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!