My two adopted girls…

is that crazy bird coming for my toes again

crazy on my shoulder

Meet Zeus and Crazy! I didn’t name them, but I figured out pretty quickly why they named the Lutino Crazy! This is their third home, unfortunately. I’ve been told that they are approximately 2 to 3 years old.  I’ve had them since the 10th of December, 2014. And so they are still getting used to us. Zeus has a huge crush on my husband. It took us awhile to figure out why she would make a strange chirping sound and stick her butt up in the air every time she saw him! I was a little shocked to find out that this is her “mating call”, and for some reason she thinks that my husband is her mate. Strange, right?  I mean, I’d never want to mate with a bird! So why would a bird think that they could possibly mate with a human? Another mystery of the bird world.

Crazy and Zeus are very bonded. Crazy (or Crazy Pants or Cray Cray, is what I call her) starts screaming this ear splitting scream if Zeus is out of her sight. She is getting better about it since she is getting used to us. But I’m  afraid that we’ll never be able to fully bond with her. She doesn’t like to be touched at all. I do have this picture of her on my shoulder. It is the one and only time that she has actually come to me and climbed on me. I was shocked when she flew down off of her perch and onto my bed and then onto my shoulder. I was also a little nervous, but she didn’t bite me, which I was almost expecting. That was about a month ago, and it hasn’t happened since. She’s not a very social bird. Zeus, on the other hand, loves having her head rubbed. Especially when my husband is doing the rubbing 😉  Zeus and my baby, Scooter seem to finally be bonding a bit. Or have at least finally excepted each other. He does on occasion like to sneak up on them and bite their tail feathers and then run. This morning he pulled Zeus’ crest as I was rubbing her head. He’s a little devil. I can’t wait until we get to experience his  hormonal years. I’m told that this is the time when he will turn into a little devil. This usually happens, so I’m told, between the ages of 1 year to 18 months.  They begin to act like crazy hormonal teenagers. And if you can get through that period of demonic behavior without killing your bird, then they return to their sweet loving selves. I can’t wait to experience that! I already have two teenage boys in my home, so my imagination is running wild with what to expect.  But I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. I’m also told that he may decide to choose a family member as his mate. Yuck! Well, it is my husband that he insists on sleeping on every night. So maybe I’ll get lucky and just stay “Mom”. I’d rather not have my cockatiel doing all kinds of crazy, nasty things to me.

What to do with my crazy parakeets…

I have found myself in quite a dilemma. I think I mentioned that I bought my first two birds this past summer. Two beautiful, and hilarious parakeets. They provide hours and hours of entertainment for us. Just watching them is like watching a couple of clowns in a circus. But that has only become the case recently. When we first bought them, we really had a hard time earning their trust. I read tons of books, online forums, talked to other bird owners…but nothing really prepared me for what was to come. They are such delicate animals, that they can literally be scared to death! We bought them from a pet store and so they had never had any human contact. They were raised by their parents, not by a breeder.

And so we brought them home…we tried everything. We spent lots of time everyday by their cage talking to them and we even took them out of the cage a couple of times. One book that I bought suggested that we take them into a small room like the bathroom and take them out of the cage for 15 minutes at a time, holding them and talking to them. Well, it was obvious to me that this was causing them dangerous levels of anxiety. You could literally see their heart beating in their little chests. And so we abandoned that plan.

It wasn’t until we brought our cockatiels home that they started to show curiosity about the other birds. They witnessed the cockatiels bathing, and then they had their first bath! I was beginning to give up on ever taming these birds. And now I’m starting to see that  having these other birds around may be exactly what they needed. Birds mimic one another. They learn by watching other birds and then they copy them. Sometimes they will try new foods only because they see one of the other birds eating it.

So we moved all of the birds into my bedroom where I could keep the door shut and not cage them, and one day I decided that I would just leave the cage door open on the parakeet cage. Within a week Snowball came out just to terrorize Crazy (my lutino, and yes that was her name when i got her but it suits her well). She jumped on her back and poor Crazy couldn’t shake her off no matter what she did. This probably went on for a full minute, and then she went back into the cage. A few days later, she decided to come out again, this time to explore her surroundings. And to terrorize Crazy, of course. Our other two cockatiels are pied, but Crazy is a beautiful bright yellow lutino. This is the only reason that i can think of for their fixation on her. They never bother the other two cockatiels. There is nothing more amusing or fun for them (especially Snowball, she’s a real ham) than biting her tail and chasing her toes when Crazy is on top of their cage. Snowball is quite the acrobat, so she hangs upside down inside of the cage and chases her toes. This seems to be extremely fun for her.

Needless to say, once they came out of the parakeet cage, they decided to explore not only her surroundings, but the (what must have been huge to them) cockatiel cage. And now they refuse to leave it. They decided that they like this cage much better and haven’t been back in their cage since. Yep, the other cockatiels have been forced to pack their bags and move out! They’ve been officially evicted! I do have another cage for my baby cockatiel, which is quite large. But it’s not THEIR home, which they miss. Every once in awhile they will get brave and venture into their  home and say “to heck with you, this is MY house”, but then they quickly lose their nerve and leave again once they gang up on her. I hate putting my parakeets back into that little cage (which really isn’t that small for a parakeet cage). I have watched them blossom into these beautiful, funny, happy birds since they’ve been allowed the freedom to come and go from their cage. And the thought of putting them back into it really bothers me. I don’t want to take their freedom away from them. The changes I’ve seen in them have been amazing, even though they still won’t let me hold them, I’m holding out hope that it will lead to that one day. Bluebell will occasionally let me lighty rub her feet. But no other part of her body.

In the meantime, I will be brainstorming as to what to do to make everyone happy. Although I’m pretty certain it’s going to entail getting a much larger, expensive cage. The problem is that they suggest that the bars be much closer together for parakeet cages, which is why it’s hard to find these cages that are as large as the cockatiel cage. But so far I’ve had no issues with them getting wings caught in between bars or whatever the supposed dangers are. I’d love any suggestions!

Bird play gym

IMG_20150211_082133

This is the play gym that we built for our birds for approximately $20 dollars. It is made of 1/2″ pvc, wrapped in coban in bright colors (self adhesive bandage used in doctors office). Coban is very expensive at the pharmacy and it’s hard to find the bright colors. At the pharmacy we payed almost 4 dollars for 5 yards per roll. I found colorful coban on amazon for approximately $1.67 a roll. It came with ten rolls. At the time, this was wrapped in flesh colored coban. I’ve since rewrapped it in purple, dark blue, light blue, bright pink, and lime green which has made it much more appealing. Birds do see in color and are attracted to bright colors. And the coban will need to be replaced often, as it gets droppings on it. The rope we had cut for us at home depot. It feels like plastic (not sure what it is made of) and it’s really easy to wipe clean. We found the design for this play gym on YouTube, and modified it some. We added the swing and a couple of other features.

Toys for birds are not a luxury, but a necessity. It’s imperative that we keep their minds busy. Boredom is not a good thing for a parrot to experience.  Parrot species are extremely intelligent, and pretty much need to be entertained at all times. If  your bird is bored and lonely, she may scream for attention. Your bird thrives on interaction with the ‘flock,’ and her flock is you! Having lots of toys to keep the bird busy is a must. I’ve found that buying a few new toys every week and rotating them regularly so that they don’t get bored with the same toys has worked well. Since we will be moving our parakeets back into our son’s room, we’ve decided to build a separate one for them. After five months, we were finally able to coax our parakeets out of their cage and now i’m really reluctant to put them back in the cage. Afterall, they think they are living in a mansion now! They just moved right into the cockatiel cage and have made themselves at home. They are so much more active and playful. They just seem so much more content!  But this time, I think I will try a hanging play gym made from natural wood that hasn’t been treated with pesticide. I’ve seen some amazing ones, and screwing toys into the wood seems like it will be a bit easier. For now we have to use panduit straps to hang the toys on the play gym, and whenever I need to take the toys down to clean them I have to cut the straps. And they are slightly expensive. Anyway, I just wanted to share the ways that we’ve found to keep our birds entertained (which really requires a lot of imagination). I’ll post the youtube video that we went by. Like I said, we got the general idea from this video, but modified it quite a bit. Thanks for reading!

On her video, she has posted another link to another video that gives exact measurements. It took me awhile to figure this out!

The impulse to buy a cockatoo, what everyone should know before they do.

This is an excellent website that tells the truth about these magnificent birds. Unfortunately, cockatoos end up being abused and abandoned more than any of the large parrots. If anyone does decide that this is the bird for them, please adopt one. I discourage buying a baby from a breeder. There are so many cockatoos out there that need a good home. And you never, ever want to own one if you live in an apartment. Unless you want your neighbors constantly complaining about the noise. These birds are very, very loud. There is a reason that cockatoos are called “velcro birds”. They stick to you like velcro. You will have a 3 year old child on your hip for possibly the next 80 years. They are wonderfully intelligent animals. But it takes a very special person to care for one of these birds. They are known for self mutilating if they don’t get the time and attention that they need, which is a lot!  They are extremely emotional creatures. So if you are thinking of owning one of these birds, please read this website. It is the most honest that I’ve found.

http://www.mytoos.com/main.shtml

and here is one of my absolutely favorite youtube videos. Here we have a cockatoo that cusses up a storm!

baby scooter

The joys and challenges of bird companionship

Hello all! I have decided to start this blog because, being new to the world of bird companionship, I’m still learning and wanted to document the ups and downs, the challenges and joys of being the mom to five beautiful babies (baby birds, that is). I have two parakeets and three cockatiels. But I also want prospective bird owners to realize what a responsibility these animals are. They require a lot of time and attention. They are not an object that should just be given away, anymore than you would give your child away. Cockatiels can live up to 20 years. There are some that have lived for 30 to 33 years. Parakeets live on average 8 to 10 years. And so owning a parrot can be a lifetime commitment. They don’t grow up and eventually move out. It is like having a 2 year old to take care of for the next 20 years. And much longer for bigger parrot species.

And so my story begins…My son talked my husband and I into letting him have a parakeet this summer. After months of research, reading books, and talking to other bird owners, nothing  really prepared me for bringing one of these creatures into my home. They are amusing but extremely fragile little guys. I was terrified when we brought snowball and bluebell home (we went to the pet store to buy one parakeet and came home with two, of course). Everything that I read told me that taming a parakeet was as simple as having a little patience and talking to them, spending time with them everyday. Boy, was that a lie. That was in September, and they still won’t let us touch them. And so my son was disappointed. He wanted a “friend” that would want to hang out with him and cuddle with him. So my research led me to believe that a cockatiel would be the perfect bird for my son. I learned a huge lesson about buying from a pet shop, by the way. You should always try to find a breeder who hand feeds his babies so that they bond more easily with humans. And so, I found a wonderful breeder. Off we went to pick out our new baby cockatiel. What i got was a baby who wants to be held all of the time. He doesn’t like for us to be out of his sight. He sits on my shoulder all of the time. He loves car rides and meeting new people. And he still isn’t weaned off of his baby formula. (he should have been weened months ago). Apparently, cockatiels like to be nurtured. Being hand fed with a syringe is like a baby with a bottle or a pacifier, it can be a security issue. He’s so spoiled that he sleeps with my husband. He despises his cage. Whenever we would put him in his cage would pace back and forth, begging to be let out. And so we stopped putting him in it. I would never, ever recommend sleeping with your bird. I’ve heard so many horror stories about people accidentally rolling over on them and killing them. But my husband has had three back surgeries and sleeps on his back, never moving during the night. So on my husbands chest is where he sleeps. I’ve woken up several times in the night to find him sound asleep on my head, so I usually sleep in my son’s room. I toss and turn, and so I’m not comfortable having him in the bed with me (not to mention having your head pooped on in the night is a very unpleasant thing).  We did build a playgym, which all of my birds love to play on. And he is starting to sleep on the swing on the play gym. He usually sleeps with my husband until 2 or 3 in the morning, and then my husband wakes up and puts him on the play gym. He used to fly down, but he’s getting better about it. As long as he can see us, he seems to be fine. I will post pics of the play gym. It was very simple to build. We built it out of 1/2″ pvc pipe and wrapped coban around it in bright colors so that they can grip it. But I’ll save that for another day.

Let me back up a little bit. Two months before I got my gorgeous new baby, I signed up on a bird adoption website. No luck. Two days after bringing my new baby home, I got an email asking that we adopt two female adult cockatiels. Two days after we brought our little bouncing bundle of pooping joy home, we went and got two more! When i asked my husband if we could adopt them, I never thought he’d actually say yes! But unfortunately, this is their third home. Parrots are very intelligent and emotional creatures.  Giving them away is like giving your child away. They become very bonded to their human companions. It turns out that the people that we got them from got them for their son, whom they only have every other weekend. He quickly lost interest in them, and they showed signs of being cage bound when we brought them home. It turns out that these people had 3 dogs and it was unsafe to let them out unless the dogs were out in the yard. Which probably wasn’t very often. Now, they rarely go into their cage. Well, not by choice but because our demonic little parakeets decided that they like their cage better and have moved in. Parakeets are very dominant and fearless. Our cockatiels are terrified of them, even though they are 10 times bigger!

I look forward to writing more about our birds crazy antics, and in the meantime I would love for everyone to watch this video of a wonderful bird sanctuary in Washington State. It is a haven for birds who’s owners found out that they couldn’t handle them. Many were neglected or abused, having self mutilated and pulled out their feathers. This bird sanctuary is very uncommon, most are horrible places. But this one in particular is wonderful. Hope you enjoy!

http://zazushouse.org/?page_id=102

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