Saturday, October 15, 2016

Pumpkins and Pumpkin Seeds for your Parrot

It's that Pumpkin Time of Year again and pumpkins and their seeds are great for parrots.  Pumpkins and pumpkin seeds are high in vitamin A, and also provide calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and other wonderful healthy nutrients.

You can bake small edible pumpkins in your oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.  First, clean out the inside of the pumpkin and remove all seeds and pulp.  Place pumpkin on safe cookie sheet or pan and into the oven.  When done, a baked small pumpkin can be given to larger birds to enjoy, or cut into smaller pieces for smaller birds.

Did you know you can freeze fresh pumpkins for yummy eating later.  Wash any dirt from your pumpkin and remove the seeds (you want to save those too).  Cut the pumpkin into wedges or slices, or both and put them into freezer bags and freeze.  When ready to use, thaw the pumpkin chunks and cut into smaller pieces or use your food processor, and add to bird bread for extra moisture and yummy flavor.

Then take your pumpkin seeds, rinse well to remove the stringy gooey pumpkin stuff, pat dry with paper towel, and then spread on a large cookie sheet or cake pan. (DO NOT USE NON-STICK PANS)  Spraying the cookie sheet or pan first with some non-stick cooking spray will help a lot in preventing the seeds from sticking to the sheet.  Preheat oven to 250-300 degrees, and bake the seeds for about 40 minutes.  You will need to stir and mix the seeds about every 5-10 minutes to prevent sticking and to be sure all seeds are all evenly roasted.  This is why I personally prefer a large sheet cake pan so I can mix without sending any pumpkin seeds around the oven outside of the pan.

Or, you can just click on the video below and let your parrot enjoy.

How to enjoy a leftover Halloween Pumpkin











Saturday, September 24, 2016

Easy Bake Apple Pumpkin Harvest Bird Muffins

1 package Harrisons Millet Flax Seed Bread Mix
1 large apple chopped into small pieces
**(peel apple & remove seeds before chopping)
1 16 ounce can 100% pure pumpkin
2 medium or 1 large egg
1 cup water (or use unsweetened apple juice instead of water)
1/2 extra cup water or juice (optional)
2 tablespoons Red Palm Oil or olive oil
paper cupcake or muffin liners

This yummy fall bird muffin is healthy and delicious.

In a large mixing bowl pour the package of Harrison's Bird Bread. Add the eggs, oil and stir thoroughly.
Next, add the can of pumpkin to the mixture and stir well.

Peel apple (to remove any wax or pesticide residue) and remove any apple seeds as they are toxic. 
Chop the apple into small pieces. We use our food processor for just a few seconds for quick small pieces. You just need to cut apples into smaller pieces so they are distributed through the muffins more evenly.  

Add apple pieces to mixture and stir gently but well.
Add water or juice to mix until mixture is blended well. Although the pumpkin will add some moisture to the mixture, the apples will soak up some of moisture  offsetting the liquid you add some. Add enough water or juice to make a cupcake-batter consistency. (The thicker the mixture, the longer it will need to bake).
Pour mixture into mini muffin or cupcake pans and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Oven temperatures can vary so be sure muffins are done.


Thoroughly cool muffins before serving to your bird.

Cooked muffins can also be frozen in freezer bags or plastic containers and removed daily for a fun treat each day until gone.

Use fall or Halloween cupcake/muffin paper baking cup holders to add extra fun for your bird. 

Hand your bird the complete muffin and watch him or her peel away the muffin paper and relish the yummy fall muffin inside.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

Who doesn't just love the smell of cinnamon and spice and everything nice that translates into the fall and holiday season.

  
Those of us who share our homes with birds though can feel a little left out sometimes.  Scented candles, air fresheners, and especially those plug-in fresheners, are totally off limits in our homes.  Many if not all of these scented items, can be deadly to our birds.

A general rule of thumb when it comes to candles, potpourri, air sprays, is that the better it smells, the more toxic it probably is for our feathered friends.  Our own avian veterinarian has warned us that plug-ins are not only dangerous to our birds but have also been linked to seizures and other health issues in some cats and dogs as well. Some essential oils used in many scented candles and potpourris can be toxic to birds.

So how do we join in the fall holiday spirit and spruce up our aromatic indoor smells?

It is actually very simple indeed.  Gather up some cooking spices such as ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks, ground and/or whole cloves, and some ground pumpkin pie spice.  You can also add some sliced oranges or apples to the mixture as well.  Then find a warming pot such as one for potpourri, or a small size coffee pot that has a warm setting, or even just a small size sauce pot (no teflon please), add some water and sprinkle a little or a lot of the spices that you prefer, stir well, and keep warm.

Now you too can enjoy all the wondrous smells of the fall season and holidays without worrying if it is safe for your birds and other pets.

Caution Note:  Do make sure the pot never dries out as it may damage your warming pot, or cause burned smells which would not be good for your bird.  Unplug your unit when you are not at home to keep an eye on it.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Attending a Bird Show or Fair this Fall?









What fun a bird show or bird fair can be.  At a Bird Show you will probably see many species of birds you would otherwise never be lucky enough to see in person.  Doesn't matter if it's a Finch and canary competition, cockatiel show, budgies, or a parrot show with all the larger parrots.  Bird Shows are educational, fun, and interactive as you learn and mingle among the other show attendees.  Local Bird Clubs are usually the sponsors of Bird Shows and are usually affiliated with national organizations with high standards of health, beauty, and ethics.  Often bird shows will also hold sponsored educational forums and lectures throughout the show.  I encourage you to attend some.  Often they will be conducted by Avian Veterinarians or very experienced bird owners.

Bird Fairs are for selling birds and bird related items.  From small vendors displaying and selling their products, to large manufacturers showing the latest in bird food, bird toys, and supplies.  There is also sure to be bird breeders with the babies looking for new forever homes.  It is super fun to see all the different items available and sometimes you can find some really sweet deals too.  Some fairs are only held once a year and sponsored by a local bird club, some are more business oriented and may be held as often as every 3 months.  Sometimes the sponsors of local bird fairs may also offer classes or seminars along with the fair and some will have a veternarian on site during the fair as well.











As someone who has shown birds at Club Shows in the past, also been a vendor at bird fairs, there are a few tips I highly recommend you practice if you plan to attend a show or fair.

As you will see, the venues are usually open air markets or large meeting places.  As some avian diseases can be airborne, you definitely do not want to bring anything bad home to your own feathered friends.

Always disinfect any bird toys, cages, or supplies you buy while at the fair, and all food should be in sealed containers or bags when purchased.  Best practice is to totally strip down as soon as you get home (hopefully in the privacy of your home).  Take a shower including washing your hair.  Wash your clothes, and don't forget your shoes.  Take your shoes off at the door of your home,  The bottom of most shoes can be lightly spritzed with a solution of one part chlorine bleach to 4 parts water to make sure you don't track anything inside.  Some shoes may be ones that can be washed.  You do want comfortable shoes when walking around the show or fair, but remember they should be shoes that can be disinfected when you get home.

I don't want to get too much into buying a bird while you are at the bird fair, but if you do, make sure you quarantine, have it immediately vet checked, and don't forget to get the breeder or seller's contact info and a bill of sale (even if it's only a note on paper) with the seller's signature.  Ask whether there is any health guarantee before you buy.  Most responsible breeders will give you a time frame in which to have the bird vet checked for illness.

To see more bird show winners visit our Pinterest Board https://www.pinterest.com/naturechest/bird-shows/

To find a bird show or fair in your area visit some of these sites for more info.

http://birdshows.net/contact.html
http://pecanacresquakersandgreys.com/birdfairs/
http://www.northatlantatradecenter.com/bird.html


Friday, August 05, 2016

Do you Know what Chop is?


Parrot 'Chop' 

Really means whatever you want it to mean

Basically, parrot chop (or chop for short) is a mixture of vegetables, grains, fruits, and other goodies in whatever ratio that works best for your bird.

It is a great weekend project that doesn't take as much time as you would think, and the more you do it the faster you will be at preparing your chop.

When deciding what to put into your chop think like a parrot, think colors and textures.  Orange carrots, red peppers, yellow squash, green broccoli, and so on.

Your chop can be super simple with one yellow and one green vegetable, and a couple of fruits such as apples and oranges, or as complicated as you wish to get.

Unlike the layered salad of yesterday, (not mixed when prepared but still a great method of feeding), chop is mixed at the time of preparation and it is slightly processed through a food processor to "chopped" sizes.  You do not want to leave pieces too chunky, and you sure don't want to go so far as to create a mash.  So take some time to get used to the size of chop.  Birds love to throw out and around chunky pieces of food, wasting all but maybe a taste, and some birds simply do not like a mushy mash texture.

(NOTE: Believe me you do not want to chop into tiny pieces all these ingredients so invest in a food processor if you don't already have one.  Small counter top sizes can be purchased for about $20.  You do not need a big industrial expensive one unless you just want one.)

Chop is making the food small enough that pretty much ensures the bird is going to taste some favorites and have to try some new foods as he or she picks and chooses.   Chop unlike a mash, leaves the fruits, vegetables, and other foods, large enough to visually be more appealing to your bird and hopefully help make the bird curious about the colors in particular.

As soon as you feel confident, you can begin expanding on the number of ingredients and add foods such as brown rice, flax, quiona, beans, and more.

A few tips I personally practice when feeding fresh.  Always wash/rinse well all vegetables unless you grew them and know for a fact there is no pesticide residue.  I always peel my apples because of the pesticide factor and that most apples have a waxy covering, and wash/rinse all other fruit well before serving.
(NOTE: Standard safety tips of no apple seeds or fruit pits as they are toxic)

Now here is the cool thing about chop.  It can be frozen in baggies or ice cube trays (yes they do still exist).  Making it easy to thaw out quickly and serve as often as you and your bird like.  Some people make a base chop, and then add some chopped fresh ingredients at serving time.  If you have the time to do that, more power to you.  Myself, I'm lucky to be anywhere near organized in the mornings so I prefer a complete meal ready to thaw and serve.  There is no right way or wrong way, just the way it works best for you.

There are lots of chop food suggestions all over the internet and some groups on facebook.  I've listed a few references below that I found informative and helpful.  

Happy Chopping!

On Facebook check out:



On the Internet check out:





Saturday, July 30, 2016

Microchips for Parrots

Did you know you can microchip your bird?


Most people know that dogs and cats can be microchipped to help recover lost pets, but did you know that your parrot can also be microchipped for identification.

Why microchip your parrot?  That really is a personal choice.  If your bird is valuable monetarily it can help prove legal ownership if the bird is stolen.  If your bird is emotionally valuable (as most are), then a lost pet can also be reunited with its family if found and turned in at an animal shelter, rescue,  or veterinarian.  Most of these facilities now have scanners for microchips.  

Birds may have leg bands for identification, but often the bands are not registered or they may not provide sufficient information to reunite a lost bird with its human.  Even if the band does contain good information, it's only valuable if the band remains on the bird.  Often bands are removed due to leg injuries, or weight gain or age causing the band to be tighter than it should be.  Bands can become entangled in toys, or caught even in cage bars and are removed sometimes to prevent accidents.  If stolen, a band could be removed quickly by the thief.
       
If you are considering a microchip for your bird, a few things to know are as follows.

Most veterinarians prefer birds weigh at least 100 grams to be microchipped.  If your bird is smaller, you should discuss the pros and cons of a surgical insertion used on smaller birds.

Microchipping your parrot is actually a quick and simple procedure performed by your veterinarian without any anesthesia in most cases.  By using a local numbing agent, the microchip can be injected painlessly into your bird.  The microchip itself is only about the size of a grain of rice and each microchip has it's own unique identification number that is registered for your bird.  Costs may vary anywhere from $25 to $50 depending on your region and veterinarian.    

There is more than one chip manufacturer and some only require a one-time registration fee while others may require a yearly fee to remain active in their database.  The most important thing is to remember if you ever move or change your phone number you need to update your information online.  Your vet's staff will usually set up the registration for you and explain how to access your information online.

There is no GPS component to microchips currently, but maybe it's in the future for our pets to help keep them safer than ever.
Above Photo source: science.howstuffworks.com

Click the link to watch a short video of a Senegal being microchipped 



  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Silent Killer


Okay, I'm on a bit of a rant today, but I just get so angry every time I learn of another tragic death due to manufacturers using PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) as if it were such a great invention.  No it's not! It can kill a bird in your home within a few minutes.  

Why on God's green earth would we want such a silent killer in our home, around our children, grandchildren, pets, anyone we care about, or even ourselves.  Just because a person doesn't die within minutes, doesn't mean it's not causing horrible harm to the health of those we love as well as ourselves.

What is so offensive to me is that manufacturers insert this hideous danger into our lives in so many different products without telling us.  Most bird people are aware of the non-stick cookware, such as the brand name Teflon, but did you know this toxic substance is also in almost all new ovens, stoves, indoor grills, carpets, flooring, clothes dryers, hair dryers, space heaters, irons, ironing board covers, waffle irons, deep fryers, heat lamps, as well as many other small appliances and even in some clothing products.

For many years it was assumed this PTFE had to reach a certain temperature to do any harm.  That has been proven false.  It has been shown it can be deadly at medium temperatures as well.  It has been documented that at a temperature of only 350 degrees (some researchers say as low as even 250 degrees) toxicity becomes a concern.  

It's called a silent killer because you can't smell it, you can't detect it with a monitoring device, you will never know it's killing your bird until it's too late to do anything to save your precious baby.  It simply spreads the insidious odorless fumes throughout your home without you knowing it.  Even a closed door will not keep it out.  

Having personally witnessed the death of a friend's birds after she innocently used a new drip pan to broil some steaks, I can say it is a horrible tragedy to happen. She lost budgies in an adjoining garage, and cockatiels in a room off the kitchen.  The doors to the dining room and the garage were shut.  

Another friend lost her beloved Eclectus to this horrible chemical compound and the bird was down the hall in another room from the kitchen where the cookware was used.

And, just this week one of my wonderful customers lost several budgies and her Indian Ringneck simply cooking dinner using her oven newly installed 2 months ago.  She was careful not to use teflon or other non-stick cookware that might be dangerous.  She had no idea the lurking danger in her new oven.  

What can we do?  We can spread the information whenever and wherever we can.  We must be pro-active in reading labels carefully, asking questions of sales people and retailers, and contacting manufacturers with questions when necessary.   We may not be able to eliminate 100% of everything that contains this dangerous chemical, but by being careful, we can help keep our birds and ourselves as safe as possible until manufacturers own up to the dangers and care more about the customer than their profit.

My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a bird because of this.  

If you would like to read more, visit the links below.