Friday, September 30, 2011

I think someone needs anger management classes

Video explanation/description: I had bought a new toy yesterday, so Thomas thought he'd see if Rocky liked it.  Rocky did, but played roughly with that toy.  Then he threw all of the toys in his reach to the ground.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I was just speaking with a friend at lunch about the strange flock dynamic my greys have.  I still don't have their relationship figured out.  Sometimes it seems as though they want to be friendly, but then one will buzz the other.  Regardless of their intent, they are very aware of where the other grey is and what she is doing.

Taking turns keeping an eye on each other:

Later, one of them went to the floor, so the other followed:

Creeping around

When Rocky comes into the kitchen from the living room, he always sticks to the edge of the hallway:
My guess is that this is instinct, being a prey animal and all.

Recently, he walked in and I was sitting in a kitchen chair.  He decided to climb up that chair and then threaten me:
I told him he was acting more like a predator, but he didn't care.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Listening in

Yesterday, I had two volunteer meetings after work, which meant I didn't get home until after the parrots were in bed.  I had called Thomas after the first meeting to check in, and he put me on speakerphone.  Apparently two of the parrots got really interested upon hearing my voice and made their way to the phone.

One started whistling at the phone and the other was giving it kisses.  He asked me if I could figure out who the two interested parties were, but I only guessed one correctly.

It was Brian and Rocky (I had guessed Max and Rocky.)

I find it so odd that Rocky is so obsessed with me, considering that I am his nemesis.  He also will frequently ask me for kisses, and reciprocate with a kiss sound (I would never put my face anywhere near his beak.)  Perhaps he is trying to lull me into a false sense of security, but I don't fall for it!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rocky forages, too

Most of my foraging-for-people-food posts tend to involve one or (usually) both greys. But they're not the only ones who do it.

Over the weekend, I had brought my burrito in to the living room and set it on the air purifier. I then had to leave the room to get something else (probably little Brian).

This is what I returned to find:

Rocky, eating at the cheese buffet. Of course, not particularly healthy (he wasn't eating the eggplant, only the cheese!) so he was removed once I took this picture.

New feathers

Stella's got some new tail feathers growing in.  I find it fascinating to watch them grow in; she's been carefully preening away the feather sheaths every day.  Pretty soon, the new feathers will be indistinguishable from the old ones.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hungry Calypso

Yesterday, I was unexpectedly home for lunch.  I decided to use this as a little one-on-one time with Calypso.  He doesn't really like Thomas, so when I am the only human in the house, I try to accommodate Calypso by giving him some extra attention.

Of course, he ate this up.  Just as Rocky wishes that I would leave Thomas so he could have him to himself, Calypso wishes that I were the only human he lived with.  Actually, I'm pretty sure he wishes it were just the two of us and that there weren't any other parrots around, either!
In any case, he started to try to eat seeds that were in a container on the table:
Isn't he gorgeous?  When we first got him, his wings and tail were entirely green; as he's aged, more yellow and orange have crept in.  He also has a few orange feathers that have started to grow in his black cap.

When that proved fruitless, he climbed up on me and tried to eat food that I was trying to feed myself.  I would have loved to get some pictures of that!  He is pretty determined.

He's still extremely hormonal, so he remains in the kitchen.  It's very hard to strike a balance between giving him a proper amount of attention and getting him too worked up.

Butternut squash

Yesterday morning, I was cubing up butternut squash in order to make a slow-cooker dinner.  Max kept dancing and saying "want some!"  I explained that she didn't want to eat raw squash, but she insisted.  Finally, I gave in, and she did eat a few bites.
I guess she knows better than me what she wants, but I'm still not eating this raw.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

JellyBean needs a home

Last month, I was contacted by a wonderful woman, Anna, who runs a parrot rescue in New Mexico.  She had contacted me because she'd been googling around about severe macaws and ran across my blog, where Rocky is, of course, featured prominently.  She asked me if I might be interested in possibly adopting a severe macaw that sounded a lot like Rocky, with the main difference being that he prefers women and will do everything he can to attack men.

As much as I've fallen for this little guy after e-mailing with Anna, and especially after seeing pictures and a video of him, we are at capacity in our house and just can't take anyone else in.  However, I suggested that I could highlight JellyBean on my blog, since presumably people who are interested in severe macaws might find out about him.  And after the amazing experience of placing Steve in the perfect home, I thought it was worth a try.

So, meet JellyBean:
JellyBean is approximately 19 years old (the same age Rocky was when we adopted him.)  He lived with one family for most of this time, but it was not happy for JellyBean.  It's always difficult to get accurate information out of people when they don't want to admit how poorly they were treating their animals, but we were told that he was kept in a basement, with very little human interaction toward the end of his tenure there.  The little human interaction he did have involved people throwing things at his cage, or pulling him out of his cage by his tail.

One of my posts that Anna found was this one, and she agrees that it accurately describes JellyBean.  I am very confident that in the right, understanding, home, he will thrive; the trick is finding that home for such a challenging parrot.  (Anna also mentioned to me that she knows of a 40 year old severe macaw that was tame to both her and her husband.  Since Rocky is only 24, dare I hope we could achieve this in the next 16 years?)

Here is a short youtube video of JellyBean:

As I've written before, many people inadvertently teach their parrots to bite.  They do this by ignoring the bird's body language, so finally, for the bird to get his point across, he bites.  Pretty soon, he stops giving off the warning signs and resorts immediately to biting.  After all, if warnings didn't work, why bother with them?  It seems like this happened with JellyBean.  He was definitely a "bite first" kind of guy.  Anna has been working with him and he's learning to use other methods to express himself; however, his new home will have to be very careful watching his body language.

JellyBean currently lives in New Mexico, though Anna would be willing to have him move to a different part of the country for the right home.  These are details that would need to be worked out with her.  If you are interested in learning more about JellyBean, please e-mail me and I will forward your e-mail on to Anna.
As you can see, he's come a long way under Anna's care.  However, she runs a rescue, not a sanctuary, so he needs to find a home in order to open up room for other parrots.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Garlic adventures

Max was roaming around the kitchen table yesterday when she noticed some garlic that was on the counter, yet within her reach from the table.  She was so excited and quickly grabbed some to destroy:
I'm not sure if she got tired of me taking pictures of her with the garlic, she wanted to show-off, or if it was due to a different reason entirely, but she decided to place the head in our change container.  Notice the other parrot beads that she has placed there recently.  One of the hazards of a parrot that knows the retrieve trick!  Of course, she has done stuff like this before.
But she wasn't done.  As soon as I put the camera away, she ran over, grabbed the garlic, and ran as quickly as she could with it in her beak, jumping on to the back of the chair, where she continued to destroy the garlic.
She just fascinates me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blog placeholder: Brian

I have been extremely busy with volunteer obligations over the past week or so.  Luckily, much of this work will be completed during the next 10 days, and then I can return to my regularly-scheduled life!  What this means is that, though we are still spending time with the parrots, I have been too mentally (and occasionally physically) exhausted to take many pictures of them.

This morning, I realized that I would go two business days in a row without an entry if I didn't post one for today, so I grabbed the camera and relied on my old stand-by: Brian.

As you can see, he is as happy as ever, and coming up on our 9 month anniversary (!) together.
If it's even possible, we've been seeing more of his personality come out as his flight skills have improved.  Sometimes he'll do a few laps around the kitchen before he decides where he wants to land.  Or he'll hover above a certain spot before deciding to touch down.  Of course it always puts a smile on our faces when he chooses to fly to one of our shoulders.
Earlier in the blog, I have briefly mentioned a tumor budgie we had, Ethel.  She was fabulous, just like Brian, but this was before the blog, and before we had a digital camera, so I didn't have many stories/pictures to share about her.

It always made me sad that I couldn't share her with everyone, as there is a common misconception that budgies are starter birds with little personality, and that has been so far from the truth in my experience.  I am so happy that little Brian is here, helping to chip away at budgie stereotypes.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Basil plays with a toy!

To say that Basil doesn't really play with toys is an understatement.  I have tried so many different ones, but he has little interest.  However, he might be picking up on play a bit as we saw him playing with a ball on top of his cage!
Thomas called me into the room saying "Bring your camera, you won't believe what you see!" and he was right.

I'm not giving up, before long I hope I have a toy-destroyer on my hands.  Small progress.

Poor Calypso

Poor Calypso; once again, his hormones have overtaken him.  He has jumped Beeps a few times, and earlier this week, he jumped Basil, who weighs about three times as much as Calypso!  Luckily we were right there to break things up before any damage occurred.
We've temporarily moved his cage into the kitchen so that he doesn't have to constantly see Beeps and Basil.  This seems to be helping, though Thomas noted that Calypso might put on some weight in here as he insists on getting a bite of everything we prepare.

As always, we're hoping hormonal season passes quickly.  All he wants to do is be on me and fight the other parrots.  It's hard to strike the balance -- he needs attention, but I don't want to get him too worked up, either.

Brian, ad nasueum

This risks to turn into a Brian blog, but it really can't be helped much as he has captured my heart!

He's been improving his flight skills by leaps and bounds, which is generally a good thing.  After a run, Thomas was making breakfast, and Brian had been waiting on the table, waiting for his toast.  Until he decided he'd rather be elsewhere:

Back to the table, he started begging for attention again:
This is one of his favorite things to do -- he loves being beak to nose with Thomas and with me:
Of course, it's pretty impossible to read the paper this way!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stella and outside birds

Stella flew to the island so she could perch on the container where we keep the cookies.  I suspect she was hoping I'd cave and give her some, but that didn't happen.

As a bonus, though she turned to look at me here, she was watching the outside birds at the birdbath (you can see a grackle in the background) and she'd occasionally shriek and scare them all away.  I think it was a game to her.
I don't think I'll ever match the record set earlier this month, but here are 8 birds on at the same time.  As far as I can tell, mostly sparrows (I think American Tree Sparrows) and one lonely American Goldfinch.


One of Thomas's beers had a bit of an explosion in the primary fermenter.  It wasn't a huge deal, but just provided him with a bit of a mess to clean up before work, and now our house smells a bit hoppy.

Of course, the greys had to walk in to see what was going on.  They are very nosy.
Max must have gotten a little too close to the action, as evidenced here:
Of course, as soon as she landed, she was right in Thomas's business again.  He said he could have cleaned up more quickly without them, but I reminded him it wouldn't have been as fun.

RIP Elsa

We found Elsa dead last night.  I didn't write much about the lizards, as their lives were nowhere near as interesting as the parrots'; here are the last pictures I had taken of her.

She'd recently had a well-lizard exam and had been declared healthy, with the exception of some worms.

We have no idea how old she was as she was an adult when we got her.  She'd had very poor treatment prior to coming to us.  In a way, it's a relief as though I tried to do my best with her, she never seemed very happy.  My vet assured me she was as happy as a captive lizard could be, but who knows. 

Andreas is still going strong.  I wonder if he can somehow sense that he's now our only lizard?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Let me out!

He jumps to the front of his cage when he thinks (or hopes) he's coming out.

How can I resist?

Hitching a ride

Last night, we were heading from the kitchen to the living room for dinner.  This usually involves a few trips to get our food and drink moved over.  Usually the parrots have to make it in under their own power -- either by walking (Rocky) or flying (everyone else, except Brian who goes on my shoulder.)  For some reason, Thomas decided to ask Rocky and Max if they'd like to be ferried in last night.
As you can see, Max moved up from his forearm to my beer glass!  A la Lucille Bluth, I told her "If I wanted something your thumb touched I'd eat the inside of your ear," but she was nonplussed and remained where she was.

Angry Max

When Max gets angry, she'll fly to our heads and roughly preen our heads.  She does this much more frequently to Thomas than to me.  This happens to me maybe 3-4 times a year, but to Thomas 3-4 times a month.

We frequently have no idea what set her off, but something made her upset over the weekend:
As soon as she realized I was recording this, she calmed down, but the evidence of his unruly hair is still there.  I was not fooled by her innocence act!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

In which the greys play with toys...or not: Part 3 of 3

Final video, with a bit of Brian chirping in the background:

In which the greys play with toys...or not: Part 2 of 3

In which the greys play with toys...or not: Part 1 of 3

Not sure why blogger is allowing me to only post one video per post, but this will become a three-part entry due to the reason that I have three videos to show.

Over the weekend, I was retooling some of the parrots' toys and making new ones for them out of the parts I have in a back bedroom.

As I was doing this, I offered some parts to the greys, to see if they might be interested in playing with them -- sometimes they were, and sometimes they weren't!

Brian on the table

Over the weekend, I had put all of the larger parrots in their cages so I could spend some time with Brian.  Thomas was at work, so Brian and I made cookies, with frequent breaks so I could give and get some budgie attention.

At one point, I looked over and noticed he was singing a pretty tune to the container of Aquaphor on the table.  Of course when I tried to get a video of him doing this, he had to run to the camera.  But, I love watching him run around, so I'm posting this anyway.
At the very end of the video, he's just about to start singing to me, but I had already turned the camera off due to Rocky screaming in the background.  Someday I will make a video of Brian singing!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Jumping to conclusions

I was up at the rescue last Saturday.  I was supposed to be there just for an hour or so (one of my favorite alums, a severe macaw I've talked about here before, was coming up for a visit), but wound up staying a couple of extra hours.  I wanted to talk with a couple who was adopting their first macaw (another one of my favorite birds; I pictured her here and here) to answer their questions and help to ensure a smooth transition for her, and then I had to interact with all of my favorite parrots and customers -- a visit can quickly become a time suck!

Thomas was working that morning, but called me as he was leaving work.  I promised to come home quickly, but see the preceding paragraph for why that didn't materialize.

By the time I got home, he'd gone grocery shopping and was near the end of washing the kitchen and living room floors.  I gave him a hug and told him I was so lucky to have married the best husband ever.  Instead of nicely accepting the compliment, his response:

"What bird did you take home today?  Another budgie?"

I think he may have been a bit disappointed when he realized I was empty-handed and just legitimately thanking him.

Helping herself

I had the parrots' dinner dishes on the counter and was just about to transport them into the living room, when Stella decided to eat a little early:
Of course, making a mess as parrots do...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More Rocky nesting

This is one of my favorite things that Rocky does, but I have a hard time getting a good picture of it!  My camera is not powerful enough to take a good picture from far away (hence the evil glint in Rocky's eye), and if I get too close, he just comes out to threaten me.  He only does this for a portion of the year, so I have to enjoy it while I can.
At night, Thomas sweeps the floor really well.  As soon as Rocky sees the broom, he runs down and hides under his cage.  He then sings and laughs during the sweeping.  As soon as the sweeping is done, he climbs into his cage and starts saying "Bye Bye!"

This next picture I took this morning.  Rocky's been screaming pretty much non-stop, unless he has a box to chew.  I gave him a new box this morning so I could get ready for work in peace.  As you can see, he chewed an entrance hole in the bottom left of the box.

When I found him, he was inside the box and stuck his head out to look at me; however, when he saw me, he had to run over to threaten me, which is what he's doing here.  Once I left him alone, he went back to his box.

By the time I left for work, he'd chewed through the entire front of the box.  I'm sure it will be gone when I get home from work.
He's such a good nest-builder and very conscientious of Thomas and of his eggs.  I bet he would have been a great macaw parent.  It just breaks my heart that he's in my living room instead of the wild.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Odd sleeper

I'm not sure if I've posted a picture of this before or not, but Thomas and I were talking about it again this morning, so I took a picture.  Basil is the strangest sleeper ever!  All the rest of my parrots have a sleep perch -- usually the highest perch in their cage -- where they spend the night.

Basil, however, clings to his cage bars, on either side of a corner:
I can't imagine this is comfortable, at least not compared to a rope perch!  I must add that he spends his days perched on normal perches -- it's only at night when he goes to the cage bars.  Also, when he naps, he does so on a perch.

What a funny guy!

Weekend hiking pictures

We went hiking/birding over the long weekend; mostly hiking as we were a bit out of practice with the binoculars.  This black-capped chickadee was posing in the most adorable ways; however, by the time I thought to get my camera out, he'd taken flight.
We stumbled upon a little ground squirrel, whose tail fit perfectly against her back as she was eating:
So beautiful and green!  Thomas is a little orange blur in the middle of the picture:
In the spring, we'd sat here and watched a hummingbird build a nest.  This time, we didn't see any birds, but it was still peaceful and nice:
A dragonfly resting on a post:
From this distance, Thomas noticed something so he grabbed his binoculars.
Two deer, resting in the field!
We turned around so not to disturb them.  So, not a productive birding day -- I think we only saw something like 15 species -- but it was great to be out in the cooler weather and hiking again.  Looking forward to doing this more often in the upcoming fall weeks.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ohio situation - resolved

I took down my posts about the neglect/abuse in Troy, Ohio after I was told that publicity in the case was detrimental and was currently harming the parrots' chance of getting out.

I have just been informed that all of the parrots, excluding those in the care of vets in Ohio, have been transported to Florida Exotic Bird Sanctuary.

Here is some information, along with the graphic pictures (please be careful about looking at them), as well as a news story.

Rocky nests

Rocky has been very nesty again.  We've been giving him boxes to keep him busy.  I must warn that not all parrots take well to boxes.  We don't let our females have boxes as we don't want to stimulate egg-laying behavior and risk any health problems.  We don't let Beeps have boxes as it makes him extremely aggressive.  But for Rocky, it calms him down, keeps him busy and not screaming, and doesn't increase his aggression.

His favorite is shoe boxes, as he fits in them after chewing an entrance hole.  If you look to the right, you will see one of his "eggs" (really, a ball) that he treasures.  He likes to put his eggs in his nest, then he goes in and sings to them, moves them around, clucks at them, etc.  He never sits on them.  Sometimes he bangs them around, which would probably be bad news if he were in the wild with a real egg!
I spoke to my friend who is the manager of a running store, and she has promised to supply Rocky with a steady stream of shoe boxes; he is very excited about that!

Later, he sat on Thomas's lap and read the paper.  He is also very excited that housecoat weather has returned.


I had these pictures on the other camera, so didn't write about them in yesterday's post.  As I've mentioned before, Rocky is very particular about Thomas's clothes.  He prefers Thomas to wear blue scrub pants, a white T-shirt and, if it's necessary, a housecoat.  Any deviation from this uniform provokes threatening behavior from Rocky and, occasionally, attacks.

I suspect this has something to do with the fact that Thomas only wears that uniform when he's hanging out at home, so Rocky knows when he's dressed differently, he's leaving, which means Rocky has to go in his cage.

Saturday, before leaving for our run, the parrots were all out.  We were dressed in our running clothes, so as Thomas turned his back on him, Rocky jumped him and bit him on the arm.  He then ran away and I put him in his cage so he couldn't inflict further damage.  Meanwhile, both greys flew to the floor to comfort Thomas (who had been curled up on the floor in a blatent attempt to elicit sympathy from me.)  He'd stood up by the time I returned with the camera and was thanking the greys for their concern:
They continued to follow him around as he put on his shoes and got ready to run.  Thomas thinks they were comforting him after his bite, but I think they just didn't want him to leave!
Later, Thomas had a bunch of cabbage on our counter as he was going to make sauerkraut.  Stella immediately flew over and started gently peeling back the layers.  It was fascinating, but we didn't want her to waste too much food, so we removed her soon after taking this picture:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Recovering Rocky

Thomas and I are in training for another marathon, which meant a 20 mile training run on Saturday.  When we returned, the parrots were happy to relax with us.  Rocky had been sipping some recovery drink, but took to threatening me when I tried to take a picture:
Finally, he acquiesced.  Mostly, he drinks water, but he does get a few sips of recovery drink from time to time:
Then, Thomas was peeling a banana.  He'd planned to share bits with the parrots, but Rocky wasn't taking chances, as he ran up to the counter to make sure he would be included:
Since it was so hot and humid over the weekend, the shower we had after our 20 mile was the most satisfying one we'd had in a while.  This may be unpopular, but I can't wait for fall and the cooler weather to follow.