Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A bit of neediness

Due to our temporary new addition, Rocky and Stella have been quite needy. I think they need reassurance that nothing will change for them. This is me being an armchair psychologist, but Max has been through this many times. She knows that bringing in a new bird will not upset her position in our flock. She has also never suffered any abuse/neglect/deprivation, as we're the only home she's ever known (other than her breeder).

On the other hand, Stella was the last bird we brought into our house, so this is the first time anything has upset the flock she's known with us. For the first couple of days that Steve was with us, she wouldn't come into the kitchen (normally her favorite place to be), eat her favorite foods, and was just acting rather strange.

Last night, she was in the kitchen and soliciting head pets from Thomas, who of course obliged her.
That seemed to make things better. After this long preening session, she seemed to bounce back, and the personality we've known returned.

Rocky had to come over while he was petting Stella.
Not getting the attention he wanted, he climbed up Thomas's pants, something he does only rarely.
Rocky was content perching on one of his hands while Thomas pet Stella with the other. My guess is that things will be back to normal by this weekend.

Fostering, again

Somewhere pigs are flying. We are fostering again. I've briefly written here before about Steve, an african grey parrot that the director of the rescue wanted us to foster.

The rescue where I volunteer is wonderful (I am really lucky to live close to a good one). They have tried everything with him, including laser treatment for his mutilation. His physical and mental state continued to deteriorate. It got to the point where the rescue's vet was recommending either putting him on valium or euthanizing him. I must add here that the rescue has never euthanized a bird for anything other than to ease the suffering of someone who was painfully dying, so that wasn't really an option for him. The fact that the vet thought it an option underlined, to us, the severity of Steve's plight.

Knowing what was in store for him, we couldn't not take him in. We'll give him a shot -- maybe things will go a lot better in a normal home. And if not, at least we tried.You can't see it in these pictures, but he mutilates under his wings. It's so bad that he has huge open wounds -- there is no skin left to attempt any kind of surgery. If he leaves the sores alone, it's possible that his skin will regrow.

He is very scared. Right now, we're leaving his cage door open when we're home and he has the choice about whether he wants to come out or not. Surprisingly, he has chosen to come out most of the time!

Here, he was even resting on one foot, which is something parrots usually only do when they are content.We'll see how things progress, but right now our plan is to allow his wings to grow out and to see if flying will help with his under-wing problem.

When he gets scared, he drops to the ground and then starts running. He is so fast! If there were parrot sprint competitions, he'd do quite well. But when we put our arm down and ask him to step up, he runs over and does so.

The problem? When he's on our arm, he starts making these horrible sounds, like we're torturing him. But, he needs to go on our arm so we can get him back to his cage.

How are the other parrots taking this intruder?

Max seems more curious than anything else. She buzzed him once, but he stood his ground and she lost interest.

Stella is angry, though better today than the first few days. She refused to come into the kitchen (where his cage is), refused to eat her favorite foods, refused to shower with us, etc. This morning, she flew in the kitchen, ate peas, and showered. She'll be fine.

The caiques seem oblivious. I'm not sure they realize anyone new is in the house!

Rocky is generally fine, until Steve starts making his horrible noises. Rocky fancies himself protector of the parrots, so when this happens, Rocky either runs over to attack the human who's carrying Steve back to his cage (if Rocky is out) or freaks out and does his angry screaming (if Rocky is in his cage).

I'll update Steve's progress here. We have great hopes of getting him to the point where he can live a normal life in a good home. From what I can remember, he reminds me a lot of Stella when she first came to us, though you'd never know it by looking at Stella now.

At the nature center

I volunteer on the board of a local nature center. I was up there last Friday for a dedication ceremony, and on the bird feeder were: male and female cardinal, blue jay, rose breasted grosbeak, and a smaller yellow bird (maybe some kind of warbler?) All at once! It was a beautiful sight -- all of those striking colors.

I was up at the center again on Monday for a meeting. This time, it was just a male cardinal and a rose breasted grosbeak on the feeder, but the grosbeak took off flying before I could take the picture. That's him in the lower right hand corner.At the dedication, I was talking to some of the naturalists and expert birders, and several people offered to take Thomas and me out birding. I am so excited! I think that being around people who know what they're doing will help us to be more proficient, especially with identifications.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Other grey activities

The greys have been busy. They have peas to eat:Hot pads to perch on:
Trying to figure out how to get into the nuts on the counter:They weren't able to get into the nuts, so they went with their second choice: a banana.

This morning, they were hanging out under the table:
We always sweep the floor very well before bed; these chips were made this morning by Rocky and brought over by the greys.

In the above picture, Max is running over to me to get picked up.


Beeps continues to love to hang out on our bag of bags. He might be sad when I actually remember to bring them to the store to be recycled!
The farmers' market has been filled with raspberries. Delicious! The caiques are fruit fiends, so they've been devouring these berries.I haven't been able to get a good picture of him, but Calypso looks like he was involved in a minor scuffle as he has raspberry juice around his beak and even a little on his white chest. Beeps, above, is a much cleaner eater.

Rocky nesting

Rocky continues to nest in our hallway. It doesn't make his behavior any more aggressive, and it keeps him busy.By giving him acceptable wood to chew, it also is helping to keep the bottom of our doors safe!
He can spend hours like this.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Max loves caps! I might see if I can buy some to make cap toys for her. She doesn't chew them up; she just likes licking the remaining liquid from them. But even after she's done that, she likes to hold the caps and manipulate her tongue around them.

None of our other parrots show any interest in the caps, which just leaves more for Max!

Another radish party

The parrots and Thomas were left to their own devices Friday night. I had an event to attend for the nature center. Thomas had to work too late to be able to attend with me. I left the camera at home so he could take pictures.

As soon as I got home, he informed me that I'd missed a white radish party.Thomas also made banana bread, though he said it looked like Rocky was the baker, from this photo:I'm not sure I'd want to eat anything Rocky prepared for me. I'd definitely need a food taster to make sure he hadn't poisoned it!


The lizards love summer! They seem to be able to sense when it is summer, and they become much more active. Additionally, we buy them many different kinds of greens at farmers' markets -- stuff that isn't available in the grocery stores.

Last week, I came home and Elsa was resting by hugging a piece of wood that's in her enclosure. I had never seen her on it so completely before.Andreas came over to the front of the tank as I was taking Elsa's picture. Sometimes he runs into his hide when he sees me; other times, it almost appears as though he's interested in what's going on and wants to see for himself. So I took his picture.

Overheard at the rescue

Thomas and I were up at the rescue on Saturday. We were talking with the director, squatting in front of an enclosure where a couple of rescue tortoises were living. Thomas had a grey on his arm. This is one of the most vocal greys I have ever met! The entire time we were talking, she kept laughing and making funny noises.

At one point, after we'd been out about 10 minutes, she looks at the tortoise enclosure and says, "I'm not going in that!"

We all laughed and reassured her she had nothing to worry about!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Grey activities

Max and Thomas were hanging out yesterday after work:I was in the process of changing the parrots' waters after work and had not yet cleaned out the drain. Max felt this was the perfect time to investigate what was in the drain catch:
Later, Thomas was cleaning up after dessert. Of course the greys were right there. Stella paying attention to him, Max paying attention to cleaning out the scraps from his dessert:
Then Stella's attention is caught by Thomas's nuun drink (even though it's in a beer glass, not beer!) Max, not surprisingly since we apparently starve her, is still focused on eating:
They were able to share nicely for a short time:
This morning, Thomas left his almond milk out while he tended to something else temporarily. Max seized this opportunity:
Sadly for her, she did not appear to be able to get anything out of this container.

Beeps on top of the world

The greys and Rocky were in the kitchen with us, but the caiques wanted to be in the living room. We go in and check on them periodically to make sure they're not getting into trouble, especially ever time we hear one of them (usually Beeps) flying around. We found Beeps on top of Rocky's toy hanger.

I really need to get this on video instead of just still pictures, as when he descends, it's with flair. He twirls around, finally ending up at the bottom:
Since Rocky likes to play on Beeps's cage, Beeps has taken to playing on Rocky's cage. If I didn't feel bad about putting Rocky in a smaller cage, I might try a cage swap as that's where they spend much of their time!

Radish party

Like most Thursdays, I went up to the parrot rescue yesterday afternoon. I always leave later than planned -- especially now that there's a severe macaw up there who loves me. He is so adorable it is almost physically painful to tear myself away, making me stay later than planned almost every single week!

This results in Thursday being the one day of the week that Thomas usually gets home from work before me. As soon as I walked in, he was telling me all of the fun things that I missed and how we should have two cameras so he could have taken pictures.

He'd taken some pictures on his cell phone, but we're not sure how to get them off and on to the computer.

The big news was a radish party that Max and Rocky had had. Thomas had pictures of them eating the radishes, but I only got home in time to see the aftermath.

Max:Rocky:The other thing he'd taken pictures of was Beeps hanging out on the granola container, but since Beeps was still doing that when I got home, I got pictures of that as well!I had bought some flavored pretzels at the farmers' market earlier in the week. Notice Stella in the background, helping herself! She thinks she's pretty sneaky -- look at that expression!
She has an amazing ability to ferret out treats:
Thomas was kind of in a goofy mood, and the parrots had been a little irritating. They usually are when they first come out of their cages. They're so happy to be out and to see us that they fly around, explore quite a bit, and are a bit clingy. He doesn't usually see this, as they've gotten it out of their system by the time he gets home.

He started giving Beeps a lecture about how lucky he is to live with us where we take care of his needs and he gets to eat things like pretzels, instead of being like the robins outside who have to eat ants. (Of course he was joking as we both firmly believe that parrots would be better off if humans had never captured them and made them live in captivity).

And Beeps started dancing! I made him lecture Beeps again, but he only danced a little bit this time.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The chestnut warrior

This morning, Thomas grabbed Rocky for a shower. After a few minutes, Max flew in to join them.
After the shower was complete, I hear Thomas telling Rocky, "You look like a chestnut warrior!" And this is what I find:I think this is one of the funniest pictures I have taken of him. Chestnut warrior is entirely apt.

Dr. Popular

The greys love Thomas, and tend to get extra solicitous when they know he's leaving for work for the day. Today, he wore a bright orange shirt that he hardly ever wears, and they could not get enough!

Stella had to be on his chair:And Max flew over to the table to be as close to him as she could be:
He walked over to the fridge to grab ice for his water bottle. Both greys immediately flew over -- one landed on his head and the other on top of the fridge. (They know that neither of these are acceptable perches!)

Thomas exclaimed, "Really? A double attack?" even though there was no attack involved. They just wanted to be near him!

Backyard birdwatching

Rocky and Thomas were doing some backyard birdwatching through our patio door last night:
What were they observing? House finch!

Somewhere, pigs are flying

Continuing with dinner preparations last night, I was chopping up an apple for our salads. For over 8 years I have tried to get Max to eat apple. Only a few times has she ever done so, and it was when we got special apples from our antique apple CSA -- in November 2008. She has expensive taste!

I could tell she was being sneaky last night, as she flew over to the counter where I was chopping. I told her to leave it alone since she doesn't like apples. I don't mind sharing if the bird is going to eat it, but I'm not a big fan of having them throw food on the ground.

She quickly grabbed a piece of apple and flew to the back of the chair and...ate the apple!I'm not sure if this was a one-time thing or if it signals an expansion of her diet.
Once again, she shocked me. Just when you think you know your parrot...