‘Tis the season . . . to snuggle birds in the cold dark of northern winter’s night and exchange holiday greetings with friends! Secret Santa gift exchanges abound, and posts of festooned Christmas trees at the mercy of inquisitive birds delight!
‘Tis the season, most of all, to celebrate hope in new life. The chicks from Twitter’s @cocothecanary’s Maggie and Twister brighten Advent days while @TheLuxeBirds’ (Tw) JoJo’s husbird, Suni, does his share warming Christmas cockatiel eggs.
In truth, the spiritual dynamic of the winter holidays, be they Christmas or Saturnalia, lies in anticipatory waiting — waiting in the dark and through the dark, waiting out even some desperation. In the spirit of Advent determination, we join with both @Sherrithewriter and @elvisbird_dean (@elvisbird (IG)) in mourning their recent losses, respectively, of Chloe and JoJo in incidents of cruel irony in the wintry outdoors. (See also Sherri’s article on our Behavior Issues page).
In JoJo’s and Chloe’s honor, we seek renewal of hope, that bright summer days like Emilio’s on this Connecticut lake (@emiliothebird (IG)) shall soon return. In hope, we feature a few charming, relatively new members of our social media community that the community will grow and flourish:
Zazu the aracari, or toucan (@Zazutheivorybilledaracari (IG)), belongs to the family Ramphastidae, species pteroglossus azara, native to the humid, warm lowland forests of South America where iron binds insolubly with the (lateritic) soil. At eight months, Zazu takes decaf black tea regularly — so tannins can reduce the risk of iron storage disease common to aracari. His long beak is light, a bony structure infilled with spongy keratin, and his feathery tongue, with serated tip, enables him to eat not only fruit but insects and small lizards. You’ll get to learn more about Zazu in a feature by @Zazutheivorybilledaracari at a later date!
Skye (@ParrotletSkye (Tw)), a blue Pacific Parrotlet, at three months, wants to accompany her parronts everywhere, mischievously steals food from their plates, and fancies herself a gamester. . . Eight-month-old greencheek conure Ari squawked when put to bed to win snuggles with his parront until lady friend Blu (six months) arrived to distract him (@ari_the_greencheek (IG)/@aritheconure (Tw)); their parront treasures them as family and chats with them nightly on FaceTime when she travels.
CrankyConure’s (Tw) “favorite all-time food is BRUSSEL SPROUTS!” but she loves to do interior design with raspberries and resists conversion to apples, bananas or carrots. Moreover, she has a running vendetta with her “mom’s” scarves because “she only wears them so I can’t give her neck love bites”. . . Sagy of Slovakia (@sagy_greenforever (IG)) has been harness training and, more impressively, now seeks employment as a full-fledged personal assistant! . . . And then there’s @mimikoy_and_kikiram (IG), two curious budgies, eight and three months, respectively, who simply entrance with their play:
(I love some raspberries; I loves to makes a mess!)
Just kiss me, kiss me! (@mimikoy_and_kikiram (IG):
Tango the Senegal (@myparrotlife (IG)), a “true millenial” who does “anything to get close to . . . cellphones and laptops” and loves to hang upside down, celebrates his Hatch Day for the first time this month. A training prodigy who shakes hands, fetches, plays dead and is being trained to harness, Tango imitates his parront’s clicking “before the trick is even finished, in anticipation”!
Of course, winter in the Northern Hemisphere means fewer ventures outside for our birb friends– it’s just too cold most days. But Koko (@koko_in_London (IG)) braves it to brighten the days of a few international tourists in Holland Park. Here he makes friends with amply bundled @DJMadameBoo (IG), comic radio host/producer, ADA activist, missionary and speaker.
Meanwhile, Down Under, Mr. Archibaldd (FB, Instagram’s @Mr_Archibaldd), a luxuriant lory with lorikeet siblings, suns away the summer and relishes his third birthday on the beach! Mr. Archibald loves to bathe and preen and is prone to stick his lush and long lorikeet tongue in his parront’s ear while snuggling! In the Maldives, our friends @thealexandrineparrots (IG) play throughout the December summer vacation (later in the year they will celebrate Eid, rather than Christmas) and prepare for New Year’s fireworks.
Along with Mr. Archibaldd, Scout the Senegal (@p_isforparrot (IG/Tw)) celebrates her third birthday. . . . by spontaneously arranging her vegetables in a “3.”
And, remember, if you can’t think of anything better to do, birbs, when Christmas carols are playing, take Alex the Honk’s advice and “Honk, like no one hears you”! (@AlexTheHonk (Tw)):
You cannot watch your movie until you have paid attention to me! (@sara2020hatami (IG))
(Thirty-four yearold parrot Charlie enjoys tussling with the Snowman! (@veronika_charlie.the_parrot (IG))
Baby Dexter (@jade_the_ringneck (IG))
My favorite exercise- checking myself out in the mirror! (@CrazyConure (Tw)):
As we come off the excitement of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc., let’s take a moment to pause again in thanks. And especially in thanks for friendship with a great little TwitBirb, @HarrytheBirdie: Friday, November 17, 2017 Twitter’s beloved @HarrytheBirdie drove to the vet with his “mom” Shelly for the final time. It was a difficult trip, but Shelly and the vet had discussed euthanasia when Harry was diagnosed six weeks earlier with testicular cancer: the vet told Shelly that Harry’s strong heart meant he would survive great suffering, that euthanasia might be the kindest gesture at the right time.
November 16, Harry had a good day and played with his disco ball. But by evening, Shelly tweeted to Harry’s 2,000 followers, Harry lay on his belly — even the opiate pain killer which earlier rejuvenated him gave little relief. Shelly made her decision to take him to the vet if his condition worsened in the night. And it did.
Throughout Harry’s life, Shelly had extraordinary sensitivity to Harry’s health and well-being. In 2010, when she determined to get an English budgie, she chose Harry’s parents at a breeder’s in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin. The breeder later sent Shelly pictures of the eggs. Harry hatched in January 2011 and went home with Shelly as a black-eyed, black-beaked 8-week chick in February.
Harry’s antics included climbing up the lamp cord on his favorite lamp, kissing his mommy, playing with his disco ball, talking to Grammy (Shelly’s mother), and rocking out to the bands Shelly’s husband played on the stereo.
Long past Harry’s chickdom, Shelly maintained a mother’s vigilance with a baby monitor so she knew even when Harry had night frights. And, this year, the monitor alerted Shelly when Harry several times fell off his perch while sleeping. To Shelly, this falling absent flapping from a night fright was reason for a trip to the vet. The vet indicated that Harry fell due to numbness in his right foot, which developed as his tumor pressed against the sciatic nerve.
As a budgie typically lives twelve to fifteen years, Harry’s demise at age six after six weeks of decline, was untimely and extraordinarily difficult for Shelly. She wisely joined a pet grieving group and commemorates Harry through private cremation. The vet surprised her with a claw print!
Harry will long be held dear in the hearts of Twitter friends, especially those who gathered at the legendary #HarrysPorch. We stand in silence to honor him and send condolences to Shelly.
On a more cheerful note, congratulations to Twitter’s @cocothecanary on her lovely “T-Rex” chicks. Maggie and Twister have done themselves proud! Already they are sporting canary gold! And friend JoJo cockatiel (@theluxebirds (Tw)) is expecting! She has eggs now!
Health matters are the order of the day for this issue: Instagram’s @Snowball64, a twelve-year-old cockatiel with an enlarged heart, has lived with that heart condition and regular medication for over three years now. A singing and talking bird whose first song was the Andy Griffith theme song, which he learned while hospitalized at the vet with a respiratory infection, Snowball wears a collar to prevent over-preening and to encourage his chewing on toys rather than himself. Enjoy the warm Christmas spirit Snowball ushers in!
A caution to all birb owners with sanded perches for their birbs—Twitter’s @KatoQParrot sustained a beak injury from over rubbing his beak on such a perch! The beak, treated with coconut oil and steam-room treatments. KatoQ also has a youtube channel, where you can see him dance the hokey pokey and sing “Popeye, the Sailorman,” https://youtube.com/user/KatoQParrot .
We lately met Babazee of Instagram (@_babazee.and.flapjack_ (IG)), who is already in his third home despite being less than one year in age. His first owner neglected him abusively: pictures revealed Babazee and his brother in a single-perch budgie cage overflowing with poop, feathers and seed husks and splattered with blood from broken blood feathers; the cage and improper diet permanently stunted the birds’ growth. Needless to say the conditions rendered them sickly, and the brother did not survive. Babazee’s current owner reports that, on first arrival, Babazee startled and hissed at any approach to his cage, yet within two months he consumed a healthy diet and ate millet from her hand! Recently, Babazee neatly “stepped up” and let her pet him! If you’re a good bird handler in the right situation, consider adopting a needy bird in 2018.
On a totally different tack—birbs and tech, a new free android game app is out—Tiny Bird Garden—and the Instagram birb community finds it is a great passtime. One of the characters is actually designed after a Scots-born birb/pigeon cartoonist on Instagram, @emmamabird., who knows the developers, and our own @KingArchimedes enjoys playing it: each player has a garden in which they can put things birds like to play with, put out seed birds like to eat, and entertain other birds who leave behind feathers, which are the trading currency for the garden.
Little bird garden . . . big bird playground. . . Instagram’s @BacontheCockatoo’s owner got Bacon 1.5 years ago (he hatched in May 1999) when he seduced her with a “Hi, love; hi, yoouuu!” Potty-trained and equipped of a considerable vocabulary, Bacon usually steps up on command with glee, notwithstanding the below video caption! He has learned curse words and even let fly with “the F-bomb” when given a timeout not long ago.
Finally, please visit our new Gen(i)us page, which will feature bird by species and birdwatching from both @quarkybirdy and @KingArchimedes, alternating on the 1st and 15th of each month. Do you know the species below? Maybe it’s time to brush up!!!
With that, as it is Friday, we give you food for thought, @sidTHEparrot’s suggestion that on Sundays, yoga is the best way to start the day.
Good morning! It’s a Typical Day in BirbVerse—Crimson (Crimsons_life (IG)) does her nails, Bonnet (@BonnettheBird (Tw)) hides under the covers, Sugar (@sugartiel (Tw)) shines out a greeting, Sid (@sidTHEparrot (Tw)) gets the morning “scritches” that keep him happy, and @miss_maggie_magpie (IG) plays breakfast insect computer games on her tablet:
It’s that time of year—British birbs have survived Guy Fawkes Day fireworks, and the weather in the Northern Hemisphere has turned wintry. Dressed in his Zombie Squad uniform, Private Bob Owa (@owa_bob (Tw)) pronounced the fireworks more frightful than zombies!
We join Zombie Squad in mourning the sudden passing of sweet Private Molly moo moo (@molly_fluffybun (Tw)) on November 2. Her sweet love-patter with @owa_bob enraptured the TwitterVerse and will long be missed!
The recent weather has meant icy roads and cranky cars for Canadian and British birb owners alike. For @Lollypop_and_Candyfloss (IG), two love geese aged five and four months, respectively, it means starting to sleep in their own little house, which Lolly is not happy about.
Bob has not been the only bird ambassador active lately: while @Koko_in_London greets passersby in Kensington Park, @myparrotlife’s (IG) Senegal Tango dines sociably à la fresco in New York, and an undercoverbirb leads aerobics class in an undisclosed location, courtesy of @NikosGKountouri (Tw).
@Koko_in_London is a relative newcomer to social media. At 2.5 years of age, this Indian ringneck charms with his favorite greeting of “Gimme a kiss” and game of peekaboo. Free-flight at home and in-harness outside, Koko ventures into London—its tourist spots and quaint corners—cheering people up as he goes. Other newcomers to our Instagram following are @Flockof10 with her six conures, two cockatiels, one Lovebird and one pied Imperial– below Sydney, Techno, Ginger and Luffy stand in affectionate formation on her forearm; and @Sagy_Greenforever, a bluefronted Amazon of Bratislava, Slovakia, shown invading the kitchen.
We welcome our first Facebook submitter, Hakomi Akiyama (@KingArchimedes (IG)), an avian rescue volunteer, local bird guide and natural science lecturer. Her rescued Utility King pigeon, King Archimedes, doubles as her service animal, warning of impending seizures. King Archimedes stands 11.5 inches tall, measures 6.2 inches across the chest and 9.5 inches stem to stern, and weighs 41 ounces. Utility King pigeons are generally bred for meat and for release.
Congratulations to Maggie and Twister (@cocothecanary (Tw)) on their new hatchling! @FlockIsFamily (Tw) welcomes baby budgie Teal, and thoughtful “brother” Levi starts Teal on fishnet attack training so he can aid neighbor @OscarTheBetta in times of need. Both Levi and Teal were adopted from @MickabooRescue (Tw), Levi in 2014 and Teal November 5. Levi is reportedly a most helpful older brother.
Happily, Harry Birdie Bird (@HarryTheBirdie (Tw)) capitalizes on improved health and holds steady at 54 gms. Notwithstanding the cooler temperatures, #HarrysPorch, as pictured in an earlier issue, has become a popular hangout for the likes of @CocoTheParrot and @OscarTheBetta.
Training and play, of course, are central to the health of our birbs, and the smiles their antics bring to our faces bring us health too! Their efforts range from the naïve—like @Shadybadparrot’s (Tw) confusion over whether a water bowl can double as a bath and @Lokii_and_Maple‘s (IG) Lokii turning her head 180 degrees for a scratch—to the complex, concentrated efforts of @p_isforparrot (Tw)’s Senegal Scout and @SarahLudick64’s Tigger learning new tasks of artistry and housecleaning, respectively.
While Tigger is still a baby, Scout (named after the protagonist in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird) is nearly three years old and has mastered over 25 tricks—including, fetching, rolling over and skate boarding—through judicious use of positive reinforcement clicker training! Through training, Scout and her owner share quality time, and the mental stimulation keeps Scout healthy. Scout and her owner have active accounts on both Twitter and Instagram, and Scout’s owner hopes they together inspire other owner – bird pairs in the great enrichment clicker – training provides.
Southern Hemisphere birds are not to be outdone: the dynamic duo of love-hate relationships, hand-raised and flighted Alexandrian parrots Kiwi, three-year-old female, and Prince, two-year-old, of the Maldives (@thealexandrineparakeets (IG)) dispute ownership of the Kleenex box:
Although winter is upon us, we have not escaped the ravaging results of the Caribbean hurricane season. Not only are our friends in Puerto Rico still without adequate electrical power, as @BirdsCaribbean (Tw) reminds us, entire species of wild parrot now struggle for survival, such as the Sisserou Parrot. The rescue asks that you make contributions at https://www.razoo.com or rarespecies.org. In addition, @zazushousesanctuary (IG), in Washington state, has its third annual winter fund-raiser, Cozy Winter 2018, to fund the heating of its two large sanctuary houses. The drive lasts throughout the month of November, and contributors of $25 or more receive a 2018 calendar. Contributions welcome at https://www.gofundme.com/cozywinter2018.
In closing, we share with you the sage advice of @AlexTheHonk (Tw)—if life gets hectic, stop and smell the flowers. . . And eat them!
The Round Up – November 1
Okay, so your bird would not be quiet this morning: she raided the kids’ Halloween candy stash, shrieked with delight, and batted about the house all day high on sugar. Well, do send us the photos/videos! Maybe we should stage a contest for those! We do hope you had a HAPPY Hallowe’en and just enough candy for your TrickorTreaters.
First of all, Congratulations to @franksandbeans.macaws (IG), winner of the BirbObserver Halloween Costume Contest. We extend a special welcome to @franksandbeans.macaws, Instagram account, for being the first Instagram account to enter the Contest. (We have just begun our Instagram presence: Follow us on Instagram at @BirbObserver. Even more recently we initiated a Facebook presence, again at @BirbObserver.)
We also extend a warm greeting to @emiliothebird (IG) and @baileyburito (IG) as the first two Instagram accounts to submitmaterial to TheRoundUp. Below, @emiliothebird is caught midst an adorable yawn, while @baileyburito sports stylish nappies, which admittedly took some getting used to.
Above, @HarryTheBirdie (Tw) demonstrates renewed vitality since our last issue, when we saw his friends gathering on his porch to support him via touching photoshop by @JeffMusk (Tw)
Our Candid of the Week is a @PEACsandiego (Tw) volunteer making her way to a morning shower with the “help” of two macaws; our pacesetter is @PiddoCornelius (Tw) with his matcha latte, and we thank @sadgirlkms (Tw)for her cruelty-free eye cosmetics recommendation:
While my budgies do not value feather-wise cleanliness beyond all else, others’ birbs have greater enthusiasm for baths and showers, like @BirdSammie (Tw), below, bathes in the spray from his moist greens. Oddly, owners may actually be less receptive to showers than their birbs themselves — check out @Jesspy7 (Tw) and her human.
More news from our friends in Puerto Rico post-hurricane: Tanya Martinez relates that young Ovi has moved to a flight cage but still begs for baby food. Given Puerto Rico’s post-hurricane hardships, Ovi shines forth the promise of life renewed for all who care for him.
Speaking of food, @SweetFelix (Tw) announced that he wants to sue his owners for damages because they grossly neglected–willfully and wantonly!– to share their pistachios with him. The indignity of it all—they left him in the other room!
With that @SweetFelix’s threat in mind, you had best not forget to feed your bird (as if he would let you!)—keep him away from Halloween candy and thus obliterate any temptation to prey on other birbs or computer keyboards — see @MariChrisney’s (Tw) Pipoca or @TermaTiel’s (Tw) Squeekie below:
Ever wonder about the nexus between wild parrots and your birb? The other day @Downstayteam (Tw) saluted his wild counterpart, the white-crowned parrot (Pionus senilis), posted by @Parrotoftheday (Tw) (credit to Mike Schaff):
@Ladylovebirdvlf (Tw) — Angel, Vicki and Flock — provides us words of Inspiration to carry into the next few weeks (Author Unknown):
Hello, and welcome to The RoundUp: there’s always lively action across two weeks in TwitBirdVerse!
@SidtheParrot set a British lifestyle standard for the rest of us to follow with his crumpets and butter for breakfast; then again, considering Sid’s antics further, I personally hope my birbs don’t follow his example in trying to feed me regurgitated seeds!
Sid is not alone in unabashed self-promotion. In fact, our birbs may promote their species as the salvation of us average miserable human beings, like this sardonic sun conure from FaceBook’s BirdWithaCharacter (shared by @Elizavetamai):
In the event you have not already heard, little Naked Bird Rhea passed away. Cody the Lovebird (@Birdhism) offered this touching commemorative, which we share with you now. As Cody pointed out, Rhea was not only the “cutest, nudest peeper,” she “taught the world that the special guys deserve love, too!”
Scout the Senegal leads the score in fitness for the period with his tremendous free throws! What are your birb’s favorite activities? Forward pictures and videos to us at #birbob to share!
On a similar upbeat note, we join @FlockisFamily and @yarrumydna in welcoming @paulineporter16’s two new hatchlings into the world. I do hope we will continue to see tweets about these two darling birbs as they grow and mature:
P.E.A.C. San Diego does us all proud by rehoming birbs in need. They recently announced that that Tiki, a yellow-naped Amazon, is waiting for adoption. Tiki is 8 years old, has an extensive vocabulary and even “steps up” well for new people. Not especially loud, Tiki does talk, whistle and sing most of the day. Her utterances include “you’re all wet!” and “give me a beer!” If you are interested or know someone in the San Diego area who might be interested, please contact @PEACsandiego. Please note that prior to adoption prospective families MUST attend PEAC San Diego seminars.
We greet @Indydog0813’s birdy with delight as he sits on the bannister, where he isn’t “supposed to be.” He relates that as long he is quiet, Mom won’t say a thing because Dad will still sleep. And we encourage Dad’s rest! We send our best wishes, as he and @Indydog0813 together meet the medical challenges of an illness with the attending VA. The most recent developments include a doctor specifically appointed to coordinate medication management across the various specialists and gathering second opinions. Argh! Do let @Indydog0813 know of the support you hold in your hears for their family! She has indicated that the support from her Twitter family does help.
@HarryTheBirdie recently asked his friends to contribute to a picture composite, beautifully executed by @JeffMusk. His friends appear below, gathered together on his front porch, supporting him and his owner as he prepares to pass to the other side of Life. Please remember and similarly support his owner at this difficult time
For some life presents unmasking challenges; others just choose to kick the can down the road, so carefree!
Before concluding, we remind you of the Hallowe’en costume competition: submit your entry to BirbObserver@gmail.com by October 25. Photos will be posted for voting by DM to @BirbObserver. The winner will be announced the afternoon of October 31, and the prize is a published feature about you and your inimitable birb(s) by our beloved Keito of @quarkybirdy.
Until we meet again, we offer you this unattributed Parrot Prayer for reflection:
Our feathers, which art glorious,
Parrot be my name.
My mess is done, my human come
To clean poop, bring food and scratch me.
Give us this day our nuts and fruit,
And skip the boring pellets you think are necessary.
And also bring us the toys so we may leave your curtains alone.
And lead us not into the veterinary office
But release us from cages.
For yours is the kingdom
I will chew destroy and maim for the next 70 years.
The Round Up
Hi all, and welcome to the late September Roundup of submittals to @birbobserver. Today, we welcome new members, share useful information, and celebrate a fellow Twitter member who helped in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria.
Did you see the #PirateWeek pictures of the Saturday night party on September 17 with @owa_bob? It looks like it was a fun event. The pictures of our anipals in wigs and costume are so cute. Keep them coming! We hope to get some great pictures of your avian companions in costume for Halloween. How do your birds like Halloween, and the trick or treating? Have you had any fun shenanigans with them during the witching hour? We’d love to share your pictures and stories in an October roundup.
@Michkpop16 is a birdy hero! They fed and saved more than 90 birds during Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Wow, that’s quite a feat! Thanks for your dedication and hard work to saving our avian pals during this devastating hurricane. You can see more at #HurricaneMaria and #PuertoRicoStrong. There have also been sanctuaries doing great work on the mainland, like Gulf Coast Exotic Bird Sanctuary. @Elvisbird has written a news story on bird sanctuaries and their work with our feathered friends during this recent series of storms.
[@Michkpop16 ‘s inspiration to establish a bird sanctuary came from one particular bird.]
[@Iguacachick at work in Puerto Rico taking birds to safety before Hurricane Maria]
Do you wonder what foods are safe for your birds? @tiellover shared a helpful article on unsafe foods that’s worth a read and retweet. Check it out for helpful information on keeping your birdy buddies filled with safe food and snacks to promote their well being. We hope this is the first of many articles on better bird care, and welcome you to share information, tips, and tricks on keeping birds safe, healthy, and happy.
@BombiTiel got a snazzy new willow ball toy filled with millet. I had no idea they filled toys with millet! Wow, where did your parronts find that treasure? I’ll bet Santa could bust the bank with birdy stocking stuffers there.
Bombi got some great retweets of pretty birds on September 28 when mommy had a bad day, and people “stepped up” with pictures of their birds. How sweet! One interesting one in particular was of a retweet from @Tiellover of Rosie, a Rose Breasted Cockatoo, which led to a discussion on DNA sexing.
[Photo by @BombiTiel]
Have any of you had that DNA testing on your birdy buddies?
You can send away for results with a blood sample (through a blood draw or plucking a blood feather) or from an egg sample. This is the only way to make a definite sex determination for birds (especially in species where the male and female aren’t distinct to our eye, like most parrot species), because they study the blood sample to check the genes for the XX (female) or XY (male) chromosome pattern. More information on these tests are available at http://www.avianbiotech.com/Index.htm and http://www.animalgenetics.eu/Avian/avian-dna-sexing/dna-sexing-feather.html . What’s most interesting is when people believe name their bird, then find out through a DNA test that they were told the wrong sex! (How may female “Charlie’s” or male “Rosie’s” are there because of this?). Have you had a DNA result surprise? Share those stories and pictures with us!
There is one other way to determine sex without needles or tests. Although not as reliable, I found it was accurate with our three and matched up with what we knew. Put your thumb on the pelvic bone between their little legs. If the pelvic bones are nearly touching, it’s a boy. If you feel a space that fits your thumb, it’s a girl. The pelvic bones in girls are further apart to allow space for eggs to pass. But while the “thumb test” was right with our birds, it made them really mad. I got quite a bite from all three of them.
Finally, we hope you’ll surf around the blog for great information from our writers and contributors. We’ve welcomed several new faces here at BirbObserver, and encourage you to check out About the Authors and Editorials to meet them. Welcome to our newcomers Joanna, Lavender, Keito, and Sarah Ludick. Morty’s Page gives us a bird’s eye view of life from an adorable African Grey who brings joy to so many, and there’s great information throughout on birds, contributors, advice, and help for we humans who share our lives with avian companions.
That’s it for this Roundup! Keep those tweets coming with the #birbob and @BirbObserver tags. It’s a great way to share advice, events, friendship and fun with your fellow bird lovers. It’s not just about parrots, either. We welcome all birds! Chickens, Roosters, Pigeons, Finches, Parakeets, etc. All are welcome! Share those tweets, and you may be in the next Roundup.
[Video by @Jesswesthemp: when your bird decides paper rolls are totally evil]
Throw That Food Bowl Away!
As a bird behaviorist, my first piece of advice for you is to get rid of the bowl or dish you use to feed your bird. Keep the water bowl, ditch the food bowls. Bowls and dishes are for humans. Birds should not be using them. This probably sounds strange, but take a moment to think about how birds eat in nature.
Wild parrots spend most of their waking time foraging for food. This means that they spend many, many hours each day problem-solving and staying fit– they climb, fly, walk, stretch, pull and chew–and chew and chew– while dropping fruit flesh and nutshells on the ground to get to the fruits, berries, seeds and nuts which they eat.
Parrots spend most of their time in trees. They find their food (nuts, fruit, berries) on the branches where they perch and climb. They problem-solve how to get to food and how to open it to eat it. African Grey Parrots might dig up roots to eat, too. Some species of parrots may also tear bark off of trees and eat that.
You may think, “Nature is cruel! I don’t want my sweet birb to have to do all that hard work just to get food each day.”
Please let me introduce you to an important term and concept from Animal Behavior Science. It is one of my favorite words:
Contrafreeloading means that animals actually prefer to work for food instead of eating it out of a dish. Yes, it has been scientifically tested and proven. It is fun to forage for food!
To prevent your birb from being bored during the day, hide his or her food in different locations. Hide food inside of toys. You can buy puzzle forager toys and/or you can make your own with items from your recycling bin. Paper can be wrapped around food. Shredded paper can be put on top of food so your birb gets to pull the paper off to find it. Holes can be drilled in perches and food can be placed inside those holes. If it won’t bother your housemates, you can hide food around your house so that your bird has a big foraging, exploring adventure throughout the day.
I know you may be in a habit of just tossing food into a bowl and getting on with your day, but I challenge you to get rid of the food bowl and devise creative ways to motivate your birds to forage for food. There are infinite ways to get your bird to forage!
Many parrots will readily start solving problems to find food because foraging is so fun! However, parrots are generally NEOPHOBIC which means they tend to be afraid of new things, including new toys. Don’t be surprised if your bird takes a while to approach a new toy. An easy way to transition from using a bowl to providing foraging enrichment is to add shredded paper to your food bowl.
At first, you could add just a few pieces of shredded or torn paper. For the next meal, add more paper. Keep providing the same food, but add more and more paper (or bird-safe wood pieces or cardboard) to the bowl so that your bird gets to dig around and move objects to get to the food. After a few meals like this, you could wrap a piece of paper around the bowl, covering it completely so your parrot tears it to get to the food. This is a bit like tearing apart a fruit to eat it’s seed in the wild.
I have a Salmon-Crested Cockatoo behavior patient who is approximately 20 years old and has just switched from eating out of a boring bowl to eating Harrison’s pellets out of a hanging coconut shell toy. We placed the pellets at the edge of to coconut shell toy so that they could be seen easily at first. Eventually, we will move them deeper into the coconut shells and finally we will start hiding them in many different locations.
I had a 13 year old Lesser Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo patient who would not use her foraging puzzle toy (a clear plastic wheel) until we put her favorite small toys inside of it. She was more interested in getting to her toys than to her food. Once she figured out how to get the little toys out of the forager puzzle, she started eating food out of it. FYI, her very favorite toys were the keys from an old computer keyboard. Sometimes the least expensive toys are the most fun.
My favorite easy DIY foraging toy is simply placing pellets or other food inside of a small cardboard box. I have also placed food inside of cleaned, old plastic containers including pill bottles. Sometimes using clear plastic containers helps for birds that are new to foraging because they can see the food through the plastic. Note: Watch your bird’s beak and tongue closely the first time they interact with a new enrichment item to ensure that they spit out the chewed pieces and don’t swallow them. Most birbs I know are very good at dropping all the bits they chew off of their toys, but do keep safety in mind. A tray or large cloth can be placed beneath the area where your bird eats to catch dropped pieces of paper, cardboard, plastic, or wood for easy clean-up.
I will be writing articles for BirbObserver full of more tips about how to make life fun for your birb including many foraging enrichment ideas.
Welcome to The Roundup!
Hi everybody, and welcome to our first Round Up of posts submitted to @BirbObserver! I’m excited to see you posting to #birbob and to report the news this week.
First up, we’d extend a huge THANK YOU to everybody helping with rescues from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Tropical Storm Irma breezed by South Carolina on Monday, leaving behind power outages and flooding (Charleston drowned, in case you didn’t see the photos elsewhere), and I know Florida and Georgia suffered mightily under her wrath. Bless the ones who rescued animals during this storm. I know it was a massive effort to evacuate and ensure safety, and we appreciate the hard work that went toward keeping us and our anipals safe. Good riddance, Irma, and bless those who helped and donated/contributed toward the continuing efforts here and with Hurricane Harvey rescue and clean up!
Next up is an exciting announcement from @Songburstburbs that her budgie, Ravi, is learning to talk. How exciting! You’re in for a special adventure. The key is to encourage her — keep talking to her. She’s a pretty girl, and I hope she’s chatting up a storm soon! It’s amazing what words, sounds, and phrases they pick up.
Bubbles, our blue Quaker, is my only good talker. They say parrots mimic inflection and visual/auditory cues, but Bubbles makes me wonder, because sometimes her phrases and chatterings are well-timed comments in context. Bubbles’ favorite is “step up,” and she knows exactly when to say it. Once, when I was asleep with a sinus infection, she blurted out a “step up” when I started snoring. Another time when I was asking my husband what to do about something, she piped up with “step up!” And we won’t get into the time she wolf whistled at the plumber. Or started making kissing sounds and when I asked her who they were for, she said “they’re for Zack!” (Zack is our male sun conure). She’s a spunky girl and a flirty bird! We’d love to hear more stories about talking parrots. What do they say that makes you smile, laugh – or think? And how do you encourage them to learn new phrases? Share those stories and videos!
It’s pirate week for the Zombie Squad! Check out @owa_bob in his new pirate attire for Pirate Week. Aargh! What fun. We love to hear about our birdy buddies having adventures and celebrations such as this. Keep those fun pictures coming!
What’s this about @georgieboysmum being the most blocked bird on Twitter? I thought that honor was held by our buddy, @MiloJames2? Jinx, how could you cede this honor? Seriously, I think many of us get blocked for one reason or another. It’s hard, but you can’t take it to heart. As Winston Churchhill said, “you have enemies? Good! That means you stood up for something.” Unfortunately, these things happen on social media. We want both of them to know that we’re always your friends and surrounded by love. I know both @georgieboysmum and @MiloJames2 have been great friends here for many years, and they’ve encouraged me through many times, good and bad. They’re great friends and honored members of the bird community here!
Last up is a personal note. You may remember I’m an independent author. I’m super excited because I received the best book review I’ve ever had for my sci-fi novel, Progenitor, Book One of The Earthside Trilogy, from BookViral. BookViral is picky about what they’ll review – they only accept about 30% of submittals, so getting a review is an achievement, but this great review is a miracle and a blessing! It’s especially flattering because I’ve wanted to write a trilogy for a long time, but the story didn’t come together until late 2014, and I’ve put a lot of work into it (Book 2 is already out, and Book 3 is scheduled to be out in early 2018). You can see the review at http://www.bookviral.com/progenitor-book-one-of-the-ea/4594033372 .
This is a community, and we welcome you! Post your pictures, videos and stories with @BirbObserver, and you might find you and your friends featured in a future roundup. It doesn’t have to be all about birds, either. Feel free to share your human stories here as well. We want to know your joys, sorrows so we can support you too!
Cheers, and I wish all of you a wonderful weekend!
GALLERY: SATURDAY NIGHT PIRATE PARTY FROM ZOMBIE SQUAD