Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Bear Sighting!

Last night around 12:20 am, Steve saw the largest black bear he has seen in his life! And since he used to live in Colorado where black bears also resided, this is saying quite a bit. He estimated the male black bear at well in excess of 6 feet tall when standing up, and close to 500 pounds. He watched as he stood on his hind legs and licked seed out of the bird feeder pictured below. The pole on which the feeder sits is 6 feet high.

When he first saw him, he was so large (and it was dark), that Steve thought it was two bears! The females will travel in groups of two or three, and the males are usually seen alone.

Here are two angles of the bird feeder, both from the deck and then zoomed in:

I know, I know... the bear is not in either of these pictures!
Maybe next time!

We decided not to let Barney in on the surprise...
He would have just been out of control.

Before the bear left the area, he trashed a neighbor's fence about a half mile down the road. The fence, in fact, is at Jelly's house (Barney's girlfriend). So, Jelly will not be outside playing for awhile until that fence is fixed! Jelly's mom had just warned us when we were walking Barney on Wednesday night around 6:00 pm that a bear had been spotted in the area walking down the middle of the road. The wooden planks of their fence are completely shredded in one section, and the wire fencing on the inside of the fence was smashed to the ground as if the bear just stepped on it instead of over it.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Finally a Shower!

It never ceases to amaze me how thrilled I can be by such small things as a wet bird! Coco finally took her shower tonight. She enjoyed herself, as usual. It was not as long of a shower as some, but enough to get the surface dust off and bring her back to her natural, gleaming beauty!

I may need to install a bird bath directly into Fort Coco... what do you think?!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Eating Healthy

Dear Robin:

I have a little 4 year old girl that I adopted. She is really wonderful. Smart, active, healthy, happy, and very verbal for her age. She loves to play with toys, and plays well with others. She seems quite well adjusted overall.

There is only one problem - she really doesn't like vegetables. No matter what I do, she simply refuses to eat them! She would sit and stare at them all day long if I let her. There is nothing I can do to convince her to incorporate more healthy foods into her diet - nothing! Before I adopted her, she really had a poor diet - she was allowed to eat anything she wanted. So you can understand I am in quite a pickle.

So tell me - - how can I make her eat her vegetables?


Desperate Mom

Dear Desperate Mom:

Just as I couldn't make you eat something you don't care for, we cannot make our little ones eat something they don't want either. I understand - sometimes we just want to pull our hair out!

But what we can do is expose our little ones to a variety of different foods. And encourage, encourage, encourage! While she is already 4 years old, it is never too late to start good eating habits!

So, one thing you may want to consider is the manner in which you offer the vegetables and other healthy food choices.

First, do you set her a good example by eating healthy?

Second, do you experiment and vary the manner in which you present her vegetables?

  • Perhaps mix (hide) them in something she likes?
  • Change the method of presentation (raw, cooked, diced, sliced, lightly tossed in some healthy oil)?
  • What about muffins with some shredded carrot and/or shredded zucchini? You would be amazed what you can hide in baked goods from healthy grains to fruits, vegetables and even finely chopped nuts. Muffins and other healthy baked goods are usually winners with the little ones!

We mothers need to be quite creative in convincing the little munchkins to eat healthy. But, it is well worth the effort!

Whatever you do - do not let her in on the list of vegetables that you refuse to eat no matter how they are presented!

Finally, I am sure that you do not give her snack foods when she refuses to eat a well balanced meal?! I sure hope not!

Good luck - and keep trying! I know sooner or later you will be successful!

Oh, by the way - I must ask...

mutation is your little girl?? !!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Dutch Surprise!

Now that the weather has begun to turn cold, I find my mind already turning to daffodils, tulips, crocus, grape hyacinths, and the many other harbingers of spring.

Ok, I'll say it, winter is not my favorite time of year. We have been receiving an enormous amount of rain. If this pattern continues, it will be a very long and snowy winter.

And why am I talking about Dutch flowers in the midst of an impending winter?

I received a request today for permission to translate my posts about bird behavior into Dutch! The word is getting out - we can have great relationships with our birds! And soon, that word will be getting out in both English and Dutch! It is very exciting, and a humbling request. (Maybe I will sound more humorous in a different language?) !!

Ummm yooo hoooo ... !!!!

Helloooo! I like flowers too!

(Well, sort of...)

Ok - I don't like flowers, and I also don't like this pink harness....

Quick - someone tell me how do they say 'Barney' in Dutch?? !!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Comfort is Everything!

I must admit - it should be apparent to all that I was built for comfort. It is how I keep my shiny coat and bright eyes... plenty of beauty rest!

While other dogs might show off their prowess on the agility track...
(... a bit difficult for me on 8 inch legs ...)

Others might demonstrate their ability to heed commands...
(... heck, the only word I know is 'sit', and that is if someone is holding a biscuit ...)

But when it comes to comfort - I am King!

So I have put together a collection of some of my best poses - in the resting position, of course! There should be a prize... and these are just a few of them!

Can someone ask my people to move this chair out of my way???!!!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

No Showers - Again?

Nope - no showers again.... I think we've been down this road before!

It's been a couple of weeks now, and boy does her mother think she needs a shower, bad...

My opinion...

Apparently, she thinks differently!

And, she looks so pretty when she has freshly showered!

I really thought tonight might be the night. She followed me into the bathroom (walking on the floor) while I turned on the water. She seemed interested, and walked over to the tub. She even stepped onto the edge of the tub and caught some spray! Several times she leaned into the tub, and then stepped onto my hand. But the two times she stepped onto my hand, I slowly moved her toward the inside of the tub, and she immediately reacted.

She started to turn her head back. I am especially careful to watch her for the slightest change or sign of body language at times like this. My hand was not far from the tub edge, but I responded by moving my hand back to the tub edge. She responded by stepping off my hand onto the tub edge. Then she caught some more spray and seemed happy enough with that.

If she does not want to be lowered into the tub, and I either miss the body language, or ignore it, I run the risk of receiving a bite. I am highly motivated to stay on top of my watching body language skills.

So my efforts lie in presenting the opportunities. She must make the choice. And as I am certain all of you have experienced, often this is easier said than done! Especially when I am looking at a dusty bird! But, I persevere in presenting the opportunity.

She did get some spray, so that is something! After a few minutes I stood up and walked out of the bathroom, and she immediately flew after me to follow.

We will try again tomorrow....

Meanwhile, I think if this goes on much longer, I actually might be able to write
"wash me, I'm dirty"
in the dust on her back!

I'm looking forward to the time when I can see a wet bird again!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Relationship Building

In follow up to my post: Night Night, Curtain, I wanted to make a comment on relationship building. As you will recall, Coco had screamed after I had closed the curtain. I thought it was bed time, but she had a different idea! I returned to the room to discover that the curtain had not actually been closed all the way. She was alerting me to this by her persistent calling.

We all can recognize that if we have an unmet need, and a person in our life who we expect is able to meet that need, and they fail to do so, it could very well affect our relationship with them on one level or another.

The extent to which our relationship is affected depends on a number of factors, including the status of the relationship, the importance of the need, and even perhaps the perceived reason for the need not having been met by the person.

I believe that if one of my birds has a need that I am able to meet, and I do in fact meet that need, it is a relationship-building activity. I am seen as the 'one who meets needs'. As beneficial as this can be on the relationship, the flip side is that if there is an expectation that I will meet a need, and fail to do so, my relationship with my bird could be affected as well.

Whether the need is interaction, food, quiet, music, or any of a number of things that I have learned over the years (through my relationship with her, experiences and observations) that Coco desires, I strive to provide those needs. My ability to meet a need allows me to become associated with the reinforcer (the need/desire).

There are certain instances and circumstances of screaming being self-rewarding or self-reinforcing. I have learned that Coco's self-rewarding squawks sound entirely different than a need-based alert. If she is squawking in response to hearing the crows outside, or seeing a squirrel on the deck or simply in response to a nature cd, it has a different tone to my ear. Unfortunately, it is not something I can describe, but something I have experienced. I am sure you are all the same with your birds; as a mother with a fussy child knows if he is being fussy or is tired, hungry or wet. Experience with our birds, time and relationship, help us to discern the differences.

I must keep in mind that my inability to observe or discern a need does not automatically qualify it as self-rewarding and in need of 'ignoring'. I had believed that Coco had everything she needed to prepare for bed time until I actually went into the room to investigate. Then I discovered that the curtain was not completely closed.

So, it is my goal to discover the function behind any alerting. In addition to reducing it, I am able to meet her needs and thus strengthen our relationship.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Foraging, Plus!

I have written several posts on foraging, and wanted to share some more tips I came across thanks to Kelsey of Australia, a Moderator on the Talk Budgies Forum. They are too great to keep secret! She has some clever ideas for keeping her beautiful flock healthy in both body and mind.

First, let me introduce to you Clopin! She is a plum-headed parakeet, one of the species that is sexually dimorphic. (This means we can tell by her coloring that she is a female.) Isn't she precious?!

Clopin is a fruit lover, and demonstrating one of the foraging items that her mom, Kelsey, made for her. She is working to obtain fresh mango, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, mixed nuts and mixed seeds.

Check out the step-by-step instructions for preparing and making the pine cone foraging treats:

Pine Cone Foraging Treat Instructions

This is only one of her great ideas! Her 'smaller' birds certainly do not miss out on any of the fun - they too receive plenty of foraging opportunities.

Look at these happy little budgies! Here they are enjoying a special foraging tray prepared for them:
(Click on the picture to expand it.)

Demonstrating foraging techniques, we have:

Fawkes, the darkish blue and white budgie closest to the camera. She is a cobalt blue recessive pied budgie.

The greenish budgie in the middle of the tray is Pistachio; he is a cobalt blue yellow face type 2 opaline budgie.

Next is the lime green budgie in the back whose face is hidden. That is Apple, and he is a light green opaline spangle budgie.

The yellowish budgie just to the right of Apple is Artemis, and he is a cobalt blue yellow face type 2 spangle.

Finally, the whitish light blue budgie at the back just behind Artemis is Bubblegum! She is a sky blue cinnamon opaline spangle.

The tray has a mixture of seeds that she sprouts herself (sunflower seeds, legumes and wheat). In addition, it includes (from left to right):

Eucalyptus Leaves, Red Bottlebrush flowers, Paperbark (White Bottlebrush) flowers and Grevillea flowers.

And, just to make it a little more fun and challenging, she will sometimes add strips of newspaper so the birds really have to dig around for those sprouts and flowers.

It is fun, tasty, and challenging as well as pretty. I think we can all imagine our birds enjoying a Foraging Tray!

And finally,
Kelsey has created an item she has named Corn Pockets. These are simply fabulous; you must check out the link with plenty of pictures and full instructions:

Corn Pockets

Using corn husks,
Kelsey makes treat wraps:

And Clopin just loves them! She knows there are nuts and seeds in there, and is determined to get one:
In the instructions linked above, she shares the method of preparing, wrapping, and tieing the Corn Pockets. They may be stored in the refrigerator for a few days up to the time the husks turn brown. Just think of all the different types of treats your birds may enjoy finding inside a Corn Pocket!

Whether our birds are large or small (or in many of our cases, both), there is an idea here for every size. Foraging is important for our birds ,because it keeps their minds and bodies active. In the wild, they spend from 50 to 80 percent of their time foraging.

So, anything that we can do to present a challenge, even if simply hanging a treat in a difficult to reach place, qualifies as foraging.

Just looking at these creative and inexpensive ideas provide inspiration! A big thanks to Kelsey for allowing me to use her pictures, link to her posts, and show off her beautiful flock!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Splish-Splash Video!

I can hardly get enough of a good budgie bath!

Bucky and Strider make it great fun!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Night Night, Curtain!

After our usual evening routine of cleaning, special veggies, Beak Appetit, a bath for the budgies and fun interaction, I closed the bird room curtain at 6:30 pm. I then leave the room so that as the sun sets, the room naturally darkens. However, Coco began to scream.

This is not normal. I run down the list:

*She had food
*She had our usual routine
*Her curtain was closed.
*The music was turned off.

As far as I can see, there seems no 'explanation' for her to be screaming.

What to do... what to do...
What to think... what to think...

If I wanted to assign human emotions to her, I could think she was 'mad' at me for leaving. But we won't go there!

Since this was a deviation from her usual behavior, and after a few minutes it didn't stop, I went into the room to determine the issue. For sure, it seemed she was trying to get my attention!

Upon entering the bird room, I immediately realized *the issue*.
The problem was me. I had not, in fact, met all her needs. And by screaming, she was able to alert me that there was something I could do for her.

Before leaving the room, I had stood near the budgies, grabbed the curtain, and pulled it closed. I did so without looking back. Thus, I did not realize that I pulled a little harder than usual, and the curtain at the opposite end (Coco's side) was no longer covering the sliding glass door! In other words, the curtain was not actually 'closed'! Aha!

I fixed the curtain, and then she scurried over to my hand desiring to step up. I gave her a little scritch, and then she returned to her perch.

Now, this was more like it!

So, what did Coco learn?
She screamed, I closed the curtain.

The next time she would like the curtain closed, what might I expect to be her behavior?


Did I reinforce her screaming behavior?
(Yes) Behavior that is repeated has been reinforced.
I have reinforced this behavior on many previous occasions, and she will alert me if the curtain has not been closed, I forgot to turn off the radio, and more. She will also use this attention-getting method if she cannot find any food.

By entering the room in response to her scream (as opposed to 'ignoring' it), what do I accomplish?

Providing a method for her to communicate her desire to me. Unless I can teach her to ring a bell loud enough that I could hear it at the other end of the house, or teach her to use her beak to activate an auto-curtain closing system, a squawk every 30-45 seconds is a way she can get my attention. When it doesn't stop, it is my cue to enter and discover to what she is trying to alert me. Just as a baby cries to alert the parent of a messy diaper, when Coco alerts me after I have thought she was going to sleep, I know she is trying to draw my attention to a need. We do not insist on waiting for the baby to stop screaming before we change the diaper, or expect the baby to ask nicely. We understand that we may not always be able to determine the reason for the crying baby, but that they do not cry just to hear themselves cry. They are alerting to an unmet need.

What happened after I closed the curtain, gave her a scritch and left the room again?
I never heard another peep out of her!

What did I learn?

Close the curtain right the first time, and your dinner won't be interrupted!


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Preen Friends

Strider preening Bucky!

When Bucky and Penske first came home, of course they went through quarantine together, and thus became fast friends. Especially since they knew each other before they arrived here. I had been concerned that upon introducing them to Strider, they might not accept him as part of the group.

I had read much about the theory that odd numbers of budgies are a problem. Since my 3 are boys, and since budgies are flock animals, it seemed to me that if I introduced them carefully, provided ample space for flight and activity, created foraging activities to keep the little minds busy, included multiple food bowls and ensured an environment of positive experiences, I should have an excellent chance of being able to have 3 happy, well adjusted budgies as easily as 4.

But in reality, even two birds are a problem if they don't like one another. As I mentioned to a friend last night, even the Taj Mahal is not a big enough place to live with someone you detest. Sometimes two birds just don't seem to hit it off it would seem.

Since the introduction, I have have watched all three taking turns feeding one another, playing together and sharing night perches.

I have not, however, seen any preening except between Bucky and Penske.


With Penske supervising, last night, I caught these fabulous photos! It would seem that the 'circle' is big enough for 3!

They were just adorable!

I am anxious for the time to see either Bucky or Penske preening Strider's head.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Intriguing News!

My mom discovered an intriguing piece of information about me recently! (Not to disappoint my loyal fan base, but I have nothing to gripe about tonight.) I know, I know... I actually tried to find something to gripe about, but my people have been treating me pretty good lately!

I've got my stash of rawhides filled with:

1) Snau'sages
2) Peanut butter
3) Kong cheese

Oh - I take that back... I got a bath tonight. But - who was the joke really on? You guessed it - my mom...

She turned her back while I was sudsed up, and I promptly jumped out of that jail cell they call a tub! Oh, it was so funny.... until she made me get back in. I was really bummed. And, she had a very annoyed look on her face while I shaking the suds off.... was I not doing her a favor, saving her the time of hosing me down AND going green by saving on water usage? Yeah -for that I get an annoyed look from her...

Oh - on to the intriguing news!

My mom has always assumed that I was part pit bull terrier and part basset hound. There are three types of bull terriers:

1) American Pit Bull Terrier
2) American Staffordshire Bull Terrier
3) Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Well, as it turns out - I am a staffordshire bull terrier mix (staffie for short)! She began looking at breed pictures of all three, then she posted my pictures on three forums (one of each breed type), and the results were unanimous! Of course, we always knew I was part basset hound... duh...

So, do you know what being part staffie and part basset hound makes me?



Ok, I'll tell you!

Staffie plus basset hound = Staffet Hound!

Ok, now here's the icing on the cake.

Three days ago my dad was walking me down the mountain cliff (or so it seems when your legs are only 8 inches long) and a pickup truck passes us. It stops, backs up and rolls down the window.

I'm waiting for a biscuit to be thrown to me... I'm cute... I'm doing my circus dog trick... I'm not seeing any biscuit coming my way.... now I know that annoyed feeling my mom experiences....

The man in the pickup truck says to my dad,

"Hey - is that a staffordshire bull terrier"?


No one had ever nailed it (including the vet)! Although they cannot help but acknowledge that I am amazingly cute, extremely intelligent, great with words and typing, and handsomely irresistible....

Turns out this pickup truck driver knew a thing or two about the breed. Oddly, he didn't know right off about my basset hound side of the family! Isn't that a scream?! Of course, once my dad told him, he started shaking his head in an affirmative manner. We all got such a kick out of someone saying this when we just discovered it ourselves a couple of weeks ago! (I was even more shocked than them, because I thought I was human all along. I'm still not sure I should buy this "he's a dog" line they are feeding me...) What do you think?

So, that's my intriguing news of the day! I hope this finds all my friends, feathered and furred doing quite well! Cheers!