Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More Little Brian

I have not been diligent about taking pictures the past few days, so as I was eating breakfast this morning, I realized I had nothing to post.  Luckily, Brian was willing (even eager?) to let me take more pictures of him.

Every day he charms me even more.  Today, he started following me around the kitchen by flying between the counter and table when I'd walk back and forth.  Previously, he'd follow me by running back and forth along the length of the table, but he added the counter into the equation, so can now get closer.

Last night, he flew to Thomas's shoulder, which made Thomas very happy -- who can resist a little budgie?

He continues with his newspaper-standing ways:
Look at me, not the newspaper!
I wanted to get a picture of him from above, as I find his patterns and coloring striking.  Knowing him, you will not be surprised that he turned his head around to look directly into the camera!
If you take a picture of me, I must look at you!
He also had to work on destroying the edges of the paper.  Because he takes such small bites, this does not impede our use of the paper:
Admiring his work:
I must not have kept him out as long as he would have liked this morning, as he started throwing a fit, slamming his toys around, when I put him in his cage so I could leave for work.  He quickly calmed down and I can't wait to see him again this afternoon!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Little Brian

Thanks to all for your comments on my budgie dilemma.  I think I frequently fall into the trap of anthropomorphizing my animals and in trying to do what I think is best for them, I end up doing something they may not like.  After all, since parrots are flock animals, surely they'd prefer to have another of their own kind living with them, right?  Ha!  Just look how well that turned out for my caiques and greys.  Why don't I learn?

Luckily, that other budgie found a great home.  Later that day, I got a message about a tame budgie with neurological problems -- might I like to take him home?  I got that message after the deadline passed (another volunteer took him home) so didn't have to make any decisions there.  I think it's best Brian remain an only budgie.  Perhaps someday I can have a budgie hospice, with enough budgies so they can choose their own partners, and enough space so they can get away when they'd like.

As was pointed out to me, he's only ever lived with humans, and may not welcome a budgie companion.  Also, since some birds will try to drive out sick members of the flock, I wouldn't want anyone to harm him (due to his tumor) or for him to harm the newcomer.

All this talking and thinking about budgies made me appreciate Little Brian even more this weekend.  Thomas was drinking from a different water bottle than usual, and Brian was entranced:
He was singing and chirping to it; possibly because he could sense his reflection, but that doesn't necessarily mean he wants a friend -- he's got us!

Thomas was trying to read a magazine, but Brian wanted some attention:
He is well-mannered, so will jump off of the magazine for a page turn and then jump back on.  Reading around him can be a bit tricky as he does seem to find the article you're currently reading and stand right in the middle!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stella's eye

Stella's eye, which was injured by Max in self-defense, is nearly healed.  I wanted to get a pictures of her wound one week in, but she kept doing weird things with her eyelid:
And then apparently decided she'd had enough from me as she flew away (about to launch):
Thomas tricked her into posing by giving her beak-rubs:
I'm curious if there will be any scars, and will share on the blog once I know what happens.  My guess is that she'll be as good as new.

Sandhill cranes

Over the weekend, we went to the marsh for some birding.  It was gorgeous!
There were s fair number of sandpipers and other shorebirds, but our camera is so poor that they all came out fuzzy.

I did get a nice shot of a couple of cranes, though:
We'd heard them calling and then saw them fly over us, so it was a nice surprise to see them standing here when we were driving back home.  Of course, no way to tell if these were the two we saw flying!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Help keep me grounded

An extremely tame, sweet, gorgeous female budgie was surrendered to the rescue where I volunteer.  I mentioned her to Thomas, thinking he would object (as he has in the past when I mentioned theoretically that Brian would like a partner.)  This would let me off the hook for any guilt -- after all he's the one that said no, not me.

But his response?  "Bring her home!  I make two pieces of toast in the morning!"  That's not the response I wanted!

If she were old, or had a large tumor, she'd already be at my house.  I have to keep telling myself no -- we've already got 7 birds, and that's enough.  Plus, I really like to stick to similar-sized birds which reduces the chance of a severe accident happening.  I only agreed to take Brian because he was a hospice bird who needed a good home for his final days.  (Luckily we've gotten more months with him than planned; with any lucky we'll continue to have many more.)

I'm really hoping that someone adopts her before my resolve completely weakens.  I love budgies!

ETA: She was adopted today, which is what I hoped would happen.  I think we'll stick to old and/or tumor budgies and leave the young, healthy ones for other people to adopt.

Reverse escape

Last night, I was alone with the parrots as Thomas was working late.  I was cooking dinner in the kitchen with Brian and the greys.  My new world birds were all in the living room.  Beeps was locked in his cage as he'd been picking fights so I needed to be able to closely supervise him when he's out, while the other three were out.  Basil and Calypso just stay on their cages and while Rocky does roam, he doesn't bother the parrots and mostly stays out of trouble.

I do keep an ear open for trouble, and Rocky and Basil are both world-class tattle-tales who make a fuss if anyone -- except themselves -- misbehaves.  Luckily, Basil will tell on Rocky and Rocky probably would tell on Basil (who's not yet done anything to warrant such a reaction), so everyone's covered.  Of course, Basil does occasionally cry wolf, but I find that endearing.

Suddenly, I heard Beeps fly to the other side of the room -- but how could this be as he was safely locked in his cage?  I immediately ran into the living room and saw this:
Which, upon further examination, was actually this:
That's right -- Rocky let Beeps out of his cage so that Rocky could go inside!  Smart guy; he likes to visit Beeps's cage every night to scavenge for whatever Beeps didn't eat.  (Beeps does this to Rocky as well; luckily their preferences complement each other -- frequently Rocky is eating Beeps's food while Beeps eats Rocky's food.  They get the same food.)

Last night, because Beeps was locked in his cage, so was his dinner, which meant Rocky had to work a little harder to get to his food.

As soon as I tried to take pictures, Rocky climbed out onto Beeps's dish:
And then came over to threaten me; this picture is Rocky in progress; he wanted to get as close to me as possible to make his threat most effective:
I left before Rocky could get in threat position, so he had to follow me into the kitchen to finish the job:
Meanwhile, Beeps was happily on Rocky's cage, playing with Rocky's toys and eating Rocky's food.
Beeps got put back in his cage for safety, and was let out once I could go into the living room and supervise carefully.


Yesterday, I had opened the fridge and bent down to grab some food out of the bottom drawer.  Imagine my surprise when I stood up and saw this:
She'd flown to the open door, and I hadn't even heard her!  While she may look angry, she was just shaking out her feathers and I caught her in mid-fluff.

Rocky eats tomatoes

Since it's prime tomato season here, we've been hitting up the farmers' market and eating a plate of tomatoes as an appetizer.  Rocky wasn't sure if he wanted to try any or not.  He looked at them for a long time:
Then, he alternated between fake-eating a tomato and fake-eating Thomas's hand:
Finally, he decided to eat some:
He didn't appear to love it (cucumbers are still his favorite), but it's always good for him to try new things and get some different nutrients into his system.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A little less messy

I love the way the orange of the carrot contrasts with Max's feathering.

Peanut butter beak

This morning for breakfast, Thomas shook things up a bit and topped his toast with peanut butter.  We weren't sure how well this would go over with Brian, but he loved it!

Unfortunately, he's a bit of a messy eater.  He got crumbs on his beak (which is normal) but there's also some peanut butter on his white feathers:
By the time I left for work he'd cleaned himself up and was working on his veggies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Please don't go

Max and Stella wish that we would spend all of our time with them.  They've gotten pretty insistent lately, perhaps due to us being gone.

Max knows our routine, having carefully observed us over the years, so she knows that when Thomas comes downstairs in a dress shirt, he's leaving.  She's taken to flying into his head at full speed to show her displeasure.

We don't get this!  First, it must hurt her, as she goes "OOF!" when she hits.  Second, if you're trying to convince someone to stay, wouldn't you be extra nice so they'd want to instead of acting like someone no one wants to be around?

In any case, after he was rammed this morning, Thomas picked Max up to reassure her that he loves her and is coming back.  Then, he tried to put on his shoes, but she refused to leave his hand.

Trying to put shoes on, one-handed:
Refusing to step off of his hand onto the table.  Notice the nonchalant look on her face -- she won't even look down!  She definitely knows what is requested of her, but prefers to stay on him.
Ultimately, he prevailed by handing her off to me.  Since I wasn't yet dressed for work, she was willing to step down for me, knowing I'd still be around for a while.

He then walked to the fridge to put ice in his water bottle, when Stella flew over, trying to get him to stay:
She also refused to step off of his hand, but in an interesting twist, took his thumb firmly in her beak.  She did not bite, and had no intention of biting, but wanted to let him know that she wanted to stay!
As with Max, she happily stepped up from him on to me, so he could leave.

Wet threat

This scene greeted me as I ate breakfast this morning:
He looks more threatening/scary when he's wet!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


When we got back last weekend, all was as expected, at least at first.  Rocky, Beeps, and Calypso were threatening and aggressive, Basil would not stop talking excitedly, and Brian and the greys were extra loving and wanted to be near us constantly.  In fact, Stella was a little too loving, as she started regurgitating whenever either of us would get close to her.  That should have been a warning.

The greys happily ate some of our dinner (note Max's foot up in the air -- she really wanted to be near us!):
Later, I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom.  Stella gets a bit nesty on the bathroom floor, and we usually remove her as soon as she enters.  This time, I was a little distracted (and perhaps a bit out of practice) so I watched as first Stella and then Max walked in.  Before I knew it, Stella had jumped on Max and the two of them were rolling around on the floor, fighting.  This had never happened before -- usually one will fly away when the other gets aggressive.

I intervened as soon as I could, but not before Max had bitten Stella above the eye while defending herself:
Luckily, no serious damage was done, and the bathroom floor is now completely off-limits to Stella.  Max was unhurt, and with any luck Stella learned a lesson about the consequences of her actions, but I doubt it.

Here she is, eating, with her damaged eye:
She'll heal up quickly; in the meantime, the greys are acting as though this never happened.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy reunion!

Last week, Thomas and I were traveling out west (hence the light blogging.)  Since we were going to be so close, I contacted Shannon to see if we could visit; of course, the answer was yes.  It was great to see Shannon again, and to meet the other members of the flock that I've read so much about over the years: Sam, Chipper, Charlie, and Bun Rab.  And of course, Steve!

He looked amazing -- Thomas noticed that his body composition was quite improved and I noticed his relaxed and happy body language.

At first he seemed maybe a little wary:
But then he quickly relaxed again and even perched with one foot up!
And these pictures were taken only 10-15 minutes after getting his nails trimmed; last year, before Shannon, that would have set him back for weeks.  It's really amazing what she's done for him and what a lucky bird he turned out to be.

I think he may have recognized us, in that I suspect if we were strangers he wouldn't have come to the front of his cage so readily, but he didn't make any other sounds/movements to make me think this.  I'm sure he was relieved when we left and he knew that things were going to remain the same in his wonderful home.

I'll post some birding pictures later once I get settled back in and get caught up on work, as well as updates on my own birds.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mr. Popular, part 2

Even in leisure, the parrots clamor to surround Thomas with their presence.  He was trying to watch a baseball game.  When he entered the living room, all of the parrots were on their respective cages; however, as time went on, they slowly made their way to the couch.

Rocky walked up and Beeps and Stella flew over.  Max does not like to be on the couch with either of us; she prefers to hang out on the floor where our feet are/would go.
Of course, when she saw me taking a picture, she walked out a bit towards me:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mr. Popular, part 1

Thomas has to be on call about once a month, which means he receives patient calls at home.  Obviously, this is not compatible with having parrots; at least not loud ones.  When a patient calls their doctor, they expect professionalism, not a screaming macaw!  (Oh, yes, Rocky, I am looking at you!)

When he gets calls, I do my best to keep the parrots occupied and quiet, and he usually goes upstairs to make a buffer between him and the noise.

Last time he was on call, he only went into a back bedroom on the first floor -- a place where the parrots all have easy access to go.  His back was hurting him, so he lay down on the floor.  One by one, the parrots followed him, opening up the door that had been mostly closed, but left open enough so they could push it open.

The greys, wandering around:
Notice Rocky trying to nest in his shirt while the greys walk around:
They are so goofy!
They were quiet and happy, so at least that was accomplished.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cage chasing

The other day, we were watching baseball on TV, which means we were sitting on the couch and the larger parrots (everyone but Brian) was out of their cages.  Brian was out of his cage as well, but he was on my shoulder, for his safety.

Max and Stella have been a bit feistier with each other than usual.  I didn't get a picture of this (though it's the reason I went into the kitchen to grab my camera), but Max had gone into Calypso's cage to play with his toys. When Stella saw this, she flew over to Calypso's cage, guarded the door so Max was stuck, and played with Calypso's toys as well.  She is such a follower!

Max managed to sneak out through a corner, but was then pursued (if you look closely you can see Calypso's green wing and yellow/black head in the upper right of the cage):
After a stop to play with his toys some more (Calypso's head is visible at the far right of the picture, in the middle):
She made it up to the top and displaced Max, which was probably her goal all along:
It is so fascinating to watch these two interact.  Note they are still ignoring my lectures to befriend each other!

Friday, August 12, 2011


I haven't written much about Brian lately, but he continues his antics and is as adorable as ever.  We had visitors a few weeks ago, and he didn't want to step up for them.  In a way this was disappointing, but I was also happy that he feels confident enough to fly away -- and that he chooses to spend time with us!

Over the past few weeks, he has started to develop a preference for me.  If Thomas wakes up first, I come downstairs to find Brian standing in front of my place on the kitchen table, like this:
He also likes to sit on my dish while I eat (I could only get a picture of this since his back was turned; as soon as he saw the camera, he ran over!)
And started posing:
We are all shocked that he is still around; we thought he'd be with us for only a few weeks or months.  What an unexpected treat we've had, though Thomas may never believe me again when I tell him I'd like to bring home a hospice bird!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I live with vampires

Thomas was giving Stella her good night kiss the other night when she unexpectedly turned her head and he ended up kissing her neck instead.  Since we'd recently watched True Blood, I joked that he was turning into a vampire.  They obliged by doing it again for the camera:
Unexpectedly, Stella got in on the fun, so they were vampiring each other.
Once again, I live with weirdos.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Max vs. socks, part 2

I still haven't managed to get this on video, but I did get a partial picture:
She has got it in for Thomas's socks.  She may have an innocent look on her face now, but she was attacking them just prior to the photo.

In a separate, but somewhat related story, earlier today, Rocky had completely covered himself in a towel and was playing, kind of like here.  He was just hanging out, walking around, singing a little bit.  I was eating breakfast and should have taken a video.  Max flew over and landed on him.  He was not happy about this, so he let out a scream and she flew away.

Thomas and I have been having a discussion about whether she knew Rocky was under the towel and wanted to irritate him, or did she just see the towel moving and her curiosity was piqued?  How much object permanence does she have?  According to this, she did know he was under there.  So much for me giving her the benefit of the doubt!