Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Evil Telephone

A frightened phone peeks out from its protective cover.
Charli hates the phone. Whenever I have to use it she becomes enraged at the attention I seem forced to give it, rather than giving my attention to her.

Sometimes she'll bite me if I'm on the phone too long. I like to think she bites me to make me move away from the Evil Phone lest it eat me up altogether. Of course, that's a prime example of anthropomorphism -- in reality she's just jealous.

When I'm finished with the phone, I place it back in its cradle and then cover the unit with a dish towel. My theory was that if Charli can't see it she won't attack it.

This worked well for a few months, but now Charli delights in pulling off the dish towel and attacking the defenseless phone.

Some parrot-crazed person somewhere wrote in some parrot publication that she'd begun treating her phone like a "bad" bird.  She would shake her finger and scold it while her parrot looked on.

Naturally, as soon as I remembered this I tried it. If it worked for her, surely it would work for me, too. When I would finish a call, I began putting the phone in the cradle and then shaking my finger at it.

"Bad phone!" I would say. "Bad, bad phone!"  Charli would always watch this with great interest.

"I'm going to cover you up," I continued, "so you can think about what you've done!" Then I would drape the dish towel over the phone, frowning through the entire process.

Has it helped ease Charli's jealousy? Not really. After several weeks of "punishing" the "bad, bad" phone, Charli remains unfooled. 

She also takes spells where she attacks the computer keyboard, especially if my fingers are "playing" with it. All parrots know that fingers are to only play with parrot feathers and nothing else, and all parrot slaves should know that, too.

Is your parrot jealous of the telephone or the computer.? Or both? Have you been able to solve the issues?  Please tell us how!  My poor phone is beginning to have an inferiority complex.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Allergies in Parrots

Charli grabs a tissue to deal with her allergies.
Several months ago, back in the spring, I noticed a slight congested sound from Charli when she was on my shoulder. Not all the time, certainly not loud, but it was definite congestion. Her nares were clear, and her behavior was in all other ways normal.

I figured I was imagining things.

The next evening I heard it again, and it was not my imagination. She also sneezed a couple of times. I immediately called a new (to me and Charli) avian veterinarian for an appointment, up in southern Ohio.

Charli was well-behaved during the exam by a stranger, though she did not appreciate having said stranger peer down her throat. She also didn't appreciate the stranger taking blood, but she didn't care that he also took a bit of her discarded poop.

The results? All the results were normal for an extremely healthy well cared for parrot who just happened to have seasonal allergies.

Allergies? Parrots get allergies?

Oh yes, the vet explained. They're quite common. You know we're right in the middle of the Ohio Valley, and all the allergens settle around here.

It was true that our region of the US has had the highest rate of allergy sufferers for years. From about April to November allergy treatments and medications get added to my regular every day vitamin regime, so I am well-acquainted with allergies.

So now my sweet little Charli had allergies, too.  What could I do for her?

The veterinarian gave her an injection of antihistimines and said that would help. If not, he said, we could try various drugs that were used to treat allergies in parrots.

This vet was so good that he gave Charli the injection before she realized she'd been stuck. She turned her head to bite him, but it was already over.

After about a week, there was still some congestion. It ended up with the vet sending me a medication to give Charli by mouth, which was so much fun I can't begin to talk about it yet.

But the good news is that she is evidently only allergic to spring time allergies and not summer or autumn ones.

I'll take what good news I can get.

Are your parrots allergic to things? How did you find out?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Yet Another Hoarding Crisis

I've seen too many of these notices on Facebook lately -- another hoard of birds locked up in some dark dangerous place, starving, dead, sick, all victims of someone with a serious mental illness.

This time it happened in Connecticut on September 15, 2016. Reports of a foul odor led to the discovery of over 200 animals, over 150 of them parrots. The Rhode Island Parrot Rescue has been working non-stop to get the animals out and into safe, clean environments. Of course they are not prepared for such an emergency; what rescue is? Of course, they need donations and supplies and hands.

Where is the line between being mentally and emotionally healthy and being a hoarder who causes pain?

When I fell in love with parrots I thought it would be a fine thing to have one or two of each species, or at least a few more of one species. Lucky for me and for all the parrots I will never have, common sense reared its head to remind me that I have limited space, a low tolerance for noise, a job I had to pay attention to, a social life, and not nearly enough money to feed and care for more parrots.

Even though there are hoarders are both sides of my family, I have managed to keep it at bay, though it isn't always easy.

But what of those who can't keep it at bay, those who know things are out of control but continue to take in more and more and more? I don't know the statistics, but I think most animal hoarders know they have too many animals and that they cannot care for them. What of their friends and neighbors who suspect a problem -- how do they broach the subject with alienating the hoarder or losing contact altogether?

I don't think I know any animal hoarders -- or rather, I've never seen evidence of animal hoarding. Do you know an animal hoarder? Have you reported them and how did it turn out? If you didn't report them, were you able to help the animals?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Unanimous Decision About Kale

We have a lot of farmers' markets here and throughout the state, so there's always something fresh and delicious to choose from nearly any day of the week.

I keep seeing pictures on Facebook of happy little birds chomping away on clumps of kale and lettuce and other various greens, so I decided I should give my birds some, too. I stopped by one of the stalls that offered only the finest organic vegetables. I at least knew better than to buy one of their big bags of kale or collard greens because if the birds didn't like them I wouldn't eat them.

So I asked as politely as possible if I could buy just a small handful of kale and collard greens. "Just to see if my birds like them," I explained.

"Your birds eat collard greens?" the staff person seemed incredulous.

"Well," I said, "it's worth a try."

She let me pick out a few leaves but refused my money.

"If they like it, you can buy a bag next week," she told me and hurried away to help the next customer, who probably had a more reasonable request.

I took the greens home and washed and drained them. I used an old wooden clothes pin to attach one leaf of kale and one leaf of collard greens to each cage. The birds eyed this new development with much suspicion, so I told them it was a treat.

I had tried giving the cockatiels a shallow bowl of water last week with some fresh spinach in it to bathe in, but they were having none of it.

Then I went off to do non-avian chores, certain the leaves would be thoroughly chewed up and eaten within minutes.

About ten minutes later I stopped by the cages. Cheb and Flash had pulled down both the kale and collard greens, leaving the clothes pin intact. They  were stomping on the leaves, perhaps thinking they were area rugs for their cage. I did not see any beak marks.

Charli, on the other hand, had not pulled down either leaf, but had clearly chewed some holes in the collard greens leaf.  Big holes.

In this video (I apologize for the poor quality) she is hanging upside down, performing one of her favorite acts -- making a hole in something then using her beak to make the hole bigger and bigger. I suppose it must feel good to her beak. I learned long ago not to let her get started on any of my favorite tee-shirts. (The leaf looks brown in the video, but it was as green as the rest of it in real life.)

I may or may not give it another try this weekend, maybe presenting the leaves in a different shape (chopped up).

Either way, I suspect I won't be able to post cute pictures of my birds wrestling healthy green plants into their little beaks anytime soon.