Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 review & 2011 preview

As I like to do every year, this is the perfect time to reflect on the past year and plan for the upcoming one. Reading last year's entry, some of my 2010 goals were met; others not so much!

I only read three French books, did not average yoga three time per week, and met none of my knitting goals. However, I did finally finish Citizens, as well as the Harry Potter series. I didn't think it was possible, but 2010 was an even better running year for me than 2009. More PRs (15K, half marathon, marathon), quite a few medals from placing in my age group at races, and a happy finish at the Boston Marathon.

I hope that the parrots had another good year. I think that they did, despite the fact that Rocky's dream of having Thomas to himself did not materialize as I am still around. We lost Daphne, whom I still miss deeply, daily. Brian joined our household, on almost the last day of the year. I know 2010 was the year that Steve's life turned around when he met Shannon. I look forward to following their journey as he continues to improve.

As for 2011, I'm hoping the good times continue! With any luck, Brian will be with us the entire year. Thomas might be presenting at a conference in Amsterdam and I'd then get to tag along as he'd extend his stay to include a week's vacation. If not, we're still going to try to get to Europe in the spring.

Of course, I also have fitness goals. I'm hoping to run at least 3 marathons this year, do 5,000 push-ups, and drastically increase the frequency of my weight lifting and yoga practice.

As usual, I hope to read at least 52 books, including 6 Pulitzer prize-winning novels. This year's Citizens will be Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, which has been on my bookshelf for over 8 years now.

I'm also hoping to make at least 12 new non-dessert recipes and knit something that I won't be embarrassed to give as a gift to someone (I am a very bad knitter!)

Lots of goals on my plate, and a fresh new year in which to accomplish them! I hope that everyone reading had a great 2010 and will have an even better 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cookie monster

One of Thomas's coworkers gave him a huge platter of homemade cookies, which we have been enjoying. I love cookies! Sadly, so does Stella. She ignored them for a week or so, but recently started flying to the platter, landing on it, and trying to work a hole through the plastic covering.We've had to move the cookies to a parrot-inaccessible area.

New budgie

Partly because of the comments left by you guys, partly from the pressure from other rescue volunteers, and partly because I miss having a budgie in the house, I went against my better judgment and brought Brian home last night.

My main concern is the fact that he is so much smaller than everyone else and they could injure/kill him so easily. We are just going to have to be extra careful that the opportunity doesn't present itself for anything to happen.He was quiet last night and this morning, only making a few chirps. How I've missed living with budgie sounds! These guys are just so wonderful. We're letting him settle in and trying to let him take in the new experience of our house.

He had been an only bird for 10 years. He lived in a tiny round cage with only one plastic toy and improper perches. In the short time I was able to observe him, he was already playing with toys and exploring his much larger cage.

One thing he appears to like to do is jump from the side of his cage to his boing so he can swing.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Secret santa

A forum that I frequent, and on which I've become friends with a ton of amazing women (and one man!), had a secret santa exchange this year. What fun! My lovely gifter sent me a parrot toy -- she knows me well!

I put it on the stand so that everyone could enjoy it. Here's Max investigating:
And Stella, looking warily at it the first day -- she did finally decide the toy wasn't going to eat her and it was safe to play with it:
Of course, as happens frequently, Max enjoyed the tag attached to the toy and destroyed that before playing with the toy itself:

Heart of steel

How can Thomas ignore her when she tries to get his attention?He told me it's because he knew she was going to fly over and demand attention (which she did.) I responded that maybe that wouldn't be necessary if he'd preemptively acknowledge her.

Food investigations

Max continues in her role of having to investigate everything in the house:I doubt that Stella would have come over to do this had she not seen Max first. It's a good thing Max is wonderful since Stella is such a copy cat and I shudder to think what my life would have been like should she have chosen to emulate Rocky instead! Two Maxes -- even ten Maxes -- I can handle. One Rocky just about drives me over the edge!
I told her the tea was hot -- you can still see the steam coming off -- but she still had to check it out:
She grabbed a piece of corn and then flew to the table to eat it in peace:Thomas was brewing over the weekend when his thermometer broke. Being resourceful, he used the thermometer we use to regulate our lizards' tanks:
He's making a barely wine with cherries added to the mash. I'm not sure how I feel about that, and it will be several months until we can taste how it turned out.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Ridiculously busy -- at home over the past few days and also on my return to work. I should be able to post more tomorrow.

But quickly -- here's Stella, learning the lesson of being more careful when you're on someone's shoulder and being nosy. Instead of going where you want to, you may end up hanging upside down from a sleeve:

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I have said many times how there is a new parrot ban on in our house -- I have to know my limits. I have also said that when we do take new parrots into our home, they will be medium-sized, so that there's not as much danger of someone removing a beak/toe/etc.

I was up at the rescue where I volunteer today, and there is a little budgie testing that resolve. I call him Brian. He is 10 years old and has a pretty large tumor, so he's looking for a hospice home.He was not let out of his ridiculously small, round cage (round cages are horrible for parrots!) for his entire life, yet he is relatively tame (he doesn't step up, but doesn't bite and will stay on my finger.) He also is quite the talker including the phrase "Get me beer!" As Thomas is a homebrewer, this budgie will be very hard to resist.

He spent much of the afternoon in my pocket. Here is his tail sticking out:
He just needs a place to live out his remaining months. I am torn. I know we shouldn't adopt him, but I really miss having a budgie around and he is perfect. Temptation!!!

My hormonal caiques

In the comments, lovelyfeathers posed a question about my caiques' hormones. Both of my caiques are quite hormonal, and this quality in them led to a one-night stay in the ER about this time last year.

I'm not sure how representative my caiques are -- they're the only two that have ever been surrendered to the rescue where I volunteer, so they're the only ones I've spent significant time around.

Calypso was 9 when we adopted him in 2004. He's now 15 years old. For his first few Decembers with us, I could not handle him as when I'd approach he'd do his freak-out and I understood his body language well enough to know that if I persisted, I'd get bit. Then, one day in late December/early January, it's like a flip was switched and I'd have my loving caique back. For the past several Decembers, he has remained tame to me, but ramped up his aggression against Beeps.

Beeps was 8 when we adopted him in 2006; he's now 12. He is pretty much a hormonal mess right now. He gets triggered by pretty much everything, which means he is frequently launching a flying attack on Thomas. Luckily for me, he will rarely try to attack me. However, this does mean that he's spending a bit more time in his cage to calm down.

Here's Beeps, on his launching pad, about to take off after Thomas:One great thing about my caiques is that they maintain their very expressive body language even while their bodies are ravaged by hormones. It is very clear when they shouldn't be handled. They are also very good at following directions. If Beeps is worked up and going to attack, we just tell him to go in his cage, and he flies over and climbs inside. So we are able to have him move around without risking a bite. Also, he usually tries to celebrate for a bit before a bite, giving us a couple of extra seconds to remove him from us before biting should he manage to land on one of us with ill intent.

I feel for these guys when their hormones are raging. They are wild animals that shouldn't be in captivity. They're just trying to do what they've evolved to do, and confused because their living conditions are so different from what they should be in the wild. We have compassion for them, but are very careful not to reinforce behaviors that might continue on after their hormonal impulses have abated.

Typically, these periods last about a month around December, with some lesser amounts in the spring.

Smoothie caique

Calypso has never met a fruit he didn't love. That applies equally to my daily smoothie, which is just blended frozen blueberries, pineapple, and some almond milk. Usually I offer him some from the glass while he's on his stand.

Today, he was a bit needier than usual, so I had him on my lap as I drank my smoothie and did the newspaper sudoku. He was quite acrobatic in his efforts to get to my drink -- he grabbed my sleeve, climbed up my arm, then back down to the table and got on the glass.

At first, there was enough left in the glass so he could drink easily; however, by the time I thought to take a picture, he really had to work to get anything:He then found an easier way to drink while leveraging himself against the glass:
I was really proud of his problem-solving skills as he is generally not one to let me see them!

Almost bite

Thomas was exercising Rocky last night. Rocky doesn't really like this, but we try to get him tired out and panting on a daily basis as parrots (like humans!) are meant to move. There are so many benefits to exercise, and we refuse to have sedentary parrots. Since he won't fly, we have to make him flap his wings.

Rocky had had enough, so he grabbed on to Thomas's finger with his beak in an effort to stabilize himself so that he wouldn't have to flap his wings when Thomas moved him around.I will try to get this on video sometime, as it's pretty fun to watch. Especially when Rocky is enjoying himself.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Grey interactions

One of Stella's favorite places to hang out at night is Max's cage. Many theories abound as to why this is. I think it's a combination of being in our line of sight (her cage is off to the other side) and the possibility of irritating Max and getting attention for that.

For the most part, Max ignores her, unless Stella approaches her. Max was doing her best to ignore Stella last night, but did put her foot up to warn Stella to stay away:Of course Stella did not listen, but she did back up enough for Max to feel comfortable again. While it appears as though Max is asking Stella for head pets, I think she's really asking Thomas or me to come over and give her head pets and get this interloper off of her cage.
Since we try to let the parrots work out their own squabbles unless someone is in danger, Max was out of luck.
I still think these two should become friends and preen each other, but they're not listening to me!

Basil pictures

Basil continues to acclimate to our house. Sometimes I forget how long this can take! He'll probably just start to feel really comfortable when he goes back home. I can't wait to see his reaction when he sees his family again!

He likes to hang out on his cage door, like our parrots:He's even comfortable enough to preen himself with us rather close to him:
I haven't gotten a picture of this, but he'll also nap on his cage door. This is very interesting to me, as I have never seen any of my other parrots sleep. If those guys know we're around, they're up and looking for action, even if they're very tired. Basil is more my style -- a napper!

Mr. Nest

Rocky is in extreme nesting mode, and we've been indulging him. As always, I feel compelled to write that whether or not to allow your bird to play with boxes depends on that bird's individual personality. I would not allow any of my females to play in boxes as I do not want to encourage egg production. I would not allow my male birds to play in boxes if it exacerbated any of their hormonal behaviors in a negative way.That being said, Rocky has been going through a box every 1-2 days. When I got home from work yesterday, he'd turned the box into a little cave, and would hang out in there with his fabric, wood to chip, and his eggs (plastic balls.) This box was entirely shredded when I got home from work today, so he'll get a new one tomorrow.

He is quite adorable in his nest. He sings little songs to his "eggs," gently moving them around, making sure they're comfortable, etc. Shoe boxes and beer kit boxes appear to be the right size. Good thing we have quite a few of both at our house!


Thomas had his usual dessert of some oatmeal last night; of course Max flew over to help herself to some almond milk:Though Max was first, she certainly wasn't only, as Stella keeps a close eye on what Max does and then imitates her:
For the most part, they were able to take turns, though I have a feeling that's at least partly due to the presence of two humans making sure no one got hurt!

Monday, December 20, 2010

More hugs

Sometimes the urge strikes us to give Stella a hug. I'm not sure I can really say that she likes it, but she tolerates it, and does like being near us. Max does not like anything being so restrictive around her wings -- I could never take this picture with Max in place of Stella:When Max noticed Stella getting all of this attention, she had to fly over, even though it's not they type of attention she wanted for herself!
Max did end up getting some head pets out of the deal.

Hiding Rocky

Rocky loves climbing inside Thomas's clothes, so he loves it during the winter when Thomas wears more layers. He'll frequently sit on the table, and when Rocky notices this, he runs over to hide under Thomas's housecoat.

Another thing I love about Rocky is how well he knows his name. When I need to know where he is, if I call his name, he'll pop his head out and look at me. In this case, I knew where he was but wanted to get it on video since I find it adorable; however, this can come in handy when I'm not sure where he is in the living room, to make sure he's not setting a trap for me.

A still shot of him emerging:
I'm hoping to get a video of Rocky going to hide, but when he saw me with the camera, he just came over to threaten me instead of doing what I wanted him to do. Typical!

Orange play

Thomas was doing tricks with clementines over the weekend. These tricks were really not all that impressive -- for instance throwing a clementine up and catching it and fake juggling. But Max loved it! She started doing her imitation poses. This is similar to what she does when she "dries herself off" after a shower or "puts her coat on."

Once, he dropped the clementine, which turned into a fun game for Stella; a type of fetch/chase:

Sorry about the bad angles!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Occupational Hazard

If you dig in the carpet, little pieces may get stuck on your beak.This eventually required help to free. She was less than enthused about that, but probably learned no lesson from this experience.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Evening chorus

Basil's integration into our household continues. One thing he's recently begun doing is talking and vocalizing after we go to bed for about 30-45 minutes. I love it!

Last night, for the first time, I heard a bunch of "I love you!" and then "Ow! Ow! Ow!" along with the ever present "Hello!" and "Basil Bird."

My parrots, especially Max and Rocky, have been joining in. It's so lovely. I may try to get this on tape, if I can remember to bring my camera upstairs with me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

If it's after work...

...the parrots must be crowding Thomas out.

Max, watching him read the paper, with her foot raised to step up:Rocky, on his lap:
Stella, on his shoulder:
Thomas has given up the fight and will allow her on his shoulder as long as she doesn't make loud noises in his ear. I still do not allow her on my shoulder, so she rarely tries anymore with me. I told him he just needed to stay strong, but instead he capitulated. Score one for the persistent grey!

Turnip snowman!

I am trying so hard to like turnips. We have made them so many different ways, but I'm beginning to suspect I will never like them.Unfortunately, we got a few more in our CSA last week, so we'll have other opportunities to try a new way of preparing them.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


We were washing the floors this weekend, so had put the chairs and garbage can up on the table. Of course, the greys took this as an invitation to explore. Max immediately flew to the garbage can -- and then started taking garbage out! -- and Stella went to a chair (she's kind of hard to see but is in the background):Later, Stella decided to play in the shoes some more:
Basil has started hanging out on his cage door, just like the other parrots. He is so adorable!
Last night, after we'd put all of the birds to bed, he started talking. Mostly "Hello!" and "Hi Basil Bird!" We were upstairs in the bedroom, laughing at his outburst. Hopefully soon he'll feel comfortable enough to express himself in front of us.

Hidden Stella

On Sunday, I was baking a cheesecake. Yum!The greys had flown in to spend time with me in the kitchen; the rest of the parrots were in the living room watching football with Thomas.

While doing my check to make sure the greys were perched in acceptable places, I realized that I couldn't find Stella. She wasn't in the living room, and was nowhere to be seen in the kitchen.

I heard a soft noise and immediately suspected where she might be. The outwards signs were few:
But she had indeed gone into the cabinet and climbed in, somehow managing to mostly close the door behind her! I must not have closed it securely when I grabbed the mixer.Of course, I immediately took her out of here; not wanting the dark, enclosed space to encourage her to lay eggs.

Hidden Rocky

Up to his old tricks:

The Wanderer

Calypso usually spends his day on top of or inside his cage, unless I move him to a stand, the shower curtain, etc. Basically, he stays put for the most part. Over the weekend, he was doing all sorts of unusual exploring.

From perching on the side of his cage:To trying to get to the food cart:
To perching on the lowest part of his cage, inches from the floor:
To wandering the floor itself:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fun at home

When Basil was on the stand, he climbed all the way up to the top level!
Perched happily on one foot:
Beeps was interested in Basil, but we made Beeps move before he got too interested:
Basil doesn't realize that he needs to be careful of his surroundings in this house:Interestingly, Max has not shown any real interest in Basil. Perhaps she realizes he's only here temporary and therefore isn't threatened by him? I would have expected her to buzz him, but she hasn't. We are still very careful as we want to be welcoming to our visitor!