Monday, December 4, 2017

BREAK OUT THE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

THE GUILTY CULPRIT, SANTANA- AKA "TANNER"

I've had my Scarlet Macaw, Tanner, for ten years.    He has been a joy, a hoot, an incredible addition to our family and the flock.   He does a great pirate "Aaarrrrrgggh!" when I ring one of his bells, and bows his head for long head scratches. The list is long with what makes him so special.  But...with an "up" side there may be a "down" side, and with Tanner, this is the case.   

When I adopted Tanner, he may have been exposed to a strain of Clostridium (http://www.avianbiotech.com/diseases/clostridium.htm).  For years, I have dealt with some rather disgusting, stinky droppings from this big guy.  (I would share pictures here, but I'll spare you.)  Tanner gets regular checkups with Dr. Jerry LaBonde (Homestead Animal Hospital, Centennial CO) and this has been a front-burner issue the entire time I have had him.  We monitor his weight, his health, his behavior, and though his droppings are not normal, everything else about this bird is spot-on great.  

Early on, Tanner took antibiotics for his condition, and as I recall, they worked very well on a short-term basis, and once the prescription was finished, the Clostridium would return.   I stopped the drugs as it really didn't resolve the issue and began years of cleaning up his cage and the floor and the nearby wall ... because the droppings didn't stay in  his cage.   It was just the way it was and the way it was going to be.  Ok by me...I really love him.

A few weeks ago, Get Creative2 hosted Charise Mixa and Lisa Bolstad for a workshop in Parker, CO on sprouting for parrots.   One of the topics that came up was the holistic benefits of  apple cider vinegar and adding it to our birds' water bowls.    It dawned on me that I had actually tried the ACV with Tanner years ago to attempt to help his tummy issues.  I honestly can't say why I stopped using it, but I did.   However, I was inspired by the suggestion by Lisa to give ACV another try to see if it would help Tanner's stomach.

Home I went, stopping at the store for ACV on the way.   I started immediately - 1 tsp to his large bowl of water per day. * And...(drum roll,  please, along with a "Knock on wood..."): the next morning there were normal, big ol' macaw droppings straight down in the bottom of his cage.  Solid, well-shaped, all  3 parts present.   What a surprise! I thought it might be a fluke, but for these past two weeks, with the daily tsp of ACV in Tanner's water, his droppings continue to be  n-o-r-m-a-l.   

I don't know if he feels any better, because his demeanor, his overt behaviors have never indicated anything out of the ordinary with his health, but I feel better for him.  I will continue with this daily dosage, along with his regular wellness exams with Dr. LaBonde and hope that the apple cider vinegar continues to keep the health of his stomach in balance.

I started to do some more research online about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar so that I could personally write an entire blog about it, but I came upon an excellent, excellent piece written by Alicia McWatters, Ph.D., C.N.C.    I knew I couldn't do it better than she did, be more thorough.  So, I highly recommend that you follow this link: http://www.quakerparrots.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=58876 and read about the history of vinegar, why it is beneficial to our birds, to us, how it is made, how to use it, even misting sprouts with ACV!  It was a very worthwhile read for me...and I hope it will be for you, as well.

And last, I am not recommending that you rush out and buy some organic ACV and give it to your bird(s).   I am  recommending that, if your bird is experiencing some gastronomical issues, or you think he may benefit from a dose of ACV, please ask your avian vet first, let him/her give you a daily dosage amount, and then proceed.      Good luck!

* Update (12.5.17): I spoke with Dr. LaBonde today and he gave me a specific ratio of apple cider vinegar to water to give to our birds: 1 Tablespoon acv:1 Liter water or 1-1.5 teaspoon acv:1 Pint water.  Dr. LaBonde shared with me that a larger dose (as in the 1 tsp. per water dish) that I was giving to my macaw was too much, but only in that it would make the water less appealing for my bird and he might drink less than needed.  There was no harm in the amount...it was just that it affected the taste.  So I will mix up a pint of water and vinegar, put it in the fridge and use it specifically for Tanner, and not have to get out my measuring spoons every morning!   If you're going to try acv, this is the formula you need to use.   

Saturday, November 4, 2017

CLICK? SURE! TEACH AN OLD BIRD NEW TRICKS!

Mercedes Bijou Basin Surprise ("Sadie")
Many years ago, my husband and I came across a "dump dog" about 10 miles from our home as we were taking a Saturday afternoon drive. According to local ranchers, she had been sitting the entire day in the same spot by the side of the road, probably waiting for her owners to return. We tried to locate the owner of this pup for hours to no avail, and so we brought her home with us and tried to find an Australian Shepherd rescue. At the time, there were no Aussie rescues in Colorado and so....she was ours. Our love for Sadie has lasted almost 14 years.  Being an Aussie, her incredible intelligence was evident and her ability to learn new skills was amazing.   I immediately enrolled her in obedience classes and ended up taking her through advanced obedience and advanced agility.   One training method that worked amazingly well with Sadie was clicker training.   I could (and still can) teach her something new in just a few minutes.  And even though her sight and hearing are now failing, she still responds enthusiastically to the commands that she learned those many years ago. 

Clicker training.  It worked so well with my dogs.  But I could never coordinate my hands when I was trying to work with my feathered flock.  I decided I needed three hands: one to hold the target (the "bridge"), one to hold the reward, and one to hold the clicker!   I have to admit, as good as I was training my dogs with a clicker,  I gave myself an "F" for my efforts with my birds.   Until....

Two Saturdays ago I assisted with Barbara Heidenreich's Fear Free Animal Training workshop that she presented to the Minnesota Companion Bird Association.   At the presentation, she had available a handy little "tool" that she had invented (telescoping target stick with clicker)...and when I saw it, I knew I had to have one.  (And ohhhh, how I wish I had invented it!)  Here is Barbara showing how it works:

  There are so many reasons to train our birds using positive reinforcement.   Not to do "tricks," per say,  but to make them comfortable accomplishing actions that make their lives, our lives, and our long-term relationships enjoyable, with as little fear and stress as possible, ensuring our birds' comfort and safety.    Think of it: easily getting your bird to step up; staying in a stationary spot in the cage so you can change papers without their "help;" loading and unloading into a carrier for traveling; stepping onto a scale for a daily weigh-in; coming out of a crate at the vet's office.   The possibilities are endless.   Using clicker training is a great, positive method to utilize with parrots. 

I am inspired to spend more time with my birds working with my new FFAT clicker/target. I've just begun this clicker training journey anew with my flock, and I am not an expert trainer by any means, but I am determined to use this excellent tool, (THAT ONLY REQUIRES TWO HANDS!),  and try to guide my birds toward some great, positive behaviors.  Maybe I can get a video or two of my progress on a blog in the near future.

Yes, you can teach old dogs....and old birds new tricks!  Click!

Have you used clicker training with your birds? Have you had success? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.
 

Monday, October 30, 2017

PUMPKINS...THEY'RE NOT JUST FOR CARVING ANYMORE

As many of you may know, at times, my thumbs can be fairly green.   The 2017 gardening season was no different, and this Spring I couldn't wait to get my pumpkin seeds into the ground.   Planting pumpkins is a double-edged sword endeavor: First, if you're lucky enough to have them take off, avoid hail, early frost, critters, you end up with a healthy crop of orange beauties.  The down side to growing pumpkins is that, IF they do take off...that's literally what they do; they take off and take over the entire growing space, creating a canope of giant leaves over other crops.  You have to hope that everything underneath is either ready for harvesting, or can stand quite a bit of shade.  I just didn't care about that.  I ... wanted ... pumpkins!


Last year I was not very lucky.  My pumpkin hill (unwisely planted outside  of the mail gardens to avoid aforementioned downside) never got off of the ground.  Voles, moles, gophers and seven-banded ground squirrels annihilated the baby roots.  It was pitiful.  Really pitiful.   I succumbed to failure but faced 2017 with pumpkin determination.

This year I headed back into the main garden and wished the surrounding vegetable crop "Good luck!"   I wanted pumpkins.  Heirloom pumpkins.   Big pumpkins.   Pumpkins not for carving or catapulting, but to bake and then put to so many wonderful, healthy uses.  And I got    lucky.

The bed on the left was "Rouge vif D' Estampe" and the one on the right was "Musquee De Province."  For you gardening buffs, here's a description of the two pumpkins:

" Rouge vif D' Estampe" - A very old French Heirloom, this was the most common pumpkin in the Central Market in Paris back in the 1880's. (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)

"Musquee de Province" -  The skin is a beautiful, rich brown color when ripe. The flesh is deep orange, thick and very fine flavored, fruit grow to 20 lbs. each. This is a traditional variety from southern France. Pure European seeds. (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds)

Pumpkin blossoms showed up over 20 feet away from their home base.   And once pumpkins started growing on the vines, it was "Katie, bar the door!"  There was no stopping them.  Harvesting other vegetables became a precarious game of  tip-toe hop scotch, trying to avoid the hearty but delicate pumpkin vines and not instantly giving those babies a death sentence.   I truly had no idea what my yield was going to be because I just couldn't get around all of the vines to peak! Until....the pumpkins became so big and so obvious, there was no denying the behemoths were there.  Nirvana. 



I harvested my pumpkin crop at the beginning of this month.   Not hundreds and hundreds of pumpkins like you see in the fields near Pueblo and La Junta, but a gratifying abundance for a small-time gardener.  (Can you seen the green flesh on the smaller one in the back? - Masquee! Do you see the color differentiation of the skin between all of them?)  There was a good split between Rouge and Marquee. And all month, I have taken some time to bake a few to puree and freeze for future use and also have given quite a few to friends. One of the larger ones weighed in at 28 pounds.  That's an incredible amount of  delicious pumpkin flesh.

So why a blog about pumpkins...this is supposed to be about parrots?!  Well, it is about parrots, (and us as well).  Pumpkin is so good for us, and for our birds.  Here's the process I'm going through with my orange beauties and how I plan on using them and how you can, too.

1 - Buy (or grow) an heirloom pumpkin - one good-sized one will do you!  (I've seen the Rouge pumpkins with all of the Halloween pumpkins at some stores).  Yes, it will cost more...but the quantity and quality of pumpkin flesh that you reap will be well worth it.

2 - Before you bake it, be sure to rinse and dry it, then cut it into chunks and scrape the seeds and pulp from the flesh on each piece.  Set the pulp and seeds aside.   Those seeds are important: Save the seeds for seasoning and roasting,  for your parrots for treats, to sprout, and TO GROW MORE PUMPKINS OF YOUR OWN NEXT YEAR!  

3 -  Here's some easy instructions for baking:
  https://www.livestrong.com/article/443307-how-to-bake-a-pumpkin-in-the-oven/
(I don't use the oil - as I will be giving some to my birds.  And...I'm lazy and don't use the water, either.   Skin side down on the baking sheet, nothing sticks.   Everything cooks fine. Just pure pumpkin.  There is lots of moisture in the pumpkin.


Musquee de Province Pumpkin seeds drying
Rack of Rouge Vif d' Estampe beneath on second rack
4 - While your pumpkin bakes, separate all of those seeds from the pulp and spread on a piece of parchment paper or drying rack.  Compost the pulp...or let your birds nibble on a bite.  Leave the seeds alone for days...until they are completely dry.  If you bag them too soon, they will have some pulp on them, they may be moist, and you will end up with bad seeds.  Dry. Dry. Dry.   Bag and label them when completely dry.
5 - When you remove your pumpkin from the oven, let it cool completely, and then scrape  all of the flesh from the skin.   Put the flesh into your food processor and puree.   Scoop up 2 cups at a time and save in air tight storage containers in your freezer. (two cups because it's a pretty universal amount of pumpkin puree for recipes)

As you are processing your pumpkin, you MUST do taste tests.   Pumpkin is delicious...it's even more delicious because it's not coming out of a can.   Share small bites with your birds. They will love it! And of course, have another bite yourself.  And another.  Mix a little pureed pumpkin into your bird's chop in the morning.  (Give a bite or two to your dogs - it's great for digestion.)  Bake it into your bird's grain mix or muffins.   Lots of healthy possibilities for your critters and you can't go wrong. 

So...that's it: nutritious additions to our birds' diets, and of course the endless options of nutritious and/or decadent recipes for human consumption: pies, soups, breads, muffins, scones...oh, my!

Remember: pumpkins are not just for carving at this time of year.  Take advantage of the plethora of varieties at your grocery store, take some time and bake one up, and I promise you won't be disappointed with the results.  It's much more creative, IMHO, than carving a face on a beautiful fruit (yes, fruit!) and just pitching the best part in the garbage.

Even though I am now inundated with pumpkins and processing them, I'm already planning on the garden planting schematic for next Spring. Hmmmm, where to plant the pumpkins... Can you ever have too many pumpkins?

Gotta go...the timer just rang on my stove. 













Friday, August 25, 2017

"ARE YOUR BIRDS ALWAYS THIS LOUD?"

If you have parrots in your home,  you have probably had guests who ask about your birds, "Are they always this loud?"   Ahhhh.   You can spot a parrot owner from a non-parrot owner a mile away. 😉  I never ask that question when I visit homes of fellow parrot owners.   In my humble opinion, the cacophony is just an expected bonus. But I understand.  I do.

I was standing in the kitchen this morning preparing breakfast for my flock and I found myself smiling, really, just grinning, as I worked.  I'd only brought one macaw out to keep me company while I washed bowls, refilled fresh water and prepped food, and the rest of my birds were doing their morning vocalizations before their food hit their cages.   It was amazing...and extremely loud.


My Yellow Nape went through his entire repertoire of aria arpeggios, children's songs, and chatty repartee, over and over and over again. (I have tried to record him but he is at his best when it's just the birds in the bird room. If I walk in and want  him to do an encore, he looks at me as if I'm truly intruding on a very private performance. Crickets. )







My other macaws were squawking at the tops of their lungs, and actually, I think my DYH was the only relatively calm one in the bunch...this time.




The B&G with me in the kitchen spent her time barking, squawking, and jiving to the noises of her flock. The sound was deafening.  It. Was. Wonderful.
And then my husband came into the kitchen.    He recently got a new pair of hearing aids, looked at me in slack-jawed amazement, uttered, "I need to turn the volume down on my ears!" turned on his heels, and he was gone, momentarily. Funny...the birds have been this noisy for umpteen years and now he hears them in their full glory.   Don't get me wrong: Robert loves the birds and everything they bring to our family, but there was a "volume reality check" when he traded the old pair of aids out for these high-tech new ones.

There are lessons here that we all need to be cognizant of:

1. If you are considering getting a parrot as a pet, know that they will be noisy, very noisy.  Not all of the time, but when they are...they make up for any quiet/down time.

2. Size does not matter when it comes to parrots' decibel level production.   Smaller birds can make incredibly piercing sounds. Cockatoos can vocalize loud enough to split your ear drums.  And ANY bird, near your ear, can wreak havoc and damage your hearing.

3. Don't yawn near your birds while they are loudly vocalizing.  I am not a doctor (and I don't play one on tv), and I don't know the medical reasons for this, but it seems that the ear canal changes and makes the sounds that are close very piercing and painful, especially bird squawks. When my macaws have "yelled" near my ears and I've been in the middle of a yawn, those were memorable occasions... and not in a good way.

4. Be courteous and cognizant of your visiting family and guests.   Not everyone loves parrots like we do. (SHOCK!) I have a close friend who is very sensitive to loud noises and she's really not a fan of parrots, but she is a good friend, has auditory issues, and she brings ear plugs with her when she visits.  When we get together here, we go to a part of the house away from the birds or, if it's a nice day, the birds are outside in their flights.

Consider these three options when you have visitors who may not be comfortable with your birds:

- Don't relegate your birds to a less than adequate location in your home (YOUR BIRDS are your family members, too!) , but consider  moving them temporarily to another room, with a closed door. (Think lighting, proper heat,  proper cage, enrichment, water/food, etc. in that room.) Or...
-Entertain your friends away from the place where your birds are  normally located.
-Have ear plugs available for visitors.  They work, and it's a considerate, inexpensive, and viable option.

I wish that I had a recording to share in this blog of my birds' vocalizations, but I don't. if you have your own flock, take a moment when your birds get insanely noisy, stand amongst them, and revel in their joyous jungle sounds. It's what they do and just one of the reasons we love them so much.

And THAT is why they call us "those crazy parrot people."



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

KNOWING WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH



A good friend shared the following excellent article by Dr. Karen Becker with me a few days ago.   I highly recommend that you read it:

One of my upcoming  Get Creative2 Avian Workshops,"Step Up to Parrothood" at
www.getcreative2.com,  addresses just this - some of the vital thought processes that must go into getting a parrot, large OR small, as a pet.  It cannot be overstated the importance of having basic avian knowledge under your belt before embarking on this wonderful adventure of avian companionship.

After giving this article and the contents of the "Step Up to Parrothood" workshop a great deal of thought, it solidified my belief that bringing a parrot into your home involves a great deal more mental gymnastics. It's not enough to just consider the beginning processes of doing everything as best we can to ensure long-lasting good mental and physical health.  We have to look way down the road.  Let me explain.

My flock consists of five large parrots and two lovebirds.   Over the years I have been oh, so tempted to bring another bird (or birds!)  into our home to amplify the existing cacophony.  Who can resist?  With volunteering in the parrot rescue business for many years, there have been so many birds that  have tugged at my heart strings.  And I have passed on some of the most incredible birds I've ever met.  It has been challenging, but I have forced my heart to step aside for some sound reason and logic. 

Enough is enough.   I know what my limits are with the flock numbers.  I know the space that I have available.  I know the amount of time that I have to give to them.  I know that with the size of my flock being static, everyone is going to get consistent attention, love, enrichment, nutrition, etc. I know what I can physically do for them.  I know where "parrots" fit into the monthly budget (and believe me, that's a huge chunk of change!). I remain as passionate about my birds as I did 27 years ago when we brought our first (and now oldest) Amazon into our home.   

That's just me.   I have a friend who has over twenty parrots in her home and she treats each one as if it's an only child. They are all social and spoiled rotten.   She works 40+ hours a week solely to support her parrot habit;  to make sure they have the best food, toys, cages, everything.  She constantly reads of new avian research, always looking to make her flock's lives better.  That's her. And I applaud her for it.   She lives for her birds...and has created a life-style that accommodates that dedication.  She knows her own personal limits and handles them well.

My commitment to my birds is for as long as I am capable of giving all of them 100% of what they need.    I will soon be entering what our society considers "old age."  It is necessary for me to say, "Enough is enough," because I realize that, as I get older, caring for my animals, furred and feathered, will become more challenging.  To bring more birds into our home would be foolish and unfair at this juncture in our lives, for so many reasons.  And so this will remain a five big bird, two small bird home until I can no longer do, not just a good job, but a great job of caring for all of them. And when the time comes when I cannot be that "best" caretaker for my flock, I will meticulously make appropriate arrangements for them to move on ... to the next phases of their lives, as we will in our own old age.

Enough is enough. There are people who desperately love parrots.  They start out with one bird with good intentions, it turns to two, and then it becomes a newspaper headline of hoarding.    Or, parrot owners become too old, mentally or physically disabled to tend their birds. Too many, too hard. Again,  dire situations where many times rescue is necessary.  Some people are totally capable of bringing more birds into their care, some are not; and we all need to know when to say, "No, that's it for me." 

Knowing when to stop with what you have and do the best you can do until you are unable to continue necessitates a reality check.  As parrot owners and considering their longevity, we owe the birds in our care that commitment. Yes, it's wonderful and fun when birds are young, when we are young...but the clock ticks, and making good avian decisions at the right times in our lives, and in their lives, is probably one of the wisest steps we can take as we walk this wonderful feathered journey.
  




Monday, July 24, 2017

SAFELY CLEANING YOUR OVEN WHEN YOU HAVE PARROTS - THE VERDICT IS IN


About a week-and-a-half ago I posted a picture on the GC2 Facebook page with a link to a oven cleaning method that seemed easy, economical, and safe for parrots.  And, as I haven't cleaned my oven for years (because of choosing not to use the self-cleaning function) it was looooong overdue for a makeover.

The ingredients & instructions are simple:

1 - Take the peels from two-three oranges immersed in white vinegar in a mason jar.
2 - Let the jar set for 5-6 days.
3 - Shake the jar to insure everything is mixed well.
4 - Place in a spray bottle.
5 - Sprinkle baking soda in your oven.
6 - Spray the vinegar/citrus mixture onto the baking soda & watch it sizzle.
7 - Proceed to wipe the grime and grease from your oven. Voila! Clean oven!

Ok.  The short video made it look like a piece of cake, effortless.   Remember that motto: "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true?"   Well, hang on....here's what I did and here's what I discovered:  


I let the jar stand a few days longer than the instructions suggested, but I figured that the citrus would just infuse the vinegar only moreover time.   No worries there.  I bought a cheap plastic spray bottle and grabbed a sponge with a safe scrub backing.   My husband removed the heating element from the stove (quite the undertaking to re-install it...really, and that's another story) and I was ready to begin. Here's what it looked like before I started. (Please don't judge me...I know how gross it is!) 
And then I started.  It wasn't as purdy and fast as the HomeTalk video, but I was determined. 


I wiped off the first application to see what my progress was.  I was pleasantly surprised - I saw the original floor of the oven.   So, more soda, more spray, and a lot more elbow grease.
I noticed a couple of things as I worked.  First, it's a messy process and so I placed some paper towels along the front edge of the oven to catch the soda/vinegar/gunk mixture as it made its way over the bottom lip of the oven.  Some of it still ended up dripping into the pots and pans drawer below.  How? I have noooo idea, but it did.   Second, I didn't realize how being a contortionist might come in handy to manually clean an oven.  Trust me: there were places I definitely left un-scrubbed    just because I could not finagle my way around    the space.   I am not a contortionist.





I continued applying and wiping, re-applying, wiping until I was done with the base of the oven and somewhat the sides, as well as the cover of the fan in the back.   The best news is that there were NO fumes, no smell really of any kind. There was NOTHING to harm my birds. Possibly the soda neutralized any odor that might have popped up?   And one more observation: baking soda has a shelf life.   I am 100% positive that the baking soda that I used had seen better "active" days...but it's what I had in my pantry and I was on a mission.   Possibly using fresher baking soda would have made the combination of soda, vinegar and citrus more effective, and the job easier.

This is the fan cover that was on the back of the oven.  It was removed and I cleaned it while on the countertop.    In the first picture, the left side is the "after" and the right side is the "before," sprayed and ready to be swiped clean.   Second picture is the completely cleaned cover.   And I have to add, this part of the oven was e-a-s-y.
Fan cover - 1/2 cleaned
Fan cover - fully cleaned
It probably took over an hour to finish up, and then I had the unexpected task of cleaning all of the pots and pans, muffin pans, etc that were below in the drawer.   And then...the joy of pulling out the stove to re-install the heating element, discovering other unmentionables that needed vacuuming and scrubbing behind the stove...and it was done.  

Here is what it looks like now...temporarily...until I start baking and roasting and making messes again!  My verdict: this is a great, inexpensive way, though semi-labor intensive, to safely clean an oven in a home where parrots live. (I have to admit that I broke a pretty good sweat during the process.)

I believe that if you stay up with it your oven mess, maybe do difficult sections one at a time until the entire oven is at a standard you are happy with, then periodic cleaning won't be traumatically, physically difficult at all.  I give this HomeTalk's video and method an A-...the minus is just because I had to do my share of the labor to get the baking soda, vinegar and orange peels to do their jobs....it didn't just magically dissolve away the grime. 😏

Please, give this a try and respond in the Comment section regarding how it worked for you.    I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
 
















Friday, May 19, 2017

WHEN YOU GOTTA GO...YOU GOTTA GO!


I would like to think that I could train my flock to use the toilet like this fabulous Grey, but...reality check...it's just not going to happen in my lifetime.   Like many of you, I am content or resigned as the case may be to collect soiled papers and a day's worth of toy carnage, and then provide my flock with clean cages and fresh papers on a daily basis.  It's a routine that I'm committed to.  Not my favorite thing to do, but it's part of the big Companion Parrot Picture.

However,  I have to admit that my birds do not have the courtesy to keep their messes within the confines of their cages.    Nut shells get thrown (and then stepped on with bare feet),  food gets thrown and then cleaned up by the canine family members, and droppings sometimes just miss the mark.  It's just how it is.  And, a long time ago I took off all of the aprons around my cages due to space limitations..(I never thought they worked that well, anyway - THEY get dirty, too!). 

I have a few observations about this and I thought I would share them:

1  What are your cages sitting on? If they are located on a carpeted area of your home, you are in for a constant cycle of cleaning up the spots, whether from the flinging of food or the "other."   There are easy alternatives to this to make your life easier.    

A   If you need to leave the cage(s) on carpet, consider buying a few yards of clear plastic carpet runner.    Place it under the cage, extending out where your bird(s) share their mess.   It's much  easier to clean than carpet with just a quick spray of safe cleaner and a rag.
B   Move your cage to an area that has a tiled floor. Again, the mess is very easy to clean up.
C   Buy a remnant of linoleum and place it under the cage area.  Inexpensive fix.

2  Are the aprons on your cages?   If you have the aprons attached to your cages and continue to wipe them down, consider placing sheets of newspaper around them.  Just fold the paper in half and lay it over the entire exposed area with the other half falling over the outside edge.    These can be changed when cage papers are changed.   No muss..no fuss. 

3  Resolve the issue from inside the cage.   No matter what your cages are sitting on, you can minimize the projectile droppings from hitting the nearby wall or spraying onto the floor.   Some of our birds are just messier than others, especially one of mine who-shall-remain-nameless.  He's big, he's red, and on a daily basis he does his best to leave his mark on everything except the newsprint at the bottom of his cage.   Most of this issue has been resolved by hanging a piece of heavy plexiglass to the side of his cage which blocks the path of his droppings.  We drilled two holes in the top of the plexiglass and then attached it to the inside of the cage with clevis pins.  You could also use zip ties to hold it on.  If you have lorikeets, you might consider a thin sheet of plexiglass attached to the nearby wall, to save on vertical clean-up!   
      
4   Do your bottom trays get caught in the crossfire as well?  If they do, and your cage design allows it, just fold a sheet of newspaper in 1/2 and slide it under the bottom grate, and over  the bottom tray with the edge extended to cover the lip of the tray.  It keeps the bottom tray clean and just replace it when you change all of the papers.

So, those are my ideas for solutions that have worked for me.  Literally potty-trained?    Not even close.  But the situation is manageable and not too time consuming.    What works for you and your birds?  Please share in the comment section below.   

And, if you like this blog and it was helpful, please share it with your parrot friends on Facebook! Thanks!        
  
    

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

RESPONSIBILITY DECENCY HUMANITY


Duke - deceased - April, 2017 - Lions Gate Animal Sanctuary
Agate, Colorado


I live in Elbert County, Colorado.   If you also live in Colorado you may have seen or heard the news story recently about lions, tigers and bears being euthanized because the owners of their sanctuary recently lost their 'case' before our board of county commissioners to move to another piece of property within the county.   I won't go into the details, but  there is a link to the story below if you'd care to read it.

I won't take sides on this issue in this blog.  I certainly don't know all of the details yet, either.  I know some of the people involved, and I definitely know how our local county commissioners conduct business. There were no surprises with this decision.  But it really stopped me dead in my tracks and made me think about our parrots and the situations that many birds find themselves in, due to the consequences of our actions or lack of actions.  

There are parrot rescues and sanctuaries across our country.  They are full to the brim. There are waiting lists.  Some do a fantastic job with the resources they have; others are "getting by" at best.   There are also well-intentioned private citizens who take unwanted birds into their homes, and many times these situations get out of hand...and you eventually read about them in the newspaper: people who take in a few, those few turn into 10, 20, 50 or more and then conditions deteriorate, animals suffer, and the birds are confiscated to be dispersed to other 'rescues' as best as possible, some euthanized. It's a frantic scramble...it always is.   And it's not pretty.  I can attest to that.

What happened in Elbert County with the cats and bears is horrific.   There were at least 11 animals that were destroyed. But what happens when a huge parrot rescue goes under for whatever reason, or there is a large hoarding situation uncovered?  Possibly hundreds, thousands of birds are immediately in need of shelter, cages, nutrition, veterinarian care.  The logistics are overwhelming.   How will all of that happen? Parrots (and ALL animals we have domesticated or caged) deserve the same attention and care that those huge wild animals did at Lions Gate. Yes, much smaller species, but in need of and deserving of the same humane, compassionate care.  It's a monumental task.  It's happened.  And it will happen again.   

What can we do? It starts in your home, in your own life...if we're talking parrots.   First, don't get a parrot  unless you have spent a great deal of time educating yourself on

1) the cost (veterinary care, food, toys, cage, etc),
2) the idiosyncrasies of the specific species of parrot,
3) the longevity, (Is this a passing desire or are you willing to commit to the lifespan of the bird, which could be dozens of years?),
4) how a parrot will impact the dynamics in your family with your husband, wife, children, other pets,
5) what your daily involvement needs to be, and
6) what you will do when you no longer can take care of the bird (ie, old age, your death & having a will in place).  

If you don't go through that litany when considering getting a parrot, then DON'T do it. If you know of someone who is thinking of getting a bird, talk to them and share this blog.  It is not fair to the bird. Without those considerations, birds can easily become throwaway pets, ignored, housed in a spare room with no interaction,  end up in animal shelters, handed over to a relative or neighbor, into private homes that rescue, sold on Craigslist, placed on consignment in a pet store, or into an already overpopulated parrot rescue.

If you have a parrot, or parrots, make a commitment to that animal to see it through thick and thin, good and bad, and work through your differences by educating yourself.   We are the ones who decided it was a great idea to put birds in cages and lions and tigers and bears in zoos, circuses, and ultimately into sanctuaries.   We, as parrot owners,  are responsible for making sure that our birds' lives are the best they possibly can be.   It just takes a huge dose of forethought, responsibility, decency and humanity.  We can do this.

 http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/11-big-animals-euthanized-as-relocation-denied-for-elbert-county-animal-sanctuary 

Friday, March 10, 2017

FAMILY DYNAMICS - A Cautionary Tale (or Tail)


Auggie Thomasson

This is a personal story about my family.  I haven't seen anything like this in print when perusing parrot sites, or getting the weekly updates from some well-known avian websites.  I think that it's worth sharing, because, I just  don't believe that my "family" is the only one that has experienced what mine has with the dynamics of different animal species under one roof.

We have always had dogs in our household.  And parrots came into the fray in full force almost thirty years ago.  For many, many years, everything was copacetic.  Everyone got along, whether two-legged or four,  pretty much, with some careful supervision by us.  

We have two dogs right now, and five big birds in the house.   Our dogs are thirteen and twelve years of age.   The twelve-year-old is a gentle boy, German shepherd/Australian Shepherd mix.  And this "tail" is about him.   His name is Auggie and he has noise anxiety.  Noise anxiety? Yup...there is such a thing, and canines are susceptible to this condition.    Here is how we finally were able to come to this diagnosis:

Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
A number of years ago, I brought two lovebirds into my flock.   They were as wild as a March hare, bonded dearly to each other,  chirped incessantly and preciously, and after a few years, both began suffering from seizures and a number of  other health issues.  They were under the care of my avian vet until they both passed away.   But...while they were alive, a strange thing began happening:  the lovebirds seemed to choose the middle of the night to have seizures, which meant one would end up in the bottom of the cage struggling until the seizure passed.   Our bird room is next to our master bedroom, and the dogs have always slept in the bedroom with us.   Whenever one of the lovebirds would have a seizure, we knew because Auggie (all 80 pounds of him) would climb up on the bed and literally stand over our heads to wake us up...to let us know. The bird made no chirping sounds...just fluttering, floundering.   We would immediately go to the lovebirds' cage and hold the bird until the seizure passed.  Lassie truly let us know that Timmy was on the tracks.

At first we thought that this was some innate 6th sense that Auggie had (and possibly actually has) and though he seemed alarmed, he settled down once the bird was attended to.   And, as I mentioned, we finally lost those two little birds.  I dearly missed them and what they added to the ambience of our home, and so we adopted two more little wild lovebirds to replace them.   And then...Auggie's behavior started changing.

Whenever the new lovebirds would chirp or ring their little bells or flutter around their cage, Auggie became frantic.   He pinned his ears back, he tucked his tail, and he looked for anywhere  to escape the pain he was experiencing.  That included, if he went into the back yard and away from the birds, trying to dig under the fence, trying to squeeze between a gate and the fence to escape. If still inside, he paced indoors...all the time exhibiting a frantic look in his eyes that was just simply TERROR.   We made a decision after watching our dog be so very miserable:   we chose to ask a friend to care for the lovebirds until we no longer had Auggie.   My reasoning was that the lovebirds would outlive my dog, the birds would be in loving care in the interim, and Auggie would have some peace.  

For nearly five years now, my lovebirds have lived with my friend, and Auggie occasionally struggles with noises from our five big birds. But it is not as traumatic for him now as it was with the lovebirds that he had to endure.  He is on a minimal  dose of anxiety medication and also wears a collar with synthetic dog pheromones, which seem to give him  relief.   He avoids the birds, the bird room, and he still flinches when there are big flutters and typical raucous outbursts.  But we are aware and try to make sure he is as comfortable as possible.  He deserves it.  He is a great dog.  

And so... the cautionary "tail:" if you share your home with animals other than birds (furry, four-legged), be observant.   Yes, dogs can act "scared" of birds and avoid them.   But look closely into your animals' eyes and watch their body language as well; is it just a normal balancing of pecking order in your home, or is your dog or possibly cat experiencing an anxiety disorder like Auggie does?   

Lastly, please transfer this observance to your flock.   Watch how your birds interact, caged together or individually,  next to each other.  Can you see aggression or fear between birds?   If there is discomfort, do them a favor and adjust their living situation (separate them, juggle cage locations or rooms, even) so that they don't have to live "on guard" all of the time.  It's not a pleasant way to live. It's not a good thing to watch.   It is  something we can change and improve.   



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE...THERE'S A PLAN


The Black Forest Fire - June, 2013
Black Forest, Colorado
My husband and I walk our dogs in our rural development on a daily basis.   Our route is a three mile loop through our neighborhood.    We try to be good stewards of the land as we walk by picking up any bottles, beer cans and miscellaneous trash that we see, scooping up nails and roofing staples that find their way into the road, and we seem to always come across the errant cigarette butt.   It is stunning to us that, in this warm and windy February, that anyone would have the audacity (stupidity!!) to toss a cigarette butt out of a car window, potentially into meadows that are as dry as crisp toast. But we find them on a regular basis.  And it is very disturbing.

Fire.  To many of us, "fire" is more than a four letter word. Where we are, it is a potential threat that we live with throughout the year. In Colorado, the skies are lit up with thousands of lightning strikes every year. Our woods are filled with old pine trees scarred many times over from surviving lightning strikes.   Fire, no matter what the cause, is not to be taken lightly.   It is not forgiving and it does not give its recipients many options once it's turned loose.   You must quickly make decisions and they must be the right decisions, because time is of the essence and "fire" is synonymous with "life and death."   

I won't rehash our personal past experiences with fire.  Suffice it to say that we have had first-hand experience putting out fires, and being forced to evacuate from our property because of shifting winds from huge fires nearby (in the Black Forest) . So far we have been lucky. We have been safe, our property and our animals have been safe.  Knock on Ponderosa pine wood.

Maybe you're not in a community where wildfires are on the top of the list of potential dangers, but there are circumstances that might require a quick and safe exit for everyone in your home.   Emergencies might include a gas leak or extreme weather, like flooding or a tornado.  

Out here in the country, the consensus is that, if fires are coming, just open the corral gates and let the horses and cattle out.  You can round them up later.   That's just not the prudent choice for your parrots, though, is it? So what can you do to insure your flock is safe?  Well, it's easy:   Have a plan in advance for your animals, including your birds, in case you need to evacuate your home on a moment's notice. 

Here are some ideas that you might want to consider for your feathered family members. Have your "exit" supplies packed, easily accessible,  and ready to go.  Know how you will place your animals in your vehicle. Make sure there is room for what you personally need as well as for your animals and what they will require.    The supplies for your birds might be:

1.    An emergency avian first-aid kit
2.    Bath towels (small washcloths or hand towels for small birds)
3.    A supply of dry food (high quality pellets & some  seed)   (An emergency is not the time to                  worry about a well-rounded diet!)
4.    Quick access to any medications your birds must take 
5.    Roll of paper towels
6.    Stack of newspapers
7.    Traveling carriers for each of your birds with clean water and food bowls
8.    A jug of fresh water 

I would think in terms of having a week's worth of  "parrot" provisions  with you.  And, if you are fortunate enough not to have to grab your emergency parrot "exit" bag or box, be sure to rotate the water, pellets and seeds out and restock with fresh. 

It is a fact that, given a warning that you are in imminent danger of fire, you may not even have five minutes to grab what you need and get out. That includes family members,  crating birds, dogs, and grabbing what you consider invaluable.   Be organized now.  I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer about this.  I'm just being pragmatic.  Thinking ahead about how you might deal with an emergency could be the difference between saving lives or making irrevocable mistakes.   

What else would you include in your emergency supplies for your flock?   Please add your suggestions.

  

    















Sunday, February 12, 2017

OH! THE CARNAGE!! FORAGING BOX - BEFORE... AND AFTER...and STILL GOING!


New foraging box.  Nice and neat.  Tidy.  Full of entertainment.
Double Yellow Headed Amazon at the ready...camera left.

On my last post, I wrote about the value of giving our parrot companions foraging boxes, filled with different textures, shapes, tastes.    I thought you might want to see what has since transpired with the box I made as a sample for that blog.   I chose to give this particular box to my Double Yellow Headed Amazon, Pancho, about three days ago.   As you can see from the first picture, she's camera shy, but don't let that fool you; the girl is ruthless and attacks her toy box like a tornado headed for a tin barn.   Hope you enjoy the pictures.  And, this particular foraging venture is now in its third reincarnation - the "innards" have been given a new home in another box on a daily basis, until everything is gone! 

Pancho shredding the box.





When I was younger, I remember hearing a saying about kids loving the boxes better than the shoes that came in them.    That's what I think of when I see my birds attacking their toy boxes:  the boxes are as much entertainment as the toys that we make and buy for them.


Taking a break.
Spread the love. 

What's left of the Skippy box and the goodies within.

So it is my job (and yours, too, I bet)  to pilfer through the wreckage in the morning when I change papers and salvage what I can of what's left of the toy box. It has turned cold here  where we live, and so putting my birds outside hasn't been an option for a day or two.   Knowing that my birds all have choices to stay busy, stay mentally stimulated, and be content in their cages when they are there, makes this inevitable mess all worthwhile.  When I see the destruction,  I just smile and grab my trash can and broom...and then go grab another box.    


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

BOXES! BOXES! WHO'S GOT THE BOXES?

Easy to assemble cardboard "toy/foraging box" for medium to large parrots

I am constantly aware of the importance of keeping my birds exploring and busy when they are in their cages.  As a responsible parrot owner, you probably feel the same way about your flock. Besides hanging toys, weaving toys & destructibles through the bars, hanging sliced phone books, creating interesting perch configurations, etc., I try to add one more item to my birds' cages, a cardboard box filled with entertainment and challenges.  This goes in the back corner in each of my birds' cages, out of the direct shot of droppings from a perch above.  If your birds are out in your house, you may want to place this play box somewhere safe, in a well-lit "play area."


In the box I include some of the following (depending on what I have on hand):

1    - partial pieces of wood from destroyed toys
2    - new foot toys
3    - parts of egg cartons or smaller pieces of cardboard
4    - an unshelled nut or a foraging container with a hidden nut or treat
5    - clean pine cones
6    - sisal rope with knots tied in it
7    - clean, small pine branches or twigs
8    - parts of broken-up toys, that are still safe
9    - partial phone book or paperback book (encourages literacy!)
10  - playing cards

For me, it is important to discourage breeding behaviors in my birds.  I have no desire to see my flock increase!  And  boxes, in and of themselves, can be the perfect signals for many birds to go into reproductive mode. But, there are things that I do, and that you can do to create and utilize this inexpensive "entertainment center" without encouraging behaviors you don't want and to ensure safe play.  Here are some tips that have worked well for me:

1 - Make sure that the box you choose is NOT four-sided.   If you've found a great, intact box to use, tear off the top and maybe one side of the box (if the sides are tall) to insure that it doesn't look dark and inviting, like a nest box.
2 - Do no include materials that are already shredded which would encourage nesting, like shredded newspaper or loose crinkly paper.
3 - If the box has cellophane (like a tissue box) be sure to remove it before you give it to your bird.
4 - Don't use a box that has ANY odor at all; no perfumes, no sweet soapy smells, nothing. Recycle those another way.
5 - Remove any tape that you believe your bird might tear at. Also check for staples.

Where can you get a good stock of safe cardboard boxes for your birds to play in/with and destroy?   My go-to place is Costco. Sam's Club works, too.    I get mistaken for a Costco employee many times because, when I go shopping,  I make a point of walking up and down  the aisles and removing the shorter, empty boxes (like Skippy peanut butter, 505 chili, A-1 Steak Sauce boxes) and load up my cart, groceries, cardboard boxes  and all.    Discount stores, like Walmart, do their re-stocking in the evening, and they have carts and bins of cardboard boxes.   It doesn't hurt to ask a manager or employee in your local store if you could have a stack of boxes...it saves them from having to dispose of them.


I try to get a variety of sizes, but I have to say that none of my birds are picky about the size...they start buzz-sawing thru the sides,  the bottom, the contents, foraging for a treat as soon as the box is placed.   And, even though it may look like a tornado has blown through the box, if there is anything remaining the next day, I use that cardboard as filler for the new box.   It's a never ending source of busy-ness for my flock.   Remember, this is something that you could do for any size of parrot; little birds - little boxes, big birds - BIG boxes!
Have you tried this for your flock already?  What is your source for boxes and what do you put in for your birds' enjoyment?  Let us know in the comment section!   Thanks.
 




Sunday, January 22, 2017

Kindness, Appreciation, Compassion - Pass It On


My friend, Patti Christie, with her dearly loved Amazon, "Higgins"
(Picture is from 2004.)


Many years ago, when I was just beginning my career as a public school teacher, I had the privilege to teach  first and second graders.  It was a privilege, because I was witness to children exploding into literacy; watching them become readers,  proud "authors," problem solvers.  It was, to use the over-used word, awesome.  And,  I had a wonderful principal, who allowed me the freedom in my classroom to do what some of my teammates I'm sure considered unnecessary and unorthodox.    I kept animals in my classroom.  


I knew that most kids had some exposure to dogs and probably cats. But the unknown to me was, if my students did have dogs and cats at home, did their parents model gentle care, kindness and love toward their pets?  And I didn't know if birds and rabbits were part of their life experiences up to that point. 

Since I couldn't answer that question (and we all know the horror stories of chained up dogs, animals without shelter during extreme weather, empty water bowls, physical abuse, death), I wanted my kids to have hands-on positive experiences that they might reflect on and take with them into their coming years.  I wanted them to be able to gently hold a rabbit, pet it, speak to it with compassion, and understand its worth.  We laughed together as Cisco (mini-lop) did leaps in the air, flipping 180° and leaving a trail of flying "raisinettes" in his wake!  They heard that lovely chirp of parakeets in the classroom.   The noisier the kids were, the louder the birds got.  It was wonderful.  My students loved it.  I modeled proper care, cleanliness, and feeding...and kindness and compassion.   I loved that rabbit.  I loved my little flock of parakeets. I hope some of that rubbed off on my young students.

And, when our senior citizen dogs were in their last days and couldn't be left alone, both my husband (a teacher as well) and I took them to school with us.  They slept under our desks. Our students watched us give them companionship, tenderness, and care in their final days.  They were not alone. They were loved.

And I hope that those children left my classroom (and my husband's as well) with  an appreciation of the value that all living creatures have; that the animals that we deem pets deserve  to be treated with respect, and cared for with kindness, compassion, and appreciation, no matter if their experience is with the short life of a mouse, a gerbil, or the decades that a macaw can share with us. We are responsible.

My point here is, if you have animals in your life, feathered or not, please take the time to share your love, your passion, your kindness, appreciation, compassion with others, especially young people. Tell them about your animals.   Let them touch (safely), explain the funny quirks and wonderful qualities that make your pets so special. If you have children, let them take on responsibilities within their age and capabilities, so that they feel they are their own, and they can feel the wonderful inner gifts that caring for an animal generates within us...even at a young age. 


Our birds, our animals bring us such great joy.  I know that all of my animals have played  profound roles in my life.  I bet the same goes for you as well.    And,  I realize I've used the words "kindness, compassion, appreciation and love" over and over again in this blog.   But...can you say them too much? Can you  model them/"live" them too much?    Please, just be cognizant and do pass them on.  They are invaluable, tremendous gifts to share.  

Saturday, January 14, 2017

OHHHH, NUTS!!!




All of us know that our birds benefit from regularly having nuts in their diets, unsalted, raw nuts shelled or unshelled.  And my guess is that you, too, have noticed that nuts in the shell at the grocery stores and online before the holidays, (okay, all year 'round) are really expensive.  But, in December the grocery stores stock bin after bin of unshelled nuts, all headed to the mantle to be stocking stuffers and centerpieces.  Except, not all of those nuts make it out of the grocery store. And after the holidays, the stores start marking those nuts down.

I won't belabor the point: this year I was almost too late.   A friend of mine who works  at King Soopers (Krogers in other parts of the country) called two days ago to say that the produce department  had bagged up all of their bulk nuts from the holidays in  approximately one pound bags, and they were all marked $1.00.  Clearance. Yup, you read right: one dollar. Not a typo here. One dollar.    She asked me if I'd like her to pick some up for my birds. We all know what my answer was, "OF COURSE! I'll take 30 bags!"   And so, I happily exchanged cash for nutritious nuts, and started a frantic hunt around town to find more.  A friend of mine in the Denver metro area searched out other stores, and found about 36 pounds, bagged and priced the same.   I found another 14 pounds.    And then...the well went dry.   All gone. But, ohhhhh, between us we had, in less than 24 hours, stocked up over 70 pounds of fabulous nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds,  Brazil nuts, hazelnuts) for our birds, at a fraction of their normal cost,  to also share with the flocks of two other friends.  Money so well spent.   Unshelled nuts to last months.

Nothing beats watching a parrot rip methodically into a pecan, a walnut, an almond, a Brazil nut, in the shell.   It's inspirational to watch the problem solving as the shell goes by the wayside within seconds, and the nut has been discovered.   And...nothing is wasted.  Do your birds head down to the bottom of the cage to check out the shell pieces for left behind nut meats?  Mine do. So smart.

Nuts serve a number of purposes for our birds (all ending with nutrition). First, they are a part of their daily diet.  Second, we use them as reward for solving foraging puzzles, birdie brain games.  And third, they are invaluable as tiny, tiny bites of treats or rewards throughout the day as positive reinforcement.

You would think as old as I am, and as long as I've had birds, that I would be ahead of this "markdown" strategy at the local groceries.  But, sometimes life gets in the way and it takes a call from a friend to remind me that there are bargains to be had, for our birds, every year, in the produce departments...if we just watch.  So, the moral of this missive is, keep your eyes out right after the holidays next year and grab up a bundle of those "expensive" nuts at an incredible price....for your birds.   Oh, crack open a pecan or two for yourself. Your birds won't mind sharing.  

 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

ZIP TIES - THE CONTINUING SAGA

My Feathered Fox, Malibu, ready to attack her evil nemesis:
her food bowl! (Note the stainless steel strap across and 
around the bowl holder.)




If you read my first blog entry regarding keeping acrylic bowls in their holders in my Blue and Gold's cage, you may have left the post thinking that it was "Mission accomplished!" and "All's well that ends well."  Silly you.   Actually, silly me. 

Over the last week or so since I wrote that article,  I really thought that I had resolved the issue of untwisted bowls that resulted in thrown water and food.  After my snippet-of-paper-towel fix, wedging the bowls in their acrylic holders, I watched my very determined macaw continue to work those bowls, as tightly and snuggly as they were held...and succeed in her misguided (well, in MY opinion) mission.  

Malibu has been tenacious.  The way she chooses what to use as her tools: her tongue, then her lower beak, then moving to a different side of the bowl, then both mandibles...fascinating.  She is such a problem solver that, if it weren't so frustrating to watch her twist the entire bowl and holder upside down and jet propel  the contents, I would feel a great sense of admiration (and pride!) for her determination and mental skills.    But no matter how smart she is, she still needs to be fed and have fresh water.

What has transpired over the past week has been a true lesson in observing parrot intelligence, and then outwitting that wit, for her own sake.  And, knock on wood...I think I have finally found the solution to my dilemma with this incredibly bright bird.    Oddly enough, it all goes back to my second blog about zip ties.  

I had reached a point of frustration with the use of the acrylic, twist in/out bowls.  I decided to revert back to the original bowl holders and metal bowls that came with her cage.  The problem, as I saw it, was that she had no qualms about lifting her bowls out and tossing them, and then removing the holder and giving it the ol' heave ho as well.   But, the problem was not the bowls, it was the holders.   

Now, let me say, I LOVE my Avian Adventure cages (a reason to write another blog, for sure) but there is a flaw in their system for holding bowls.   With a feisty bird, the bowl can easily be lifted up over the lip and out of the holder.   There is nothing to prevent that vertical motion.   (It could easily be resolved if Avian Adventures had welded one more bar across the top  of the holder...but they didn't!)   

And so, I dug through my zip tie stash and found two very heavy duty nylon zip ties, probably 3/8" wide and extremely strong, and wrapped them around the holders, securing the zip ties to the bottoms of the holders with smaller zip ties, snipped off.  They held the bowls in beautifully.  There was NO WAY she could wrangle the bowls out.  Did I say strong? Did I say no way?   Again, oh, silly me.   Malibu made short work of those ties: I watched the wheels start turning in her gifted bird brain.   Within 2-3 minutes of checking out the new, "indestructible" zip tie straps, she proceeded to reach down and snap the tie on her food bowl in two like it was a piece of raw spaghetti.    I thought I'd solved the problem.   I hadn't.   But it was definitely a good start.  I was not deterred from my mission.
Note the SS  zip tie beneath the bowl
attached to a bar on the side of the cage.
There are stainless steel zip ties.  And since they are metal, parrots cannot snip them in two.  I had some in my supplies - they were narrow, but worth experimenting with.  I proceeded to re-do my zip tie "fix" with metal ties, also securing the holders to  the sides of the cage below the bowl areas.  This was a step toward success.  she could not break the tie, she could NOT get the bowl out of the holder, but she DID figure out how to grab the edge of the bowl and "pop" it so that the food in the bowl took a vertical trip and then angled over the edge of the bowl...to the bottom of her cage.  I was not deterred from my mission.


I did have to resort to even stronger/wider SS zip ties, but that has stopped her from being able to "pop" the bowls in the holders.  These metal ties are expensive, (I paid $15 for a package of 5 at my local hardware store.) but I only needed 2 of the wider ones, so I have back-ups for future emergencies. For two days now, Malibu's food and water have remained in their respective bowls, unmoved, food and water available.  I do not believe, however, that the next "issue" needing resolution will  be resolving my macaw's creative food and water bowl problems.  That one, for the time being and much to Malibu's chagrin,  has been taken care of.  Case closed.