Thursday, March 06, 2014

Spring into some Carrot Tops

If you are like me, you are oh so ready to spring into some warmer weather.

With that abundant sunshine and warmth, I always go into gardening mode.  I start thinking about all the plants and veggies I would love to grow, and then I begin to whittle down the list to something that I can in reality take care of.

Gardening for my birds is fun for me and a win-win for my birds.  Gardening for your bird doesn't require a lot of space and a lot of physical work.  It can be as simple as planting some carrot seeds in a big pot and creating delicious carrot tops for your bird.  Cutting the tops to give your bird, does not limit your crop.  Those carrots will just keep on growing providing lots of greens for your bird all summer long.  Just plant the seeds in some good planting soil, water as needed, and provide plenty of sunshine.  Grow them in the garden or even in a planter in a sunny room indoors.

If your planter is large enough, you might even harvest a few carrots later in the season, but if not, those carrot greens will delight your bird and provide good nutrition.

I find all my birds have loved carrots tops from finches to the Cockatoos.

So spring into your Spring this year with a big pot of carrot tops.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Importance of Water

A lack of water can quickly cause dehydration and can have serious and sometimes even fatal results for your bird.

How long a bird can live without water can vary greatly among the different species, and can actually be as short as only a few hours for very small birds such as finches and canaries.  In our experience females tend to drink more water than males, breeding females require even more water, parents feeding babies need even more water, and older birds or birds with health issues may require even more access to water.

Using open water bowls have both pros and cons.  Many birds just love to splash around in their dishes and all that splashing and bathing can add needed moisture to their feathers, especially during dryer indoor winters.  Birds are also notorious for soaking their foods, especially pellets, in their water dishes preferring a softer food or creating that interesting birdie soup as we like to call it.   Unfortunately, the above fun activities also keep the humans trying hard to keep clean water in the dish.

Water bottles provide clean drinking water for our birds, but also take away the fun baths and soup mixtures.  If you prefer to use a water bottle instead of an open water dish, always always be sure your bird is drinking from the bottle before removing the familiar open dish.  Placing the bottle over the regular water dish may help your bird discover the bottle tube easier and give it a try quicker.

However even using a water bottle for cleaner water can present a serious problem when used in a cage with a bird who has learned how fun it is to shower under the water bottle tube, or how much fun it is to push seeds and other foods (and even a small toy part or two) up the tube.  Unfortunately all these fun activities for the bird, can result in an empty water bottle or a stopped up one that keeps water from your bird.  When using water bottles it is so very important to check at a minimum of once daily that the bottle is not stopped up, and contains plenty of water.  Never assume just because a bottle looks full, it is working properly.

Bacteria can also begin to grow within 24 hours even in a water bottle, so just because the bird has a water bottle instead of a dish, that does not mean the water does not need to be changed daily for freshness.    If you filled a glass with water and left it sitting out for 2 or 3 days, would you want to drink that glass of water, or would you prefer to pour it out and get a fresh glass of water?

Sometimes using both an open water dish, and a water bottle will provide fun, and clean water for your bird.    Also having extra bottles and/or dishes on hand can make changing out the containers quicker and easier, and help everyone provide fresh clean drinking water for their feathered friends.

For a selection of water bottles and dishes visit

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dry Heat Making you Itchy?

If you are someone who suffers with dry itchy skin during the winter months when our indoor heat dries out the air, then you can well understand the need for some relief for the itch.

That dry indoor winter atmosphere often affects our feathered friends as well.  Most parrots are naturally rainforest creatures and are are more adapted for rainforest humidity levels than the average winter heated dry air home.

During the winter months our birds may often over-preen, molt excessively, or even pull out their own feathers, and it may be due in part to the dry skin itchiness of the indoor winter heated air.

There are a however few things you can do to help add some moisture back into our bird's environment and hopefully help relieve the itch at least a little.

 Shower PerchesMany people think warm spray baths or showers for our indoor birds during the winter is not a good idea as our homes may not be as warm as in summer months.  However skipping these baths can actually add to the dryness.  Just make sure the bath is early in the day so feathers have plenty of time to completely dry before evening temps lower.  If necessary you can let your bird preen and dry off in a heated bath area and once dry be moved back into their cage.

Adding a cool mist humidifier to your bird's room will also help add some moisture back into the environment and can be a big help in easing the itch.

Adding plants to your home also helps provide some humidity to the area.  Just make sure the plants are safe for your bird.

A really cool idea is to add a tabletop fountain to the bird's area.  You will be amazed at how fast the running water evaporates into the air as it adds much needed moisture.  So not only are adding cool moisture into the room, but the fountain will add the soothing waterfall feature for all to enjoy.

By adding one or more of the above suggestions to your winter routine, not only will your bird receive some of the extra humidity needed, but you may find the humans benefiting as well in the improved air quality.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Are you just a little Obsessed?

As many of us bird people will know, the word "obsession" is an interesting word and often applied to animal and parrot loving people.  Whether it is a true or false accusation, it is often well known by many of us.  

We are known as the bird lady, the cat lady, the dog lady, the hamster lady, and so on and so on.

I confess that I must own up to this parrot obsession on occasion.  I have been known to be obsessed with parrot things quite a few times in my life.  I am not limited to only the living feathery creatures, who chatter away in my birdroom, I truly love everything parrot.  I have parrot t-shirts, framed parrot art, figurines and statues, parrot pillows, salt and pepper shakers, and many other parrot things.  There seems to be this invisible magnet which draws me to anything parrot everywhere I go.

When remodeling and redecorating our home a while back, I brought home wallpaper border samples to share with my understanding husband who simply nodded and commented how nice they were.  As I'm sure you can guess, I had found beautiful parrot borders.  Two styles just perfect for 2 different rooms in my home.  What a pleasure to enjoy those happy cockatiels, beautiful cockatoos and vivid colored macaws whenever I entered the rooms.

I'm really not an eccentric parrot lady, I'm just a little obsessed.

The only time I can remember drawing a line across my obsession was when on vacation I found a lovely pair of blue and green budgies.  A lively looking pair sitting side by side with the quirky look only a budgie can give.  I excitedly picked them up, and yes I really did covet them a little.  My husband cocked an eyebrow and calmly stated "they are plastic you know".  Of course I knew, I had realized that fact immediately.  Obviously the non-bird husband did not understand the value of my find.  I can find lots of macaws, toucans, and cockatoos, but budgies, now budgies are rare.  I tried to explain this important point to him but he was stuck on "but they are plastic".  So admitting defeat, I gingerly set them back on the store shelf and forced myself to walk away with only one backward glance (well maybe two backward glances).

So my obsession and I trudge onward, adding a bit of "parrot" whenever I can.  I rationalize my obsession with the fact that I do not want to own every beautiful living species of parrot, so why can't I own at least an inanimate collection of them.

However, should I ever see a pair of beautiful blue and green budgies again, plastic or not, I bet I buy them without a second of hesitation.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sometimes Simple is Better

Nuts for Knots Bird Toy Review

Who would have thought that by taking some multi-colored cotton rope and mechanically weaving it into a super tight knotted ball of colors, adding a chain and quick link, my Amazons and Cockatoos would have the most exciting toy challenge ever.

Simplicity at it's finest.  My Amazons and Cockatoos attack with gusto, my Greys are a little more delicate in their determination to unweave.  I was very surprised to see how much even my Sun and Jenday Conures also enjoy working on the rope knot.  Takes the smaller birds much longer, but the fact that it keeps their attention so long, makes it a winner in my book.

Selling for under $5, I would give the Nuts for Knots bird toy 5 stars and a big birdie foot up.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Rainy Parrot Morning

I really enjoy rainy mornings when I don't have to get out and go to work.

Hearing the gentle rain falling must also lull my birds and furry ones into a relaxed let's sleep in mood.
It's so calming for me and rare indeed, to be snuggled in the warm bed with the furry ones, and wake slowly to the gentle songs of the Tiels singing and whistling, and the much more quiet than usual chattering of the conures.

The larger parrots obviously enjoy sleeping in too.  No loud squawks from anyone this morning.

Well, that was until they heard me up and moving.  Then suddenly "silence was golden".

Thursday, January 09, 2014

How current are your emergency supplies?

With all the severe cold this week, and record breaking temperatures in my own southern area, evaluating all emergency rations and supplies are so very important.

For me Basic must haves for winter time emergency preparation:

1.  Flashlight and fresh batteries
2.  Sufficient number of carriers or small travel cages
3.  Water
4.  Extra food & treats for birds, cats, dog, and human
5.  Extra blankets in case of power outage
6.  Hand towel for catching bitey bird in possible panic mode
7.  Paper Towels
8.  First Aid Kit
9.  Emergency vet numbers

I actually have several flashlights placed throughout my home for emergency situations for any time of year.  I make sure one is always located just inside the door to the bird room.

I have multiple small carriers, and a few small sleep or travel cages stored.  I allot 2 small crocks per carrier or cage and either store the dishes with the carrier, or have a bag containing extras stored in the carrier area.

For water, I recycle plastic milk jugs by cleaning them, letting them completely air dry, and then filling with drinking water and placing in my large freezer.  If you are not lucky enough to have a separate large freezer, or even much room in your refrigerator freezer, keep at least one case of purchased bottled water on hand for immediate emergency use.   Although some birds such as cockatiels can do just fine without water for a couple of hours, other birds, especially birds such as canaries, cannot go without water for more than a very short period of time.

I keep an an extra bag of seed or pellets, or combination of both, either in my freezer, or in air tight containers.  I also like to keep some treats such as spray millet, nutriberries, etc. on hand for an emergency occurrence.  After placing a bird into their carrier or small cage, the treat helps them focus on something good and not worry about why they are in the emergency housing.

I also keep extra dog and cat food on hand as well as some treats.  Keeping some granola bars and such on hand for myself, helps me feel better prepared and part of the team.

Those blankets, quilts, large towels, and such, are an absolute necessity as they can be spread across carriers, cages, to help hold in heat and provide a more quiet and darkened atmosphere to help relieve stress on the birds.  Not to mention, wrapping up in a nice warm fleece blanket with the dog, would help relieve my own stress level.

I always keep a small towel handy in the bird room for use any time needed.  Some of my rescued birds are not super tame, and would not willingly step up and go quietly into a carrier.  To prevent stress to these birds, I can easily scoop them up with a towel, deposit them into the waiting carrier, and give them their treat.   No fuss no muss with trying to coax an unwilling bird to cooperate with my idea of what needs to happen.

Paper towels can be used in the bottom of the carriers for easier cleanup, not to mention it definitely gives some of my birds playtime while they shred and demolish the paper towels.

My first aid kit includes not only bird related necessities, but a few extras for me as well.

Emergency vet numbers on hand in my first aid kit just in case.

I have a closet that is designated the bird closet as it houses the carriers, and a stack of extra blankets and covers.  I also keep bird safe unscented candles on hand.  When using candles, always be sure they are safe to be used around your birds.  Wonderful fragrant smelling candles, are generally not safe to use around your birds.  Simple plain wax candles are preferred.  Extra safety whenever using open flames such as candles, of course, should be considered.

Luckily, our recent winter blast brought no power outage, and birds were all snug in their own cages.  All other critters, including one green tree frog, knew no worries at all.


Monday, January 06, 2014

A little Birdie told me it's cold outside

My "birdroom" is a sunroom addition that was added many years ago.  In the spring and summer, and even the fall, the birds can enjoy the plentiful sunshine with two walls of windows, and a third wall of ceiling to floor glass.  They enjoy watching the outside wildlife, and screaming their parrot warning when a wild flock flies by.  They enjoy the fresh air as well (even though I doubt the neighbors within hearing distance enjoy them enjoying).

Unfortunately, in the winter, the room can be not quite so enjoyable.  On colder than normal freezing days and nights the room is quite chilly.  Although all glass windows have mini-blinds to help keep the cold out, as well as a sheet of winterizing plastic on the outside, the room is still colder than the rest of the house. 

So to prepare for our 5 degree  temps expected tonight which really are unheard of in the south, I have placed an extra layer of blankets on the backside of all cages near windows.  Cages that can be moved, have been brought toward the center of the room as well.  However the larger flights have extra blankets hung down the side near glass as they cannot be moved so easily.  

Although the bird room shares the house's central heating and cooling system, 2 extra oil filled bird safe radiators will be strategically placed in the sunroom for extra heat for the birds.  The birdroom door into the main house will be left open with a closed screen door to keep the kitties with curiosity out of the room.

I also have plenty of small carriers should the power go off, and everything needed to fire up the wood burning fireplace.  I have already had it inspected and a couple of trial runs with the fireplace this winter to make sure everything is in working order.  Flashlights, extra water saved, plenty of bird food, cat food, dog food, and human rations on hand.  If worse case scenario occurs, the birds, the cats, the dog, and their human can camp out temporarily in the roomy den.

So bring it on Old Man Winter, we are prepared.  I was a Girl Scout you know, so I'm always prepared, well almost always. 

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Over Easy

My bird room this time of year is a hot bed of parrot hormones in chaotic overdrive.

Uncovering the cockatoo cage can uncover more than just a couple of white birds during the winter months.

Today's find was an almost perfect cockatoo egg sitting among the leftover bird pellets in the food dish.  Almost perfect I say as of course there was a slight chunk missing or how else would one of them picked it up and deposited it in the food bowl.

The cockatoos are both female and I have suspected for years they not only share the brooding of their egg, but also take turns on who is the one delivering the egg during the breeding cycle.  They are careful never to have more than a single egg to care for.  If one breaks and falls through the grate, a new one may show up a few days later, but never two.  Although they take turns rolling their egg around, they also sit side by side with it at times.  However the gentle care of the egg occurs only when there is not yummy food in the dish to munch on, or toys to play with, or the daily screaming match with the amazons.  Yes they are both good mommy material, when it suits their mood.

I'm not sure if the message to their human this morning was "hey this thing is broken, we need a replacement asap" or simply "we are tired of sitting on it in the bottom of the cage, time to throw out the old with the leftover food."

Either way, time for this little egg to go.  Of course there is no way to know if a new one will magically appear in the bottom of the cage in a few days.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Saturday Fruit Salad

Today's Saturday Fruit Salad includes some banana, apple, and orange chunks.

I always peel my apples to be sure no wax, or pesticides are any longer present. Apples are a great help with my older birds who may have a little trouble digesting all aspects of their food.

Apples are high in fiber and are a natural laxative and digestive aid for all parrots, but especially older birds.  They have many other nutritional stars and almost all of my birds just love them.  Doesn't matter if they are red or green, apples are a favorite always.  Even my finches and canaries from days long ago, enjoyed a bit of apple so don't think fruit is only for the larger birds..

Bananas are also a fav of almost all of my birds, especially the larger parrots.  I think they enjoy the mushiness of the ripe bananas.  Most of mine do not like the firmer bananas as much as the softer well ripened ones.  Which works out well because I don't particularly care for the over-ripened ones so those are always given to the birds.  Bananas are chock full of natural goodness too.

I once attended a seminar given by a very well known Avian Vet who stated feeding your bird a piece of orange once a week, would help prevent yeast infections naturally.  I can't affirm if this is 100% true, but my birds love the juicy sweetness of oranges, and I personally have not had a bird with a yeast infection in many years.  Because of the acidity, I do not feed them daily, but oranges too are full of natural healthy sunshine.

It is absolutely amazing how quiet the bird room becomes immediately after the fruit salad is served.

Beaks full of yumminess, no time for squawking right now.

What's in your fruit salad today?