the first parrot blog
The guided and mis-guided adventures of new parrot owners and the people that encourage and support them. Cautions, advice, amusements and interesting stories about people and their parrots.
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the first parrot blog
Sunday, October 31, 2004
We are very fortunate to own a young pair of Ducorp's Cockatoos (cacatua ducorpsii). These birds are moderately endangered in their homeland, the Solomon Islands, not because they were over-exported but due to a loss of habitat from logging. Export is controlled under the CITES, appendix 2 provisions.
It is our opinion that the Ducorp's is the best pet of all Cockatoos for a number of reasons.
They are one of the smallest Cockatoos at 13".CKC Birds in England has a wonderful Article on Ducorp's if you are interested.
They are very quiet compared to other Cockatoos.
They don't chew as much.
They have a full crest unlike some smaller 'Toos such as a Goffins.
They are just fun to be around.
Our pair laid a fertile egg last winter which was destroyed when they were frightened by a lawnmower. We hope to have our first baby this year.
- posted by J-Birds @ 9:16 AM |
- posted by J-Birds @ 8:15 AM |
Friday, October 29, 2004
Message From Pennsylvania
Pat, Theresa and "Maxx" are settling in. We got this message today:
Hello Debra. He had a good first night. He ate apples all the way home from the airport. He stepped up on my hand and let me stroke him. We didn’t handle him for very long because of the trip and knew he would want to get a drink. When he went into his cage he sat quietly on the highest perch for a while then systematically went around inspecting and testing each of his toys. He then went to town on his dry food mix and had a good long drink. He settled on the high perch again and, since It was late, we covered his cage so he could get some sleep. He seemed a bit put out by the cover but settled down quickly enough and we didn’t hear anything else out of him.
This morning we gave him his fresh fruit and veggie breakfast but he didn’t seem interested in it. He ate a couple of apple pieces but that was it. He has been steadily working through the dry mix and the jambalaya mix all day and plays with his toys a lot. He watches everything but has been silent the whole time…except for once. This afternoon a Prince rock & roll song came on and he began to sing along. When the song was over he went back to being quiet. Good grief, he is a Prince fan.
By the way. I thought his name was Caesar and Theresa thought it was Sam but when he got here he made it clear that his name is Maxx.
- posted by J-Birds @ 6:28 PM |
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Another Delta Moment
Today's adventure was to ship a beautiful Solomon Island Male baby to Pat in Harrisburg, PA. Everything went smoothly on check-in. We were over two hours before flight time and the clerks in cargo were great. Delta Cargo in New Orleans has four great cargo workers, one b**** who just happens to be a woman, and a manager named Bill who specializes in avoiding confrontation by not managing.
At two o'clock I got a message from Pat (not Delta) that the flight out of New Orleans had been delayed and his baby missed his connecting flight in Cincinnati. We agreed that he would call Cincinnatti cargo to make sure that the baby would be on the next flight scheduled to arrive in Harrisburg four hours after the original flight. You see, Delta doesn't know if a pet missed a flight because their tracking system is usually hours behind. They don't notify you of a problem because Pets First doesn't do anything other than make reservations. Their tracking department has no special procedures regarding live animal shipments.
Because of the delay and the fact that the baby was most probably left out in the heat for a prolonged period, I recommended that he be sensitive to dehydration. He said he was planning to bring water and an apple for the ride home. We question whether Delta has formal policies regarding pets being left on tarmacs in the heat. We suspect that it is left to the discretion of individual workers at the terminal.
Why do we use Delta at all? We do not believe that Delta's poor quality Pets First program will result in the death of a pet. We do think that they are misleading the public by having a Pets First department when they are just reservation clerks. They also cause undue stress in both the shipper, recipient and the pet. Given a choice we always use Continental's Pet Safe program which is the model for all good pet transportation programs.
Update: 9:00pm, Bird arrived home safely after 12 hours in transit.
- posted by J-Birds @ 7:00 PM |
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
- posted by J-Birds @ 7:02 PM |
For a blog that didn't know if it would be able to find enough interesting things to write about, J-Birds Blog crossed some milestones this month. We now have 209 posts and 30,577 words in the blog. Who'd a thunk it.
- posted by J-Birds @ 6:38 AM |
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
What To Do?
You'd think that, living 50 miles from a major city, there would be much less entertainment and recreational activities. People would be reluctant to drive an hour just to visit the property and see birds. So we've been compiling a list of activities to include in your day's visit. We also developed this list as a preliminary step of developing a business plan for a bed and breakfast operation in the distant future.
Did you know that:
The Global Wildlife Center is 5 minutes away. Featuring a park with hundreds of African animals that you can feed from carriages.
There are two vineyards within 15 minutes. The Landry Vineyards are four miles away and offer a tour and tasting room on Saturdays. More popular, the Pontchartrain Vinyards in Bush, LA offer Jazz concerts on the grounds and a popular tasting room for visitors. Pontchartrain Vineyards is open Wednesday thru Sunday.
We'll cover many more strenuous activities in future blogs.
- posted by J-Birds @ 9:18 PM |
Sunday, October 24, 2004
One Step At A Time
This weekend we were able to transport the six pairs of breeders to our new home. We decided to transport the birds in their cages rather than transport them in pet carriers. We carried three cages at a time on a 12' flatbed trailer. The cages were wrapped in plastic to keep any wind off of the birds. The first trip went smoothly with no problems.
On the second trip I heard fighting sounds from the trailer. I thought the birds were fighting through the bars since the cages were sitting with the sides touching. When I stopped to check, it turned out that Elvis and Prescilla were fighting inside their cage. He apparently was trying to get into the nest box with her and she was having none of it. By the time we got to the house he was bleeding from the foot and was looking a little shocky.
We captured him and have him in a Plexiglas cage in the nursery for observation. After a few hours he seemed OK and all bleeding stopped. This morning he was sitting quietly with telltale signs of cooked sweet potato on his beak. We'll give him another week in the house before he re-joins Prescilla.
The birds really seem to be enjoying their new surroundings. We're still worried about (pick one): raccoons, hawks, foxes, small panthers, bald eagles, black bears, coyotes, snakes, etc. Any of which could do harm to parrots. They are all rumored to be in the area although we've only seen the panther and fox.
- posted by J-Birds @ 8:31 PM |
- posted by J-Birds @ 6:44 AM |
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Our new home has a hammered copper fountain that is at least 10 feet tall and 6 feet in diameter. The focal point is a lifesize magnolia tree with philodendron laced inside and a bird and birds nest tucked away on a branch. Around the base are Louisiana iris', Boston ferns, water lilies and blossoms. It is set up in a stone knee wall and has a stone walkway around it.
After a lot of research, I left a message with a local artisan in hopes that he had built it 25 years ago. Last night I got a call and the voice on the other end introduced himself by saying, "I built your fountain". We were delighted.
Turns out Wayne Morgan worked on it for over three years as the owner and he met often to develop it before it was placed in our yard. This particular fountain is clearly one of his favorite works and he knew it needed repair and maintenance. The previous owner had ignored his requests to take care of it.
We look forward to meeting him in person and thanking him for such a wonderful piece of art.
- posted by J-Birds @ 6:39 PM |
Monday, October 18, 2004
Parrots And Goldfish
We keep hearing about people that casually get rid of parrots after a year or two. The reasons vary but always point back to the fact that the purchase was not well thought out. Sometimes they call us to see if we would take their birds. It helps their conscience to know that their bird is going to a good, caring place.
Like they never thought they would have a baby in the future and the hormone-stressed wife is imagining that the parrot will chew all of Juniors fingers off in the crib. (Yes, we got a call like this).
Like they never realized that, like cats, one person in the family may be mildly allergic to feather dust.
Like they never knew that parrots occassionally celebrate life by screaming at the top of ther lungs and the neighbors might hear.
Like they never thought their parrot would make a mess of the floor or chew the door frame.
Like they never realized that the parrot would restrict their movements in much the same way as a child.
Like they never knew that the bird will long outlive their passing fancy of owning one.
Birds are not goldfish. They can't be flushed when you tire of them. Think first of the responsibilities of owning one so you won't have to think twice about how to get rid of one. - Craig
- posted by J-Birds @ 8:36 PM |
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Home At Last
We are officially in our new home although our possessions are scattered all over south Louisiana. If you're trying to contact us please try the following numbers:
New Home 985/892-3527
Old Home 985/845-4121
Craig's Cell 504/415-3493
Debra's Cell 985/264-3688
The new baby Vos is doing fine. Debra and Craig are exhausted. - Craig
- posted by J-Birds @ 1:02 PM |
Friday, October 15, 2004
Potty Training Your Parrot
Joey and Tracy at Pretty Parrots have a great article in this month's newsletter about potty training your parrot. I've reprinted it here with permission. Be nice and go to their site and sign up for their newsletter, it's worth the read.
Tips on "Potty-Training" Your Bird
Tired of bird poop on your shoulder? Love your bird but wish that, aside from installing a volume control, that you could install a poop control too? But you CAN potty train your bird.
It helps to realize that most parrots (cockatiels, lovebirds, & larger birds) have some sort of instinctive desire not to poop on their favorite human perch. I don't know how this evolved, but it's there. So, how does this training process work?
It's actually very similar to potty-training a dog. Dog books will tell you to learn and anticipate when the dog will go to the bathroom: right after waking up, right after eating, etc etc (though it depends on the dog); you're supposed to take the dog to the right spot every time you think he's likely to go, wait til he does his stuff (repeating a key phrase all the while, even if you feel like an idiot for it), and then praise him profusely. Birds are a lot like that, with one really BIG difference: they go as often as once every few minutes!
So the trick is to get in the habit of picking up the bird every few minutes --- you really have to learn to watch your bird to figure out the timing --- and then hold it over the appropriate object (newspaper, trash can, cage, whatever), repeat a simple phrase, and wait for the "plop." Then, praise the bird profusely and give it back its previous perch.
Here are some tips:
• Birds usually get antsy just before they want to go. A cockatiel on your shoulder might start climbing down, for example.
• RIGHT before going, most birds do an odd little squatting or backing-up motion. You can sometimes (not always) interrupt the bird long enough to pick him up and get him over something more appropriate than your table or your shirt.
• Don't use a key phrase common to daily language. One article in BIRD TALK mentioned how this can cause social embarrassments....
• Be consistent.
• It may be hard to keep the bird over the trash can ... they often really don't want to stay there. Be patient, and don't force the bird to sit there longer than seems reasonable (certainly don't hurt him!). Try again in a minute or so, though. Also check your shirt or the floor to see if the bird went while you weren't watching.
• Some birds have a stronger instinct than others. Lovebirds, for example, seem to have have more of a "don't poop on the human" sense than cockatiels. But remember all birds are still individuals.
• One idea: some birds might possibly cue off a particular object beneath them. In other words, you MIGHT be able to teach your bird to poop over a bit of kleenex (for example) -- but that means anything that looks like that will probably become fair game.
• When uncovering the bird cage in the morning, try waiting until the bird poops before letting him out (though in the morning, there may be multiple large "presents" waiting to come out of the bird). Make sure to open the door very soon after the act, or else the bird has no reason to associate the action with the result.
• Likewise, you may try waiting until the bird poops to let him out of his cage at other times of the day. The bird may start associating the cage with pooping, especially if you use a key phrase, and also if...
• ...You try putting the bird periodically on/in his cage and refuse to pick him up again until he poops (it helps to wait til you know he's due to poop to do this, and use that same silly key phrase). Again, this must be done cause-and-effect style, and the hope is that the bird realizes that pooping in/on the cage is a Good Thing.
• BIRD TALK warns against getting a parrot so well trained he doesn't poop without a command -- that's just bad for his health. Expect a few messy shirts, tables, chairs, etc. -- don't expect perfection!
• It might take only a few days for some birds ... or it might take weeks! In the long run, it usually is up to the instructor's patience and persistence.
• If potty training is too frustrating for you and the bird, it may be just best to live with the occasional mess rather than get everyone upset.
In any case, those are the basics! Remember, take it easy ... birds aren't THAT instinctively into the potty-training business. There will always be mistakes --- usually caused by an inattentive human who didn't read his bird's body language, or who forgot how long it had been since the last birdie potty session. But still, in good cases, the mistakes can go down by nearly 90% or more ... and wouldn't that be great?
- posted by J-Birds @ 5:48 AM |
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Just when you think your plate is full and you can't handle anymore life throws you a curve ball. We are moving to our new home this weekend, livestock and all. This morning I checked on Prescilla in her nest box and there was a 6 hour old Vos baby. Prescilla has only raised one baby successfully in her life. His name is Presley and he is going to his new home when he is weaned in a couple of weeks. She hatched another chick about two months ago and she didn't feed it. I found it dead in the nest box two days after hatching.
So, when I found the chick in the box this morning, I scooped it up and placed it in our brooder inside. It seems to be healthy and we began hydrating it with Pedialyte and Instant Ounces. A baby at this age requires feeding every two hours around the clock for the first week. All this and a move. Life is still good. - Craig
- posted by J-Birds @ 11:26 PM |
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
"When you buy the best, it only hurts once!"
This is the slogan of a company that makes deer feeders. (Yes, we're already planning to feed the wildlife at Chateau Plumage.) What a succinct way of phrasing what I have been telling customers of my air conditioning company and we have been telling potential parrot buyers for years.
Parrots are non-domesticated animals. They have all of the instincts of a wild bird. What's the difference? Imagine a wild cat outside your home that has kittens. If you leave them for their mother to raise you will get several equally wild babies. If you were to capture one of the adult babies you might be able to tame it over time and it may become a good pet but it would not be the same as a domestically raised kitten.
Now, imagine you got one of the wild kittens at three weeks old and handfed it and raised it in your home. You would have a loving cat that is perfectly compatible with your family and totally tame.
Parrots are exactly the same. We take babies from their mothers at three weeks and as far as the babies are concerned, they are little "parrot humans" by the time they are weaned. The more attention we give them, the tamer and more socialized they become. The challenge of raising baby parrots is to give them as much attention when they are three months old as when they are three weeks old.
This is where there is a big difference in breeders. If you are buying from a breeder that talks about the number of babies they produce each year it should tell you something. Likewise, if you are considering a breeder that keeps their birds in a separate facility it should tell you something.
When a person visits our home, they are visiting our aviary. If our kids visit, they visit our babies as well. If we have friends over, the babies have visitors also. If our dog barks or our cat meows, the birds respond. Socialized? When our birds go home with their new owners they are going from one cozy, happy place to another. Hopefully, they don't notice the difference.
- posted by J-Birds @ 6:00 PM |
Monday, October 11, 2004
Debra was sitting in our den today looking out the window and one of these crossed in front of her.
- posted by J-Birds @ 10:26 PM |
Saturday, October 09, 2004
Wildlife of Chateau Plumage
Golden Silk Orb Weaver
Living in the country, critters are everywhere. One we most frequently run into (literally) is the Golden Silk Orb Weaver. This spider is 2 1/2 - 3" across and really gets your attention. We've taken to carrying a stick and just wrapping them up in their web and moving them aside. Next day...same web, same place. There must be over 100 of these large spiders on the property.
- posted by J-Birds @ 8:04 AM |
Friday, October 08, 2004
Chateau Plumage Update
We scheduled this weekend to begin the move in earnest. Unfortunately, tropical storm Matthew has decided to drench us all day Saturday and most of the day Sunday. We still hope to move all non-essentials this weekend.
Painting is almost finished and some of the furniture is in the house. We are pretty fried and looking forward to resting in our new place.
- posted by J-Birds @ 11:43 PM |
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Parrot Throw Up
We've gotten a couple of questions regarding parrots that throw up on their owners. Obviously, this is not a wonderful thing to happen to you when you are enjoying your parrot's company. But, this action on the part of your parrot is rooted in their bonding and mating behavior.
You see, parrots usually mature, find a mate, raise bunches of babies and die. All this while trying to escape natives with shot guns, predator birds and monkeys, drought, famine and, let's not forget, pestilence. When a male parrot bonds with its mate, it is common practice to regurgitate food to the female. This is something he will do often while the female is caring for babies. Likewise, the female feeds her babies by regurgitation.
So when a parrot is truly bonded with you it is not uncommon for it to offer you some of its crop contents as a sign of this bonding. In effect, it is a testimonial of the love the bird has for its chosen owner.
How do you stop it without affecting your relationship? I think that you have more control then you suspect. Birds just don't just look at you, smile like nothing's happening, and spit up. Birds bob their heads quickly up and down and work the contents of their crops up into their throat. When you observe this behavior pull them away from you and tell them no.
Find a happy balance between goo-gooing and kissy-kissy (which may be sexually stimulating to the bird) and a mutually respectful give and take. Be patient and observant and you will find a way to calm the bird down before things get gross.
If you have successfully de-fused this behavior please write us so we can pass it on.
- posted by J-Birds @ 7:21 PM |
Every once in a while we have a baby parrot that we get very attached to. Usually, it is a bird that loves being around people and displays an inordinate amount of affection. Sometimes it's a bird that has a funny personality or demonstrates a unique ability to talk or tries very hard to talk.
"Goomba" is a name we have given to the baby Yellow Nape Amazon who is here now. He is on one-a-day hand feedings and will be weaned in a couple of weeks. We can't walk in the house without Goomba croaking to get our attention or struggling to say hello in a distorted gravely voice.
When he gets out of his cage, his favorite place is snuggled under your chin and melting into your chest. He's like a big friendly teddy bear with feathers.
We pride ourselves in raising gentle, good natured and loving birds. Goomba is the best example of this. If you know someone that is looking for the "perfect" bird, tell them about Goomba. Debra will cry when he leaves but we really can't keep another baby as a pet.
- posted by J-Birds @ 6:09 AM |
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
If you are planning to get a parrot for Christmas you need to start planning now. Consider the following:
1) The supply of available parrots is at its lowest around Christmas time. Many of the birds that are for sale are birds that have been passed over during the season for a variety of reasons including feather damage, behavior problems, screaming, etc. Consider placing a deposit now for a baby that will be weaned in early December.
2) You need to order a cage by mid-November so you can be sure that it will be in place by mid-December. Never have a cage arrive the same week as your new bird. If the new cage is damaged or needs missing parts replaced you could have a big problem.
3) Have all of your food on site two weeks before the baby arrives.
4) Weather may prevent your parrot from being shipped during the week you specify. We've had parrots delayed up to 10 days due to cold weather restrictions during the holidays.
5) Check the airlines policies regarding cargo shipments during the holidays. Many airlines stop handling live cargo a few days before Christmas.
- posted by J-Birds @ 8:16 AM |
Monday, October 04, 2004
It's A Long Story...
but to make a long story short...Debra set up phone service at the new home and told them that they could disconnect service at the old house on 9/25. Little did we know our move would be delayed for an additional month.
So, on the twenty-fifth, our phone service was disconnected. When it was re-instated two days later, DSL was not reconnected. We hope to have our internet connection back on line by tomorrow.
This is an around about way of telling you why there were no Sunday Comics this week and why our postings have gotten sporadic. Look forward to better things later in the week.
By the way, Rachael and the Hawkhead made the cover of the Louisiana Aviculture Society newsletter this month. The species profile is on Hawkheads.
- posted by J-Birds @ 9:25 AM |
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