Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Rocky box fun

One of Rocky's friends gave me an extra large shoe box for him (thanks, Strider!)  I threw in a bunch of 2X4 wood slices for him to chip, and he was a very happy parrot.  I still haven't been able to take a picture of him entirely inside a box, but I'm getting a bit closer with this one:
I thought he might go inside, but then he apparently decided that the hole wasn't yet large enough.
When I got home from work yesterday, he'd demolished the entire box and all of the wood slices had been chipped as well.  He had a busy day!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Head pets

Thomas was sitting on the kitchen table, so Max flew over and rested her head against his leg, hoping for head pets. Of course he complied -- how could he resist her?
Even though she was receiving head pets, she'd occasionally pull her head away and scratch her own head for a second, which is her way of letting us know she wants head pets. 

Then she'd put her head back on Thomas's leg for some more.
She especially loves it when we pet the white part of her face, but we have to watch out for sudden movements on her part so we don't get her eye!

Monday, November 28, 2011


I got home and decided to spend a bit of dedicated time with Calypso before letting the rest of the parrots out. He's a bit more reserved, so can fall between the cracks if I just focus on the parrots who demand attention.

He was sitting on my knee and I gave him a cracker.  It was a tiny, caique-sized piece.  Given the crumbs on my pants, I'm not sure how much of this cracker he ingested!

Sticky beaks

Last week, Basil had a down feather attached to his beak.  We joked he was dressing like Santa a month early:
I couldn't figure out which picture was my favorite, so I'm posting three of them!
Feather in motion:
There must have been something in the air, as Rocky got part of Thomas's dessert stuck to his beak that same evening (it's an oat):

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stella's drive to nest

Stella has a very strong drive to nest in dark places.  Because we don't want to encourage egg production, we do not allow this.  However, every time we open a cabinet, she flies down and tries to go inside.

Yesterday morning, she tried to get into the space above our stove and microwave by knocking over a decorative panel designed to look like a cabinet.
I removed her right after taking this picture, otherwise who knows how far inside she would have gotten!  She might still be lost in the bowels of our house as I have no idea where this false cabinet leads.

Max lurks around

Last night, as I was putting the parrots to bed, Max flew to the stairs and then ran into our bedroom.  She doesn't like to go to bed and would stay up all night if we allowed this.  Of course, she'd then be extremely crabby the next day.  This is in contrast to some of our other parrots, especially Calypso and Basil, who eagerly go inside their cages to nap when they're tired.

Smart parrot that she is, she ran under the bed, as we have a harder time reaching her, especially if she stays in the middle of the bed, since our arms are only so long.
I was kneeling on the floor, talking to her, so she came out to get some head pets, but then quickly ran back under the bed:
I know we shouldn't have turned this into a game, but it was so funny.  I hope we didn't inadvertently start a new bedtime routine.  After a few minutes, we told her we were serious and she had to step up; she complied, and ultimately went to bed. 

This did not appear to be nesting behavior (it seemed to be "I want to stay up late" behavior) but since she is 10 and therefore mature, we'll have to keep an eye on that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pants macaw

Most nights, Rocky likes to spend some time in Thomas's pants, chipping up 2X4 slices.

In the comments, Beloved Parrot had asked how the other parrots were taking Brian's demise.  They don't seem to be affected at all.  Last Friday, before I buried him, I took his body around to show everyone, so they could see him.  Stella did a double take, Max and Rocky just stared at him, and everyone else (Basil and the caiques) seemed oblivious to what was going on.

When he was alive, no one ever really seemed to consider him part of their flock.  He didn't call back and forth with anyone, and we were so careful not to allow any sort of physical interaction (until, of course, the fatal accident.)  For them, life is back to normal.  The humans in the house are not yet to that point.

At the rescue where I volunteer, the budgies are in a flight cage.  None are tame.  Yesterday, I was watching the budgies play and enjoying their antics.  Several came up to the front of the cage, intrigued by my presence.  I hope they find good homes.


Beeps has recently started flying into the kitchen on a much more frequent basis.  He's not looking for trouble; he just wants to be near us.  Unfortunately, this riles Calypso up, who feels the need to keep track of Beeps's every movement and frequently threaten him.  Beeps appears mostly oblivious to this.

Calypso stops what he's doing -- whether that's playing with a favorite toy or eating, but usually one of the two -- to stare at Beeps.  This continues until Beeps flies back into the living room.
Both caiques have been extra loving to me in the past week.  This has been most welcome.  Now, if only they could put aside their differences and befriend each other!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Earlier this year, Thomas and I competed in a race in which age group awards were hand-made and hand-painted mugs.  To our surprise, both of us won a mug!  This has also created much laughter in our house, as my mug was larger (I was in the top 3 overall females and he was in top 3 for males in his age group), so he'll joke about just being a little thirsty or needing a tiny drink of water.  It's all in good fun, as this is definitely the nicest prize either of us has won in a race.

He keeps his mug out on the counter so he remembers to drink from it daily.  Thus far, it's pretty much been ignored by the parrots.  Except one time, when Thomas left it close to the edge and Stella threw it to the ground in a fit -- luckily no damage occurred!  Since then, he's remembered to push it far back from the edge.

Over the weekend, I saw Max trying to perch on it.  I warned her she was too heavy and she'd tip over, but she succeeded, even resting on one foot!
I'm still surprised it could support her weight.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nature weekend

Thanks again for all of your support -- it means a lot.  We are still missing Brian immensely.  I buried him on Friday after work.  I scratched his head -- something he never let me do when he was alive -- and thought about the good times we had together.  My tears fell on him, and I was thinking how wonderful it would be if they had some sort of magical power that could restore him to life.  Of course, nothing happened, but I pulled out some of his lovely blue feathers and have them safe in a drawer.  He's now resting in the back yard, along with the rest of the budgies who've left us over the years.  Lenny, Ethel, Jeff Saturday, and Daphne.

Until this point in the day, I had not cried and was able to look back at pictures and videos of him fondly.  I think about him almost constantly, but it makes me happy to remember how wonderful he was and how lucky we were to have as much time with him as we did.  I know I shouldn't but I keep thinking of different "what ifs" -- it's amazing to think how decisions made nearly a decade earlier were ultimately instrumental in what happened.  For example, if I'd taken a different job in 2002, I probably wouldn't have been home until much later, sparing his life.  Or, if thugs hadn't broken into our house in 2005, we wouldn't have moved, which means we wouldn't have had room for Rocky (though we would have had room for Brian), and he'd still be alive.  It's just interesting how seemingly unrelated events can conspire against me.

We decided to try to spend much of the weekend in nature, as that always helps to raise our spirits.  We went to one of Thomas's favorite places, where there are lots of natural springs.  It was peaceful:
Some of the springs:
And we even saw a few cedar waxwings, Thomas's favorite wild bird:
We both felt much better.  Thomas is adamant that we can't add any more birds to our house.  Maybe when we move and the set up is different.  We have no plans to move.  I'm not sure if he'll still feel this way once he can process more of his grief.  In any way, it's way too early for us to think about adding anyone else.  Of course, I had three different people ask me if we'd take their special-needs birds since Brian died.  I had to turn them all down.

I had figured that our bird-bath activity would mostly be done for the year (it certainly will be soon once we turn off the outside water and close down the bird bath for the year) so it was a pleasant surprise to see a dark-eyed junco bathing this morning:
We'll definitely get out hiking some more this holiday weekend.  Nature really helps heal us.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Look where I found Calypso earlier this week, gazing out the window:

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Thomas is taking the loss of Brian particularly hard. He told me today that when we grocery shop, we can cut down on our bread purchase as he doesn't think he can eat toast again as that was something he shared with Brian every morning and it would make him too sad.  He's been extremely morose the past few days, and I hope that he can work through his grief.

The still-living parrots are doing their best to help him.  They can sense his sadness and have been gathering around him more than usual.  A few scenes from last night:

I broached the subject of getting another budgie someday (months or years in the future); showing him some safer cages that I found online yesterday.  It may have been too soon.  He said that he considers this house to be a budgie death trap and that no more parrots can enter this house.  It's going to be a tough few weeks until we can find a new sense of normalcy.

I've got Basil's foot

Basil frequently says "I've got your foot" and I've known from talking to his owners that he'll hold on to their foot while saying this. He hadn't felt comfortable enough with us to do this; in fact, when I'd touch his feet (when he was hanging on to the cage bars), he'd scramble back down to the safety of his interior perches.

Until recently. Last week, he put his leg through his cage bars and grasped for my finger as he said "I've got your foot!" We stayed for several minutes like this. Here he is, holding on to Thomas's finger:
And this has become our new nightly routine:

Basil talks at night

I took this video last week, before the dark cloud of gloom descended on our house. For some reason, I can only upload one video per post when I upload from home (I can do multiple videos when I upload from work) so these videos will have to be in two posts.

Basil gets very talkative at night. The video is very dark since it's bedtime!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thank you

Thank you to everyone for your kind and supportive comments about Brian.  It is really helpful.  When I posted what happened, I worried about receiving mean comments that would only make me feel worse (if that's even possible) -- you guys are the best.

I miss him so much!  He was such a special soul and I wish I would have had him for many more years, but I know I need to treasure the time I had with him.  I'm happy that I have so many photos and videos to remember him by.  I'll post some more in the future, when I'm feeling up to it.

I spent much of yesterday sobbing, so far today it's only been tears leaking out.  Luckily I have a very understanding boss and no customer contact!  I was even able to sleep through the night (after being unable to sleep Monday night), though most my dreams were about Brian.

I think one of the things that pains me the most is that I thought I had taken every precaution.  I've relived the experience hundreds of times in my head, and there's nothing that I would have done differently under the same circumstances. 

It's made me question whether I should ever own another budgie.  I can't imagine the rest of my life in a budgie-less existence, though I'm certainly not ready to add another one at this point.  The woman who runs the rescue suggested that I look into acrylic cages or other ways of adding an additional safety layer.  This is something I will have to look into in due time.  Right now it's still too raw.

Max and (surprisingly) Basil were very empathetic yesterday as I was changing their foods and waters in the morning.  Max would not leave my side and made frequent kissing sounds.  Basil kept softly repeating, "I love you Basil" which is what I tell him when I'm trying to comfort him.  They could tell something was wrong and were trying to cheer me up.

Anyway, I will try to get back to regular posting tomorrow.  Thanks again for your compassion -- it means a lot, more than I can express.

Monday, November 14, 2011

RIP, Brian

Little Brian died tonight.  I am just devastated. When we took him in last December, we thought we'd have a couple of months with him until his tumor took his life.  We ended up having nearly 11 months with Brian.  It wasn't enough, and it wasn't his tumor that took his life.

I came home from work a bit early today as I wanted to see the parrots.  I'd let the larger parrots out of their cages, but kept Brian inside his for safety.  I was on the far side of the room, away from his cage, when Rocky walked in to the kitchen.  He started to climb up Brian's cage.  I made my way, with a stick, to remove Rocky from Brian's cage.  I still don't know how it happened so quickly, but a split second before I arrived, Rocky bit Brian's beak off, through his cage bars.

I rushed Brian to the vet, and was told that there was nothing that could be done.  With larger parrots, they can learn to eat and survive without their upper beak, but that's not the case for budgies.  My choices were to let him slowly starve to death, or euthanize.  I chose the latter.  I still can't believe this happened.

I am killing myself with what ifs -- what if I'd not come home from work early, had done yoga when I got home, not let the larger parrots out of their cages, gotten to Brian's cage one second earlier, taken Brian out and had him on my shoulder, etc.  He'd still be alive.

I did everything I could to provide him with the best life possible, and I turned out to be his worst enemy.  I miss him so much already.  It was so quiet tonight without his cheerful chatter.  I can never own another budgie again, due to the way I failed Brian.  I don't even think I deserve to own any of my parrots, but they are stuck with me.  How could this happen?

I am so sorry, Brian.  We loved you so much and you deserved better.  I will never be able to forgive myself.

Pretty baby

I took this video last week of Beeps.  He was quite excited, doing his special whistle and saying "pretty baby!" and I wanted to get it on video.  When he saw the camera, he got even more excited and started doing his head snaking and marching around.  Had I continued much longer, I would have risked a bite.
He usually does the whistle that I do here, then follows with "pretty baby!" but the camera alters his behavior.  I did the whistle, trying to get him to end with "pretty baby!" -- this worked twice while I filmed, but usually has a much better success rate.  The camera really does trigger him!

As soon as I removed the camera from his sight, he stopped his menacing behavior.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Not just cookies

Yesterday, as part of my breakfast, I was eating an apple with peanut butter.  I had put the requisite ingredients (can I call them ingredients if there's only two?) on the counter.  It came as no surprise what happened next.  Max loves peanut butter and Stella loves apples.  Curiously, Stella does not like peanut butter and Max does not like apples.
 Even though Stella does not like peanut butter, when she saw Max beaking the jar, she had to join in:
But she quickly moved on to my apple!  I hadn't even started to cut it up yet.
At the kitchen table, I was eating my breakfast while minding my own business, when Stella flew over, grabbed a piece of my apple and helped herself:
I was just reading in a book yesterday about studies showing that wild animals prefer to forage, even when food is readily accessible to them.  That's certainly true for my greys.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cookie monster, part 3

Stella knows the container where we keep our cookies.  The empty container was on the counter, waiting to get washed, so she flew over and tried to open the cover.  Since she is not delicate (I can't really blame her since she's using a beak instead of hands to open it), I opened it for her to show her that her efforts would be in vain -- we'd eaten all of the cookies.  I expected her to fly back to her stand, but I was wrong.

I underestimated her longing for cookie crumbs, as she immediately jumped up to clean up:
A few seconds after that, she really got into it:
Could it have been worth it?  There were hardly any crumbs, and they were tiny!

Quiet Calypso

Poor guy, after realizing that his dream of a Thomas-free life was not coming to fruition when Thomas suddenly appeared again, he had to get on with his routine.  I leave for work after Thomas does, so he had me to himself this morning. 

He made the most of it!  Eating some greens:
And wandering around on the floor, coming to find me.  Here he is, about to leap off of the bottom of his cage door to the ground:
He is so stealth -- like a ninja!  I turn around and he's inside his cage playing with a toy.  Two seconds later, he's on top of his cage.  Two seconds after that, he's at my feet, begging to get picked up.  Maybe I'm exaggerating a bit on the length of time it takes him to move around, but it's quick.  I never know where he's going to be next!


Thomas was gone this past weekend and much of this past week at a conference for work.  It was rough for me!  The parrots were thrown off of their routine of having him home with them, so were a little extra cranky.  Except for Calypso who was loving it and was a little cranky during Thomas's first day back!

You would have thought it was Rocky to have been the happiest at Thomas's return, but it was actually the greys.  They couldn't get enough of him!

Vying for kisses:
I took yesterday off of work and the parrots were very happy to have the entire flock together again.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Food cart

Speaking of caique explorers, our parrot food cart is right next to the living room stand where Beeps spends much of his time.  Previously ignored, the food cart has become a new playground for Beeps.  He spent quite a long time yesterday trying to eat pellets through the plastic containers.
Of course he had those same pellets in his cage, but I suppose it is more fun this way.
I don't know if yesterday's explorations were a one-off thing, or if this will now become part of his routine.  I suppose only time will tell!

The wanderer

Calypso has recently begun climbing down from his cage and wandering around.  Usually he walks over to find me, but sometimes he just wanders around.  He is a very quiet walker, so sometimes he'll be climbing up my pant leg before I even realize he's left his cage.
In a way, this makes me happy, as he's gaining the confidence to explore, but it means that we have to be extra careful to make sure he doesn't get stepped on or get into trouble.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Boxed in

Over the weekend, I was reading a catalog while waiting for dinner to cook.  First one grey, then the other, flew over to join me.
I know I should be happy that they want to spend so much time near me, but it can get to be a bit much at times.  They aren't content to just perch there, they start demanding head pets, chewing up my magazine, or doing something else disruptive.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Brian chatter

Brian had been chattering to my glasses (in the background) but, of course, once he saw the camera, he ran over to chatter to that instead.  It's rather long -- almost a minute.  I kept filming as I'd hoped he would say something intelligible.  That didn't happen!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grey togetherness

The greys still do not physically interact at all, but I've recently realized that they are rarely more than a couple of feet away from each other.  They basically ignore the rest of the birds, but are fascinated by what the other grey is doing. Stella seems to be the one who usually follows Max around, though it is occasionally the other way around.

Here they are, destroying the mail pile:
I think Max was looking for a little alone time, by perching on the seat of a chair that was pushed in to the table, but she discounted Stella's detective skills:
I thought perhaps they'd both sit on the chair, but Max took off as Stella arrived, and then Stella followed Max to the stand:
This morning, on my newly washed counter:
They've even taken to both being on the same stand.  Before, this was Max's stand and Stella stayed on the green stand:
They are so interesting to watch.  I wish I knew what they were thinking.  Do they keep such close tabs on each other because they like each other (and, if so, why don't they allopreen?)  Or do they not like each other and have to make sure that the other one doesn't get preferential treatment?  Or am I ascribing human feelings to them and they're just doing it because of the flock mentality that's hard-wired in their brains?

What would happen if we introduced another grey to the flock?  There is the sweetest timneh ever at the rescue right now.  My curiosity will have to go unsatisfied in this area as we are in a really good place and don't have the room for another bird right now!

Slow motion stretching

I'd been taking pictures of the greys this morning (which will be my next post) when Calypso started begging for my attention.  This was odd, as he's usually not the biggest fan of getting his picture taken, but I went over there and captured elements of his ritualized stretching.

At the very beginning, he's about to lift his leg up:
Stretching one leg:
Then his wings:
Rubbing his beak on his perch:
He'll usually do this with the other leg a few minutes later and repeat the entire process.