Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Parrots and other pets

Customers ask me all the time, is it okay to have birds and other pets too? In most circumstances, sure! I have three dogs in addition to my pet parrots. The dog most trustworthy with my parrots is my german shorthair pointer - a bird dog! Almost all of my other parrot friends have dogs, cats, etc. in addition to their birds. I have found that parrot lovers are animal lovers too so there is usually a few four legged critters running around their homes.

You know your dog/cat better than anyone. So you will be the ultimate judge of whether a bird would be safe with your other pets or not. Here are a few things you should consider if you have dogs/cats and are considering bringing a parrot into the house.

1. What is the age of your dog/cat? Puppies and kittens are more rambunctious than adults and more inquisitive. If you have a 80 lb. labrador puppy bounding about the house or a kitten climbing the curtains, perhaps you should wait until the animal is more mature and settled before bringing in a feathered friend.

2. Predatory instincts. Some pets just cannot be trusted, period. Others are more laid back. Terrier breeds for example tend to be more predatory and more diligence will be required to keep your bird safe if you own such a dog. As I stated above, I own three dogs. My german shorthair pointer, a "bird dog" is the one I trust the most around my birds. He has a gentle personality, is well trained, and understands the birds in the house are off limits. My two small dogs (chihuhua and chihuaha/rat terrier mix) are not nearly as trustworthy.

3. How obedient are your animals? If you say "no" or "leave it" to your dog, does he listen? Cats that aren't too predatory can be discouraged with a few well timed squirts with a squirt bottle. Some people will put their animals in another room when the bird is out to be safe. Again, you have to know your animals and decide what is the best course of action to keep your bird safe when he is out.

4. Size of the bird. Smaller birds are more flighty/active and their motion tends to attract dogs/cats more. Larger birds such as amazons, african greys, macaws, etc. are a bit more intimidating in their size and stature. A cat is much more likely to go after a parakeet than a blue & gold macaw!

5. Funny story. My black headed caique was out on the hamper in the bathroom while I was getting dressed. My cat had wandered in to see what I was doing. She walked by the hamper where the bird was with her tail sticking up. The caique couldn't resist that tail swinging in her face and promptly chomped down! No problems with the cat and bird after that LOL!! I certainly would not recommend this approach though.

6. Be mindful that dog and cat saliva is toxic to birds. If your dog/cat gets a hold of your bird, take it to an avian vet ASAP for a check up and antibiotics. Even though the bird may look okay, just a small amount of saliva can cause serious problems. I had one customer who's dog got a hold of their bird and everything seemed okay. Two days later the bird became very sick and died. :-(

7. Reptiles are another issue. Remember, in the wild snakes eat birds and their eggs. It can be very disconcerting to your bird to be housed where it has to look at a giant snake all day! Also, wash your hands thoroughly before handling your bird after handling reptiles. Another consideration is safety. If your reptile escapes, can it get into your bird's cage? You'd be surprised the tiny spaces that a large snake can squeeze through. It is best to house reptiles and birds in seperate secure areas.

8. Caging. The large wrought iron cages built for larger birds are very sturdy. It would be difficult for a dog/cat to knock them over. But the smaller parakeet/canary type cages are not as strong and will need to be in a safe place when humans are not around to supervise.

These are just a few helpful tips to make you think when you bring a new feathered companion into your home with other animals. I have found that usually everyone settles in quickly and it takes just a little diligence on the part of the humans to keep things safe for the bird.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Let It Snow!

Our little caique was intrigued at the snow falling outside yesterday! Yes, that's right. Snow in Texas! We had quite a bit too, enough to cover everything in a beautiful blanket of white. It's rare we actually get snow that sticks around here so when it happens it is quite the event LOL! The cool weather stuck around until this morning (it was 25 degrees this AM), but temperatures have crept back up today and things are getting back to normal for this time of year. Enjoy the pictures!

Friday, November 27, 2009

And it begins....

Christmas music on the radio stations, all the stores are decked out in their holiday glory and people are out and about looking for those after Thanksgiving deals. I love the holidays! Everything is so festive and bright and the crisp cool weather is a welcome change from our hot summers. But the holidays are also a stressful time for many people. All the rushing about and worrying about presents, holiday meals, budgets, party planning, etc. can really take it's toll. This is the time of year when I get phone calls from people about their parrots acting up.

Parrots are flock creatures and are very sensitive to our moods and energy. This is hardwired into them for survival in the flock. In the wild, if a member of the flock gets tense there may be a predator in the vicinity and you can bet the rest of the flock picks up on that real quick. Herd animals are the same way. Ever see a herd of horses out grazing peacefully and then one horse picks up his head and looks intently at something? All of a sudden, the rest of the herd have their heads up and they are looking too. And all are ready to bolt at the slightest sound or movement.

To our parrots, we are their flock. They are very attuned to us and many times can sense that we are stressed before we know it ourselves! If your parrot is acting out by being louder than usual or maybe nipping, take a moment to assess yourself. Birds mirror our energy. My pet quakers are excellent barometers of my energy. If I feel rushed or stressed and try to pick one of them up, I will receive a hard nip every time. Once I slow down, take a deep breath and relax then I can ask them to step up with no problem.

Since we are usually short on time this time of year, we should provide distractions for our parrots to keep them occupied. Just like you would do for a two year old human. This is a good time to rotate those old toys out and replace them with new ones. A sprig of millet spray clipped to the side of the cage works well for smaller birds. For bigger birds, buy a few foraging toys, put some treats in them and let your parrot work for his food. As I have mentioned before, I really like the "foraging sphere" toy for this. Shreddable, tear-up toys keep my yellow nape amazon busy for hours. Frequent showers are another option.Wet birds are more subdued and will spend a lot of time preening after a bath. Trim those flight feathers if needed and allow your bird more out of cage time on his play area. I highly recommend having a safe, outdoor cage for your parrot. I use my outdoor cages almost every day. After spending several hours playing outside, my birds come in relaxed and happy. I personally think it is good for our birds to get away from humans once in a while!

These are just a few suggestions to help you and your parrot maintain sanity during the holidays. If you have some other creative ideas, write a comment and share them with the rest of us!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fall is here!!

We have seen some beautiful days here in Texas lately. I just love this time of year! This is also the time when some of our pairs really kick in with their fall breeding season! We are currently hand feeding a clutch of seven parrotlets which should be ready to go home around the end of this month. They are adorable! Both of the young caiques are growing fast and their new owners are waiting anxiously for them to wean so they can bring them home.

We have senegal eggs in the nestbox as well as black headed caique eggs. So there are more babies on the way. Very exciting!

Seed to pellet conversion tip:  I have converted quite a few seed "junkies" to pellets successfully. What has worked for me is to offer a very small pellet. I have had the highest success rate with Roudybush (nibbles or crumbles size) or Zupreem Fruit Blend Canary/Finch. For larger birds such as amazons, etc. you can use Roudybush crumbles or Zupreem Fruit Blend Parakeet size. These pellets are very similar in size and texture to a millet seed. Also the bird will eat them while leaning over the bowl just like he is accustomed to doing with seed. I also find the small pellets aren't as intimidating to birds as the larger ones. I wean all my babies to the smaller pellets. There is less waste and the small size is much easier for them to eat. So if you are trying to get your bird to convert to pellets, this tip should make it much easier. 

Wing clipping time! This is the time of year where many birds go through their major molt. So please be diligent about checking for those grown-in flight feathers and trim them as necessary. We don't want any escapees during the holidays!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

When it rains, it pours

I thought this title was appropriate both because of our weather lately (it's rained almost every day for about three weeks now) and my breeding production! I just pulled EIGHT parrotlet babies from the nestbox. Yes, eight from one clutch! They are all such little cuties. The older ones should be ready to go home in about three weeks. The younger ones will need a bit more time. This was the first clutch for the parents and they did a wonderful job! I also have another pair on eggs.

We also have our first african senegal egg! Very exciting! Senegals are a small parrot from the poicephalus family. They are good talkers, playful and mischevious. I'm sure the babies will be a lot of fun! I will be adding a senegal page to my website shortly.

We still have one baby caique available which should be ready to go around the end of November. We also have more eggs in the nest. We are also expecting our normal green cheek conures to start laying eggs soon.

So I guess my breeding pairs did not think I was busy enough and decided to remedy the situation LOL!

Check out my website http://www.almostangelsaviary.com/ for more information about the birds we have for sale.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Taking It Slow

Hope everything is going well with everyone! Things are gearing up in the aviary. We have one pair of parrotlets with babies in the nest and another pair with eggs on the way. We are handfeeding two beautiful black headed caique babies (available for sale) and I expect more in the upcoming weeks. The normal green cheeks are rested and nest boxes are back up. One of my senegal pairs is showing nestbox activity. Check my website frequently for updates on what birds we have available for sale.

I wanted to take a minute to write about lineolated parakeets. They should really be called lineolated parrots as people confuse the term "parakeet" with "budgie". In the bird world, the term "parakeet" means long tailed parrot. Some examples of other parrots that are referred to as parakeets are quaker or "monk" parakeets,  plumhead parakeet, derbyan parakeet and alexandrine parakeets. These birds are all parrots and the alexandrine is a big bird. Including the tail they are about 23 inches long. Okay, so hopefully we got that cleared up.

Linnies are small parrots like I mentioned. They learn to talk quite clearly, hold food in their feet like their larger cousins and are very affectionate. They come in a variety of colors. Their natural calls are wonderful, these birds are not loud. They have calm easy going personalities.

Linnies like to take things slow. I find when handling them, it's best to give them time to think about what you are asking them to do. I also find with young birds, they do best stepping up on a hand that is turned palm up. The increased surface area gives them more security. If they hesitate before stepping up, be calm and just give them a second. You can bring your other hand gently around the back and gently urge them onto your hand to encourage them to move forward. Before long, they will be jumping on your hand to come out!

When you bring your new linnie home, it is best not to handle them too much in the first few days. I tell my customers to take them out once maybe twice per day (maximum) for a period of 30 minutes or so. If your linnie starts to get anxious after 20 minutes, just put him back in his cage. Keep your interactions with him short, slow, calm and quiet. Do not give him too much direct attention. It's best to take him out, put him on your shoulder and "hang out". Go do something quiet while he is on you such as work on the computer, do the dishes or fold laundry. Almost act like the bird is not on you. Be cool and let him observe everything.

I found that when people push their linnies to come out for long play sessions, or force them out of the cage several times per day to handle them during this adjustment period, linnies will become unsure of their new humans and may nip. If a linnie nips, he is telling you he is not comfortable with the way you are handling him. Best to slow down.

After about three days, your linnie will settle in and will want to spend more time with you. This is when they really start to warm up to their new people. It's like everything begins to "click". You will have years to spend with your new linnie. Giving him a chance to settle in for the first few days will go a long way towards establishing a long lasting friendship.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Information Tidbits

We have two black headed caiques for sale. They are about 10 days old at this point. We are accepting deposits to reserve them until weaned. Caiques are cool birds! Their bright colors and outgoing personalities make them very popular as companions. Check out my caique page on the website  http://www.almostangelsaviary.com/caique.htm or feel free to email me for more information.

The Companion Parrot Quarterly is now online. This is an excellent information resource for parrot owners. This site also has message boards and articles. Check it out at http://www.companionparrot.com/

Sometimes I have customers who want to buy a bird, but only want a male. They are afraid that female birds will lay eggs and have problems. In cockatiels and lovebirds, sometimes chronic egg laying can be a problem. But in the majority of parrot species, this is not an issue. Most parrot hens need to have the right stimulation to lay eggs such as a mate, breeding diet, nestbox, etc. My pet yellow nape amazon hen is 16 years old and has yet to lay an egg! So unless you are pairing up birds to breed, gender is not an issue. More important is where you purchase your bird from. A bird that comes from a caring breeder that socializes their birds properly will have the best potential to be a great companion, regardless of gender.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Aviary Happenings

One of my customers sent me this picture. Is it adorable or what? This parrotlet's name is Tinkerbell and she is ready to take on the world with her little skateboard LOL! I really enjoy it when I receive pictures and updates on my babies. It warms my heart knowing they are well loved.

It's pretty quiet here at the aviary at the moment. The calm before the storm so to speak! I just pulled three lineolated parakeet babies from the nest. They are beautiful, fat and healthy! Looks like the oldest chick is a cobalt, not sure about the other two yet. I will post what colors they are on the website as soon as I know. My black headed caiques are on two eggs. So we should have some caique chicks in a few weeks!

Recently, one of my customers purchased an E-Z Care cage that the manufacturer states is suitable for conures, cockatiels, lories, etc. This cage was for a green cheek conure. When she got the cage set up and the put the bird in it, there was a large space in the bars where the side of the cage and the dometop panel meet. This space was large enough for the conure to escape from! The bar spacing on this cage was 3/4 of an inch. Too large for a small conure and certainly too large for a cockatiel. The gaps I mentioned were quite a bit larger. Luckily, they were home and her husband was able to place wire over the cage to secure the bird inside.

My customer said she will be calling this company and hopefully they will revise their product description and resolve this matter to my customer's satisfaction.

Here are some bar spacing recommendations to guide you when purchasing a cage for your bird:

Finches, budgies, lovebirds, canaries, parrotlets: 1/4" - 1/2"
Cockatiels, ringnecks, small conures (green cheeks, black caps, dusky, etc.): 1/2" - 5/8"
Senegals, caiques, mini macaws, large conures (cherry heads, patagonians, etc.): 5/8" - 3/4"
Goffins cockatoos, african greys, amazons: 3/4" - 1"
Large macaws and cockatoos: 1" - 1.5"

The above is a general guideline. If you have any questions about the correct bar spacing for your particular bird, ask a knowledgeable bird professional to help you. Some cages are built better than others. Be sure the cage does not have dangerous gaps that your bird could escape through or get stuck in. Feel the cage and make sure there are no sharp edges. If you have a choice, the smaller sized recommended bar spacing is usually a safer option.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Foraging Toy Ideas

Seems that the word "foraging" is the new buzz word in the parrot world these days. There are so many new products out to stimulate our birds and get them to tear, shred, solve puzzles, etc. looking for those special treats. Some of these toys are pretty pricey though. Here are some ideas for cheap easy ways to keep your bird busy!

1. Not a household item, but I had to mention this. There is a toy you can buy called the Foraging Sphere. I sell it on my site. It is the coolest toy! It is a clear plastic ball with holes in it on a skewer. You open it up, fill it with chunks of fruit, pellets, etc. put it back together and hang it up. Then your bird works to get the treats through the holes. My couch potato amazon, Tutti went crazy for this toy when I gave it to her the other day! I've never seen that bird so active! LOL! Very economical as you can refill it time and time again. It's also easy to fill so that is a big plus. Good for small conures up to amazons.

2. The tube sock foraging toy. Get a pack of men's tube socks from Walmart. Put some of your bird's favorite treats in it. I like to make sections, by putting in some treats, tying a knot, putting in another set of treats, tie another knot, etc. It helps to stretch out the sock before you do this to add some length. Then poke a hole in the top, use a baby link to hang it and you've got a great foraging toy! Birds that love to chew holes in your shirt will especially like this one!

3. Empty boxes. I take those small empty boxes (such as those from instant jello, 1 serving size cereal boxes, etc.). Put some treats in it, tape it shut and hang it on a parrot skewer. If you don't have a skewer, you can string it up with a piece of leather lace. For bigger birds, try bigger boxes and those Quaker Oat cylinder shape cardboard containers.

4. The parrot skewer (mentioned above). Every bird owner should have at least three of these! I use mine every day! I put old toy parts on them to make a new toy. Skewer chunks of fruit and veggies on them for your bird to gnaw on. Being on a skewer, they won't just pick up a piece of food and drop it. Skewer cheap shreddable items on it for a great shredding toy. Feel free to email me if you need help finding one.

5. Pine cones. One of my amazon's favorites. Get some good size, clean pinecones and sterilize them by placing them on a cookie sheet and heating them in an oven at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes. Then turn the oven off leaving the pine cones in there until the oven cools (about an hour). Take a screw eye, screw it into the top of the pine cone. Hang with a quick link and you've got a great shredding toy!

6. Small wicker baskets. After the holidays, hobby stores usually put their small wicker baskets on sale. Get only the natural kind. No stain, paint, etc. The dollar store also has these in stock sometimes too. Hang one up with a baby quick link or on a skewer and watch your bird have some fun! Or put two of them together and hide some treats inside to give your bird something to work for.

7. Cupcake wrappers. Put a bunch of these on a skewer or leather lace. Birds like the crinkly texture. Add some plastic beads and/or natural wooden beads to make a neat toy! If you are feeling really creative, take a few of bird's favorite treats and wrap them up. Use a small piece of tape to keep it shut and give to your bird to unravel.

8. Paper bathroom cups. Another great toy! Stack them in different ways and hang by a skewer or leather lace to make a fun shredding toy. Get creative, these can also make great foraging toys!

9. Tamale wrappers. Nice and crinkly! String up with some cupcake wrappers.

10. Lunch paper bags. Put treats in them and make a few "sections" by tying the bag together with some hemp rope (available in the craft section at Walmart). You can double up the bags to make it more challenging.

These are just a few ideas to keep your bird entertained without breaking the bank. I like to incorporate a few homemade toys with my store bought toys. Like most people, I do not have time to make all my bird toys. But making a few toys is fun to do and will help stretch your toy budget. It's also a great activity to share with the kids.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Just a few things....

We have decided to discontinue manufacturing our Feathered Chef Birdie Bread product. We are concentrating our efforts towards the aviary (breeding) side of the business as that is where our true passion lies. We have found some great alternative products which you can check out at http://www.almostangelsaviary.com/breadaa.htm. We especially like the Momma's Birdie Bread products. So many different flavors and made with wholesome ingredients. Give them a try!

We have two turquoise green cheek conures available for sale. They are about 4 weeks old now. Will be ready to go home in about another four weeks. Green cheek conures are such nice birds. They are little clowns that love to play! They make great family pets as they will interact with everyone. The turquoise (blue) mutation is really gorgeous and different. I hope to get some great pictures when they feather out so everyone can see how pretty they are!

Things have slowed down a little which is a nice breather for me, but I have more babies on the way. I have one lineolated parakeet pair on eggs, one parrotlet pair on eggs and my caiques have been mating. So I expect them to be on eggs soon. I post all baby updates on my site, so check the site frequently and feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Unsung Hero

I want to take time to thank one of the unsung heroes in my life - my husband Pete. He is not really into the birds (a mild understatement LOL), but graciously builds nestboxes, makes repairs, helps socialize babies and is a darn good handfeeder in a pinch! He also does about a million other things around here, but that is for another blog.

Sometimes, our household reminds me of a soap opera. Pete's favorite bird is Tutti, our female yellow naped amazon. Tutti is totally in love with him and will sit with him for hours just preening his hair, doing her little amazon cluck and staring at him like a lovestruck schoolgirl. Tutti definitely thinks of Pete as "her" mate. I am fortunate in that Tutti still remains sweet to me, and the "other" girl in my husband's life is a parrot! LOL!

My husband's household nemesis is my hahns macaw, Green Hornet (Hornet for short). Hornet has a strong bond with me and is very jealous of Pete. They both look at each other with mild disdain but manage to remain civil for my sake. Hornet still tries to get in a good nip when he can though! Pete says when I am not around, Hornet is actually pretty nice to him, but when I return it is back to the status quo!

As bird lovers, we understand that the mess, noise and occasional hormonal behavior is all a part of living with birds. The amazing bond we share with them is worth the extra care they require. But let's not forget our spouses who may not be that into birds, but graciously tolerate our bird crazy lifestyle because they love us and want us to be happy. So go give your spouse a big kiss and a hug. Let him know you appreciate him and remind him that the delicious smelling cornbread cooling on the counter top is for the birds!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New article on website

Well as promised, I have completed my article about the two mourning doves I raised. You can check it out at: http://www.almostangelsaviary.com/Article3.htm

They are doing wonderfully. So big and healthy! I have not raised doves before and this was a really cool experience. Read all about them in the article and see their pictures!

We have been very busy here! Feeding babies and more on the way! We have had two turquoise green cheeks just hatched and expect more on the way. Most of the babies we are currently handfeeding are reserved, but we still have one blue quaker baby available and a gorgeous cobalt male linnie. Let me know if you are interested in these birds. You may email me at parrots4us@sbcglobal.net .

Friday, July 3, 2009

Time Flies!!

Wow! I can't believe it's been two and half weeks since my last post! Well we have been really busy around here. The mourning doves I mentioned in my last two posts are doing wonderful. They are flying now and are just beautiful! They are out for about four hours a day now. They fly around the yard and barn area and have started to interact with the wild dove flock. Around 3:00, they come to the back door for their afternoon hand feeding and then it's back in the cage so they can practice eating "regular" food and be safely caged for the night. I will be posting an article about the doves on my site very shortly, complete with pictures. I will let you know when it is up.

Babies!! Like I said, we have been busy. Here is what we have now: three normal green cheek conures (two are reserved, one still available). Turquoise green cheek conures on eggs, three blue quaker babies in the box which I will pull in a few more days, three lineolated parakeets (one cobalt male, two green females) and last but not least, two parrotlet babies in the nestbox!! I am keeping my fingers crossed as this is the first time this pair has actually hatched and fed babies. So far so good! Check my website for more information on the birds above at http://www.almostangelsaviary.com/ or you can email me at parrots4us@sbcglobal.net

Care Tip: I use wicker baskets for portable playstands! The birds love them! I buy them on sale at Michael's at 40-50% off. I wrap the handle in sissel rope hang a toy and it is ready to go! Babies love to hide down in them, older birds love to climb all over them and chew them up. When the basket gets worn out, just throw it away and make a new one! Only purchase natural wicker baskets (no paint, varnish, etc.). Put two or three baskets of various sizes together for a great play area! Having a portable perch enables you to bring your bird to spend time with you while you are doing other things such as working on the computer, getting ready for work, etc. My pet quaker, Baby Blue has graciously volunteered to model for this picture!

Recipe: I got a great idea from a canary/finch breeder for an egg food type recipe that will keep in the cage! Take some very small pellets (I used roudybush breeder nibbles size), and add very finely chopped raw carrots and any other veggie you would like. (I used carrots and broccoli slaw, the kind you buy in a package). Mix thoroughly, put in a tupperware container and stick in the fridge overnight. The next morning, you will have a crumbly mixture that is soft but not mushy. My birds went crazy for this, especially my quakers who are feeding babies right now. This recipe works best with RAW veggies. Always put some carrots in there as they are very nutritious. Some other veggies which would be good are yellow squash, broccoli, zuccini, chopped greens, etc. Remember, all the veggies need to be chopped VERY fine. I used a mini chopper food processor. After several hours on the counter top, I noticed the mix got dry, but did not smell rancid. However, when I put in cooked foods such as hard boiled egg, rice & bean mixes, etc. the mix went rancid fairly quickly. So stay away from adding cooked foods and just use the raw veggies unless you will be taking the food out of the cage within 2 hours.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pigeons, uhhh I mean doves

The oldest chick has feathers coming in and after some additional research, it looks like I have a pair of doves, not pigeons. Well, that's a little better! We enjoy the wild doves here and put food in the feeder for them. Not sure what kind these are yet, (I think they are mourning doves) they will have to get some more feathers before I can be sure. I will surely let everyone know! They are doing great, growing fast and eating a ton! I will post some pictures soon.

We have sold all of our normal and turquoise green cheek babies! We have more normal green cheek eggs in the nest though. I've had a lot of interest in this new clutch, so let me know if you want me to hold a baby for you when it hatches. You can email me at parrots4us@sbcglobal.net

We also have a pair of blue quakers sitting on eggs!

Our lineolated parakeet babies are growing fast and I will be pulling them Monday or Tuesday. They are all dark eyes which means no lutinos or creaminos in this clutch. To find out more about these birds, see my lineoleated parakeet page on my website at http://www.almostangelsaviary.com/lineolated.htm

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Funny Story

A lady called me from the feed store the other day. She said some landscapers cut down a tree and there was a nest with baby birds in it. She didn't know what they were and wanted to know if I would take them. I get a lot of these types of calls this time of year. Usually, I refer the person to the local wildlife rehab center and or tell them to call Texas Parks and Wildlife. This time, something peaked my interest. I asked what the birds looked like. She said she had no idea what they were, but they had yellow down feathers. Yellow down feathers? I couldn't think of any wild bird in this area fitting that description. I thought maybe they were something cool like wild quaker parrot babies or some unusual songbird. Curiosity got the better of me and I drove down to take a look:

Well, here is what she brought out! Do you know what these are?

I admit, it took me a few minutes too.....


Well, handfeeding a couple of pigeons was not exactly what I had in mind, but hey, it'll be a neat life experience anyway. My husband says I can add this skill to my resume LOL! Of course, they are not anywhere near my other birds (they are in the barn actually, in a seperate airspace). And quarantine protocol is being followed. They are pretty neat. They eat differently than the parrots do and are actually easier to feed. I'll keep everyone updated on their progress.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Small Talk from the Aviary

I received an email from the couple who got the cherry headed conure I wrote about in my last blog. He said "TJ" is doing great and spends about two hours per day riding on his shoulder and "helping" around the house. I love happy endings. Way to go!

Our normal green cheek conures are about ready to go. The two older ones are ready now, the two younger ones will need another 10 days or so to finish weaning. They are so much fun! They are all flying now and their favorite pass time is flying to me and riding around on my shoulder snuggled under my hair. They are total velcro birds! We are having so much fun raising the green cheek conures. They are so cute!

We have more normal green cheek conures in the nest. These will be available for wholesale purchase in about two weeks. See my website or email me for details.

Our turquoise green cheek conure babies are doing great! They are just as fat and healthy as can be! I can't wait until they feather out so I can take some pictures and post them on the site! If you are interested in purchasing one of our turquoise babies, please let me know.

I have a pair of linnies sitting on five eggs now. Not sure how many will hatch, but I am keeping my fingers crossed! The parents are both split to different colors so the babies could be almost any color! It's always fun when the babies start to feather out to see what they are.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Second Chance

Recently, a friend of mine acquired several pairs of african greys from a breeder that was retiring from the business. The couple was older and health issues were making it difficult for them to continue working with birds. Long story short, along with the african greys, there was a cherry headed conure housed in the same aviary. The deal was whoever purchased the greys was to take the conure too and find him a good home. He was approximately 20 years old and a former pet, many years ago. This was not an abused bird in any way. He had a good life in the aviary with the greys. A large cage, fresh air, clean environment and good food. He just had not been handled in many years.

My friend sent me a picture of him and he was gorgeous. Perfect feather. She wanted to find a good home for him. She mentioned although he had not been handled for a long time, he was not afraid of people and was enjoying the scenery at the new location. We discussed this little guy for a while and decided to work together to find a home for him. We both wanted a loving home for this bird and would screen potential owners very carefully.

After being posted on my site for a few days, a couple that I knew contacted me about him. We kept in touch after they purchased a bird from me a while back. They are really neat people and have a natural knack with birds. I was happy they were interested in this bird as they would make a great home for him.

Well they ended up getting the bird and bringing him home. When I contacted them a couple of days later, the bird had already bonded with the husband and was out riding on his shoulder!

I was amazed. Like I said, this couple has a way with birds, but wow! If you think about it, this bird went through some major changes. He was rehomed twice after being in the same location for many years. Strange people, new cage, different food, etc. And remember, this bird had not been handled by a human for a very long time. This conure shows just how resilient birds can be when they are handled with sensitivity, patience and understanding.

This situation got me thinking. Each new day is a blank canvas, a chance to make a fresh start. Many times, simply changing old patterns can make a big difference in your bird's behavior. Every day is a new day. A perfect day for that second chance.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New babies & our views on selling unweaned babies

We are so excited! We are hatching our first clutch of turquoise green cheek conures! All the wonderful qualities of the green cheek conure in a gorgeous jewel tone color! We have just started breeding these adorable conures and can honestly say we love these little birds! They are a great size (about the size of a cockatiel, but slightly bulkier), are not "squawky" and are little cuddle bugs! We also breed normals and hope to have some pineapple babies soon. Visit our website for more information.

Sometimes we get asked if we sell unweaned babies to individuals with little or no handfeeding experience. The answer is no, we do not. Regardless of what you may have heard or been told, handfeeding baby birds is a laborious process that requires skill and the proper equipment to do properly. There is more to it than squirting some food into the baby bird's beak! Proper care must be taken not to aspirate the bird. The formula must be fed at the correct temperature. The baby must be maintained at a carefully controlled temperature. No, a heating pad is not sufficient and many baby birds have died from being overheated by them!

Most buyers do not know the early signs of a problem and by the time they recognize there is one, it is usually too late. Would you know if your baby had a yeast infection in it's crop? What would you do if the crop failed to empty? What is the correct temperature to maintain a chick just out of the nest? How should the chick be contained? What are the signs of a bacterial infection? How much formula should be given to the chick and how many times per day? What is the best way to wean a baby bird and what foods should be given at this critical time? When is the chick ready for a cage? When do you trim the flight feathers and at what age? And this is just the start.

Quality, professional breeders have spent years honing their skills and apprenticing under other breeders to learn the proper techniques to raise baby birds correctly. We spend a lot of money on continuing education in the form of seminars, conferences, books, etc. (there is always more to learn) and the proper equipment (brooders, incubators, thermometers, etc.).

As for us personally, we are not "production" breeders. We raise a limited number of babies so we can give each one the individual attention they deserve. Watching our babies grow into beautiful adults makes all the sleepless nights and hard work worthwhile. We care about each baby we sell and want the best for it and the new owner.

And just from a strictly financial point of view, unweaned babies in general do not come with a health guarantee. There are too many things that can go wrong with unweaned babies and breeders/handfeeders know this. That means the buyer has no financial recourse if the bird is sick or dies after you bring it home! Is it really worth it?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Parrot Care Tip - Power Outage

We had a really bad storm hit us last night and every breeder's nightmare came true. Our power went out. Not just for a few minutes, but for eight hours! Luckily, I did not have any eggs in the incubator or really young chicks. Otherwise, we would have had to drag out the generator and hook it up. So I heated water for formula the old fashioned way (on the stove) and fed by the light of candles and a flashlight.

I did have two babies in a brooder that needed to be kept warm. So I decided to try something. The chicks were in a bowl inside the brooder. I placed two hot hands packets a few inches away from the bowl, on the floor of the brooder. Let me say again, the packets were NOT in the bowl with the chicks nor did they have any contact with the bowl that the chicks were in. (I want to be very clear on that point).

The two packets kept the brooder at 87 degrees and the chicks were very comfortable. After four hours, the hot hands packs were still going strong. I exchanged the old ones out with two new ones anyway so I could get some rest and not worry about it. These worked well to provide the little bit of heat that I needed.

A note about the hot hands packs. They get very hot (up to 158 degrees) and should be used with extreme caution. They are decent to use in a pinch to heat the AREA around the chicks. Never put them underneath chicks or where the chicks will have direct contact with them. Even when wrapped in a thick towel or underneath inches of bedding, these small packs can generate enough heat to overheat or even kill your little ones. So be careful!

Speaking of babies. We have two normal green cheek conures still available! We are handfeeding them now and will accept a deposit to hold them until they are weaned. Contact me through my website for more information.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Welcome to our new blog! Here I will be posting updates on what's happening at the aviary, online specials, parrot care tips, recipes, etc. Feel free to send comments and I hope you find this blog interesting and informative!