Tuesday, June 30, 2009

No pictures today

My car wouldn't start this morning! So frustrating! In any case, I had to walk to work and didn't feel like carrying my camera with me, so the entries I had planned for today will have to take place tomorrow instead.

A story from yesterday:

Beeps and the greys were hanging out on a stand in the kitchen. Somehow, Beeps managed to get pooped on! I didn't want to send him to bed with a wet head, so I had to get him cleaned up this morning instead.

I brought him into the shower with me, but the water itself wasn't doing the job -- his head needed to be rubbed a bit. He wasn't pleased about my attempts at this, but we found a solution. I'd put my hand very close to his head, and then he'd shake his head, rubbing it against my hand.

He's poop-free once again.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pet ban? What pet ban?

Yes, I've talked about our pet ban before. Who really thought I was serious? (Though we did go over a year without adding anyone!) I admit, I did, but maybe I'm just gullible. I also thought we'd "just foster" Rocky and Stella and find them new homes.

Although it's not definite yet, meet the (probable) newest member of our family:He's a male red-footed tortoise; probably around 3 or 4. He's been living in rescue with a bonded pair of red-footed tortoises. However, once they become sexually mature, there's a good chance that he would fight with the male, so they're looking for a home for him.

I love tortoises, and this guy is pretty friendly. He's waiting to get a clean bill of health from the vet, and then he'll probably come to live with us. We're in the process of assembling a habitat for him, and I've been doing mad research to make sure we provide him with the best care we can.

Stay tuned!

Applied foraging

I had found some tiny stainless steel buckets to use as foraging toys. I hadn't gotten around to putting them in the parrots' cages yet, so I decided to throw some safflower seeds in one and put it on the stand instead.

Although Max tried, she could not figure out how to get the seeds.

Not quite tall enough:
Just a little further:
Hopefully she'll have more success in her cage, where she can approach the problem from different angles.

Max really has more success with what I call "applied foraging." That is, foraging that doesn't involve any special parrot-specific foraging toys, but rather requires a keen sense of observation and timing of the parrot to discern when human food is available and least likely to be guarded by the humans.

For instance, eating some strawberry cobbler when Thomas is busy reading the paper:
Or perhaps eating jelly when Thomas left the scene to put the peanut butter back in the fridge:Max is definitely the best parrot in our house at taking advantage of these opportunities!

Vice Versa

Over the weekend, it appeared as though Beeps and Rocky had switched bodies.

Rocky occasionally likes to hang out on Beeps's cage: eating his food, playing with his toys, etc. Beeps's cage is the cage that Rocky lived in for several months at the bird rescue. It's a little small for a severe macaw, so when we brought Rocky home, we also got him a macaw-sized cage and used his cage for Beeps.

We're not sure if Rocky likes to go on Beeps's cage because it's familiar to him (though he's been in his large macaw cage for almost three years, much longer than he was in the smaller cage), or perhaps because it's located closer to the kitchen?

Beeps doesn't really like Rocky to be on his cage, but Beeps is quite agreeable and nonconfrontational, so he'll usually fly off to the kitchen and play on a stand instead, ceding his cage to Rocky.

This weekend, I was in the kitchen with the greys and Thomas was in the living room with everyone else. Rocky was eating Beeps's food, and Beeps had been playing on the couch with Thomas.

I heard Beeps fly somewhere and, a few seconds later, heard Thomas say, "I guess turnabout is fair play, huh Rock?" Of course, I had to come in to see what was going on:
Beeps was eating Rocky's food! (They get the same food).

Later, they were both hanging out on Rocky's cage. Of course Rocky had to threaten me. Shortly after I took this picture, Rocky headed up to eat his food, and Beeps flew back to his own cage.
All was right with the world again.

Friday, June 26, 2009

More backyard wildlife

I was spying on the wildlife in my backyard again. These guys are so entertaining! This squirrel was all over the backyard, foraging and eating.
He went around a big tree we have and came upon this bird; neither one seemed to mind too much!
There was some kind of grackle conference taking place, but my pictures didn't turn out.

I heard on the radio that it's National Pollinator Week. I was going to commemorate it by putting up pictures of pollinators that Thomas had taken over the years, but I got a little too busy. Maybe next week, though it will be late!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Here are a couple of shower scenes from the past few days. I've been trying to avoid using shampoo bottles to separate the parrots, since Stella, Rocky, and Calypso immediately go to the bottles and push them off the ledge. Rocky actually aims the bottle at Thomas, who has received bruises, while Rocky laughs.

For the most part, the parrots have been pretty good about respecting the other parrots' space.
Today, I realized it had been a few weeks since I'd just had the caiques in with me, since I usually bring at least one grey. I would love for Beeps and Calypso to get along. Yet, after almost three years of living together, you wouldn't know they were the same species based on their almost non-existent interactions. They both will stand closer to the greys than they will each other.Sometimes I'll have one on each knee and I'll talk to them about how they should be friends. Imagine how good it would feel to have another caique do your pins! Wouldn't you like to have a same-species buddy? Apparently I am not very persuasive!


During the summer, I purchase my honey at the farmers' market. It comes in glass mason jars, which means I have to use a spoon to get it on my yogurt, which inevitable leaves little trails of honey on the counter. I found a squeezable container and had purchased it to solve my honey issues.

This container was sitting on the island, drying, awaiting the honey. I'm not sure what possessed Thomas, but he grabbed it and started puffing air on the greys, who happened to be on their usual kitchen perches.

They were very intrigued and interested! As usual, I feel compelled to write some kind of disclaimer as most parrots would probably not be happy with this; ours are just used to Thomas's weirdness and get into it. If they were unhappy, they would have flown away. This was not used in any attempt to punish or tease; it was just a fun game.

The reason I wanted to post this was because of Max's reaction when she starts bobbing her head up and down quickly. She only does that when she's really happy about something. This usually happens with food. For example, if she hasn't had cheese for a few weeks, when I offer her a piece of cheese, she will celebrate by bobbing her head up and down like this before finally eating the cheese.

Unfortunately for the greys, this activity has come to an end, as the container is now filled with honey!


Late June means strawberries at our house. I am so happy right now; is there anything more delicious that a perfectly ripe strawberry?

Thomas had off of work yesterday, so he went picking (in 90 degree weather) and came home with this:Reactions to strawberries in our house are mixed. Max, Daphne, and Beeps want nothing to do with them. However, the other three love them! Calypso didn't want his picture taken, but he ate an entire strawberry.

Rocky and Stella are apparently so dainty that they need their berry to be held for them as they eat:
It's a good thing Thomas is so accommodating to them!

Speaking of 90 degree weather, we ran a 5K yesterday in ridiculous heat. The bank said 96 when we passed it at 6 pm driving to the race and 93 when we passed it at 8 pm driving back home. I was sitting on a picnic table, waiting for the race to start, sweat dripping down my back.

At least the predicted thunderstorms didn't materialize, although I doubt the pounding rain could have made me any wetter than my own sweat.

Despite the punishing heat and a long, steep, hill, I was able to finish in my goal time, which was a pleasant surprise. And I beat Thomas, which also made me happy :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The continuing grey saga

As I've mentioned before, over the past year, the greys have been working on their relationship. They appear to enjoy being near each other, calling back and forth, etc., without yet wanting any physical interaction. It's been fascinating watching this evolve and I imagine it will continue to evolve over the next few decades.

They keep a close eye on the other, get jealous from perceived injustices, and generally have a healthy mini-rivalry brewing.

Usually, they are content to sit on their stand (Max on the top level, Stella on the middle level) without problems. However, several times a day, they decide to irritate each other.

When Max instigates, she goes to the cup holder and lunges towards Stella. I couldn't get a picture of that as Max decided to pose for the camera instead! Mild beak-wrestling results and either one (or both) will fly off and land on different perches, or I separate them. I try not to get involved whenever possible as I'd like them to solve their own issues. If they were different sizes, couldn't fly away, or I thought someone could get hurt, then I would make sure they were kept separate -- solving their own problems is not worth risking an injury!
When Stella decides to irritate Max, she climbs up and makes noise while clicking the cup holder. As shown here, Max is usually oblivious. She rarely will go down to Stella, and Stella will not go any higher on the stand than she is here.
I usually see these kinds of confrontational behaviors from them, as you might expect, surrounding resources. If I'm giving Max head pets, Stella walks over to the cup holder and tries to get my attention focused on her. If Max finished whatever food I'd handed out and Stella still has hers, Max will go down to the cup holder. Occasionally, they appear to be unprovoked, but there certainly could be grey parrot messages being passed that I don't notice that compels these types of displays.

Grooming help needed

Max, who is normally a meticulous groomer, let herself go a bit earlier this week.

In this first picture, you can see one of her wing feathers is upside down. It fell out shortly after I snapped this (she's going through a mini molt right now).
This picture is a little blurry, but she had fixed the problem before I could get a better shot. She must have been preening her rope perch/toy in the morning after she awoke but before I got her out of her cage, as I found her with a piece of string stuck in her beak:

Monday, June 22, 2009


Beeps has recently begun flying to Calypso's and Max's cages to play with their toys and eat their food. He's smart enough to only go to Max's cage when she's in the kitchen as she would not like him to be on her property!

I was in the kitchen when I heard Beeps take flight. I had to investigate to make sure he wasn't getting into trouble anywhere (like chewing the lizards' electrical cords).

Both caiques were on Calypso's cage -- that's Calypso up top and Beeps on the door. Despite living together for almost three years, the caiques still pretty much ignore each other, so this was rather interesting. Calypso was fine with Beeps being on his cage as long as he didn't get too close!

Eating dinner

Saturday, Thomas was working, so I had dinner alone. The greys were in the kitchen with me, and everyone else was in the living room. When I had finished, Max flew over to help herself to some sauce:Shortly thereafter, Stella came over, and the two were peacefully eating from the same dish:
But not for long! Stella made some sort of move towards Max, who immediately took flight:

Baby rabbits

I was finally able to get a picture of my two baby outdoor rabbits:
They didn't seem to be interacting with each other, but they were hopping around in the same area for a few minutes until one of them went off on her own.

Then, the other one went into our garden and started eating our weeds:This morning, as I was out early for my run, I saw a raccoon cross the road, followed by three babies. I don't think I'd ever seen that before! I watched them for a few seconds, but I could see she was upset with my presence, so then I continued on my route.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cracker victory

Yesterday, as an after-work/pre-workout snack, Thomas and I were having some cheese and crackers. As usual, Max flew over to the food. I didn't think she'd get any since they were rather far down in the bag and she wasn't pleased about encasing her head in the bag.
Just as I was about to take pity on her and give her a cracker (in exchange for a trick, of course,) she emerged victorious!Never underestimate the craftiness of an intelligent, apparently starving, parrot!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Raspberry-Walnut bread

Earlier in the week, I had made a raspberry-walnut quick bread that proved to be a hit with the humans and parrots in our house.

Last night, Thomas and I were each having a piece for dessert. The caiques were satisfied with the piece we gave them; Rocky and the greys decided they needed a bit more.

Max, perhaps not surprisingly, was the first to notice the bread and to try to help herself. Once she started nibbling, Rocky decided to try to scare her off so he could eat:Thomas intervened, to provide safety to everyone:
Then, it was Rocky's turn:After we had eaten the bread and only crumbs remained, Max flew back over to clean the plate. This time, it was Stella who noticed this and menaced Max, who flew away and left the plate to Stella:Luckily, Thomas had also finished his dessert, so we found an acceptable solution:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nap, interrupted

I do not understand why Thomas even tries to nap in the living room when the parrots are out! Everyone had been playing nicely on their cages or had been in the kitchen with me (the greys).

Suddenly, Beeps decided to fly over by Thomas and hang out on his arm. Since Beeps is so light, this didn't bother Thomas at all. However, as soon as Rocky realized what was going on, the green-eyed monster came out. Even though he had been perfectly content playing in his cage, he ran over, climbed up the couch, and started threatening Beeps.
Beeps was pretty much oblivious to Rocky's threats and kept on playing with Thomas's sleeve. But he could no longer sleep since he had to supervise the parrots since they were so close to each other.


When I brought these apricots out of the bag, they must have been calling Max's name! I think she was mostly just licking the water off of them, though:
They must have given her a lot of energy because she proceeded to fly over to the stand the caiques usually use to destroy a toy:
If I'd taken this picture one second earlier, there would have been two baby bunnies in it. I guess I shouldn't spend so much time watching them before I get my camera out! These little guys are just so adorable! So tiny!

(I edited this post because I originally called these nectarines. If that were the case, given the size comparison between Max and the fruit, she'd have to be a giant!)

Friday, June 12, 2009


Thomas had to work late last night, which meant I was alone with the parrots for a few hours after work. As usual, everyone was let out of their cages. One by one, everyone got locked away, with the exception of the caiques. Here's why...

Daphne kept flying from the kitchen (where we were) into the living room to her cage. I can't leave her unsupervised since she's so much smaller than the other parrots and they could hurt her. She really likes her cage and will often spend time inside her cage even when her door is open.

Rocky constantly screamed until his cage door was shut. I do not understand this! He could have just gone in his cage -- why did the door need to be closed for him to stop screaming? When will his hormones calm down? He's driving me nuts!

Max flew three times in a row right into my head. She knows how to fly, so this is obviously intentional. Plus it's rather hard. I can hear the air getting knocked out of her. I can figure out no pattern to these kinds of "attacks." I put attacks in quotes because she doesn't try to bite, she just flies into my head and then returns to her stand. Often to say "good girl!" as she lands and then launch again at me. From experience, I know the only way to stop this is to distract her. As I was cooking and unavailable to distract her in other ways, she went into her cage.

Stella's reason for going to her cage was the most bizarre and I really wish I would have been able to videotape this. First, she flew over to the closed spice cabinet, hovered in front for a second, and then flew straight up, hitting her head on the ceiling. She bounced off of the counter and landed on the table. I asked her what was going on, and she returned to her stand. Then, she launched herself at the spice cabinet and hit it pretty hard. Finally, she did that again. I was getting concerned that she might hurt herself, so she also went into her cage.

The caiques and I had a grand time -- they watched as I prepared dinner. Is it possible to be in a bad mood when there is a joyful caique around? Dinner took longer to prepare than usual because they were being so adorable I was constantly stopping to play with them.

When Thomas came home, he immediately went into the living room to let Rocky out. He greeted Max, but wasn't planning on letting her out. However, she made this adorable (and seldom-heard) sound so he let her out to reward this. Then, Stella made the exact same sound -- we had never heard her make that noise before. So she got out as well. There were no repeats of the strange flying behavior by the greys and I fear Thomas may think I made it up!

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Funny training moment

Max and I are still working on variations of the retrieve, mostly involving her flying.

I have also mentioned before that with her I employ a strategy of "Nothing in life is free." I first heard about it in regards to dog training, and I don't know much about it other than the name. But I like the concept implied by the name so much that's what I consider my approach to Max even though that probably isn't strictly the case (I can't say definitively since I don't know the specifics of the program).

Last night she was begging for a piece of cheese off of our salads. She had already been quite crafty in finding ways to sneak a few toppings off when we were otherwise occupied! Therefore, when she said "want some!" (cheese), I placed her on a chair and gave her the bead. Then I grabbed the container where she had to put it and went over by her stand.

She had to know what I wanted (fly to the stand to deposit the bead in the container), but instead she flew over to the salad bowl, deposited the bead in my dinner, and then grabbed a piece of cheese.Of course I couldn't help but laugh, which only reinforced her. However, it's reinforcing her thinking outside of the box, so I'm OK with that. Of course, I did make her perform the trick correctly in exchange for another piece of cheese. Silly parrot!

Grey vignettes

I was thinking last night that I should have called the blog "Grey Musings" instead of "Parrot Musings" since they seem to dominate things lately. I will try to remedy that this weekend and try to take pictures of everyone else!

I put on a new CD yesterday and Max started dancing in the craziest way I had ever seen. She only does it half-heartedly for the camera, but you can still get the idea:

Stella is still obsessed with digging in the carpet near our back door. We were both in the middle of chopping things for salad dinner last night, so she got to spend a little more time there than normal (just a few seconds). I am so happy that she just pulls up the carpet and doesn't damage the shoes. But we often find little pieces of carpet in our shoes, and in this picture she has a piece on her back.As always, I feel compelled to say that nesting behavior should not be encouraged, especially in females, who can become egg-bound. We are very lucky in that Stella willingly steps up from this position. Unfortunately, she uses her grey determination and stubbornness to continually return to try to dig.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Costa Rica and my dog envy

When we were in Costa Rica, Thomas and I took a walk down by the beach. We were on a rocky part, wandering around. Suddenly, an adorable dog started following Thomas around. Isn't she just the cutest?She didn't appear to belong to the other people on the beach and started following both of us around. It was quite a bit of fun and only helped to stoke my dog envy. She'd run back and forth between Thomas and me, playing with sticks and splashing in the water. We tried not to be too friendly since we didn't want her following us to our cabin (wanting to protect the wildlife). She followed us anyway.
We found out later that she had a home and has the run of the beach. Apparently this is not uncommon where we were, as another dog followed us the next day. He was just as sweet. Unfortunately, we didn't have our camera with us.

We did see this sign the next day:I had never seen anyone renting dogs before. Why would someone rent a dog? If you want to play with one, just go down to the beach and one will find you!

I've added Dog Kennels Center as a link on my sidebar. Although I do not have a dog (yet!), I like to help support small businesses, and this one donates a portion of their proceeds to animal rescues. I'm thinking about buying one of their dog backpacks for use with the birds. I really think Rocky would like to go hiking with us.

Anyway, they have some really cool products and I thank them for helping to support animal rescue!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spice girl, cont

Last week, I mentioned how Stella had flown over to the spice cabinet. Since then, it's become quite an obsession with her. It's interesting as she ignored the cabinet for the first year she lived with us, but suddenly she can't get enough.

Because I don't want her hanging out here, where the temptation to chew the cabinets might be too great, I've been trying to make sure the cabinet is completely closed unless it's in active use.

Last night, I wasn't careful enough. I was eating dinner in the living room (Thomas was working so I was alone with the parrots). As they often do, the greys decided to be anti-social and flew into the kitchen.

They were spending time on their stand, ordering me to come and get them. However, when I did get them and bring them back in the living room, they flew right back in the kitchen, so I decided to let them be as long as they were just hanging out on the stand.

I heard wings flapping and a small "thud," so I went in to investigate and found this:
Which quickly turned into total head immersion in the cabinet:
I had left the cabinet slightly open, and she took advantage of the situation. Having learned my lesson, I carefully close the door and brought the greys into the living room with me. They immediately returned to the kitchen.

After a few minutes, I heard wings flapping and a slightly louder "thud." This time, I found this:
She was hanging on to the cabinet; just barely. When she realized I was there, she started putting her foot out for me to grab. She had to wait to be rescued until I took a few pictures, though!
Why is so she obsessed with this cabinet? It contains human vitamins, spices, olive oil, and vinegar. There are no parrot treats inside! She has not tried to enter any other cabinet. I'm hoping this is just a fleeting interest and she gives it up as quickly as she noticed it.

Boundaries, cont.

I reported earlier about Stella creeping up on Max during a shower. This picture turned out rather grainy, but it gives a slightly better idea about where Stella could choose to perch and where she does choose to perch.

I think they were both resting on one foot, indicating that they were both comfortable with this arrangement.

Hanging around

Scenes from our kitchen over the weekend:You may notice that he has a couple of flight feathers on each wing. I hope I'm not jinxing anything by mentioning this on the blog, but he has not yet tried to launch a flying attack at me. Maybe this is the year he can join the rest of our parrots as fully flighted!