Feb. 15: A Fine, Fine Line?
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By S Katherine Clarke, with Sarah Ludick
Is there a Fine, Fine Line between a budgie’s fascination with mirrors and an African Grey’s plot for #birdworlddominion? In belated honor of Valentine’s Day, this issue of TheRoundUp explores birb self-love — in its hopefully healthy expression.
But, first, Congratulations to our Valentine’s Day #birbloveis tee-shirt & birdtoy giveaway winners: @Bluejaylover49 (Tw), @Skyelark_the_parakeet (IG), Suzy Lupton (FB) and, for the bird toy, @sidTHEparrot (Tw). . . Thank you to Lucky (@luckybirdbooks (Tw/IG)) for hosting a fab Valentine’s Day party on Twitter.
Second, Congratulations & Best Wishes to Jumi Junaki (@jumijunaki (IG/FB)) upon her long-awaited adoption of Wish, blue and gold macaw resident of the Assam State Zoo and Botanical Gardens, whom Jumi named Wish because she Wished to adopt him! Four years of determination and three zoo superintendents later, Jumi has free access to, and unlimited interaction with, Wish; gives Wish toys and sings to him; and purchases his food under the Zoo’s Adoption Program. Although Wish is now Jumi’s, he remains at the Zoo, serving its Adoption Program’s goals. Through Wish’s adoption, Ms. Junaki seeks to raise India’s cultural awareness and appreciation of birds’ intrinsic value and complexity to win birds better treatment.
Next, Happy Hatch Day #11 to Grendel (@greybirdy (Tw)) and upcoming #24 to Chiyome (@FlockisFamily (Tw))! Belated Happy Birthday to birb parronts of @koko_in_london (IG) and @noora_par (IG; @nel.a.p.(IG)).
Now, about that Fine, Fine Line: Mirror-gazing budgies abound; but how many, like Stanley Bad Budgie (@mumofbadbudgie (Tw)), can hardly star in a new video because, when his mum Nikki pulls out the phone, he flies compulsively to the phone, pecking it until a prior Stanley video plays (repeatedly, as he chirrups and pecks appreciatively at the screen)? Nikki tries to expose Stanley to other birds’ videos, but Stanley insistently watches only his own and those of RIP Harry Birdie Bird (@HarrytheBirdie (Tw)) (May he Rest in Peace)!
What of Beethoven budgie (@Beethov93953891 (Tw)), who identifies so closely with his great German composer namesake?
Now, the intellectual history of narcissism presents self-love on a spectrum, stretching, on the one hand, from dangerous deficit, through healthy medium, and, ahem, to the final excess — the disorder of megalomania. In Ovid’s myth, the nymph Echo spurns young, amorous Narcissus, who then soothes his unrequited love by admiring his own reflection in a pool– until he falls in upon it, and drowns. Scholars have attributed narcissism to media stars, businessmen, politicians; certainly experts have speculated that notables like Napoleon, Nietzsche, and Hitler had delusional megalomania. So, is there a Fine, Fine Line, between healthy and unsafe self-love in our birbs? Or is it a question of gradations — or even unnamed dimensions — we see in our birbs?
Neglected and abused birds, after rescue, struggle against a self-esteem deficit — healthy self-love abstains from self-harm and lacks fear-filled aggression. Luna (@luna_the_rescue_grey (IG)) and caique Conan (@conan_thebarbarian (IG)) have both battled to make up such deficits.
Luna’s parronts long yearned for an African grey. They made the leap when Dad started working from home. They had known of Luna for several years, as her ignorant, abusive owner variously tried foisting her off on others. These prospective parronts waged a successful six-month campaign to adopt Luna, to save her from isolated days in a cold, dark warehouse. They ended the isolation punishments for plucking and the grotesque and ineffectual deterrent of applying Listerine to Luna. Luna now perches on her Dad’s shoulder while watching him work and listening to music (Prince is her favorite). Bilingual, Luna can chatter away mysteriously in Arabic. Charmingly, when she drops a poo-poo on the floor, she thanks her parronts for cleaning up after her! The pictures show Luna’s great new feather growth! New foods and toys — such novelty! — are introduced at this gentle girl’s pace.
Conan The Barbarian’s parront had volunteered at a bird rescue to learn her parrot species preferrence before adopting. When the rescue’s owner asked if she wanted a caique (the rescue lacked room), she visited Conan at his then-home. There Conan sat in a cage without perch or toy, with only a bowl of water and fruit pellets. Conan lacked interaction and sunlight; he was aggressive, untamed, and — most of all — scared! The cage was opened, and an apple slice offered. And Conan promptly shredded his future owner’s hand! She reminisced, “I knew then that I wanted to help him, and I brought him home with me that night.” Conan, once “the Barbarian,” is now a mischievous, “sweet and mostly well-behaved little clown.” Conan’s mom offers: “I know many people are afraid to adopt animals, but, if you give them a second chance and show them love, it’s amazing what you get in return.”
Back to birb narcissism. What about eating habits? What will a budgie sacrifice for millet spray, Sid (@sidTHEparrot (Tw)) for a Yorkshire pudding, or Henry for his strawberry (@TardisParrot (Tw)), or Otis (@bluejaylover49 (Tw)) or Jules (@Bronson006 (Tw)) for their cheesies?
Consider African grey, Otto (@keelingrob & @Caithean (Tw)). February 7, 2018, Otto launched Stage 2 #birdworlddominion from the garden doorway, upon spotting smaller clay birds on fancy planters. Immediately, fellow African grey Otis tested his cage alarm, locked up and joined Otto undercover. African greys Sid (@sidTHEparrot (Tw)), Stanley Parrot OBE of #OllieAid fame (@ParrotStanley (Tw)), and Makena (@MakenaNut (Tw)) also signed on. [BirbObserver (@BirbObserver (Tw/IG/FB)) attended also, as War Correspondent]. Otto hatched plans.
February 8, 2018, Otto was offered his first #MissionImpossible — to remove the nut from the top of his scary new cage while swinging from a favorite toy; three days later he took to hill walking to maintain fitness. . . . On February 13, budgies Levi and Teal (@FlockisFamily (Tw)) formed the base sleeper cell to, in Otto’s words, “bring the world to its knees and realise WE are the masters.”
Then there are the macaws and lorikeets–where will they land in this Game of Thrones, with their broad wingspan and free flight? There’s @HeideNilson‘s (IG) blue and gold macaw, Nova, and her two hyacinth macaws, the brothers Shadow and Blue, in Sweden, where the law makes wing-clipping illegal and minimum macaw cage size must be at least 6.5 m2! Those are practiced flyers not to mess with! Further, they are birdie contortionists — they push their tails forward through their legs and scratch their heads with them!! Then there’s young Greenwing Frankie and her pal, blue and gold macaw Lulu (@Frankiesfollowing (IG/FB)) Down Under. Just give that girl some time (and attention with lots of hugs and scritches!) And what about Hans macaw Levi with the blue and golds Blu and Jazz (@featherbabiesflock (IG))? And don’t forget our free-flighted lory friends in Brisbane, Rebekah Kennedy’s black-capped Kai and red-breasted Emory (@lory_adventures (IG)). Wheaties, step aside!– These birds know about the Breakfast of Champions: with winning style, they forage amongst marbles to get their daily nectar-replacement therapy.
All eyes are on Otto and his team of African greys. Will ambition combined with over-reaching prove his undoing? Or will playful ingenuity prevail? That is the key, what the scholars don’t mention — play is a third dimension above and beyond the two-dimensional array of the narcissism spectrum.
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In Japan, while cockatiel Rico and flock’s (@four_wannabe_dinosaurs (IG)) parronts were away, an earthquake struck. Despite the remarkable petcare giver sending voluminous photos and taking copious notes, Rico’s parronts were unaware of the earthquake. They returned to a shaken bird with bleeding on the wings and blood feathers on the floor of the cage! The bleeding was stopped, and Rico is now well. Other birds in the area reportedly pluck blood feathers from earthquake distress.
The Japanese sometimes train their birds to step-up and do a shaking exercise after a quake to help deal with the stress. In the meantime, these Wannabe Dinosaurs will have travel cage at the ready in the event evacuation is ever required. In earthquake-prone regions, it is important to ensure that the base of the cage is secure against shaking and that nothing can readily fall upon it from above.
Toucan Zazu (@ZazutheIvoryBilledAracari (IG/FB)) continues a strong recovery from his emergency surgery for a ruptured trachea. Zazu’s final post-op check-up on March 9 will include bloodwork and radiographs under anaesthesia. His Mom Jess deeply appreciates your continuing support and offers Thank You notes, digital aracari prints, and Custom-made stuffed animals for various donation levels. Please contact her by DM/Messenger for further information. You can contribute to Zazu’s Gofundme campaign by clicking here.
Cockatoo Diva’s buddy Apollo (@divathecockatoo (IG)) recovers from endoscopic GI tract surgery for a suspected blockage. In fact, extreme inflammation gave the impression of blockage; his vet continues to search for the cause of inflammation. Meanwhile, Diva matures beautifully.
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FEBRUARY 1, 2018
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By S. Katherine Clarke, with Sarah Ludick
Tomorrow is Groundhog Day in the US and Canada: if Punxotawny Phil, a species of large ground squirrel, sees his shadow on exiting his den, the Northern winter lasts another six weeks. If not, spring will be here soon. Frankly, this issue’s cheerful cockatiels tell me it’ll be an early spring.
Cockatiels are “little people stuffed in bird bodies,” says Susan K. (@fluff.n.blubber (IG)). In 2009 Susan’s then-fiance Matt treated her to b-day sushi and sake before letting her hit the pet store. Susan watched a hand-fed baby ‘tiel step onto Matt’s finger, and one hour later the couple emerged with baby cockatiels Meat and Dude. Are ‘tiels like ‘tater chips?. . . Two became a flock of seven.
Our birds ease winter confinement variously: Keito (@quarkybirdy (Tw)) and Oscar (@paulineporter16 (Tw)) commune via social media while Koko (@koko_in_London (IG)) and Rio (@rio_thehappybird (IG)) had their second IRL play date– with both rivalry and comradery. Koko and baby Rio met on Instagram and consult regularly about diet, training, etc. Maple (@MapletheTiel (Tw)), meanwhile, trains her parront in proper head-scritching.
Suni (@LagunaBirds (Tw)) passed winter days practicing hair dressing and then scaled The Eiffel Tower while Shiloh and Dixie (@ShilohTheConure (Tw) and @DixieTheCaique (Tw)) in the sunny South enjoyed brunch. Last, but not least, Peachy serenaded himself in the mirror while Bombi practiced downward birdie pose (@BombiTiel (Tw))
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One look at Courtney’s (Flockmaster Flex’s) (@eightisaflock (IG)) flock might scare a person away from birds: one bird mushroomed to 35. It happened this way: Cinnamon-pearled cockatiel Ono, Courtney’s first birb, was picky about friends. One-by-one, Courtney added seven male ‘tiels, until there was Scrappy.
Scrappy, a much-bullied, untamed cockatiel with malformed beak and crooked toe entranced with his cheery eyes and sweet song. Courtney rescued him, determined Scrappy never be bullied again. Scrappy stole Ono’s heart. But Courtney worried what Ono would do when Scrappy, now approximately 20, would die — Entrez Lennon, from @fluff.n.blubber’s flock! The bonds born on social media deepen with the exchanging and fostering of birds.
Courtney’s Zeferino (Portuguese for “wild west wind”), an untamed New Zealand kakariki, turns one this month. As Zef is still “skittish and distrustful,” Courtney hopes “with time and patience to get him to a place of mutual respect and [to] become friends.”
Down Under, birds can enjoy warmth and blossom relaxed– so long as their older brother doesn’t steal all their formula. Here Sundos just intended to help Safi, right (@featheredmonster (IG)).
Also down under, Alex (@AlexTheHonk (Tw)/@AlexTheHonkingBird (IG)), now 20, bemoaned his growing fragility when a strained shoulder ligament sent him via Uber to the vet, riding (silently for once!) in a box, his carrier unavailable. Son Dominic, meanwhile, conducted a screen test for their YouTube channel with the toaster.
Some birbs can’t resist the Uber fad, living it out even in fantasy. Perhaps Caiyo and Jin’s lively imaginations account for the mushrooming of their Instagram following, @happy.cockatiel.corner. Having “learned a lot from this Instagram community,” their mum remarks that Game-of-Thrones-singing Jin and cuddly Caiyo, like all birds, thrive when parronts “talk to them and keep them occupied with fun toys and fresh food.”
On a more serious note, the remaining cockatiel stories remind that education, adoption and rehoming are recurrent needs in our birb community. January was Bird Adoption month at the Parrot Education & Adoption Center (@PEACsandiego (Tw)), a 501(c)(3) organization in San Diego serving So Cal lost and unwanted medium to large parrots for over 21 years. PEAC evaluates newly arrived birds through fostering– rehabilitating, adopting out, or placing in qualified sanctuaries, as appropriate. Averaging 15-25 adoptions per year, PEAC’s time-tested adoption policies and procedures maximize a parrot’s long run happiness. Several people began PEAC’s required adoption curriculum in January and may adopt upon completion. Willow, January’s featured bird, has been fostered three years and overcome her plucking behavior. You can read her story here on Petfinder.
Kudos to umbrella cockatoo Harley and mom (@Harleythecockatoo (IG)), campaigning to raise awareness of parrots’ great need for committed parrontal time, for the lack thereof increases demand for adoptive services.
Having a bird, says Harley’s mom, “is really like raising a child” — “exhausting because they ask a lot of time and a lot of energy.”
Shadow’s mom (@that_caique_shadow (IG)), wanting her first companion bird, did the legwork: she researched apartment-sized parrots beforehand: “It’s important to be as prepared as possible — all parrots come with pros and cons and require a lot of attention and dedication.” Shadow’s mom recommends joining online parrot/bird communities and forums as part of preparation and as continuing education.
Splay-legged Cody the Lovebird (@birdhism (Tw)) is a celebrity spokesbird of bird compassion. Living with mum Jen Budrock and nineteen birb siblings, more than half of whom are special needs, Cody preaches birdhism — “no matter our differences we can agree [and do what is right] out of love of birds.” January 21 Cody greeted fans at South West Florida Wildlife Center where Jen has extensively served as a volunteer, in advance of the monthly Bird Lovers Club meeting.
Heavily involved in bird rescue and rehabilitation for years, Jen has launched, among other initiatives, birdhism.Com and the Birdhism Facebook page to better educate the public about bird ownership. These sites encourage individuals to research birds before acquiring them. The sites offer items designed by Jen in support of avian education and rescue. Birds, says Jen, “deserve love and compassion” as they are “wild animals meant for the skies [yet] confined to cages, waiting on our schedules, sometimes alone for hours [so it’s] no wonder they lash out.” Birds “feel the same emotions we feel, from love and joy to pain and suffering.” As Jen points out, “Awareness and education prevent suffering.” Her takeaway: “Every voice matters when it comes to speaking for the birds.”
The parronts of 23-year-old, peanut-chawing Panama Amazon Sasha (@Sasha_the_peanut (IG)) and 28-year-old umbrella cockatoo Jaxon (@Jaxonaction (IG)) have opened their home more than twice to animals in need. Their adopted Sasha eight years ago when a neighbor could no longer keep her as Sasha’s mom had grown up with small birds. Though an Amazon brought surprises, the family still opened their hearts again to re-home Jaxon when the need arose.
We bid adieu to Twitter’s Queen Birdie Butternut Buttercup and Knight Echo of Twitcherton (@BirdieButternut): their parront accepted employment with extensive travel. Fortunately, she could rehome these ‘tiels with bird friends in her native Oslo, where they smile and chirp over toyses, milltsies and Nutriberries: “We have all loved the burdie community on Twitter so much. Thank you for all the joy and advice and support. We will never forgets.”
Dusty (@cockatiel_dusty (IG)) is his adoptive mom’s best friend. Caught in a net at one year by a distant relative, Dusty appeared neglected and abused at family gatherings, yet Alyssa had fallen in love with him at first sight. While Dusty bit his owners, he would settle happily on Alyssa’s finger so finally the relative asked Alyssa to take him, which she did. Dusty has come a long way in the two years since!
Of course, an adopted bird can come with issues. Billy Beep’s parront (@Billy.beeps (IG)) adopted Billy when Billy’s then-allergic owner planned a move. Now eighteen, Billy has never overcome his dislike of fingers and bites fingers waved in front of him. Billy laughs when his owner laughs and wolf whistles at himself in the mirror.
Soon Valentine’s Day will be here, and I hope you’ll all enter our #birbloveis photo tee-shirt contest! Remember, like Sid (@SidTHEparrot (Tw)), or four-year-old cinnamon Bat (@Bat_the_Conure (IG)), when the going gets rough, take a deep breath, and let the blood rush to your head bat-style!
From young Cosima in sunny Mesa, Arizona (@cosimacalopsita; photos courtesy of Jennifer Pielack):
Last, but most certainly not least, from @fluffy.bird (IG):
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JANUARY 15, 2018
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Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Rev. King once observed that humanity had “learned to fly the air like birds” yet not to “walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.” Our anipals are the wind beneath our wings; truly, our birds, with their daily needs and demanding habits, ground us in the practices of humanity.
We salute Stanley Parrot OBE (@StanleyParrot (Tw)), who on New Year’s Day received his OBE (Most Excellent Order of The British Empire) from Ollie, the “BRILLIANT . . . MODEST AND HUMBLE” cat of Jane Fallon and Ricky Gervais (@myleftfang (Tw)), for Stan’s contributions to #OllieAid: Stan has raised about £300 for charity by auctioning off his feathers. With #OllieAid auctions, auction winners contribute the winning bid amounts to the charities of their choice and, on presenting the receipt to the auction holder, to receive the merchandise bid upon.
After New Year’s, a “bomb cyclone” paralyzed Eastern Canada and the Northern U.S.; but the birds chirped, screeched, and scritched much as usual, celebrated National Bird Day . . . . and envied birds Down Under like @Pipthealex (IG), who played outdoors on the designer gym his dad made him for Christmas. Pip has a congenital spinal deformity which slows him at walking, but the playground helps strengthen him to compensate.
Closer to home, Chico (@Chico_n_Rootie (IG)), usually the poster child of elder-brother congeniality, was perhaps under the weather when he fretted at Rootie for monopolizing toys in the green playhouse:
Glamour has not died in the depths of winter: Violet the Ambassabird (@violetthecockatoo (IG)), elegant at 23 years, struts the hallways of her NYC home, the cold cutting short her outdoor diplomacy with her neighborhood demographic of “pretty young girls” excited children, with whom she jumps up and down. Violet advises, “Be very kind but firm with us companion birds. DO expect that we will train you well, and speak gently and softly to us. For us cockatoos, be prepared to give AT LEAST two hours of intense physical attention time daily.”
Baby Cockatoo Diva (@Divathecockatoo (IG)) takes the wintry weather in stride– in her youthful exuberance she is utterly oblivious:
Community birds have experienced various maladies lately: Zazu (@ZazuTheIvoryBilledRacari (IG)) is healing well from emergency surgery to repair his burst trachea; over the next two months the vet will watch for scar tissue growth, which would require further surgery to remote. The least dollar donated toward Zazu’s vet expenses touches his mum Jess deeply. Contributions can be made at gofundme.com/ZazuTheIvoryBilledAracari
New Year’s Day, Off the Perch (@Bronson006 (Tw)), rushed African grey Jules to Ontario Veterinary College (“OVC”)’s ED– the unidentified virus that attacked Jules last summer had inexplicably returned, overwhelming his immune system. A “strong-willed grey” and a full member of a loving family, Jules overcame the worst with expert veterinary care and moral support from his parronts. Jules’s convalescence continues with daily medications.
Bear, parrot of Dylan Senegal (@LilParrotBoy (Tw)) crushed his toe while perched unobtrusively on top of a closing door. The claw and part of the toe were removed last Wednesday, and despite tearing out some of his stitches, Bear is recuperating well.
Watch out for the African greys and caiques this month! A belated Happy Eighth Birthday to Pepe (@takkiewax (Tw))! While @FlockisFamily’s (Tw) African grey and @EarlGreyParrot (Tw) compete for the messy eating award, Sid (@SidTHEparrot (Tw)) and Trixie (@TrixieRedBum (Tw)) demonstrate more gentile techniques. Timneh Grendel(@greybirdy (Tw)) enjoys bath time, and Otis the Parrot (@bluejaylover49 (Tw)) plays Yahtzee:
The caiques walk The Walk and talk The Talk!
Emperor Felix (@SweetFelix (Tw)) reviews holiday cards in stately style, yet, in casual moments this 18-year-old black-capped caique, like all caiques, moonwalks — that is, suddenly whirls around and executes FAST backward steps! Daily Felix marches from cage, through dining room, and up the back of a dining-room chair–his throne–from whence to view his serf family and flock carry on household business. Deep-voiced and talkative, Felix greets passers by with a hearty “hi” and typically ambles over to “Danderville” to visit “his relatives,” the eight cockatiels. Bebe (@liketochirp (Tw)), a Danderville resident of eight years, is the family’s “first-born”, hatched from an egg laid in secret behind the hallway mirror. A survivor of a partial hysterectomy from egg-binding and of a toe-tumor removal, Bebe would set herself up as Empress atop her parront’s head!
Marcel’s (@marcel_caique (IG)) parronts chose a caique in 2015 because they wanted a bird with a “playful big personality” yet sized to apartment living. Marcel, now two, “is nothing but a tiny dinosaur.” Marcel loves his meals and also bathing in the kitchen sink while spraying water across the apartment.
Coco (@cocothecaique (IG), at one year, is a skilled, clever bird. His parronts began his training with the usual “step up”. Flighted, in good weather Coco ventures out in a harness. Coco has advanced through a series of exercises with colored marbles and cups which teach him his colors. So far he knows blue, pink and yellow–on only 10-15 minutes training per day. His parronts scour the internet for new tricks to teach him.
The moustache parakeet brings up the rear. “Parakeet” hardly seems to fit– at just over one year, Freida is twice the size (120 grams) of sibling GCC Baron Coqui von Poopyfloor (65 grams) (@coqui_and_co (IG)). Moustache parakeets (aka, red breasted Javan parakeets) are members of the psittacula group of psittacines, more directly related to Alexandrines and ringnecks than budgies. A “ham,” Freida’s favorite bedtime game consists of making believe her parront must capture her to put her to bed. Freida flirts with this prospect, on being captured lets loose the squawk-of-the-near-murdered, but she never tries to escape.
Now, @coqui_and_co is one of those unusual accounts with both breath-taking birdwatching photos and whimsical companion birb videos. One day while at the pet store to talk finches, her eyes fell entranced on Coqui’s emerald feathers. Back home, she frantically researched why a companion birb would be impractical . . . only to emerge from the pet store one month later with Coqui. Freida joined them not much later. Here Freida “travels 150 million years into the past to battle a stegosaurus.”
Let Freida battle her imaginary monsters; let us walk in humanity toward birds and community. May Martin Luther King Jr. Day remind you of the dreams worth living for.
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JANUARY 1, 2018
Happy New Year! Bonne Année! Feliz año nuevo! Ring in 2018! Join @sidTHEparrot (Tw) in relishing the possibilities of the New Year!
And Happy Seventh Day of Christmas! Twelfth Night– Epiphany– is when, according to tradition, three Wise Men (The Magi) worshiped an infant in swaddling clothes laying in a manger; Twelfth Night is celebrated January 6-7 by some Christians. So sing Twitter’s @KatoQParrot’s Seventh Day of Christmas caroling verse!
In truth, we celebrate winter solstice, one and all. The Northern Hemisphere has passed through the longest night of the year. After Constantine converted the Roman Empire to Christianity, Christmas supplanted pagan celebrations like Solstice. The holiday coexists with monotheism, however, yet today in Iran, where friend @noora_par (IG) commemorated the national holiday of Yalda, with recitation of the great Persian poet Hafez’s verse and generous hospitality to visitors and guests.
Let us linger, for future nostalgia’s sake, over recent memories; let us share them that our lives be richer together!
In Canada and the northern United States, early snow presaged a white Christmas. For Sir Darwin (@DarwinTiel (Tw)), snowfall created a Winter Wonderland; young blue Quaker Doggo (@quakquakquakquak (IG)), upon his first snow, wished for summer’s return.
Whether you had snow or not, if you let your birb shop for Christmas gifts, like @oneflewoverthecockatielsnest (IG) and @burnabybird (IG), you no doubt were struck: “He’s all grown up, he shops for Christmas gifts . . . for himself!”
Be consoled—Many have troubled birb thoughts at holiday time: you are NOT alone! Every household has Christmas mishaps. . . So what if your birb was over the top? Consider Sagy of Slovakia (@Sagy_Greenforever (IG)), who learned to imitate Santa’s “Ho-Ho-Ho”—and never stopped:
You are not alone! You thought your bird destroyed wrapping paper? Well, consider Scout the Senegal (@p_isforparrot (Tw & IG)) and her Wrapping Paper Offensive! So your birb didn’t appreciate her gift? Was it any different from @Koko_in_London’s (IG & FB) abandoning his unwrapped gift for the charms of a smartphone? Or @intrepid_igor’s (IG) Equal Opportunity Policy on Gifts Under The Christmas Tree?
Can a family really celebrate Christmas if no single string of lights failed to light up when plugged in?! Bring on the broken nutcracker so young girls can dream of Sugar Plum pas de deux and Mouse Wars! Hail the Singing Santa who doesn’t sing so your engineering birb, like Lucky (@luckybirdbooks (Tw & IG)), can showcase her DIY repair verve. When your birb, like Alex The Honk (@AlexTheHonkingBird (Tw & IG)), gives sway to blatant Big Brother envy, isn’t it a comfort that he channels you after all?
It’s times like these the silver lining of the cloud shimmers– you take to bed with a toothache, but your birds, like @Ziggy_n_flower (Tw & IG) or Yuzuru and Mao (@Okamen75 (Tw)), cheer you with costumed charm. Or your young chick, Halo, imitates grandpa and dad by mounting a skateboard (@cocothecanary (Tw)). And, remember if worst comes to worst—never fear!—Sid can now simulate a human cough and call in sick for you!
***********AT THIS TIME WE MAKE A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT*********
Remember the plight of seasonal workers, and do what you can to support them. Consider Yuzuru and Mao, “The Little Matchstick Birbs”! They shudder under blankets in the cold, doing their utmost to earn the summer chauffeur’s wage.
Whether you’re in the Northern Hemisphere celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or in the Southern Hemisphere enjoying summer vacation, December is a month for visiting. Birbs visit other birbs on playdates. Sundos (4 yrs, green Eclectus) and companion Safia, who at four months like to steal and break Sundos’ toys (@featheredmonster (IG)), host Berry (far left; @berrytheeckie (IG)), birb of their parront’s best friend, on a sunny afternoon Down Under. Closer to home, Gigi and parront (@gigitheparrotlet (IG)) met up with @coqui_and_co (IG) and perched on @coqui_and_co’s mum’s for a night of entertainment in Disney Springs! There is something at least as magical as Disney when social media account holders and their anipals meet up in real life!
Then there are those birds who “visit” friends while their parronts enjoy a vacation(!) Rio (‘Riuh’ in Malay; @rioriuh2014 (IG) explored his host’s home in dismay but then bonded with him over the two weeks his parronts traveled. Of course, birb hosting birb for such a long period may lead to sibling rivalry, but @tiellover’s mom got the perfect tool for managing that! Just pray the birbs don’t conspire against The Sign with The Exorcist Challenge of @thebeanboiii (IG)!
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*****LATE BREAKING NEWS!*****
Zazu (@ZazuTheIvoryBillledAracari (IG)), who charmed everyone last issue, had emergency surgery Friday for a spontaneously ruptured trachea. We repost here the text from Saturday’s post: @zazutheivorybilledaracari): “Hi, everyone. It’s been an extremely stressful night as I spent 6 hours at the emergency vet with Zazu last night. No one has a clue as to what happened but his trachea spontaneously ruptured and required emergency surgery to repair. He is still at the clinic for observation until this afternoon. We are not out of the woods yet and will require a follow-up endoscopy to make sure there’s no redundant healing. If that takes place, additional surgery will be required since it can close his trachea over time. This was an extremely costly procedure and we’re looking at around $4 thousand of dollars in vet bills if everything heals correctly… We’re in desperate need of help to continue to give Zazu the love, support, and care he needs through this difficult time.
Please, please, please keep my baby boy in your thoughts. I’m honestly heartbroken he had to go through this to begin with and am mortified by the thought of losing him.
Zazu is back home. He slept through Saturday night safely and even had a few blueberries Sunday morning. To keep him resting, his parronts have taken his toys away. Friday Zazu will have a check-up with the vet Friday, which should reveal how well he is healing. His parronts express gratitude for the community’s love and support.
Dylan the Senegal’s parront (@LilParrotBoy (Tw)), while walking the dog, discovered a wrenchingly inhumane situation: a peach-faced blue lovebird in a cardboard box, dumped on the icy UK snow, discarded and abandoned to near-certain death from hypothermia. Dramatically, the motionless bird, on warming, revived. Dylan et al. have adopted the lovebird, now named Topaz. Carla Chadwick (FB) relates this poignantly at https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10213877638708891&id=1046120827.
Topaz now publishes his own story from his brand new Twitter account, @Topazlostb, established to deter similar bird dumpings. Read his story!
The family started a GoFundMe account some time ago for another bird’s vet bills and has added Topaz’s initial vet care to that fund drive. Topaz reports that Apollo the Tiel (@Apollotiel (Tw)) generously donated £100, which covered the vet bill and a few toys as well! Thank you, Apollo, for being The Spirit of Christmas to a wee lovebird!
Yes, Christmastide celebrates determined and victorious hope, but it’s also about making eggnog at New Year’s from cracked eggs!
‘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)):
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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