Sunday, December 18, 2011

Parrot Festival is coming up!

To those who don't know, Parrot Festival is a conference held every January in Houston. It is put on by the National Parrot Rescue and Preservation Foundation (NPRPF) which is a bird rescue and education organization. The conference features a wide array of speakers discussing different topics regarding parrots. There are always a lot of great vendors there showcasing new and interesting bird toys, artwork, clothing, bird food, perches and much more! If there is a product for birds or their people, you will see it at Parrot Festival (laugh).

Their speaker list is always impressive. Avian vets, breeders, behaviorists, professional trainers, conservationists and nutritionists are featured. I suggest you attend all the talks, even if you think the subject does not apply to you.  I guarantee you will learn something from every single speaker.

For the social butterflies, on Friday night they have a casual meet and greet where you can mingle with the speakers and other attendees. On Saturday night they have a dinner/galah and silent and live auction which features unique items donated by vendors and attendees. It is a lot of fun. All the proceeds go to the NPRPF.

In the midst of all this is a Texas sized raffle featuring tons of great stuff! 

The conference this year is January 20-22 at the Doubletree Hotel near the Houston Intercontinental Airport. Rooms are still available, but it is good to get your reservation early as they fill up fast. For more information go to and click on the "Parrot Festival" tab. A pop up menu will appear with information options.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Travel What to do with Birdie?

Around this time of year I get a lot of inquiries about what to do with pet birds when their owners are traveling over the holidays. In general, I feel it is best for the bird to remain in the home. Arrange to have a trusted neighbor or friend come over once or twice a day to check on and take care of your feathered friend. Leaving the bird in it's home environment is the least stressful option.

Don't have a friend or neighbor that is available? Having a pet sitter come in is the next best option. Don't know anyone? Ask your pet owning friends/neighbors for a referral. There is usually a responsible teenager in the area offering pet sitting services this time of year as they are trying to earn a few extra dollars during their holiday break. Or look up pet sitters in the yellow pages. Professional pet sitters are usually booked this time of year, so you will need to reserve them early.

Another place to find a pet sitter is your vet's office. Call them and see if they have someone they recommend. Some of the vet tech's pet sit on the side for extra cash.

A trusted friend who is familiar with birds may be able to keep your bird at their home for a few days while you are away. I find this option works better with the smaller birds, as they are more portable.

The last option is to board your bird at a facility. Most avian vets offer boarding services as well as some bird stores. This is my least favorite option as you are exposing your bird to other strange birds which is a big health risk. On the plus side, you know your bird is being looked after by competant caretakers while you are away. If you are going to board, check out the facility carefully.

If you are going to leave your bird at home, have the petsitter play a radio during the day to keep your bird company. Plug in a nightlight so your bird can see if something frightens him during the night. Provide him with his favorite toys and food while you are away. Foraging toys and the Planet Pleasures "Pinata" toys will keep your bird busy during the day. Inspect your bird's toys/perches carefully and remove any (such as cotton rope toys or ring type toys) that could entangle your bird while he is not being supervised. Also inspect all the quick links in the cage and be sure they are closed and fastened securely. Door latches should be checked to be sure they close securely.

With some pre-planning, you and your bird can both have a worry free holiday travel season!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Zupreem Lory Nectar Discontinued

For those of you who have lories and feed Zupreem Lory Nectar, I wanted to let you know this product is being discontinued by the manufacturer. I suggest you buy an extra bag while it is still in stock. Then you can mix the Zupreem and the new brand of nectar you will be using together to slowly transition your lory to the new brand. Lories can be very particular about their nectar (whether you feed it dry or wet). A slow transition is much better than just switching brands and hoping your lory will eat it.

A good alternative for Zupreem that is well accepted by lories is Avico Lory Life (this company has been making lory diets for years. They are one of the first companies to produce a commercially available lory diet). You can buy this product at Avico Cuttlebone Plus. Here is their website:  I think their fruit gel product looks pretty interesting too. I plan on ordering some in the future to see how my lories like it! Avico products are very popular with professional lory breeders and zoos around the country.

Two other brands of lory powders that are available are Roudybush and Goldenfeast. I personally have not tried the Roudybush brand. Would love to hear opinions from readers who use it. Munchkin (my pet red flanked lory) did not care much for the Goldenfeast brand. But he can be fussy (laugh).

Hope this helps all you lory owners out there!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Good places to shop online!

Many of us shop the internet for our parrot supplies. Most local stores just don't have what we need and the prices tend to be more competitive online. Unfortunately as with everything else these days, shipping has increased substantially. Many times, the cost of shipping is equal to or exceeds the cost of the order itself!

There are a few good sites that have a good selection of bird supplies as well as free shipping if you meet their minimum order amount. I recommend that you stock up when placing your order to avoid paying shipping on smaller, more frequent orders. 

Here are three sites to check out:

Dr. Fosters & Smith:  This is the site I refer my customers to when they are purchasing supplies for their new bird. They have a great selection of bird supplies (and other animal supplies as well) and offer free shipping if your order is over $49! Their prices are excellent and they always seem to have something new. I highly recommend you sign up for their mail catalogs!

Pet Solutions:  This site has some really good prices on their larger bags of food which when you factor in free shipping is a good deal. They also have a nice selection of products. I've always received my orders very quickly from them.

That Pet Place: They usually run free shipping specials so you have to be on the lookout. Sign up on their email list and they will send you a notification when they have a sale. Right now, they are offering free shipping on orders over $49. Again a nice selection of products for all your pets, not just birds.

If you know of some other parrot supply sites that have good prices and competitive shipping rates let me know.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Product Review

Well, in my previous blog I mentioned that I ordered Mango Control Spray to see if it worked as a replacement for Camicide. It is a "natural" formulation with the following ingredients: ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Sodium lauryl sulfate 1.50%, cinnamon oil .50%, cedar oil .20%, clove oil .20%, other ingredients (water, citric acid, bentonite) 97.60%.

I tried this product on a few different types of bugs - ants, two roaches and some sort of beetle. Unfortunately this product did not work on any of them. I soaked the bugs with this stuff and they basically walked right out of it. :-( 

A spray or two with Camicide knocked them out right away.

This product smells nice when you spray it, but in my experience was not effective at all. I was so disappointed in this product that I just threw it away.

Luckily, I was able to obtain a few more bottles of Camicide. I do not need to use very much, so my supply should last me a while. Hopefully, by the time I run out it will be back on the market.

Meanwhile, if I see another product that shows some promise, I'll be sure and let everyone know!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's the deal with Camicide?

Camicide has been a bird owner's best friend for years. An insecticide that is safe to use around birds AND effective, it is the number one selling insecticide in the bird industry. I personally LOVE this stuff because it works! Being in Texas, controlling insects is a constant battle. Spraying insecticides around the outside of our home is not a problem, but inside we have to be very careful. Anyone who lives here knows Texas bugs are immune to just about everything. You can practically bathe them in natural "herbal" insecticide products and they walk away unscathed! A spray or two with Camicide knocks them out cold.

Now the problem. Camicide is nowhere to be found at the moment. I think I bought the last gallon in existence a few weeks ago from a poultry supplier. I paid a pretty penny for it too. What's the deal?

There is a worldwide shortage of pyrethrin, the active ingredient in Camicide. Pyrethrin is a natural insecticide made from the Chrysanthemum flower. Kenya is the primary supplier of pyrethrin and problems in that country have affected the global supply. Actually there have been problems with the supply on and off for about four years now. This is why in the past, Camicide would be temporarily unavailable only to come back on the market a few months later. This year, the shortage is really bad. Many companies that produce horse fly sprays, etc. have gone to using alternative substitutions to pyrethrin to meet customer demand for pest control. Unfortunately for bird people, our options are limited.

Some people confuse Pyrethrin and Permethrin which is a fatal mistake. Permethrin is a synthetic insecticide which is not safe to use around birds (nor cats).

I have recently ordered Mango Control spray to see if that would work as a viable alternative to Camicide. I read online that it contained pyrethrum (pyrethrin). I ordered it, thinking it might work similar to Camicide. I admit, I was wondering how they had this stuff in light of the shortgage, but went ahead and ordered it.

But when I received it, the ingredients read as follows: ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: Sodium lauryl sulfate 1.50%, cinnamon oil .50%, cedar oil .20%, clove oil .20%, other ingredients (water, citric acid, bentonite) 97.60%. So it looks like they changed their formulation to a "natural" product in light of the pyrethrin shortgage. Retail sellers and distributors of this product really need to change their information to reflect this. I was very disappointed when I read the label.

The product smells nice, kind of minty. I haven't had the chance to use it yet, but as soon as I do, I will write a review on this product and let you know whether or not it worked for me.

Meanwhile, if you know where there is some Camicide let me know!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Our beloved dog of a little over 15 years had to be put to rest last week. He had developed some serious health issues due to old age and then, cancer. Although it broke our hearts it was time to say goodbye. He  was absolutely the best dog one could have. I remember when we got him like it was yesterday. my husband had lost his previous dog (due to old age) and mentioned to a friend of his he would like to have a german shorthair pointer. Next thing we knew, a puppy (about eight weeks old) was waiting for us at the airport. My husband's friend  flew him to us from out of state.  

He was gorgeous, a white body with a brown head. Very unusual markings for this breed. And of course full of energy as these dogs are known for. He was also a natural pointer. He would freeze in place and point and look just like the dogs in those hunting pictures. One funny story we remember was when he was a puppy. He was in the living room and froze "on point" intently pointing at something on the carpet. When we looked closer, it was a fly! That just cracked us up.

We spent a lot of time with him, teaching him all the skills a hunting dog needs. It took about two years to completely train him. He also learned all the basic good dog manners and obedience commands. Just to tease my husband, I taught his "hunting dog" some cute tricks like roll over, sit pretty (sit up on his haunches), shake hands, etc.

We had a park near our house and we would take him there twice a day to let him loose so he could run. He was trained by then, so we had no qualms about letting him off leash. It was a sight to see watching those long legs stretch out and run! He LOVED it! People driving by would stop to watch him. He was beautiful.

He was very friendly to people and dogs alike. He also loved kids. Everyone in the neighborhood knew and loved Walker. He had many human and dog friends.

He gradually slowed down over the years as we all do. About two years ago, his hips got bad. With the help from good joint supplements and my vet, we did a good job keeping him comfortable. Then a few months ago, I started noticing blood drops here and there on the floor. I could not figure out where they were coming from. I would check all the dogs, and nothing. Then, one day he had a full out nosebleed. Mystery solved.

Unfortunately, it was cancer. Over the next few months he was put on medication to keep him comfortable and control the nose bleeds. We were very careful with the meds, only giving what was absolutely needed. The cancer moved very quickly. When his health began to deteriorate, our vet let us know we were on borrowed time.

I took him in to have the vet check him again as overall, he was not doing well. He was also very weak in the hind end and started falling more. When he would fall, I would prop him back up on his feet, give him a hug and tell him he was the best dog in the world. I loved him so much.

The vet took one look at him and then looked at me. Anyone who has been through this knows "the look". It was time. He has put to rest while I stroked his head and let him know we loved him. It was so peaceful and dignified.

Our vet, and his staff, were so compassionate throughout our dog's final months. I am fortunate to have had such a wonderful vet clinic to work with.

I wrote this blog because I know many of you have been through this before and understand. He was not "just a dog", he was a part of our family. Our animals have such a profound impact on our lives. They give us so much love, that when they pass on, they leave a hole the size of the grand canyon in our hearts. It's the inevitable price we pay when we share our lives with these amazing creatures. Is it worth the pain?  You betcha.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Li'l Girl Laid An Egg!

It is the height of breeding season and apparently my pet quaker, Li'l Girl wanted to get in on the act! She had been acting "breedy" lately which is normal for her this time of year. During this time for about two-three weeks or so, her hormones get the best of her and she gets very moody and territorial around her cage. Li'l Girl and I have a system to communicate during her hormonal time. I ask her if she wants to come out. If she nods her head yes, and lifts her foot that means yes. If she puffs up and lowers her head, that means no. If she says no, I just leave her be.

Well imagine my surprise when one morning I found an egg at the bottom of her cage! 
Li'l Girl's Egg
I laughed when I saw this and started calling her my little green chicken. She had no interest whatsoever in her egg and came right out of the cage. Here she is, being her little "rug-rat" self.

I left the egg in there for a couple of days. She just pushed it aside and that was that. She did not lay any more eggs. I wanted to post this because I get a lot of calls from people telling me their bird has laid an egg and they automatically think they should get a mate for it.

If your beloved pet lays an egg, understand this is just a biological function. Your bird is not pining for a mate, nor is it dreaming of starting a family. Environmental conditions were such that stimulated her to lay an egg. Let her go through her cycle, then remove the eggs and you will have your pet back again.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sprouting For Birds - Let's Do It!

In my last blog, I showed you how to make your own sprouting jars. This blog, we are actually going to sprout! We are going to start off using three simple, easy to sprout ingredients: Mung beans, whole lentils and hulled (no shell) sunflower seeds. Two notes here: 1. Be sure the lentils are WHOLE and not split. Split lentils will not sprout. Just plain whole green lentils will do fine. 2. And be sure the hulled sunflower seeds are RAW. That means natural. NOT dry roasted and NO salt.

Here is a picture of the dry mix before sprouting.

1. Put your sprout mix in your sprouting jar. Only fill the jar 1/2 with the mix (As the mix soaks up water, it doubles in volume). Then fill the jar with water and let the mix soak for approximately 8-12 hours.

2. After soaking, drain the water. Rinse the mix three or four times by filling the jar with water, swishing the mix around gently, and then draining. Rinse until the water draining out of the jar runs clear.

3. Put the jar on a counter away from direct sunlight for about 10-12 hours. Rinse the sprouts twice during this time. This particular mix is fast sprouting and you will see begin to see growth after the soaking phase. NOTE: If you are worried about spoilage you can place the jar in the refrigerator instead of leaving it on the counter. This mix will sprout in the fridge too, just a little more slowly.

5. The mix is now ready to feed! ALWAYS rinse your sprouts and drain them thoroughly before feeding. Store remaining sprouts in the refrigerator and use them up within two days. This particular mix is great for people too! They make a great tasting, healthy addition to salads or your favorite stir fry dish.

Below are two examples of how we incorporated these sprouts into our bird's veggie mix. Doesn't this look yummy?

Sprouting is so good for your birds (and you too). And frankly, a lot easier than chopping a bunch of veggies every day. Once you begin, you will wonder why you did not try it sooner! When I began sprouting for my birds years ago, I noticed many benefits: healthy weights, better feather condition, bright eyes, smoother skin on their feet, well formed droppings, etc. Sprouting is also a great way to introduce "seed addicts" to a healthier diet.

I would love to hear about your sprouting experiences! And if you have any questions, feel free to contact me through my website:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Make Your Own Sprout Jars

Well as I promised, this blog will show you a super easy way to make your own sprouting jars for cheap! All you need is a wide mouth mason jar and some needlepoint screen. Both of these items can be found at your local Walmart. The jars will be found in the canning supplies section and the needlepoint screen can be found in the craft section:

First here are some samples of wide mouth jars that would work depending on the number of birds you are sprouting for:

Next, take the inside of the lid and trace an outline on the needlepoint screen:

Cut the screen along the trace outline:

Fit the screen inside the jar lid:

Screw the lid on top of the jar and you now have a sprouting jar!

I have found my "homemade" sprouting jars work better than the store bought lids. The holes are a nice size. They accomodate most beans and seeds well and drain easily. I also wash these in the dishwasher (top rack only) to disinfect them between sproutings.

In an upcoming blog, I will show you how to start sprouting for your birds using a few simple ingredients.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tidbits of Information

I was shopping at Walmart the other day and found a package of pre-diced butternut squash in a package all ready to go! I mix some with my baby bird's veggie mix and they love it! This is a really convenient way to add some orange veggies to your bird's meals without a lot of trouble. The package looks like this (see picture below) and can be found in the pre-packaged salad section:

People are getting busier and busier these days and with the economy the way it is, we are all looking for easy, economical ways to feed our birds a healthy diet. I tell my customers one way to do this is to set aside some veggies or other healthy food items when you are preparing a meal for your family. Then you can add those items to your bird's next meal.

I enjoy sprouting for my birds as they are natural and nutritious, but many of the pre-mixed sprout mixes online are very expensive (I've seen them as high as $20 per pound). Add in shipping costs, which have risen significally and you can spend a chunk of change on sprouts! I make my own sprout mix from a few simple items that I can find locally. This mix is a fraction of the cost of the online mixes and the birds love them!

I start with a basic wild bird mix. Warning: Not all wild bird mixes are the same. I use Wild Bird Chow Premium Picnic (see the picture below). It is a mix for cardinals. It is a clean mix consisting only of black oil sunflower, safflower, millet and a few peanuts. I usually pick out the peanuts. There are no vitamins added. Some people use a clean dove mix, others have had success with a good quality pigeon seed mix.

To this mix, I add hard winter wheat berries (available at most health food stores in the bulk bins for about $1.99 lb), mung beans, and sometimes I add hulled sunflower (natural - no salt), and hulled natural pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas).

Below is a picture of what this mix looks like in 24 hours. This is just the basic mix of the cardinal seed, hard winter wheat berries and mung beans. You can see everything is sprouting nicely. This is the time to feed it to your birds. Don't let the tails get too long. I usually feed my sprouts within 2 days and store them in the refrigerator to keep them from spoiling. It is important to rinse them thoroughly before each feeding to be sure they are nice and clean.

So there you go! Two tips that not only will save you some time, but are economical as well! In my upcoming blog, I will show you how to make your own sprouting jars from materials you can get at any Walmart.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Early Spring

It's the end of February and it feels like springtime! I'm not complaining, I've had enough of freezing with all the cold weather we have had. Obviously the birds have spring fever, we have lots of babies! We have senegals, pineapple green cheek conures and parrotlets in the nursery now. We also have another clutch of pineapple green cheek conures in the nest with their parents which will be in the nursery soon.

The blue quakers have been louder than usual and spending time in their nestboxes. I expect eggs soon.

If you are interested in any of the babies above, feel free to email me at  We also keep our website current as to what we have available:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Bird Laid Eggs, Now What?

I have gotten several phone calls lately from people whose pet birds have laid eggs. Many people think that because their pet is laying eggs, it should have a mate. This is not necessarily true. The reason why the female is laying eggs is because environmental conditions (light, temperature, cage set-up, etc.) are telling her hormones that it is a good time to reproduce. Your bird is not pining away for a mate. Laying eggs is just a natural function of hormones doing what they do.

One should never purchase a mate for their bird without thinking it through first. Here are some points to consider:

1. Your pet may not want a mate at all. Single pet birds develop a close, mate type bond with their owners. That special connection is one of the reasons why we are drawn to them. It takes a lot of patience to convert a pet that is bonded to humans into a breeder. You cannot just throw two birds together in a cage and hope they get along. They must be kept in seperate cages side by side for weeks, sometimes months until they accept each other. And just like humans, some birds just don't get along. So you can go out and buy another bird for your girl, only to have two birds that do not like each other!

2. If per chance, your bird does get along with the new bird, now you have another set of issues. Many people do not realize that once a bird is set up with a mate (as a breeding pair) that bird will not be your pet anymore. You cannot have both a pet and breeder. It is one or the other. Your bird will become bonded to it's mate. Breeding pairs become extremely territorial of their cage (they are defending each other and their nest). Your former pet will protect it's territory by inflicting painful bites. And the fact that the bird is a former pet and is not afraid of you..... well, get ready.

3. What are you going to do if there are babies? You cannot have a full time job and take care of baby birds. And for birds to be tame, you must pull them from the care of their parents at a few weeks old and handfeed them yourself several times per day. You also need special equipment for handfeeding and to keep them warm. I won't go into all the details here, but trust me it is quite an undertaking! As a breeder, you are responsible for the lives you bring into this world. That means taking care of them while they are yours and making sure they go to good homes where they will be loved. What are you going to do if you cannot find homes for your babies? You cannot keep them all.

So you've thought this out and decided not to get a mate for your bird. Well, here's what you can do to discourage the egg laying behavior and get your pet back!

1. If your pet bird is on eggs, leave them in there for about 3-4 weeks. If you take out each egg as it is laid,  she will lay another to replace the one you took. Let her lay her entire clutch of eggs and sit them for a while. She may become very defensive during this time. Just leave her alone. Service the cage and let her be. Be sure to check the food bowls to make sure she is eating and drinking. Many pet birds after being allowed to go through the process, become bored and quit sitting the eggs after realizing they will not hatch. Either way, after a few weeks, take the eggs out and throw them away. Then...  

2. Take away anything in the cage that your bird perceives as a nest. And if you are providing a nestbox for your bird to sleep in, take that out or off the cage.

3. Rearrange the cage. Move perches, toys and food bowls around. Change things up. Maybe put in some new toys and perches.

4. Try moving the cage to a different location. Simply moving the cage to a different area in the same room can have a big impact.

5. Put your bird on a more meager diet. I'm not saying starve your bird. But if you are providing an  abundance of fresh food, fatty seed mix, nuts, etc. that will encourage breedy behavior. Hopefully your bird is on a pelleted base diet. Adjust the ratio of your bird's diet to more pellets and less fresh food. Limit nuts and seeds to occasional treats. Especially during the breeding season.

Since we do not spay or neuter our pet birds, hormonal behavior is something bird owners have to deal with. Following the tips above will help minimize these behaviors so you can go back to enjoying your beloved pet. Of course, each pet bird is different. If you need additional help with your bird, feel free to contact me through my website at

Monday, January 3, 2011

Of Horses and Parrots

Some of you may know that I am a horse woman as well as an aviculturist. I have found that many bird people are horse people too. It is so much fun to talk horses and parrots with customers! I believe many of the approaches and philosophies in training horses also apply to parrots. After all horses and parrots are both prey species that exist in a flock/herd. Parrots and horses both have “sentinals” in their groups that keep an eye out for danger. If one of those sentinals begins looking alert, you can bet the rest of the group comes at attention very quickly!

Both parrots and horses look to their caregivers for guidance – especially in situations where they are uneasy. Whenever I bring something by my birds that makes them nervous (such as a large box), I tell them “it’s okay” and put myself between the bird and the scary object and keep moving. I don’t make a big deal out of it. Same goes with horses. Anyone who has ever worked with horses can tell you the worst thing you can do with a horse that is scared of something is to make a big deal out of it. Punishing the horse for “spooking” or making the horse go up to every object he is scared of tends to make the horse more wary and nervous. This goes back to their natural instincts. Remember the sentinel? If we say it’s okay, and just keep going, our birds/horses pick up on that and think “well she’s not acting afraid, it must be okay”. In contrast, over- reacting and/or comforting an animal while it is under stress tends to make the situation worse. In fact it can even contribute to phobic behavior. 

Now of course, if a situation comes up where you know your bird will be very frightened (such as a Halloween party where people are wearing costumes, etc.) I recommend removing the bird from the situation before the event. A little stress is okay for our birds and they need to get used to different situations. But exposure to new things must be made gradually and in a positive way. You should never overwhelm your bird by immersing him in a stressful situation and expecting him to just deal with it. I tell my customers when they pick up their young birds from me that the best thing they can do is expose their bird to as many people and situations (safe of course) as possible. I tell them to buy a small travel cage so they can take their birds safely with them on small outings like picking up the dry cleaning, visits with friends/family, picking up the kids from school, etc. I find when birds are exposed to different situations on a regular basis, it really improves their personality overall. They are more social and outgoing. In comparison, we do this with our horses too. We call it “seasoning” in horse terms. A “seasoned” horse is one that has been taken to different arenas, trails, etc. and exposed to different things. After a while, horses learn to ignore all the distractions and focus on their rider.

I have a customer who has a parrotlet she purchased from me. She takes this little bird everywhere with her. Because of this, her bird’s personality has blossomed. She lets anyone hold her, and is even gentle enough to be held by small children. And she is as bold and fearless as they come! She is a true ambassador for parrotlets!

In an upcoming article, I will compare different species of birds to breeds of horses. It will be fun!