Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Being Ready for any Emergency

I wasn't going to do another post right now about weather preparedness, but as hurricane season bears down on so many people, can we really be reminded too often?

Several times a year it is good to do a quick checkup of your emergency carriers or travel cages to be sure they are clean and ready to go.  Don't forget to rotate emergency supplies you have stored in your evacuation carriers/cages as needed so no expiration dates get too close.  Keeping a list of emergency supplies inside your carrier makes it easy to make sure everything is ready.

Setting calendar reminders to include checkups throughout the year works great for many of us.  A minimum of twice a year probably works for some.  If you don't have a way to remind yourself conveniently, then make it a habit when the time changes and you reset your clocks and change those smoke detector batteries, check and evaluate your emergency bird supplies at the same time.

For more information on what to include in your emergency kit, please check out our web site at the link below.

Emergency Preparedness

Saturday, August 12, 2017

What is a Pin Feather?

We call them "pin" feathers because they look like tiny spiky pins (especially when on the head) on our birds.  Baby birds have loads of them, but even an adult bird who is going through a heavy molt can have that spiky look too.

Pin feathers are simply new feathers coming in.  Pin feathers have a sheath of keratin surrounding them which helps support and protect the new feather as it grows.  Depending on the type of feathers growing, they can be quite sensitive sometimes and your bird may not want you to touch them when they are first coming in.  If they are a new wing or tail feather, they are often referred to as blood feathers, and they are usually the most tender when first coming in.  They do have a blood supply which nourishes the feather as it grows and if accidentally broken or damaged, your bird may bleed profusely, so you always want to take and help your bird protect these larger incoming feathers.  Once the feather begins to grow out and mature, the blood supply will begin to recede and when the feather is fully formed, the tenderness is also gone.

Many birds enjoy you gently rubbing pin feathers on the head and cheek area to help them remove the feather sheath so the feather can open completely.  Warm baths also sometimes help the feather sheaths soften and come off more easily.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

It is all about the Beak!

Parrot Beaks can be small or large, dark or light, or even yellow or orange

A parrot's beak is a very fascinating part of what makes a parrot a parrot.  Parrots use their beaks to help them climb, to open the smallest seeds, or the hardest nuts, to preen their feathers, to clean their toes, to feed their mates, to feed their own baby parrots, to give their humans gentle kisses, and of course to nip or bite at something they fear or something that simply makes them irritated.

When climbing a beak almost becomes a parrot's third foot as they can use their powerful beak to hoist themselves up to their play gyms and cages, or even to just hang by their beak as they swing from their toys.  Have you ever watched a parrot climb a ladder?  The beak makes climbing around so much easier for them.  They often use their beaks to help steady the finger or hand that reaches out to them as the first part of stepping up.  

Those powerful beaks can be used to gently open the smallest seed to get at the wonderful nutrition inside.  Ever watched a parrot close up picking up a seed, moving it around with their foot and their beak to get it situated in just the right spot for opening? Then using the foot, beak, and tongue, in unison they pry open the hull for the goodness inside.  Or, just watch one of the big parrots rotating a big walnut to just the right place before cracking that hard nut as if it were made of the thinnest of shells.  Then picking out the meat of the walnut with the tips of their beaks to make sure every little nugget of nutmeat is devoured.

Watch closely as your bird preens its feathers using the beak as a precision tool made for preening.  Taking each feather with great care and running it through the beak removing all dust and debris for perfect feather condition.  No matter if it is the tiny downy feathers that must be gingerly removed or the longest of the long tail feathers, that beak is the perfect tool for parrot preening and sharing the job with another feathered friend can be great fun too. 

If you have ever been lucky enough to watch parrot parents feeding their young, it is the most touching of all.  Although the parent beaks are huge compared to the tiny little babies, they are able to deliver food to their babies with the greatest of ease with no harm at all to the babies.  The parents also use their beaks to gently nudge the babies into the perfect position under their adult feathers to keep them as warm as needed.  To watch the gentleness of an adult parrot with its young is wondrous indeed.

But you may ask, what is this remarkable parrot beak made of?  A beak consists of keratin which is the same material an animal's antlers are made of as well as your own fingernails.  Just like your fingernails, a parrot's beak is continually growing.  However, unlike a fingernail, a bird's beak also contains blood vessels and nerve endings. 

Therefore a bird's beak is very sensitive to touch and also to
injury.  Some birds love to have their beaks gently rubbed by their favorite person, and some tend to be beak shy because the beak is so sensitive.  A parrot's beak continues to grow all throughout a bird's life and in nature, birds are busy wearing the extra growth down with natural tree branches and foraging for their food.  If you have a pet bird, you need to provide lots of wooden toys of different textures, both soft and hard wood, and possibly other materials, to help prevent overgrowth of the beak.  So you see that wooden bird toy your bird buzz saws through, is as much a necessity for your parrot as any nutritious foods you provide for a healthy bird.  Bird beaks can be gently filed down if needed, but should only be shaped or trimmed by someone who knows what they are doing as the beak can be damaged permanently by inexperienced groomers.  Beaks should never be cut by anyone other than a vet or experienced bird groomer as excessive bleeding can occur if cut too short.  

If your bird's beak overgrows even with lots of toys and chew items, you may need to have your bird checked thoroughly by your avian vet to be sure there is not a health reason for the overgrowth.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Keep your Friends Safe this 4th of July

Upcoming 4th of July Independence Day celebrations can be exciting, fun, and filled with activities.  Don't forget though your feathered and furred friends who may not love all the people and sounds of the celebration.  The pops and bangs of fireworks can be quite unnerving to some of our furred and feathered friends.

The booming sounds of neighborhood fireworks make some of my birds nervous.  The Cockatiels tend to bet a little flighty, and a few tend to get unusually quiet, sitting very still and unsure about all the festivities.  My little rescued Yorkie dog gets nervous and quite yappy at all the loud pops and sizzles and extra family and friends visiting for the holiday.

To ease any anxiety among the birds, I partially or fully cover the cage of any birds that get very upset which tends to make mine feel more protected and they do settle down better.  I include special treats in everyone's dish in the hope that getting a special treat helps distract them from the goings on.  I'm lucky that my birds are in their own bird sun room so it's easy to keep visitors out of their room.  If you bird is usually where people gather, you may want to consider moving the cage into a quiet bedroom until after the fireworks and visitors are gone.  If the cage is too big to move, a sleep cage or even a travel carrier can work just as well.

A little planning ahead of time for the feathered and furred family members will help make your July 4th event a fun celebration for all.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

4 Things You Should Know about Parrots

1.  Parrots bite.  Yes, they can, and yes they often will.  Bites can vary from a little love nip because you were not paying enough attention, to a harder bite that bruises because, well you were still not paying attention to the body language, to the really bad bite that causes bleeding and much pain.  The level 3 bite is almost always from fear or hormonal aggression which is why you must never forget the golden rule of living with a parrot, ALWAYS pay attention to the body language of a parrot.  If you do get a bite, never blame the parrot because you didn't pay attention.

2.  Parrots make noise.   Sometimes quite a lot of it.  It's important to realize "noise" is a personal thing.  Some people find a budgie chattering or a cockatiel whistling quite annoying.  I once had a person tell me their zebra finch was driving them crazy with all the noise it made.  Other people find a conure screaming quite annoying.  Then there is the top of the mountain noise level people who finally break at the cockatoo ear shattering shrill yells, or the megaphone macaw squawks.   Personally, I'm a level 3 person because to me my sun conure screaming is a hum compared to one of my Amazons imitating a cockatoo screaming.  Not even my macaw is that annoying.

3.  Parrots make messes.  Really big messes.  They are very good at it.  It's in their DNA.  Flinging fruit around the rainforest just comes naturally.  Totally destroying that $50 toy in one day, well every parrot needs to keep their beak in shape and sometimes destroy things just because they can.  Even if a bird is born and raised to live with us, that wild bird personality is alive and well.  They just can't help themselves, they must fling food, toys, and whatever else they can grab and fling.  To not be messy would be quite boring for them.   After all, a parrot's natural foraging instinct is a goal of getting to the center of things and not caring where the outer layers end up.

4.  Parrots are picky.  They are picky about what foods they like, what colors they like or hate, picky about what toys they will play with, and definitely picky about what people they like and don't like.  Just because they loved a certain food or toy last week, doesn't mean it's still okay this week.

Patience is your friend when living with a parrot.  They challenge us to help them enjoy a healthy diet, use their awesome intelligence in play and foraging, and encourage trust and love to help avoid the bite.  If you love a parrot, then you are a pretty cool person.  If you are loved by a parrot, then you are a very cool person.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Shopping for Safe and Edible Plants Locally

There are many plants and flowers that are safe for your bird, some are even edible providing health benefits as well as tasty treats.  A great place to find healthy plants and information can be right in your own backyard so to speak.

Check out plant sales sponsored by your local Master Gardeners Association and help support local volunteer gardeners and their special projects in your area.

These groups may work with local food banks in providing fresh produce, youth groups such as 4H clubs, city beautification projects, and much more.  So when you purchase your safe bird plants and edible flowers for your birds, you are helping to give back to your community too.

Check out our Pinterest Board: Safe Plants and Edible Flowers for Birds with lots of photos of safe plants and flowers.  Also be sure to visit our website at: Safe Plants and Trees for Birds for a more complete list of plants and trees that are considered safe for parrots.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Parrot Shopping at Your Local Farmers Market

Have you checked out your local Farmers Market yet?

It's a great place to shop for your parrot.

Fresh foods, organic foods, locally grown foods, super nutrition at reasonable prices.

In the south, I already have some great food choices at my local market for my parrots such as strawberries, lots of fresh greens, non-acid tomatoes, and sweet potatoes,

Visit your local farmers market and get to know the growers to find out the best time to shop, when certain foods will most likely be available,  You can also find some great starter plants for your own garden.  I purchased two cherry tomato plants myself this morning.  They are sweet small cherry tomatoes and my parrots and grandchildren love them.  I'm trying to decide whether to plant them in my flower bed or in some pots on the patio.  Either way, we will all enjoy them this summer.

By shopping at your local farmers market for your parrots and yourself, you not only guarantee your food is super fresh and the highest quality nutrition, you will also help support your local farmers who work hard to provide good food at good prices.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

It's That Time of Year Again!

Got the Spring Cleaning bug?  I think Spring is a great time to thoroughly clean your Bird's Home and surrounding birdie area.

Here are a few tips to help you out.

Tip 1 - Remember to remove bird from cage to fun play area with lots of toys and treats to keep your bird occupied before beginning cleaning project. As many of us know, some birds simply do not like anyone messing with their stuff.  So keeping them occupied elsewhere, hopefully, may keep them from noticing what you are up to.

Tip 1 Rule:  Always respect the bird and his or her personal "things" if you value fingers and such.

Tip 2 - Remove all bird toys and perches from cage prior to cleaning. This is a great time to thoroughly inspect all toys for wear and tear and throw out anything that might not still be safe. Check for strings, shredded cloth or rope, bird poop that can't be cleaned away, chewed wood that has any sharp places, and so on.

Tip 2 Rule:   When in doubt, throw it out.

Tip 3 - Wooden and trimming perches such as concrete, sand, and such, can be soaked in a sink or bathtub in gentle dish detergent and water.  Be sure to thoroughly rinse and air dry before returning to your bird's cage or play area. Perches made of Rope and Sisal, or other such materials, can be brushed with a stiff bristle brush to help remove dried on poop, or food.  Although some people may gasp, both wood and rope or cotton perches can be run through a gentle dishwasher cycle after brushing to better clean them.  Again, make sure they are completely dry before returning to your bird.  Throw out any perches that look like they might trap tiny toes or toenails, or wood that looks splintered and possibly a foot hazard.  It may be time to add new perches and throw out the old, using different sizes for foot exercise.

Tip 3 Rule:  Perches that are not completely dry, can cause foot problems so taking the time to be sure they are dry is well worth it.

Tip 4 - Cages and play areas can be washed with vinegar and water, or a mixture of gentle dish detergent and water.  Always rinse well after cleaning.  Our bird store also carries products specifically made to clean cages, perches, and toys, that are bird safe.

NEVER use cleaners such as  Mr. Clean, Lysol, Soft Scrub, Windex, 409, etc. to clean anything your bird can come in contact with.  Almost all household cleaners 
can be deadly to your bird. Bleach is not recommended for cleaning as it is toxic if inhaled by your bird  (or you for that matter), is very caustic to cage finishes, and can burn skin if splashed accidentally.

If your cage is small enough, try putting it in the shower or bathtub for cleaning.  Be sure to put down a towel or bath mat to prevent scratching tub or shower finishes. 

You can also roll larger cages outdoors and use a garden hose to clean.  If using a power washer, you will probably want to set to a low-pressure setting to prevent paint damage to cage.

Tip 4 Rule:   Remember birds have very sensitive respiratory systems so if your cleaner smells strong to you, then is more than likely is not a good idea to use it around your bird.

Tip 5 - Once everything is nice and clean, add a couple of new toys as a reward before returning your bird to his or her home.  After all, your bird is going to know you have been messing with his or her stuff no matter how stealthy you think you have been, and new toys may help soothe things over for you.

Tip 5 Rule:  Now enjoy your Spring and your Bird's new clean area.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Spring Severe Weather Prepardeness

A little planning can save valuable minutes in an emergency.

Although any time of year can have weather related emergencies, spring often brings tornados, floods, severe thunderstorms, lightning strikes, power outages, or early hurricanes, for many parts of the country.

Being prepared ahead of time can be key to avoiding a lot of worry, and can help keep both you and your bird safe during any weather emergency.

Severe weather can often cause power outages so it's always good to have some extra non-perishable bird food on hand for such an event.  Include a few bottles of water, as well as some paper towels, and a bird first aid kit.  If you don't have a smart phone with a flashlight app, you can include a flashlight with extra batteries.  Make sure to have either a carrier or small travel cage and a thick towel or cover.  Having some fresh fruit on hand can provide some quick energy nutrition as well as providing a distraction for an upset bird.

If your bird is frightened by thunderstorms, placing your bird in a carrier or smaller cage and covering, can provide the security feeling your bird may need.  Placing your bird in the carrier or cage before the weather gets bad, can be especially helpful, as during the storm you may be dealing with a very stressed or panicked bird who might try and fly away, or bite in fear.

A carrier can be a lifesaver for your bird if you need to move quickly to an interior room in your home, to a storm shelter, or even evacuate during dangerous weather events.  Emergency items can be stored year-round inside the carrier so everything is always ready when you need it.

Some birds may relate carriers to not so good events such as vet visits.  Begin early to teach your bird that his or her carrier can be a cool place to hang out.  Make the carrier available to your bird often throughout the year with treats and favorite toys inside.  Bird treats and foot toys that your bird can go into the carrier and retrieve can be good training.

It's always a very good idea to have a towel stored with your carrier supplies in the event your bird never learns to like the carrier, as it can be used a quick wrap to move your bird from cage to carrier.  Don't worry about removing the towel, just deposit bird and towel into the carrier.  Birds pick up quickly on human emotion and if you are nervous or stressed by the weather, then even the bird that is a sweetheart, may be nippier than usual and avoiding the bite will benefit both you and your bird.  The towel in the carrier may also provide a snuggle place or even an object to nip at instead of you.

Let us know if there is a must-have for your severe weather emergency kit.