Monday, November 30, 2009

It's A Wonderful Budgie Life!

This video will put you in the Christmas spirit for sure! candycane.gif image by akapody



A big thank you to Arlene (also responsible for producing the graphics for the Living With Parrots Cage Free blog) for allowing me to share this fabulous video!

The only problem... the Budgie-Boys are going to want to meet Nicky and Rosie and get their awwtoegraphs!

After you have seen the amazing acting skills of Nicky and Rosie, I am sure you will want to read about the rest of their lives in their Friend's List Post:
How Nicky Met Rosie!

It IS a fabulous life, Nicky and Rosie, and I know you have been good little budgies this year! You have brought your mom much happiness, so I'm positive that Santa Bird will pack your Christmas trees with plenty of treats and toys!
Thanks for sharing your Christmas video with everyone!
candycane.gif image by akapody


COPYRIGHT © 2009 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Add in the Grains

Building on yesterday's post (Comparison of Seed Mixes) let's add a second component into the mix:

Grains
Grains provide important nutrition. Depending upon the grain selected, they may be served as-is, sprouted, or cooked and cooled.

Several grains are present in the Beak Appetit that Coco and the Budgie-Boys eat:

Cous Cous
Hulled Millet
Cracked Wheat
Rolled Oats
Rolled Barley
This is served cooked and cooled, and also has apple and many veggies.

Below is the same list of seed-based budgie diets from yesterday's post, now with the grains added to each (in bold and italics).

Bear in mind that in many, if not the majority of mixes, the grains are present in the form of pellets (kibble) added to the mix. Especially when we see 'ground' this, and 'ground' that in an ingredient list.

If our birds ignore pellets and pick out seeds only (oh, I'm sure this doesn't apply to any of your picky eaters?), of course the grains will be of no benefit. This is where the rubber meets the road:

What we offer - versus - what is actually consumed.

Naturally, only that which is consumed from any mix (whether we buy it or make it ourselves) will count nutritionally.

Additionally, if a bird will eat the grain in its whole state, (cooked, raw or sprouted as appropriate), the goodness and nutrition of the grain can be realized, and in some instances, may be more intriguing to the bird than when in pellet form.

As I mentioned in my previous post, there are other aspects to consider and analyze from any diet mix - not just the seed and/or grain content. However, I find it fascinating to see the comparisons. It also gives ideas for my shopping list at the local organic health food grocery store!


==============================
Vitakraft Menu Parakeet Food
Yellow Millet
White Millet
Red Millet
Golden Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Oat Groats
Wheat


*Note: This mix also contains grit, something that is unnecessary for birds that hull their seed and can be potentially harmful.

==============================
LM Animal Farms Parakeet Diet Bird Food
White Millet
Red Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Oat Groats
Whole Wheat
Red Milo*
Ground Corn
Corn Gluten Meal
Dried Grains

*I had never heard of 'Red Milo', so I had to look it up!

I have seen it listed as both a grain and a seed. While it is apparently a favorite of doves, wild turkeys and pheasants, the site states that milo (in both red and white varieties), is of poor nutritional value, and is often used as a filler in commercial seed mixes making them less valuable as much is wasted.

==============================
Kaytee Supreme Daily Blend Parakeet Food
White Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Oat Groats

*Note: This diet is not meant to be a stand alone feed. The three ingredients listed above are the only ingredients in the mix, period. It is advertised as a clean, high quality, wholesome seed and grain mix with natural protein, fiber, oils and nutrients. It is free of preservatives, flavors and added colors. It is clearly listed as 'not nutritionally complete', so supplementation being essential. However, if purchased fresh, it could make a nice base to which other seeds, grains and such could be added.

==============================
Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Parakeet Food
Canary Seed Grass
White Millet
Red Millet
Flax Seed
Oat Groats
Corn Gluten Meal
Ground Corn
Ground Wheat
Ground Rice
Wheat Middlings
Wheat Germ Meal

==============================
Kaytee Forti Diet Egg-Cite
White Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Small Yellow Millet
Red Millet
Niger Seed
Flax Seed
Oat Groats
Ground Wheat
Corn Gluten Meal
Ground Corn
Wheat Middlings
Wheat Germ Meal

==============================
Kaytee Fusion Daily Diet Bird Food for Parakeets
Canary Grass Seed
Millet
Red Millet
Flax Seed
Rape Seed
Hulled Sesame Seed
Ground Corn
Oat Groats
Ground Wheat
Corn Gluten Meal
Wheat Middlings
Wheat Germ Meal

==============================
Kaytee Fiesta
Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Niger Seed
Safflower Seed
Flax Seed
Hulled Sesame Seed
Rape Seed
Hulled Sunflower Seed
Caraway Seed
Lettuce Seed
Anise Seed
Fennel Seed
Melon Seed
Oat Groats
Wheat
Rice
Ground Corn
Buckwheat
Ground Wheat
Wheat Middlings
Wheat Germ Meal

==============================
Kaytee Fiesta MAX Bird Food For Parakeets
Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Niger Seed
Safflower Seed
Flax Seed
Hulled Sesame Seed
Rape Seed
Hulled Sunflower Seed
Caraway Seed
Fennel Seed
Lettuce Seed
Anise Seed
Hulled Millet
Small Yellow Millet
Hulled Sunflower
Oat Groats
Wheat
Ground Corn
Buckwheat
Rice
Ground Wheat
Corn Gluten Meal
Ground Rice
Wheat Middlings
Wheat Germ Meal
Cracked Corn

==============================
Dr. Harvey's Best Parakeet Food
White Millet
Canola Seed
Niger Seed
Canary Grass Seed
Red Millet
Hemp Seed
Sesame seed
Flax Seed
Anise Seed
Poppy Seed
Caraway Seed
Fennel Seed
Oat Groats
Oat Straw

* This all-natural mix is worth checking out. It has many great ingredients, and if well received, could make an excellent addition to a bird's diet.

==============================
Hartz Vita-Mix Parakeet Diet Bird Food
White Proso Millet
Red Proso Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Flax Seed
Rape Seed
Safflower Seed
Oat Groats
Rice Flour
Ground Corn
Ground Brown Rice
Whole Wheat
Wheat Middlings
Corn Gluten Meal
Wheat Germ Meal

==============================
Healthy Select Natural Parakeet Diet
White Millet
Red Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Golden German Millet
Flax Seed
Safflower Seed
Rape Seed
Niger Seed
Caraway Seed
Oat Groats
Heat-Processed Barley
Steam Rolled Oats
Corn Gluten Meal
Ground Wheat
Ground Corn
Wheat Middlings

==============================
Sun Seed Sunscription Vita Plus Parakeet Formula
White Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Red Millet
Flax Seed
Golden German Millet
Safflower Seed
Caraway Seed
Sesame Seed
Oat Groats
Ground Corn
Ground Wheat
Corn Gluten Meal
Wheat Middlings
Ground Oats

==============================
FM Brown's Encore Premium Parakeet Formula
White Proso Millet
Canary Seed Grass
Red Millet
Wheat Flour
Maize Grain Ground
Oat Groats
Maize Gluten Meal

==============================
Brown's Tropical Carnival Gourmet Parakeet Food
Canary Seed
White Proso Millet
Red Millet
Thistle Seed
Safflower Seed
Rape Seed
Sunflower Chips
Anise Seed
Poppy Seed
Cantaloupe Seed
Flax Seed
Sesame Seed
Cranberry Seed
Oat Groats
Wheat
White Rice
Wheat Flakes
Ground Wheat
Corn Gluten Meal
Wheat Flour

==============================
Hagen Tropimix Budgie, Canary and Finch Food Egg Mix
Canary Seed
Hulled Millet
Niger Seed
Rape Seed
Flax Seed
Hemp Seed
Sesame Seed
Oat Groats

==============================
Hagen Living World Premium Budgie Food
White Millet
Canary Seed
Red Millet
Red Finch Millet
Rape Seed
Flaxseed
Hemp Speed
Niger Seed
Sesame Seed
Oat Groats

==============================
8 in 1 Ecotrition Essential Blend for Parakeet Food
White Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Rape Seed
Flax Seed
Oat Groats
Feeding Oatmeal
Ground Corn
Wheat Middlings
Corn Gluten Meal

==============================
8 in 1 Ultra-Blend Gourmet Harvest Celebration for Parakeets
White Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Finch Millet
Cantaloupe Seed
Hulled Sunflower Seed
Red Millet
Flax Seed
Rape Seed
Oat Groats
Wheat
Corn
Ground Oats

==============================
Fruit Bite Banquet for Parakeets
White Millet
Canary Seed
Red Millet
Oat Groats
Wheat
Flaked Corn
Corn Gluten
Rice Flour

==============================
Nutriphase Parakeet Food
White Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Red Millet
Flax Seed
Oat Groats
Corn Gluten Meal
Ground Corn
Ground Rice
Wheat Middlings
Wheat Germ Meal

==============================
Nutriphase Gold Parakeet Food
Canary Grass Seed
White Millet
Red Millet
Sunflower Hearts
Small Yellow Millet
Flax Seed
Niger Seed
Ground Corn
Oat Groats
Ground Wheat
Wheat Middlings
Corn Gluten Meal
Rolled Oats
Rolled Corn
Flaked Corn
Milo
Wheat Flour
Rice Flour
Wheat Germ Meal


Again, this is a sampling of ingredients from a number of commercially prepared and easily available seed-based mixes. Seed and grain variety are only two components to consider when analyzing a diet. Most of these diets include pellets, and as mentioned previously, we must consider whether a bird consumes the pellets offered.

I will be serving grains by offering certain grains dry, others sprouted and others cooked and cooled.
Birdie Bread is another excellent means of introducing grains into the diet, and of course vegetables, seed and even fruit can be added to the bread.

The sprouts were ready to serve this morning, and I mixed them with a small amount of seed and some Beak Appetit.... BIG HIT! They made a huge mess... I love it!


Now, what about soaked and sprouted (or cooked) legumes? What about nuts? Vegetables? Fruit? Possibilities for future posts!


There are so many ways we can make small changes in our birds' diets that add up to big benefits.


COPYRIGHT © 2009 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Friday, November 27, 2009

Comparison of Seed Mixes

As you know from yesterday's post, I am now serving my own budgie seed mix, that I will continue to refine and change over time. This represents only a portion of their diet, with the main components being:

1. Fresh mix, served both dry and sprouted:
2. Pelleted Diet (Harrison's Bird Foods)

3. Beak Appetit (no longer in production, so soon I will be making my own, to which I add a dash of hemp seed oil for omega fatty acids). One flavor of Beak Appetit I have on hand contains:
  • Cous Cous
  • Hulled Millet
  • Cracked Wheat
  • Rolled Oats
  • Rolled Barley
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Parsley
  • Kelp Powder
5. Occasional millet spray for a treat

Below I have listed many of the easily available commercially seed-based budgie mixes. (In other words, pelleted diets are not included in this particular article.)

While seed variety is only one aspect to consider, simply l
ooking at seed ingredients we see substantial differences! I find that quite fascinating. Of additional note, many brands will have a standard mix, and then a 'select' or 'premium' product that has more seed variety than the basic mix.

Below is a listing of the seeds contained in 21 commercially prepared budgie mixes. Who knew there were so many kinds, and this is only the tip of the food bag! I have also provided a link to each:
==============================

Vitakraft Menu Parakeet Food
Yellow Millet
White Millet
Red Millet
Golden Millet
Canary Grass Seed

==============================

LM Animal Farms Parakeet Diet Bird Food
White Millet
Red Millet
Canary Grass Seed

=============================

Kaytee Supreme Daily Blend Parakeet Food
White Millet
Canary Grass Seed

=============================

Kaytee Forti Diet Pro Health Parakeet Food
Canary Seed Grass
White Millet
Red Millet
Flaxseed

=============================

Kaytee Forti Diet Egg-Cite
White Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Small Yellow Millet
Red Millet
Niger Seed
Flaxseed

=============================

Kaytee Fusion Daily Diet Bird Food for Parakeets
Canary Grass Seed
Millet
Red Millet
Flaxseed
Rape Seed
Hulled Sesame Seed

=============================

Kaytee Fiesta
Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Niger Seed
Safflower Seed
Flaxseed
Hulled Sesame Seed
Rape Seed
Hulled Sunflower Seed
Caraway Seed
Lettuce Seed
Anise Seed
Fennel Seed
Melon Seed

=============================

Kaytee Fiesta MAX Bird Food For Parakeets
Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Niger Seed
Safflower Seed
Flaxseed
Hulled Sesame Seed
Rape Seed
Hulled Sunflower Seed
Caraway Seed
Fennel Seed
Lettuce Seed
Anise Seed
Hulled Millet
Small Yellow Millet
Hulled Sunflower

=============================

Dr. Harvey's Best Parakeet Food
White Millet
Canola Seed
Niger Seed
Canary Grass Seed
Red Millet
Hemp Seed
Sesame Seed
Flaxseed
Anise Seed
Poppy Seed
Caraway Seed
Fennel Seed

=============================

Hartz Vita-Mix Parakeet Diet Bird Food
White Proso Millet
Red Proso Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Flaxseed
Rape Seed
Safflower Seed

=============================

Healthy Select Natural Parakeet Diet

White Millet
Red Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Golden German Millet
Flaxseed
Safflower Seed
Rape Seed
Niger Seed
Caraway Seed

=============================

Sun Seed Sunscription Vita Plus Parakeet Formula

White Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Red Millet
Flaxseed
Golden German Millet
Safflower Seed
Caraway Seed
Sesame Seed

=============================

FM Brown's Encore Premium Parakeet Formula
White Proso Millet
Canary Seed Grass
Red Millet

=============================

Brown's Tropical Carnival Gourmet Parakeet Food

Canary Seed
White Proso Millet
Red Millet
Thistle Seed
Safflower Seed
Rape Seed
Sunflower Chips
Anise Seed
Poppy Seed
Cantaloupe Seed
Flaxseed
Sesame Seed
Cranberry Seed

=============================

Hagen Tropimix Budgie, Canary and Finch Food Egg Mix
Canary Seed
Hulled Millet
Niger Seed
Rape Seed
Flaxseed
Hemp Seed
Sesame Seed

=============================

Hagen Living World Premium Budgie Food
White Millet
Canary Seed
Red Millet
Red Finch Millet
Rape Seed
Flaxseed
Hemp Speed
Niger Seed
Sesame Seed

=============================

8 in 1 Ecotrition Essential Blend for Parakeet Food
White Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Rape Seed
Flaxseed

=============================

8 in 1 Ultra-Blend Gourmet Harvest Celebration for Parakeets
White Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Finch Millet
Cantaloupe Seed
Hulled Sunflower Seed
Red Millet
Flaxseed
Rape Seed

=============================

Fruit Bite Banquet for Parakeets
White Millet
Canary Seed
Red Millet

=============================

Nutriphase Parakeet Food
White Millet
Canary Grass Seed
Red Millet
Flaxseed

=============================

Nutriphase Gold Parakeet Food
Canary Grass Seed
White Millet
Red Millet
Sunflower Hearts
Small Yellow Millet
Flaxseed
Niger Seed

And.... this is only a comparison of the seed ingredients. It does not account for the many other aspects of each product. For example:

Grains?
Sugars?
Preservatives (such as ethoxyquin)?
Artificial Colors?
Protein Content?
Fat Content?
Other ingredients such as herbs, dehydrated vegetables, fruits and added vitamins?
How much of the mix is actually consumed?

I hope you found this limited comparison as interesting as me! I know it will also give me ideas of the type of variety to seek when I am at the organic health food grocery!


COPYRIGHT © 2009 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Thursday, November 26, 2009

You Don't Know What You've Got Until You Sprout It

Offering our birds the best diet possible is a top priority. Just a few considerations:

1. Of that which is offered, what is actually consumed?
2. How varied is the diet (in taste, texture, appearance and nutrition)?
3. How fresh is the diet?

The third item above is one that I have chosen to write about today. My utmost concern is that every part of my birds' diets is ultra-fresh, including the selected seeds I offer.

I've read much about how "fattening" seeds are.... nuts too... *sigh*

Yes, they contain oils - that is, essential fatty acids and healthy oils amongst other goodies. While certain
all seed diets are rightfully implicated in nutritional deficiencies, illness and shortened lifespans, seeds themselves are not something we must avoid at all cost. They provide valuable nutrition, especially when sprouted, and can be an important part of a well balanced birdie diet. Our birds also love them (dry or sprouted), and it is nice to be able to take advantage of this to increase their nutritional intake.

While many commercially prepared seed mixes contain only 3 or 4 different types of seed (I am writing a post that will compare the seed contents of many popular commercially available mixes), we can easily provide our birds with so many other seeds! Variety is the spice of their nutritional life!

So, the Budgie-Boys' diet includes select seeds ("a quality, fresh seed mix"... hang onto these words), a pelleted diet and Beak Appetit (grains, veggies and fruit).

The Beak Appetit (now, unfortunately out of production) was a huge key to unlocking their desire to eat grains and veggies. But once all the Beak Appetit I have hoarded from every pet store within a 100 mile radius runs out, I will happily make my own. (And, you can count on me sharing the recipes with you!)

One change I have decided to make (for all of my feathered companions) is adding freshly sprouted seed to their diet. Sprouts are easy to digest and packed full of high-octane nutrition. Sprouting seed is also a method to determine if a mix is its freshest. The last thing we want to do is serve old, stale seed.

So the words "quality seed mix" or "fresh seed mix" are directly related to their ability to be sprouted.

If they don't sprout, they ain't fresh.... nuff said.

So, it was with some hesitation that I began a sprout project. We can all recognize bug-infested, moldy food as "not so fresh", but what about food that smells nice, isn't moldy and is in a pretty package with healthy looking birds on the outside? It must be fresh, right? Especially if it is a recognized name brand sold in a clean pet shop, right?

Hmmm....

Well, we don't know what we've got until we try to sprout it. Time to find out and let the results speak for themselves.

For Coco, I pick through a commercially prepared parrot mix for certain select items used as treats. The remainder of her diet is quite extensive, especially as compared to the Budgie-Boys. She's such a good little eater! From Harrison's Adult Lifetime Pepper Formula, Harrison's Power Treats, nuts such as organic peanuts, walnuts (one of her favorites), almonds from time to time (not one of her favorites) and cashews, to home cooked meals, Beak Appetit, cracked corn and just about anything else I let her get her little beak on, she has a well developed palate. It is important to know that the treat pickings from the store-bought mix are fresh.

Time for the results!

Selected From Coco's Mix
Sunflower Seeds - sprouted
Safflower Seeds - sprouted
Hard Corn - sprouted

Selected From the Budgie-Boys' Mix
Canary Grass Seed - sprouted
White Proso Millet - did not sprout
Sesame Seed -
did not sprout
Red Millet - did not sprout

Disappointing, I must say. But, the science speaks for itself.

I am now on the path of creating my own Budgie-Boy Mix, one that I am able to confidently serve both dry and sprouted. One that I know is fresh, preservative free, nutritionally varied and organically grown. Virtually every packaged bird food on the market has some sort of preservative, and some even contain ethoxyquin.

So, off to the organic health food store I went! There, I have access to seeds and grains (some that I have never heard of!), all grown organically, without pesticides and dated for freshness. (However, they will still need to pass the sprout test.)

For the same amount of money as the average bag-o-food, I was able to create my own mix to fill this 1/2 gallon mason jar:
This organically-grown, pesticide-free mix (at just over $6.00) contains the following:

Soft White Wheat Berries
German Golden Millet
Golden Flax Seed
Hulless Barley
Sesame Seed
Oat Groats
Spelt

And there were so many others to choose from! I look forward to mixing and matching and discovering which rank as Budgie-Boys' favorites.

Most important: it has been taste-tested and approved by the boys!
And yes, as you might suspect, the golden millet is a real favorite!

Next order of business: I've begun sprouting this mix.

Sprouting Instructions:

1. First, I soak the seeds overnight (8-12 hours) in an ample amount of water. For example, I use enough seeds to cover the b
ottom of the cup and then fill it with 2/3 cup of water. This will provide sprouts for Coco and the Budgie-Boys.

2. After soaking, I pour into a tea strainer, and rinse very well.

If they don't sprout, they ain't fresh.... nuff said.

3. I then place the tea strainer on the cup, and place a saucer on top of strainer.

4. I keep them moist by wetting them at least twice a day or as needed in a 70 degree room. The cup catches any water that drains off.

5. After sprouting, they are rinsed and drained very well prior to serving.

They may be refrigerated (best to have them as dry as possible first) for a day or two. Since they are so easy to sprout, I will always have fresh on hand. They can be served as soon as they sprout or after the sprouts are a bit longer.

Always rinse well and drain before serving each time, and check to be sure they are still fresh by tasting them!


Coco will certainly not be left out of the fun - I bought her a big batch of raw sunflower seeds in the shell when I was at the store. There I also have access to safflower seed as well as dried banana (without preservatives such as sulphur dioxide), dried peppers, raw pumpkin seed, hard corn and everything else imaginable from grains to nuts. Once I begin making my own version of Beak Appetit, the shopping trips will become even more extensive as I have access to everything organic from cous cous to rolled oats and barley.

Sprouting is not limited to seed; beans are excellent sprouters as are grains. If you decide to do some sprouting for your birdies, you may want to check one of the many
excellent sites that provide information and recipe suggestions, such as:

Sprout People
The Kitchen Physician
Cele Birds
Avian Web



COPYRIGHT © 2009 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Turkey Day, Everyone!







Thanks Arlene (aka.pody)!

COPYRIGHT © 2009 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hanging Out in the House


All the time Coco has enjoyed fort living, she has never been one to hang out inside her main house. It is a wonderful place for foraging and playing, but no significant time has been spent simply hanging inside.



As you can see, it has a v-perch on the right. From time to time I have placed the swing inside, but since she did not use it, it is mostly left on her main pole where she does enjoy it.

As you will recall, I wrote about her recent travels in The Wandering Diva, and that I had rearranged her Fort elements in an attempt to provide more interest and less desire to wander. (So far, so good).

With this revamp, her main house now directly faces the sliding glass doors for a perfect view of the mountain range.
And with this has come a new habit!

I have come home to clear and convincing evidence that she has begun hanging out on that v-perch during the day for extended periods of time!

In addition to a clear view out the window, she also has the ability to watch the budgies. And they are admittedly fascinating. You know I so love watching them.

Perhaps there is some sense of safe
ty or protection; whatever her motivation I know that she is there because she chooses to be. She has also been foraging for food from other locations and then taking it inside the house to her v-perch and eating it there. Kind of cute!

She is able to see out the side slats (especially the one that she custom-designed to be larger!). But when I am in the room, she remains out on her main pole.



After all the time that she has lived in the Fort, it is nice to see that she still finds new and different ways to utilize the elements. This further encourages me to continue making changes and improvements. Even in changing the location of an element or orientation, she will need to create new paths and make corresponding adjustments. It provides additional interest. Changing toys around is nice, but for Coco, I sometimes think toys are simply stationery, non-interesting parts of the landscape.

She plays with bottle caps and egg crates more than any store-bought toy! She also loves plastic hair combs!

And, I love coming home to this sort of mess!




















COPYRIGHT © 2009 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Saturday, November 21, 2009

In Search of Rare Bateleur Eagle


The Carolina Raptor Center is dedicated to environmental stewardship and the conservation of birds of prey through education, research, and the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned raptors.

On Thursday (November 19, 2009), a rare bateleur eagle escaped from the Raptor Center. Because many of my blog readers are in North Carolina, many more are ardent supporters of raptor research, preservation, education and rehabilitation, and because this eagle has the capacity for long flights covering in excess of 200 miles in search of food, I want to put a shout out to any in the North Carolina, South Carolina or neighbors even further away to keep their eagle eyes to the sky in search of this lady.

The bateleur, native to Africa, is quite colorful, with an approximate 5 foot wingspan, and distinctive in flight in that they have an exceptionally short tail. While capable of making significant noise (as you might well imagine), they are often quiet. They roost high up in the trees, and while it is hoped that she is still in the nature preserve, she could have traveled.

Please join Coco in searching for this rare beauty.














Anyone who sees her, please contact the Carolina Raptor Center's Rescue Line at 704-875-5421, extension 107.

Click Here for More Information on the Bateleur Eagle


COPYRIGHT © 2009 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Friday, November 20, 2009

Penske Progress

Penske and I enjoyed some nice progress last evening! I, like Arlene (see her comment on yesterday's post) spend a lot of time being with the budgie-boys, hanging and giving them opportunities to see that my hands mean them no harm. Not to mention that they have the ability to bring wonderful treats!


I saw that Bucky and Strider were loft-sleeping - - a golden moment to give Penske a choice to receive some millet from my open palm while he was down and alone (without the extra competition) at regular height.

He was mildly curious...

That is, until Bucky came down. Then the allure of monkey-see, monkey-do became irresistible.

Penske began showing more interest.

Bucky immediately jumped on my hand. Shortly after, I asked Bucky to step down, he did, and I placed some millet dust into a cup. I moved my hand and the cup toward Penske. He then hopped onto the edge of the cup and began eating!

After he jumped onto the edge of the cup, I was able to slowly move my hand toward me while he continued happily eating. Holding the cup at less than an arm's length from my face, I spoke sweetly as he enjoyed his just rewards. Very nice...

Several minutes into our interaction, Bucky flew over and landed on the cup beside Penske. The cup is not that big... thus a bit of an uncomfortable moment ensued... But the boys have all displayed great relationships, and any tension is fleeting.

It seemed to me that perhaps Penske had worked too hard for his turn, and was not going to be dissuaded so easily. Standing tall, he postured and challenged Bucky with confidence. Bucky received the message loud and clear, exiting stage left.

It is so rewarding to be reaching the point where they will all be equally comfortable flying to me for a reinforcer. Of course my little boy Penske has been the most hesitant, and this progress has been 4 months in the making.
The cleaning session that followed brought an extra bonus. After the millet, I spent some time with Coco, and then returned to the budgie fort to give it the usual cleaning. While Strider will sit on a post and pay no attention to my bumping, cleaning, moving and disruption, Bucky and Penske will usually retreat to the opposite side. Tonight, all 3 remained stationed. Strider had the swing, and Bucky and Penske were on either side of the goal post, happily watching and chirping through the cleaning show.It is such a delight to know that as each day passes, they continue to learn that my hands, head and upper body inside their area - leaning, making noise and even bumping their perches - is simply of no concern! I want them to have that confidence and assurance.

Just a couple examples of some things I do with the boys to help this process:

Move slowly and with intent while cleaning their area.Much singing, whistling or talking while I take care of business.Following similar routines in the manner and order in which I do things to give them the ability to predict my behavior and movements.Sitting near them while reading or doing other activities, talking and interacting from a bit of a distance.Offering plenty of opportunities for them to gain reinforcers.

For 4 months Penske has watched Bucky and Strider fly to me, land on my hand, and receive reinforcers. His body language clearly expressed his desire to stick his toes in the water, but he was unwilling to take the plunge. Tonight, I gave him the opportunity to gain the reinforcer incrementally. Since he was not ready to eat the millet out of my palm, I offered it in a cup instead. This worked for him, and resulted in a very delicious experience.

I predict it will only be a matter of a day or few before he is sitting in my palm, flying to me and past that which was blocking him from going for the millet that he wanted all along.

It was a very important step in Penske's progress, the way in which he sees me as part of his daily experience, and as a bringer of good tidings!



COPYRIGHT © 2009 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I've Got The Time!





Time
...







Our canine friends (especially Barney) always have 'time' for us. They cannot wait to be called over for any tidbit of our attention. They hang on our every word, and wait for any sign that we may want interaction. They are anxious to accommodate our every wish, thus well deserving the "man's best friend" moniker.

When it comes to the felines in our lives, we may desire to interact, but often we have learned from experience that a cat may not be on the same page. And in that instance, it can well put a hurtin' on us if we ignore the telltale growling and hissing warnings.

To the extent the cat must further convince us by use of their razor sharp claws on our tender skin, causing us to finally back off this, in behavioral terms, is called positive punishment. All I can say is that I positively won't approach and/or push a cat that is hissing, growling and having a steely cold look in its eye!

When I see questions such as, "how can I get my bird to cuddle more?", or "how can I get my bird to enjoy being petted", it makes me wonder if some think of birds as dogs with wings and feathers.

Most children grow up experiencing dogs and cats in either their own home or those of friends or relatives. They learn that each animal is unique, having its own individual characteristics, in addition to some general characteristics of the breed. Most important, we learn what growling, hissing and foaming at the mouth mean, and how we should best react (or not). Children know that a dog or cat displaying these attributes is not interested in 'getting to know them' and it is best to step away immediately. Often this is discovered through trial and error, and real life experiences of a few scratches or bites!

We cannot imagine a parent encouraging a child to continue to pursue interaction with a dog or cat that is growling or displaying other clear signals and body language that it does not desire interaction. We also cannot imagine advising to allow the dog or cat bite and scratch, while holding the hand and body steady, in an attempt to 'teach' the animal that biting the cr*p out of the child will 'gain it nothing'.

The adult would know that the animal is sending a clear signal and further pursuit will only result in escalation of both body language and danger to the child. They would be quick to counsel the child to leave the animal well enough alone for the time being. We certainly would question advice to the contrary.

Common sense would dictate that proceeding with such an the animal will lead to harm and that the animal will not be "won over" with such tactics.

Equally disturbing, the advice to grab a bird, holding the grip until it 'complies' and realizes that the human means it no harm. (That would be - the same human that is holding it beyond its will and exerting power and control - means it no harm?)

When it comes to working with birds, we do often see an approach where someone is clearly pushing past the signals and body language of an animal not wanting to interact with the belief that if they can only 'convince' the bird to step up or sit on their shoulder, that the bird will see how wonderful and enjoyable it is. It is magical thinking... as if the bird will actually fall in love with them for forcing the interaction!

This is why learning about body language in general, and particularly the body language of each of our own unique birds, from little ones to big, is so very critical. It is about the development of a relationship, not the assertion of power and dominance.

Is it possible some misconceptions are borne from many not growing up with birds? I think there is also a direct correlation to the ability of the animal to potentially do harm to our delicate skin. If one bite from a bird was lethal, we would see a completely different approach to training. We don't see snake handlers that are determined to 'show the snake who is boss'... instead, they are called snake charmers for a reason. They certainly don't stick their hand in the snake's cage and let it bite them until it "realizes that biting doesn't gain anything and then it will eventually stop".

It is fairly common to see companion owners believing that if they have the time to interact with the bird, and the desire to interact with the bird, then the bird should be ready, willing and able to conform to their wishes. Or, to be 'made' to conform through alpha bird or flock leader mentalities.

We wouldn't treat a loved one with whom we had a relationship with in this manner. If they didn't want to go to a movie with us, we wouldn't expect them to comply with our wishes at any cost to, or without consideration of the effect upon, the relationship.

So it often boils down to time - and a belief that if we have the time and the desire, then our birds should be obligated to comply. Even the smallest of birds have quite defined personalities, desires, preferences and the full capacity for choice.

Time well spent is not just time interacting with a bird, but time observing and learning the body language of that bird.

A positive interaction begins with mutual respect and desire for that interaction.

COPYRIGHT © 2009 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Friday, November 13, 2009

Another Old Coco Sign

I did not have to strain my powers of observation much to see yet another sign of the old Coco emerging this evening. Yet, I must admit I did not see this one coming - literally!

As I finished the usual cleaning and interaction time in the bird room, I went toward the door and received a rousing 'BYE' from Coco. All seemed well. Hmmm.... normal, one might say...

Seconds after I turned off the lights, she suddenly flew to me - yep, in the dark. I didn't move, and she landed on me. Well, I guess she was not ready for our time to be over?!

Score:
Coco 1

So, we spent some more time together. Goodness, I had already been in there for an hour, it was dark outside, and I would have thought that she would be well ready for bed. Apparently, she had a different idea!

Well, time to give it another try. I gingerly headed back to the door. Again, I received a very loud and confident "BYE!" Again, all seemed well... almost normal one might say...

I turned the light off, and.....

Score:
Coco 2

!

Yep - she flew to me again.

So, again we spent some more time together. However, this time I made one slight adjustment. I turned off the light switch that is next to the door, and turned on the light next to the chair.


This time, after spending more time together, I sat in the chair. Then, I turned off the light for a moment (of course, she saw me sit in the chair, and knew I was still in the room).

After a few seconds, I turned the light on, walked over to give her a treat, returned to the chair and repeated the process.

We did this a few times - I'm not sure what she was thinking... perhaps mommy had made up yet another odd game?!

After several repeats, she was ready for me to leave. I walked to the door, and was excused this time without incident.

====
While I see signs of a reduction in hormonal behavior, I still observe an overall elevated excitement level and certain hormonal-type behaviors. So my eyes continue to be peeled on her body language now more than ever.


Tonight she indicated a desire for close interaction, as while I was standing next to the perch, she came over and plastered herself to my chest while lifting her head feathers. I obliged, but my eyes remained focused for any change or nuance of body language. I would give her a scritch or two, and then stepped back to see if she would come toward me, lean toward me, or give a similar signal that she wanted more before continuing.

====

Our interactions always offer ample opportunities for her to gain reinforcers. Each day I try to include physical interactions. For example, a new game we play that I call 'Hide n Peek'. With the main house out in the room, I am able to run around the entire house and peek in through the slats of wood.

It did not take her long to catch on, and she began to laugh when running from one side to the other to find me!


One day she was on the floor and began running around the house (with me dodging the opposite direction), seemingly pleased when able to spot me!

Perhaps these more physical and overt games are increasing her enjoyment level and leading to her desire for more interaction. I believe they are beneficial on many levels.

Given that she flew to me twice tonight and wanted additional time together, I will take my cue accordingly and see if she is interested in expanding our time together tomorrow as well. I plan to take this kimono jacket I am working on into the bird room to see if she shows signs of desiring some day time company.

It is slated to be a beautiful day - nearly 70 degrees tomorrow - and I will be able to open the sliding glass doors so that we all (including the budgie-boys) can soak in the warm sunshine and fresh air.

No doubt it will be a fun, crazy day!



















COPYRIGHT © 2009 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thanks, Bill!


I forgot to mention this in my last post, so I just wanted to be sure to give a shout out to my friend Bill - he actually sent me a fan letter! In the real U.S. Mail!

Up until this point, I thought that mailman in the car was good just for tossin' me a doggie biscuit, but now I have come to learn that he delivers fan mail too! Bonus!

Bill is my best-est human friend in the whole world (not countin' my mom, of course!) I was so happy when he visited. And, I was so depressed when he left.





















Thanks, Bill for brightening my day with your letter... you're almost as much fun as a peanut butter rawhide!


Arf, arf !!




COPYRIGHT © 2009 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Monday, November 9, 2009

Detective Barney

It has come to my attention that there are very few places a dog can go to learn about humans...

For example:

Where can you read how best to train them to share their bologna sandwich with you?

What is the best way to make them understand that when you stand next to the refrigerator it is because you want them to open the door?
And, what will it take to get them to leave the bacon unwrapped on the bottom shelf?


How about this - if I throw the ball, I'll be happy to retrieve it.
But if you throw it, I think you should be the one to go get it!

Who do you call at the Peter Pan organization to discuss dog-friendly peanut butter lids? This would be a valuable way to spend future research monies.

These are just a few of my burning questions. I wish I could tell you I have the answers; I don't. But rest assured; I am working tirelessly to understand.

In the meantime, I thought I would share what I have learned thus far. If you too are living with a human, this could be indispensable information!

Sometimes at night I just lay awake and watch them sleep.

While remaining in this highly alert status, I have gleaned a great deal of information:

When conducting research, it is critical to appear to be asleep.
Some things I have learned:

* My mom snores when she is exceptionally tired or has been hittin' the sauce. Oddly, she is very defensive when I bring this up, and claims it is my dad... Oh, don't get me wrong - he does his own share of "heavy breathing"...


* My dad drools on his pillow. Yet - he doesn't want me laying on it? That simply makes no sense!

* I've observed that both my mom and dad moan and groan like a couple of 90 year olds when they get up out of a chair. So, when I am in a very comfortable position, and they want me to move, I have developed the ability to groan as if I am in great pain.

The first few times, I pulled it off, they really thought I was in pain! Now they are on to me - they make me move anyway. Well, it was nice while it lasted. I still give the the evil eye, but it too is fairly ineffective.

* If I burp, I do it loudly. Then I simply sit back and amuse myself as I watch my mom try to blame it on my dad, unwilling to believe that such a noise could (and did), come out of me!



I know it is just a start, but the subject matter is strange and confusing. Obviously, I need to do much more research.

So, there's no time to waste - I must get back to work!




COPYRIGHT © 2009 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Wandering Diva !

The Diva has certainly been getting around lately - literally!

As you know, she lives cage free in her completely open-styled "Fort Coco", but recently has demonstrated a propensity to see not just the USA, but the entire world, in her Chevrolet!

Several days this past week, Coco's daddy has found her wandering around in an unplanned and unapproved manner.

One day she was atop the bar stool eating the budgies' grass (a small container of greens growing for the boys).

She also had visited a variety of other places in the the room....

Let's just say, we have proof that cannot be denied - no siree!
Those were not budgie souvenirs!

So, what to do... what to do...

My thoughts immediately move to my need to provide new and interesting reasons for her to stay in the Fort area. Perhaps it is getting a bit yesterday. But in any event, it is my responsibility to keep her area fresh, intriguing and worth the stay.

Here is a picture of the existing set up, before the refurb. The budgies are on the right in the photo:

I've since made a number of changes including moving toys around, moving furniture, and reorienting her area. She no longer has a completely unobstructed view of the room. However, she still has the ability to move around the entire room should she desire. (I hope she will not desire!) She does have a completely unobstructed view out the sliding glass doors of the beautiful mountain range, which I hope she will enjoy.


The water bowl is still in the same place...
The budgies are still in the same place..So far, during the first several days after the change, she has remained in her Fort at all times while alone in the room. Yesterday while I was attending to the boys, she actually came down the ladder to interact with me! This is significant. It is the first time she has walked down the ladder in many, many months. That used to be one of her favorite things to do. I do think she is feeling much better. I continue to make 'observation' my first priority.

While I am working to make staying in the Fort desirable, I do view her branching out behavior as a good sign - a further indication that she is feeling confident and perhaps returning to her old self. However, I hope that she will limit any branching out to times when I am in the room. I would prefer no unsupervised excursions!

What will the Queen of England think when she contemplates the possibility that Coco may have left a souvenir on the back of one of her guards? Exactly.. you see my dilemma?!



















And as far as I know, she cannot even speak French!


















Yes, she belongs in the mountains, but preferably inside the Fort and not driving around!

(Is she even watching the road?)















A huge thanks to Arlene (aka.pody)
for sharing her amazing graphic art talent with all of us!





COPYRIGHT © 2009 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED