
Of my 6 parrots, 4 of them have significant neglect and minor (as far as I know) abuse in their pasts -- Calypso, Rocky, Beeps, and Stella. The latter three, in my opinion, have all overcome their pasts. They behave as healthy, well-adjusted parrots. They explore, are curious, and, for the most part, have whole-heartedly subscribed to our philosophy of parrot personal responsibility. If they're unhappy about something, they realize they're empowered to change the situation. Their behavior is very similar to Max's, who has lived a life of comparative captive parrot luxury.

This is not the case for Calypso.

He's made huge strides since he's been with us. When we first got him, he used to climb down from his cage, seek out a corner, and sway back and forth, as if in a trance, repeating, "Shut up stop it shut up stop it," over and over. He hasn't done this in years.

But, he acts afraid of Thomas. He refuses to fly unassisted, preferring to have me support him as he exercises. If he wants to go somewhere, he gets into his begging posture and makes begging sounds until I transport him. If I ignore his request, he eventually gives up and stays where he is.

As usual, I'm anthropomorphizing, but he acts like someone who's been beaten down and has low self-esteem. Because of this, I have a protective bent towards him. In training, I don't ask him to do as difficult of tasks as the others because I don't want him to fail. I go out of my way to make sure he gets the biggest cashew nuts (his favorite). Among other things.

I truly believe he's quite happy with us. He dances and whistles and loves making kiss sounds. He loves eating and playing and (when he's in the mood) training. I need to work on raising my expectations of him to match those of the other parrots because he's always surprised me with his abilities when I've given him the chance.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Beeps and some rambling

Last night, Thomas was working again, so I was alone with the parrots. They often do strange things when I'm the only one around to witness it!

Usually, Beeps flies only to the stands, to the couch, or he stays on his cage. Last night, he climbed down off of his cage and walked over to the blanket we have in front of the door, where he proceeded to play for about 15 minutes. Rocky often plays over here, and Beeps has a view of this area from his cage, so I'm assuming he decided to do this after watching Rocky.

When Beeps is awake, he is constantly making noise. Over the weekend, I tried again to time the longest amount of time that elapsed in between noise. 5 seconds. It's really unbelievable. You'd think he'd get tired of making noise all of the time! And he's silent when he sleeps, so it's not a physical issue! Beep...beep...beep...beep...pretty baby...beep...beep...beep... That's the soundtrack to my life.

On Saturday I ran a 10K, and set a personal record! I didn't stick around for the awards ceremony since a huge thunderstorm came through as I was finishing up; I'm hoping they'll mail my age division award to me. Sunday was a 20K on the trails. An hour before the race I contemplated not running since it was pouring rain, but it let up just before the race started and stayed clear (but humid) while I ran. Since it was on the trails, and it had been raining pretty much non stop for a week, there was a lot of mud; I was covered waist-down in mud from the splashing. Also, there were at least 20 times when I had to run in cold water puddles that went up to my ankles or higher. I was so happy to get home and shower!

As always, the weekend just flew by. I hardly took any pictures of the parrots! I did spend some time up at the rescue and fell in love with a few more birds. I just don't understand how some of these parrots are still up for adoption and haven't found homes yet. There are quite a few up there that I'd love to take home, but as I've said so many times, we are at our limit!

In particular, there is a grey that has the best personality! But he's plucked. That shouldn't matter, but it does. A fully feathered grey will almost always get adopted before a plucked one, even if the plucked one has a better personality. And this guy is fantastic. He dances, sings, and says funny things in appropriate situations. So intelligent; I can just imagine the tricks he'd be able to learn! I'm hoping good things are worth the wait and the perfect home will come along for him shortly.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Patio wildlife

Earlier this week, this robin was sitting on our patio table, hopping around.
Yesterday, Thomas pointed out this rabbit that was near our patio door. I happened to catch him mid-hop:
Then he climbed on the little wood step we have:
I know my patio wildlife sightings are nowhere near as interesting as Shannon's, but they're fun for me!

I think we're going to try to plant some plants that rabbits like to eat for these visitors. I just have to figure out what those are!

Wow -- yet another Friday! I hope that everyone has a fantastic weekend! Thomas is working a lot again, sadly. I have a 10K race on Saturday and a 20K race on Sunday. I would have liked to run them with him, but that will not happen due to work.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sneak attack

Although Rocky's and my relationship has improved over the 2 1/2 years we've been living together, I still need to make sure I always have a stick with me so that if he decides to attack me, I can have him step up instead. Perhaps surprisingly, he is immediately compliant with the stick. No matter what he's doing, when I present the stick and say "up!" he hops right on. Also, he doesn't try to bite me once he's on the stick.

Part of the reason our ground level does not have any carpeting is so that I can hear his nails clicking on the floor, which gives me a pretty good idea of where he is and exactly how close I need to be to the stick!

The past few weeks, I think he's been trying to sneakily attack me. He's been slowly creeping down a hallway and then stopping right before he hits the corner, so he's hidden from my view, lying in wait. On more than one occasion, I've surprised him when he's been in that position. I'll come around the corner and say "Hi Rock!" He always jumps and gives out a little scream, and then he usually starts laughing. I like to think he realizes I've gotten the best of him (I surprised him instead of him surprising me) and is being a good sport about it.
Speaking of our relationship, last night Thomas was working a bit later than usual, so I was in the kitchen with the parrots. The greys and caiques were with me, Daphne was in her cage, and Rocky was last seen nesting in the blankets on the couch.

He'd apparently tired of the couch, as I soon heard the clicking of his nails on the floor. He climbed up his chair, walked across the table, and then made his way onto the counter. He was lonely and absolutely begging me for attention. He likes it when he's on the stick and we talk to each other -- alternating between "Hi Rocky" and "Gimme a kiss!"

Finally, I put him back on the counter so I could resume getting dinner ready. He started making the posture he does to Thomas when he wants head scratches. I decided to give it a shot and managed to give him scratches several times -- just for a second or so each time before he opened his beak and flung his head back as if to bite. However, I think he was just getting comfortable with the idea of a physical relationship between the two of us -- he did not appear to be laying a trap for me. As opposed to when he's in his cage and offers his foot to me. That's a trap. He grabs my finger and then tries to pull it in his cage while simultaneously biting his leg.

This could perhaps be the beginning of a new phase in our relationship. I must admit, despite what I've written here and the long shot I know it is, I harbor hope that someday I'll be able to handle him; that he'll seek out attention from me and not even threaten to bite. If that never happens, I'll still love him, but I can dream!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Caiques and greys and more retrieve

I wish this picture wasn't so backlit, but I'm posting it anyway! We have two large stands in the kitchen; the greys have claimed one and the caiques the other. For the most part, everyone stays an acceptable distance from everyone else and I can eat breakfast in peace.

I find it interesting that Stella is very watchful over what Max is doing. Stella keeps an eye on Max pretty much constantly. As I've mentioned before, they don't physically interact, but they seem to like being relatively close to each other. Thomas calls them the rogue flock since they fly into the kitchen and hang out on the stand together while everyone else is in the living room.

As I was closing in on the time I needed to leave for work, I put the greys in their cage so I could work on retrieve with Beeps without fear of being buzzed by a jealous Max. I think he's a day or so away from really getting it. He'll lean to the right to put the bead in the cup, but when I put the cup so that he'd have to lean to the left, he still leans to the right and gently releases the bead.

As we were training, Calypso was watching us closely and started making his begging posture and noises. He seemed to want to train, so I started teaching him retrieve as well. I think he had a good idea of what I wanted from him, as he gently placed the bead in the cup 10 out of 11 times. Since it was the first day, I didn't move the cup so that he'd have to lean at all -- the cup was right under his beak.

I've mentioned before on the blog that I have lower expectations for Calypso than I do for the rest of the flock. I'm still working on this! With him, moreso than with the other birds, I have this protective urge. I need to work on making sure I don't let my emotions get in the way of his learning and his happiness. I'll probably post on this more later once I have time to think about this issue and come up with steps to remedy it.

Rocky bathroom

This spring, Rocky has become positively obsessed with our bathroom. He's only gone under his cage once or twice, focusing his nesting attention on the bathroom instead.

Last night he'd been quiet and I asked Thomas if he'd seen Rocky lately; he hadn't. The first place we looked for him was the bathroom, and we found him, perched on Thomas's towel. He'd climbed up the three feet or so, which would have been interesting to see! He's lucky the towel didn't fall down.We removed him to the living room where he happily played for the rest of the night.

Rope perches

Max loves preening toys. She had a rope perch in her cage that Thomas and I purchased before we purchased her. We knew we were going to get a parrot and bought and outfitted a cage in preparation. Not the brightest idea since we didn't know what species of parrot we were going to get so the cage size and/or bar spacing could have been inappropriate.

That rope perch lasted in her cage for six and a half years. One day, after using it exclusively as a perch for over 300 weeks, it's like a switch went off and she noticed it. In less than three weeks, she had severed the rope from the plastic holder. We replaced it, and three weeks later, she had chewed through it again!

So now we hang rope perches from the top of her cage, intending them to be used as a preening toy instead of a perch. When I was doing her cage inspection yesterday, I noticed that one single thread was keeping the rope perch attached.

Here is a before and after picture, as I replaced the worn-out toy.

She had made progress on her new one this morning, so I'll keep the blog updated to see how long this one lasts.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Visit to the marsh

Last week Friday, it was so beautiful out! Thomas had a half-day at work, so I decided to leave a bit early as well so we could hike around a local marsh. A few years ago we rented canoes and saw more herons that I could count. We're hoping to make it back on the water this summer!

A crane:Some unknown ducks with white heads:
There were so many little birds in this tree!
Some geese:
These ducks in a row made us smile:
Thomas was a bug taxi:
I love it when the birds use the houses that are provided for them:
I just couldn't get over the transition of blue in the sky; how beautiful!
If you look closely, you can see new growth popping up after this area had been burned:
The entire hike, we kept catching glimpses of muskrats and even watched for a few minutes as a couple worked on building their nest. However, by the time I snapped the camera, this is usually what I got:
With only a few hundred yards left, success!
Here is a video of a muskrat getting some materials for building her nest/den/whatever muskrats build.

Spring is definitely near! I would have said it's here, but I had to run through quite a bit of snow falling this morning (it melted upon hitting the ground, but still -- it's almost May!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Random weekly wrap-up

Instead of a coherent post, today will be another series of little stories and leftover pictures from this week.

Thomas was trying to contain the mess Rocky makes when he eats almonds. He wasn't very successful!***********************
I've threatened Max before about turning her into soup; she apparently know we're kidding or she wouldn't tempt us by running around on our plates (which of course had to be washed again before we could use them -- who knows where her feet have been?)
Beeps has been hanging out under the grates of the stands and his cage lately. He loves throwing all of the papers on the floor, which just means more mess and work for us.************************
For two days earlier this week, Max had a major obsession with Thomas's glasses. She kept trying to rip them from his face! I don't know what prompted that, but she's since gone a few days without appearing to notice them.

Thomas was returning around 8 am after work, and Max flew to him, grabbing his glasses as she landed on his hand.
Yesterday I started training Beeps for retrieve. He seems to get it quicker than Max did. We're still at the point where he drops the bead in the cup as I hold it directly under his beak. Perhaps next week we'll add some difficulty by making him stretch to place the bead in the cup.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! As always, I can't believe how quickly the week passed.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The greys were busy, too

I didn't mean to imply in my last entry that the greys were perfectly behaved while Beeps and Rocky were on the couch, but at least they weren't bothering Thomas!

Max, who at 7 1/2 is considered sexually mature, rarely shows any indication of any nesting or hormonal behaviors. The one possible exception is that she likes to hang out on the seat of a kitchen chair. It's dark in there, and she likes to try to remove pieces of our table. We don't allow her to stay here long as we don't want to encourage nesting behavior in her (trying to avoid egg laying) and we don't want her destroying the table (I doubt she should be ingesting the treated wood).

When she goes there, we just pull the chair out so that she's no longer in an enclosed, dark space with access to our table.

This happened yesterday, and she was happy to perch on the seat of the chair. And then Stella realized where she was and had to go over. When she realized that she couldn't get to Max from the table, she started eating the tablecloth.

The relationship these two have formed fascinates me. They will frequently engage in flock behaviors, such as flying into the kitchen together, yet I wouldn't say that any sort of friendship has formed. They don't preen each other at all, and when they get too close, they often start stabbing at each other with their beaks. Yet they've picked up each others' words and sounds and will sometimes call back and forth if they're in different rooms.

I can't wait to watch this relationship develop over the next decades. Will they become closer? Might mutual preening ever occur? I guess I'll have to stay tuned!

Trying to nap

Finally, Thomas is done with his stretch of working 12-14 hour nights. He's still not caught up on his sleep, and will most likely get back to normal just as another four day stretch of night float appears. But then he's done with overnights for a month.

Yesterday as I was making dinner, he tried to take a short rest. It was anything but peaceful as Rocky and Beeps had to fly over and keep him company. Apart from his constant beeping, which really does fade into the background after a while, Beeps would have been fine. It's Rocky, as usual, causing the problems.
Walking all over him, singing and dancing, trying to regurgitate in his mouth, fake biting... The list goes on and on of things that Rocky was doing that impeded Thomas's sleep. Beeps is content to just sit quietly near him. Rocky needs to take note!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Missing Stella

I've written before about how I don't keep an extremely vigilant eye on my parrots' whereabouts. With six of them, our philosophy of parrot personal responsibility, and the fact that our home is pretty well parrot-proofed, it's how we choose to live. It's not right for everyone -- I've met parrots that need to be constantly watched or they will destroy door frames or worse.

Don't misunderstand -- if they're not in eyesight, I check on them every few minutes and always rush in if I hear unusual noises or suspect something is up. I just don't watch them every single second they're out of their cages.

This morning, I was walking back and forth between the living room and kitchen, giving the parrots new food and water for the day. The greys were in the kitchen and everyone else was in the living room, either on (Calypso and Daphne) or in (Rocky and Beeps) their cages. The normal routine.

I spend about 5 minutes at the end exclusively in the living room, when I'm wrapping the greys' pellets and then hiding them in their cages. When I returned to the kitchen, having fed and watered everyone, I did a quick check to make sure the greys were perching in acceptable places.

I couldn't find Stella.
Oh, hello!She'd never perched there before, to my knowledge. I just love this innocent-looking pose she sustains here.
Were you looking for me?

Retrieve videos

Yesterday, Max and I were working on retrieve when Thomas came into the kitchen to pour himself a soda. He decided to stay a few minutes and watch Max retrieve since he hadn't seen her do this yet. She surprised us all by where she decided to put the bead. I didn't get it on video the first time, but she obliged us by doing it again:

This one makes me laugh as well because she can't decide where she wants to put it, before finally placing it where I wanted her to:

This last video has horrible lighting (it didn't look so bad when I watched it on the back of my camera) but it was so exciting when she did this!

A little play by play, since it's kind of hard to see. She's on the chair when I give her the bead, and she flies to her stand and places it in the cup. She's not yet motivated enough to perform this difficult of a task for safflower seeds only -- once again, she got a little piece of cookie for doing this.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Contagious laughter

Short post today, and no pictures. Last night, Thomas and I were watching a DVD of The Office. We were laughing so hard that we had to pause the DVD. My stomach hurt. Ricky Gervais is genius. The parrots joined in the laughter; apparently they get British humor. Their laughter fueled ours so we all sat laughing until we'd forgotten what was so funny in the first place. Then we resumed the DVD and it all started again.

Another episode tonight; the one with performance reviews. I suspect a repeat of last night's laughter will result.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Forbidden food

As I've mentioned in other posts, Thomas is going through a really stressful time at work right now due to the hours he has to work. On weekdays, it's 8 pm - 8 am and on weekends, it's 6 pm - 8 am. This is messing with his schedule and he's not happy about it.

To help cheer him up, I made double chocolate bars, which I've written about before, here. This recipe is so delicious, it's ruined me for all other brownies. I think that it's worth buying my favorite cookbook, How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, solely for this recipe.

The parrots apparently agree. First, he had to shoo Max away:
Next, Rocky came in, hoping for a treat:Since parrots can't eat chocolate, Thomas did manage to save his brownies from them. Rocky spent about 30 seconds making fake eating sounds and looking longingly at the food, but was quickly placated with an almond.

Also, he was drinking soy milk out of the beer glass; I don't think beer would taste good with these bars!

Retrieve update

I need to work with Thomas to get some videos of this, but Max is officially a retrieve master! Why did I not teach her this earlier? It was much easier than I was making it out to be with my procrastinating and whining.

Here is a breakdown of how she learned:

1. I gave her a bead and placed an empty yogurt container under her so that when she dropped the bead, it would go in the container. Still, she flung the bead quite frequently in the beginning. I decided to reward her with little bites of cookie instead of safflower seeds. It wasn't as healthy, but she loves cookies so was willing to work harder! After I knew that she knew what I wanted (place the bead in the container), we went back to safflower seeds.

2. When she nicely placed the bead in the container (as opposed to accidentally dropping it in there), I gave her a jackpot of being picked up by me, getting a kiss on the beak, and being told how she was so wonderful.

3. When she was consistently (18 out of 20) putting the bead in the container, I moved the container slightly to the right so that she'd have to move her head to drop the bead in. After she got that down, I moved the container slightly to the left so she'd have to move in the other direction.

4. I then used different objects, in increasing levels of different, to replace the bead:
5. I moved the container so that she'd have to walk a few steps to place the bead inside. Once again, she was not willing to do this for safflower seeds, so the cookies came out for a few more training sessions.

6. I placed the bead on the ground and she had to pick up the bead and walk it over to place it in the container. She will currently walk the bead over different levels of her stand if she knows the reward is a tiny piece of cheese, but not for safflower seeds :) We usually practice this on the counter so that we have a flat surface, instead of on her stand where we do the majority of our training.

That's where we are now. We need to work on #6 some more -- going from further distances, etc. Once she gets that down, I'm going to pull out the ring toss toy I'd purchased a few years ago. There are so many other tricks that are based on retrieve; I can't wait to see what else she can learn!

Sparrow update

When I got home on Friday, I inspected the upstairs office window so I could see how a sparrow had gotten stuck. I'm probably using the wrong technical window terms, but we have double hung windows, and the outside pane has slipped down 6 inches or so, leaving only one pane. Not good for energy efficiency, and an effective trap should any wildlife fall into the space.

When I was looking at the window, a sparrow actually came up to the window and was hovering there for a few minutes, chirping at me! I ran downstairs to get the camera, but he was gone by the time I got back.

Saturday, I was in the kitchen when I heard some loud sparrow chirping. She was perching on a pot my grandparents brought back from a vacation decades ago, looking in my house and chirping!
Then she moved on to a chair we have outside that had tipped over during a wind storm and I haven't yet righted.
Finally, she flew to the table:
I told Thomas I think I have a stalker!

Sunday morning, I was getting ready to go for a run when I heard some loud chirping and the sound of something banging against our window. Another sparrow had gotten caught in our window! I quickly took this picture and then released her.
I think they're trying to build a nest there. We need to fix this, but I couldn't do it alone. Thomas is working nights, and 14 hours at a time, so he hasn't had time to fix it, either. He has a few days off later this week, so we only have to be on sparrow-watch for a few more days.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Do sparrows have cell phones?

Thomas had to work last night, which is an 8 pm - 8 am shift. He arrived home this morning as I was getting ready for work.

Before I left, I asked him if he wanted me to unplug the phone. Anyone who really needs to contact us can get me at work and a ringing telephone disrupts his sleep. He declined, and I'm glad he did.

The phone rang around 1 pm, so he'd been sleeping (or attempting to) for around 4 hours. He didn't answer the phone, but it woke him up and he realized he had to use the bathroom.

As he was heading towards the bathroom, he noticed that a sparrow was stuck in our office window and was frantically trying to free herself. He managed to free her and she flew off, apparently uninjured.

He called me to let me know what had happened, starting the conversation by asking me the question in the title. Even if they did, how would they know our number?

I have no idea how a bird could get stuck in our window, and as I was asking him for clarification, he just got frustrated as he thought he was clearly explaining himself (but wasn't due to lack of sleep). He'll have to show me later and we'll make any adjustment to our window that we have to in order to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again.

What a lucky coincidence that she got stuck in one of the few windows he'd see, that it happened on a day he was home during the day, and that a telemarketer called within the time frame for her life to be saved. It would have been very sad to have discovered her body later today!

I was a bit confused by his question as I thought he was referring to this best of craigslist post about sparrows I forwarded him yesterday. Although I don't share the sentiment of the author, it still made me laugh.

An early lunch

Earlier this week, Thomas was making his lunch to bring to work. Guess who had to come and help herself?

When I make sandwiches, the peanut butter goes on one side and the jelly on the other. I think Max likes it better when Thomas makes sandwiches since she can get peanut butter and jelly in one bite.Max's retrieve training is going well. She'll now stretch to the right and left to put the bead in the container. Next step is getting her to take a step while doing so. She definitely knows what I want her to do. So many tricks are based on retrieve that this should open up many interesting possibilities!

I hope everyone has a great weekend. I have another half marathon tomorrow -- Thomas is working, so I'll be doing this one alone. I'm hoping to beat last week's time but not sure if that will happen since we ran faster than anticipated last week. UPDATE: ran the half marathon 5 minutes faster than last week for a new personal best!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dancing Beeps

Last night, Max started chasing Beeps around the kitchen again. This seems to happen on a daily basis lately. I still think it's very strange that she seems to have such a vendetta against him while maintaining a sort of friendship, or at least detente, with Calypso.

Thomas was reading a magazine and I asked him to grab Beeps off of the stand to protect him from Max. Max then flew to the table and stared at Beeps. Thomas said to Max, "The nerve of you trying to intimidate him when he's under my protection!" Of course this made me laugh.By the time I grabbed the camera, Max had stepped up on Thomas and he was giving her a lecture (no doubt ignored) about being part of a family and not attacking Beeps.

Beeps loves hearing his name, so when Thomas was telling Max not to attack him, he heard the repetition of his name and started dancing. We just love it when he dances, so Thomas started singing his name, setting him off even more. Max, who dances frequently, especially when there's music on that she likes, stubbornly refuses to dance when we sing Beeps's name.

Curious Stella

Trying to get into the onions -- does she have a death wish? Although I have never heard of a story where a parrot got sick from eating onions, they are on all of the lists of food to not feed parrots, so our guys don't get to eat them. Thomas and I aren't willing to cut them out of our diet, though, so we just have to be careful around them!After she realized she couldn't get into them, she flew down to the floor and tried to dig a nest under our cabinets. Unsuccessfully, I might add. Here she is, about to fly down for the nesting attempt:Last night as I was brushing my teeth, Thomas called me into the kitchen to see what my grey was up to:I had been to the store earlier in the day to buy lizard greens and almonds. I hadn't yet put the almonds away, so Stella decided to help herself. After walking on them for a few seconds, she got down to business:It's a bit hard to see, but there are almond crumbs between her feet and the bag left over from the first almond she extricated -- she's going back for seconds here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Foraging fun

Last weekend, while cleaning out a drawer, we came across an old film container. Sensing an opportunity to keep Max busy for a few minutes, she watched my put a walnut piece in and close it up. She immediately got to work trying to remove the cover:The container was a bit too deep for her to extract the nut:
This kept her attention for so long that she had to take a short break to preen herself, making sure to hold tight to the container:
After a few minutes of this, she accidentally dropped the nut on the ground and subsequently threw the container on the ground. I picked the nut off of the floor and gave it to her to eat.