Friday, January 29, 2010

Parrot vignettes

In order of occurrence:

Calypso, my most beautiful and neurotic parrot. He's still very hormonal and wants to be on or near me all of the time. I placed him on the counter, where he happily sat while I read the paper. Until I apparently didn't pay enough attention to him so he attacked the paper.Here's Stella playing with a toy; Calypso is in the background. I still do not understand why she often prefers to perch on the tiny cup holder rings! From this angle, you can barely see any feather damage.
For the past couple of weeks, Beeps has decided to hang out on Rocky's cage as much as possible. Rocky doesn't mind since he's usually hanging out on Beeps's cage, or Stella's cage (as is the case here). There are certain of Rocky's toys that Beeps plays with more than Rocky does. Weird.
This morning, Thomas asked me if I wanted him to pour me some juice (despite the fact that it's in a beer glass, it's homemade carrot/celery/blueberry). Then he said, "You'd better get in here soon, or it will be all gone!"
Friday again -- hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another yoga story

This morning, I once again decided to do some yoga before work. I put all of the birds in their cages and went upstairs.

I'm not sure who the comedian is, but after about 10 minutes, I hear Max laughing hysterically. Then Stella joined in. Then Rocky. They finally calmed down and everything was calm for a bit.

Until the greys started shouting "Ow!" Not in an "I'm injured" kind of way, but an "80s Michael Jackson" kind of way.

Where do they pick this stuff up?

Also, the greys have become obsessed with Thomas's and my well-being. They are constantly asking, "How are you?" I should keep a count, but I'd guess I'm asked that more than 100 times a day.

I used to take their questions seriously and respond: just fine, thanks; same as a minute ago; still doing great! But then I realized that when I asked them how they were (it only seemed polite, after all), they responded with a kiss sound.

So now, my response to a grey asking me, "How are you?" is a big *kiss*. Hopefully this doesn't become too ingrained as it might make for some uncomfortable social situations!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thomas's stalker

Last night, Thomas had a stalker. Stella would not leave him alone!

He was gathering the recycling together and briefly put Rocky on his shoulder so he'd have both hands free. Before he knew it, his head was occupied:
When he opened the freezer in order to get the ingredients to make dinner, there she was:
Cooking dinner peacefully, until he once again had a companion:
As dinner was cooking, he sat at the table to read the paper. No surprise what happened next:
She is so funny! She'll sit peacefully for a minute or so, and then she begins banging her beak into whatever part of him is closest to her (usually his head) in order to get attention. At that point, he'll usually toss her and she'll land on a perch. That is, until she makes a return appearance and starts the cycle again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Short update

I haven't taken any pictures in almost a week! The parrots have provided me with plenty of opportunities to add to the blog, but I've just been too slow.

The half marathon over the weekend went well. Thomas ran a personal best, and I was within a few minutes of mine. He has narrowed the gap between our finishing times, and I'm worried that soon he'll be beating me in races!

I told the parrots this morning they'd better be ready to put on a show for me tonight since I needed some new stuff to post. We'll see if they comply; being parrots, you never know.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Severe macaw screaming

It can be rather difficult to get a video of Rocky screaming since he usually stops once he sees the camera -- most of the screaming I've caught on video has been in the background when he's in a different room.

However, last night something was upsetting him, and he didn't care if I had the camera out.

Parrots can be loud! And Rocky, as a small macaw, is not as loud as some of the larger macaws or cockatoos. Even with all of the windows in my house shut, I have heard him from over 2 blocks away.

I'm hoping he's calmer tonight!

Caught in the middle

Calypso and Stella were having a stand-off last night:I ended up moving Stella before things could go any further. Calypso has no fear and will jump any of the other parrots -- no matter their size. I didn't want any more trips to the parrot ER, so they were separated.

But not before I took this picture (they won't fight if I'm right there watching, so it was safe to do so):Poor guy -- greys closing in on him!

Speaking of greys, Stella has appropriately-sizes perches all over the kitchen. Why does she so often choose to stay on the cup holders? That cannot be comfortable! Maybe she's working on her balance:Thomas left some popcorn unattended last night and returned to find the master forager helping herself, again:Since he knew there was a possibility this would happen, he waited to top the popcorn until he knew he'd be able to keep the parrots away!

Hope everyone has a great weekend -- Thomas and I are running a half marathon tomorrow; my first race in several months. Will report back on Monday!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stella and hormones and noise

Stella is still doing a fair amount of digging in the carpet we have in front of our door so that we don't track snow and dirt in the house. It's scrap carpet, so not doing any damage to our house; however, we don't want to trigger her to go into nesting mode, and it's probably not good for her to be spending so much time surrounded by the dirt that comes off of our shoes!This morning, she started playing with Thomas's indoor shoe. We cannot go barefoot in our house because of all of the wood chips that Rocky leaves around. Guess who's making that noise in the background?

It's Calypso, the quietest of all of our parrots! He wanted something, though I couldn't figure out what he wanted and he stopped the noise when we went to shower.

In a comment a few days ago, Beloved Parrot asked if we lived in an apartment and how our neighbors responded to the noise.

We do not live in an apartment -- we have a single family home on a decent-sized lot. Our neighbors are not all that close. However, they can occasionally hear the parrots, even in winter when everyone's windows are closed. With the windows open, I have heard Rocky from several blocks away.

Most of our neighbors do not know that we have parrots -- it's something we try to keep relatively quiet since sometimes parrots are stolen and we don't want that happening to our guys. I imagine they wonder about the beeping and other strange noises -- where is it all coming from?

In the summer, we have to keep our windows closed much more frequently than we would like due to Rocky's screaming. We don't want to risk noise complaints or face an ultimatum with him (which would force us to move since he's not going anywhere).

We'd love to move downtown and buy a condo to be closer to the art things we like to do -- symphony, theaters, museums, etc. However, that will certainly not be possible with Rocky. I think with adequate sound proofing, we could live with the rest of the parrots in a condo. Their noises are much quieter than Rocky's, and they make them much less frequently.

Creepy package

This package was at my door earlier this week. The post office had a sticker saying that it was damaged when received. Who would send out a package like this?I tend to believe the post office given my other interactions with the person selling me this item. How bizarre!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Recycling Rocky

Earlier this week, Rocky was being very demanding. Nothing was making him happy. Thomas decided he needed a change of scenery, so he wrapped him up and put him in our paper recycling box.

They do strange things like this frequently. As always, I would not recommend doing any sort of thing like this with a typical parrot -- they will just get angry and maybe fearful. But Rocky loves this kind of attention.

The main reason I'm posting this is because of the way he uses his wings to fly down from the box. A month ago he would have either tried to climb down from the box or screamed until Thomas or I rescued him. Since it's likely that he didn't have the opportunity to learn to fly until he was in his 20s, I'm not sure how skillful he'll become, but it will be interesting to watch!

A reading saga or why we are so far behind on our magazines

Thomas and I are avid magazine readers. We get quite a few, but it can be hard to keep up with all of them, so we sometimes are at least a few weeks behind. Partly this is because Beeps cannot control himself around people who read magazines or catalogs on the couch. Therefore, magazines are relegated to the kitchen or a non-parrot-inhabited place.

Last night, Thomas was trying to read, but was bothered by Rocky and Stella, demanding attention. Notice that Rocky has one of his feet on the stick. He'll often briefly step up on a stick when he comes across one, even when we're not asking him to do so.There are times when Rocky is so adorable I've almost convinced myself he's a different bird than the one I usually describe here. On the right side of the picture, Stella was ramming her head into Thomas's chest, asking for either head scratches or kisses.
Thomas chose kisses.
Which made Rocky jealous. Though he has never shown any actual aggression against the other parrots, it only takes one time for something bad to happen. He appears to be at a safe distance here:But Thomas noticed what was going on and used his hand to block any attempts by Rocky to get Stella.
Thomas's patience started to wear thin as the parrots continued to hound him; Max joining in the fun. I told him there's a price to being so popular!
He eventually tossed Stella over to her stand, but she quickly returned to him. If he's within her reach, she'll bonk him on the back with her beak until he puts her in his lap again. (That's Beeps in the upper right hand corner on the stand).
After finishing the article (and taking four times as long as he thought it would), he quieted everyone down by offering them their choice of nut:This is very hard to believe, but Beeps actually chose a Brazil nut. Amazing! No one really likes them in our house:A rare sight: the five larger parrots in the same area, doing the same thing, quietly, not bothering anyone else, human or avian.
I'm glad I got a picture of this one to remind myself that yes, it really did happen!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Max and milk caps

As has been happening more frequently lately, this video is a bit longer than I usually like to post -- around one minute.

One of Max's favorite things to play with is milk caps. We rinse them off before giving them to her, and then she licks the water off and plays with the cap. I have no idea why she finds this so interesting!

The reason I posted so much of the video was to show the interaction between Max and Stella. Even though Max is playing with the cap, you can see that she is very aware of where Stella is. Stella started to come up because she saw Max was getting attention. I love how Max makes sure to keep the cap, even when she has to move! (That's Beeps in the background, beeping and pacing around).

After taking this video, Stella and Max chased each other around the kitchen to several other perching spots; Max held on to the cap throughout the duration of the chase.

How many parrots?

Here is the latest installment of "How many parrots in this picture?"Max seemed to want to chew up paper with Rocky, but he was not interested in having a friend. She'd occasionally grab one of his pieces and go off a few feet to shred it alone.


Over the weekend, we went to a local indoor butterfly garden. Though I do wish that they could just live wild in their native habitats, hopefully some visitors will take an interest in conservation after visiting.

I particularly enjoy watching the newly-hatched butterflies in various stages of transformation:
This guy attached himself to the bottom of my jacket, and lots of people were taking pictures of my backside:
He stayed with me for about 20 minutes, as we walked all over the garden!

A side-view close-up:
He looks creepier from the front!
There were a bunch drinking from the waterfall:
Finally, with a bit of coaxing, my new found friend flew off, and we were able to exit the exhibit.

Friday, January 15, 2010

More on severe macaws

My post on severe macaws has been attracting a lot of traffic lately. I received this comment from Darlene, which I thought I would address here instead of in the comments from last year:
I am grateful for finding this website, We purchased a severe Macaw approx. 4 years ago when she was just a baby.(Just coming off of being hand fed) Being new to birds(Never having one) we were told all the wonderful things about this bird. Great talkers with a large vocabulary. Sweet and easy to take care of. Loving, smart, etc etc. This was true to some extent, she was a sweet bird who was content to both myself and my husband. She is now approaching 5 years old. A few months ago my son who lives very far from me came to visit/ she flew at his shoulder and bit him, his reaction was to get her off and he knocked her off his shoulder. she hit wall and was a little frightened. She lost all her tail feathers, (Which grew Back). Never seeing this kind of behavior from her, I defended her actions as being, (She was going to land on his shoulder and was slipping, so she bit his neck to steady herself). Now she has decided that my husband is her enemy. She always had a good relationship with him. so again I defended her actions.

1. She has flown on his shoulder and bit his neck 2 or 3 times.

2. He was going down the steps and she was on my shoulder as I was following him. She (Rickie is her Name) few on his back and bit his neck again.

3. Yesterday he was getting ready for bed. She was sitting on the bed being very calm. All of a sudden she flew on his bare back and bit his back muscle.

4. She has flown at his face twice and bit his nose, breaking the skin and causing bleeding.

This is becoming very alarming. I'm glad I read your blog. It has really helped me to understand what she is doing. I wish I had not been lied to when we were purchasing a bird. We do love her, but I am at odds on what to do. We are taking her to get her wings clipped tomorrow and hope that settles her down. Any advice??

Oh by the way, Rickie has chewed the bathroom door and ate the wallpaper. AND she was not lacking for any attention. We took her everywhere with us. She has a clear cage that we use. She goes to work with me( I own my own real estate Business) I have a cage for her there. I had to stop taking her, because she would not let me talk to anyone. HELP
It is actually quite timely for me to start writing about severe macaws again. Yesterday, I was up at the rescue where I volunteer and interacting with the severe macaw we have that's currently up for adoption. This little guy reminds me so much of Rocky -- he even has an enlarged preen gland! In the hour he was out yesterday, he bit two people and threatened a few more. He also made us all laugh several times. I worry because I know how hard it will be to find a good home for him.

In any case, Darlene, I'm glad you found my blog, though I'm sorry that you had to. Everything you describe with Rickie is very typical severe macaw behavior. Since I'm writing this on the fly, it may be a bit disjointed. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I'm unclear at all.

It seems like your biggest problem right now is the attacks on your husband. The most important thing is to try to arrange the environment so that she can't bite him. Like most things, practice makes perfect, and every time she bites him, she refines her talent and becomes a better biter.

Getting a wing trim is a great first step. In general, I'm a big proponent of allowing birds to fly in the house, as long as it can be done safely. Since she is using her flight ability to launch aerial attacks on your family members, it is no longer safe. A wing trim may calm her down a bit, but the biggest advantage is that your husband no longer has to worry as much about being attacked from all angles. Notice that I qualified my last sentence. If she is currently a strong flier, she will still be able to fly somewhat even after her wing trim. In a few weeks, after her flight muscles atrophy a bit, the distance she can fly will diminish. However, she may still jump on him, or attempt to land on him, fall short, and then run over and attack his feet.

One nice thing about severe macaws is that they are very expressive. Figure out what Rickie's triggers are. It may help to keep a journal, or bite book, to record everything you can about what was happening when she bites. Are there certain areas of the house where she is more likely to bite? Certain actions that you or your husband do? Or clothes that you wear? Look for patterns. Watch her body language closely.

For example, in my case, Rocky becomes very aggressive in the hall outside our bathroom. Even Thomas (his favorite person) does not attempt to pick him up in this area unless he has a stick. Rocky also will launch attacks and try to bite if we are carrying towels. To solve this problem, we make sure he is in his cage, or at least another room, before we touch any towels. As for clothes, Rocky does not like it when Thomas wears red shirts. As frustrating as it was for Thomas to let a macaw dictate his wardrobe (especially since his favorite shirt was red), he no longer wears red shirts.

As in the examples above, one you've figured out things that provoke Rickie to bite, you can arrange the environment so that she doesn't get so worked up.

Another thing that worked for us is that we stick trained Rocky. This gives me a way to move him around or to stop him from attacking me. Thomas will also use the stick when Rocky is particularly agitated. I use a dowel. The ones we have were perches in cages (we replaced the dowels with natural manzanita wood) but you can also buy them at stores like The Home Depot.

If you choose to do this, you may have to make adjustments depending on Rickie's reaction to the stick. In our case, Rocky already knew "step up." I simply placed the stick where my hand would be, said "step up," and then praised him when he did. Rocky loves praise, even from me, so that's a great reinforcer. If Rickie is not as hungry for praise, you may have better luck giving her a nut or special treat after she steps up on the stick. Practice daily until it becomes routine. By now, if Rocky sees me with a stick, he'll run over and put his foot up. If he sees me with a stick in my hand, he will not even attack because he knows it's futile.

I have three sticks that I keep in various rooms in the house, and strive to always have one within arm's reach so that if he does come over to attack, I just have him step up instead. One quick note about stick training -- parrots tend to like to be as high as possible. If your husband has her on a stick, but the stick is horizontal, she may just walk over and bite him. I always keep the stick at an angle so that he'd really have to climb down to get me -- and it's not worth the trouble for him. I can't find any pictures of that, though I'll try to take some over the weekend; however, this post shows arm angles when sticks aren't involved -- it's the same when they are.

I really think those were the two most important aspects of how Rocky and I live as peacefully together as we do -- figuring out what sets him off and reducing/eliminating his triggers, and stick training.

Now, on to other ideas:

1. What is her diet like? I know several birds who became increasingly aggressive when fed artificial dyes and/or too much unhealthy human food. Kind of like when kids get hyped up on sugar. You may want to switch her to a non-colored pellet, like Harrison's or Totally Organic Pellets, and limit human food to healthy vegetables.

2. How much exercise does she get? Even when a bird flies, they're not always getting a ton of exercise if they only go for short distances. In the wild, parrots can fly miles every day. We try to get all of our birds panting at least once a day. If they're having behavior issues, we try to get them panting more often. Here is a post I wrote about exercise, including a video with Rocky.

3. I am a huge fan of clicker training. Here is a link to a free yahoo group where you can get started. This is a way to channel some of her energy/intelligence into more positive endeavors. Rocky would rather bite me than take food from my hand, so when I train him, I just praise him. Progress is slow, but he has learned a few tricks this way!

4. Does she have a lot of stuff to chew? Rocky is like a little buzz saw. Every single severe macaw I've encountered is the same way. He loves 2X4 slices. I don't know how handy you or your husband are, but what we do is buy untreated pine 2X4s from our local lumberyard. Then Thomas slices them with a miter saw. When he's making wood chips, he can't attack me, or scream, or eat our furniture. We keep baskets of these slices around our house. When he feels the need to destroy, he runs over and grabs a piece of wood. In this post, you can see what I mean.

5. Thomas has made the comment about Rocky being a cowardly biter. That means that he generally won't launch at me if I'm facing him -- he waits until my back is turned. Though I sometimes joke that it's like I'm a courtier to King Louis XIV, if he's agitated I will walk backwards out of the living room.

As other thoughts come to me, I will add them. By using the techniques described above, my husband and I have worked out an arrangement that works for us with Rocky. I can't remember the last time he bit me and drew blood. Off the top of my head, I'd estimate that he bites me less than 2 times a year. But I am very vigilant. He jumped me last week, and I was able to get him off of me (basically using a stick to scrape him onto the couch) before he could inflict any damage. In many cases, it's like living with my nemesis, or my stalker.

Thank you very much for trying to find solutions to working with Rickie instead of just rehoming her. They are very challenging creatures, and she is very lucky to have landed with someone who cares enough to make things better. As before, if you have questions/comments on anything I wrote, or on anything else, please leave a comment and I will respond. Best of luck to your family and Rickie!

I got bit last night

Last night started out very pleasantly. The greys, Calypso, and Daphne were hanging out on their cages. Beeps and Rocky came over to the couch to be with us. This is normal.

Beeps was absolutely adorable. He'd be running around on the back of the couch, hop on my shoulder, give me a kiss, and then hop back up to the back of the couch. Then he'd come back and do other funny things. It was so enjoyable!

At one point, Rocky and Beeps were soliciting head pets from Thomas's right hand at the same time.
Here's a picture of Beeps on my lap:
He's a little puffy, but giving no indications that he's going to bite.

Thomas left the room, so Rocky climbed up to the couch and started attacking the blankets that separated me from him. Notice that he often looks at me while he does this. I'm sure he's thinking about getting me while he's getting the blankets!

I was hoping to get a video of Rocky climbing down from the couch, so I started taking another video:

It's a bit unclear what's happening. Beeps is on his cage, and I'm videoing Rocky with my back to Beeps. With no provocation, Beeps flies over, bites me on the tip of my thumb, and then flies back to his cage!

It's not a deep bite, but it's in an inconvenient place, so I keep knocking it and restarting the bleeding. I did get out of doing dishes last night, and Thomas changed the parrots' waters due to my open sore.

Which brings me to another story...

As we were about to leave for work, I put Max, the last bird out, in her cage. Imagine my surprise when she came flying into the kitchen 2 minutes later! Thomas had placed her water dish in Calypso's cage, leaving her water dish open. She saw it and escaped through the open door. After putting her in her cage again, I inspected to make sure everyone had the right water and was locked in. I don't even want to think about what the house would have looked like if Max had had free reign today!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Toweling himself

Since I've been talking about toweling a fair amount lately, I had to take a picture of what happened last night.

Calypso is still in the hot box (he's almost all healed up but still quite hormonal and I don't want to take any chances). The hot box is on our kitchen table, and we cover the right 1/3 with towels so he has a place to hide if he likes.

Rocky, who is obsessed with towels, climbs onto the table and knocks the towels to the ground pretty much every day. Yesterday, for the first time, he then climbed down to the floor to play with the towels. He managed to get all the way under the towel; in effect, toweling himself!Thomas grabbed him up before I could take a picture of that, but here he is, somewhat still toweled.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Parrot interactions

Over the weekend, Thomas was taking a shower with Rocky and Beeps. Then Max flew in to join the fun. Things were relatively peaceful, though Thomas did have to intervene a few times to keep the peace. In this picture, Rocky is threatening Max, who is leaning away from him.
On a different day, Calypso was in the hot box, when Max came over for a visit. I doubt this was a social call; she was probably trying to get at his food.
Max had been over there for several minutes when I decided to take a picture. As soon as I gave her this attention, Stella flew over to remove Max. Mission accomplished, she didn't get any closer to Calypso. She didn't want to visit him -- she just didn't want Max getting any attention for doing so.The greys typically chase each other around the stand. There are two other stands in our kitchen, including one that looks exactly like this one; however, they usually squabble over the same one.

This time, I think Stella was perched on the cup holders first when Max came up to join her. But then she lifted a foot as a warning to tell Stella to stay away. What audacity since she was the one invading Stella's space! (That's Calypso in the background, right behind Max on the other stand.)Max loves to eat with a spoon. It allows her to angle the food how she likes it and to get maximum scooping angles. Stella could not let her eat in peace:


Thomas had a bowl of cherries thawing on the counter. He was brewing a kriek, my favorite beer, and needed to add blended cherries to the mixture. This will be ready to drink in about 8 months.
I thought this pose was just adorable -- I love it when she puts her foot up like this:I think she was mostly eating the ice crystals off of the cherries as she showed no interest in eating one on a stand (Stella, on the other hand, devoured a cherry).


Saturday morning, Thomas had a banana. Of course, he had to share this with the avian members of our house. That's Calypso in the top left of this picture; Beeps is towards the bottom. The greys kind of look like a two-headed monster. Rocky got his on a different perch and Daphne does not like banana.
After she finished the piece Thomas gave her, Max decided to help herself to some more. Notice how he's also holding the banana for Stella, who typically does not like to let her feet get dirty:
I think it's been years since we've had an entire piece of fruit to ourselves!


Calypso is doing a lot better, though he's still in the hot box instead of his cage. When we're home, he is out. He's on top in this picture; Beeps is below.
If you look closely, in this picture from Friday evening, Calypso's back foot is slightly red from his mutilation. He has not mutilated at all since Thursday (I would have found blood in the hot box) and his toe has almost healed. He's still hormonal, though, and I worry about having him go to his cage too soon which might trigger more mutilation.

On Friday evening, he started being extremely clingy. He wants to be on me all of the time. Since he's not allowed on my shoulder, he likes to sit in the crook of my arm, near my elbow, and snuggle against my upper arm. I don't let him do this as often as he'd like -- I'm walking a fine line between comforting him and making him more hormonal.

Here's a picture of Beeps, just because:Beeps is hormonal as well; this weekend he started digging and trying to nest in his food dish. He also bit Thomas, though not severely. And Thomas knows better -- he was trying to sneak a quick nap on the couch. That risks a Beeps bite even when hormones are not rampant!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Parrots and yoga

Doing yoga in a home with parrots is not as peaceful as it would be in a home without them!

I was doing a 40 minute session yesterday, and for at least half of that time, the greys were whistling, singing, talking... Good thing I'm doing this mostly for the physical and not mental benefits!

However, it was still better than the time when I was doing yoga upstairs and Rocky walked in the door! Thomas had let him out and then didn't supervise very well -- Rocky made it up the stairs unnoticed. Luckily he started laughing when he got close to me so I was able to extricate myself from a potentially sticky situation in a safe manner.

In a similar vein, after I got home from work yesterday I had to go outside to shovel. It was strangely peaceful. No snowblowers, nobody else outside; only the distant hum of traffic on the highway...and near-constant beeping from Beeps that I could clearly hear outside, through our closed house. Luckily that lasted for only 5 minutes until peace returned. Does he always beep for 5 minutes after we leave the house? Or did he know that I was still within hearing distance?

More hormones

Hormones are raging at our house! Obviously, there was the caique attack of last Monday. Both caiques have been slightly picking their leg feathers (almost unnoticeable), Beeps has a shorter trigger, Max has been regurgitating for me, Stella keeps flying to Thomas and pecking him, and Rocky is seeking out dark spaces in which to shred newspaper.Perhaps worst of all, Calypso has decided that he needs to mutilate his foot. We've been through this with him before -- mutilation due to hormones -- though not for several years. We'd been hoping this was in the past, and we're not sure why it's resurfaced this year.

In any case, this is what he's done to his foot:
It's very hard to see, but he's slightly mutilating one of his back toes on his left foot, close to the nail. Incidentally, it was his right foot that was injured in the caique fight, so he's not just picking at and irritating a wound -- he inflicted new damage (and his right foot has completely healed from the attack).

Wednesday night/Thursday morning, he woke us up at 3 in the morning by thrashing around his cage. I went downstairs to see what the problem was to find a caique with blood on his beak, white chest, and toe. (By the way, here is a link to a discussion on mutilation by a vet -- highly recommended reading if your bird is mutilating).

When we went through this a few years ago, he had a very thorough vet visit done and nothing was found to be the physical cause of the mutilation. He healed up, and as I said earlier, we thought this problem was behind us.

Fast forward to today. He's recently had a full vet visit and clean bill of health; however, if he's still mutilating next week, he'll be going back to the vet. The reason we didn't take him immediately to the vet is that we've been through this before and we don't want to cause him additional stress in case it goes away on its own, like last time. However, if your bird is mutilating for the first time, please take him/her to the vet immediately.

Also, the mutilation is not severe. Here he is yesterday, holding a clementine with his bad foot:He's able to perch normally and is otherwise behaving like usual. If there were other warning signs (couldn't perch, stopped playing with toys, was lethargic, etc.) we also would have taken him in right away. Once again, if you found this entry because your bird is mutilating, please take him/her to an experienced avian vet. That's what we did the first time, and what we'll do if it doesn't clear up like it did last time.

The system we worked out with our vet last time is that he seems to settle down when placed in an incubator. Here's what we use, nicknamed the Hot Box (which always leads to singing songs from Guys and Dolls):It's a 20 gallon long aquarium. We have an under tank heating pad which brings the temperature into the mid-70s. The top heater can bring the temps into the mid-80s, but we only use that for a short time when we can observe him.

Already, he seems to be getting better. He didn't pick at his foot at all this morning during breakfast, whereas he'd been picking at it regularly Thursday morning.

It just breaks my heart that he has to live in captivity.

Toweling Calypso

Here is some proof as to how easy it is to towel Calypso. Most birds are not so accommodating.

Actually, in this video, he wasn't too accommodating as he decided to fly away instead of being toweled!

But this is what usually happens:

Sorry for the poor picture quality and the back-lit environment. I needed both hands to towel him so I had to place the camera ahead of time.

He just sits there while I towel him, and I don't have to worry about controlling his head to avoid a bite or anything. This is not typical parrot behavior!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Just by looking at them, you'd never guess that these were the two biggest troublemakers in our house last night. Looks can be deceiving.

Parrot protector

I've mentioned before how Rocky has fashioned himself into some kind of parrot protector. This is very strange to us as normally he does not interact at all with the other parrots. We think he thinks he's more human than parrot. However, his parrot instincts kick in when he senses another parrot is in trouble from one of the humans in the house.

I've talked about this before, here. He immediately runs over and starts to attack Thomas in an attempt to save his parrot counterpart.

Last night, Thomas had to give Beeps his medication. Since he wasn't wearing a housecoat, he was going to towel Beeps instead. He was saying, "I've laid a trap for you, Beeps, and I'm going to get you!" as he stalked Beeps with the towel behind his back.

Before he knew it, he'd trapped a different parrot!
Despite his best efforts, Rocky could not prevent Thomas from administering medication to Beeps:In order to avoid these types of problems, I take Calypso into the bathroom and close the door so as to not upset Rocky. I think Thomas may enjoy the chaos he creates, though.