The other day a parrot-training friend who I admire and adore asked me why we didn’t board parrots in our homes in order to give them focused training sessions and allow their owners the opportunity to maintain behaviors rather than build them from scratch. I scoffed at this idea. In fact, I think I puffed out my chest and said, “ANYONE CAN LEARN TO TRAIN!”
Of course, anyone CAN learn to train, but as my friend pointed out — not everyone wants to learn to train new behaviors. Doing things you’re not good at is frustrating. Sometimes people just want to do right by their pets and enjoy them. Why does everyone have to be an expert? Dog owners send their dogs off to be trained all the time.
“I’d never send my dog off to be trained!” I said. Except that even as I said it I realized it was a lie. I’ve happily sent a dog off to “bird dog” school to learn to point upland game and have every intention of sending my puppy off to do the same this summer. Who am I kidding? There is nothing wrong with boarding/training situations in the hands of the right trainer.
Then I started thinking about the opportunity to build a relationship with a parrot on a daily basis and build behavior on our own time, rather than in the afternoon allotted to an in-home consult. The whole idea of it got me kind of excited about the possibilities.
I have always been frustrated by my limited ability to shape behavior in a single consultation and the pressure of knowing a parrot might have to be re-homed if you can’t help the household learn to train can be immense. I realize that behaviors are easy to reshape and sometimes aren’t transferable, but I do find myself wondering if I couldn’t do a better job of helping loving, dedicated and frustrated parrot owners succeed in building or renewing a relationship with their parrots that works for everyone. Why not set them up to succeed with a bird that already had the basics? I want to try!
So here we are… I’m officially offering a very select number of train and board opportunities in my home that include:
Flexible training plans based on your needs.
Ongoing and consistent daily training.
Multiple daily training sessions and ongoing household interactions.
Opportunities for socialization, short trips and new experiences.
I know everyone can’t afford this luxury (and I hope to get to a place where I have slots for pro bono birds every year). Still, I hope a few people are interested and I’m curious what parrot folks will think of this opportunity. I suspect it will be a bit controversial. I bet you all will let me know! 🙂
There is an amazing parrot rescue facility on Vancouver Island, BC called the “World Parrot Refuge.” They provide a home for life for unwanted, abused, neglected, and sick parrots and they turn none away! Presently there are over 800 parrots there from across Canada and the US but, as you can imagine, this is a very costly facility to run.
I’m writing because they are currently part of the “Pepsi Refresh – Canada” competition in the $25K category (called “Feed the Sanctuary Parrots”). Even though the $25K is a drop in the bucket for them, it will help some and I feel that fellow parrot-lovers around the world would be willing to take a couple minutes every day to vote for them if they only knew! I was hoping you’d be willing to post this on your blog – it would help feed hundreds of parrots – thank you!!
Foster. Volunteer. Adopt. And if you really want a bird’s eye view of parrot reliquishment, check out this eye-opening extensive survey done by the Kaytee Avian Foundation. My good friend Barbara Heidenreich was involved in this effort and we’re all glad to finally have some solid data. Thanks to all of you out ther making a difference for the parrots!
It’s been a regular avian grumpfest around here lately. The falcons are on an all-you-can-eat diet and the molting has commenced, meaning falcons who have no use for me and are nearly impossible to handle. The pigeons or making ostentatious and impossibly loud overtures to one another. Meanwhile, the parrots are touchy and feathers abound in the house. Tis the season. What I wasn’t expecting though, was Loki’s first egg. Fifteen years old and my little hen Senegal parrot decided this was the year to settle down and get to business.
I watched her closely as soon as I realized she had made herself a newspaper nest and that she was bulging about the cloaca. I expected aggression, but what I got was adoration and regurgitation. She turned to goo, literally. I tried not to encourage her while watching for signs of egg binding. I was relieved when the first egg arrived and then the second. I might have one more to look forward to and then hopefully we’re done.
Egg laying can actually be dangerous business. An egg the parrot is unable to pass is a death sentence and not uncommon. First time egg layers and older birds may be more likely to become egg bound so keep an eye out. Egg binding can also occur because of compromised health, poor nutrition or simply because of genetics. If your bird is puffed, bright-eyed, interactive, but obviously just nesty, she’s probably fine, but watch closely for signs of distress. Watch for a distended abdomen and straining to pass something through the vent, drooping wings, fluffed feathers, loss of appetite and difficulty breathing. And if there is any question at all in your mind, best just to get to the vet!
Here are a few tips to avoid egg binding:
Get your bird DNA sexed so you know whether or not to suspect egg-laying
Try not to encourage nesting and bonding behavior during the breeding season.
Make sure your parrot has a nutritious well balanced diet with sufficient calcium (smooth muscle requires calcium to function and of course, calcium is required to create fully formed shells)
Get that bird some exercise! Obese birds are more likely to become egg bound.
Talk to your vet if your bird lays eggs excessively. Your vet may suggest hormones to get the egg laying to cycle more normally.
If your bird does become egg bound get to the vet right away! Your avian veterinarian can help the egg pass or remove it surgically if necessary before the situation becomes deadly.
Hope you all have a great Spring. It’s gonna be a long one around here…
A rather interesting (if not disturbing) blog post at the Worms & Germs blog describes an article in the Journal of Avian Pathology regarding tuberculosis transmission from pet owner to parrot. Is this something you should worry about? Yes!
It depends on if you pre-chew food for your parrot.
I have yet to run across anyone who goes as far as to chew food for their birds, but often get asked what you should and should not feed your parrot. The food thing seems to be a constant worry. I had a lady call me once from New York asking where she should go to buy the freshest food in the city for her bird. “You know I’m in California?” I asked. And when she confirmed that she did all I could say was, “I have no idea.” Americans are just obsessed with food in general I guess.
There are people who feed their Amazon parrots simply peanuts because their (soon to be) green giant won’t eat anything else. Peanuts are bird food right? Um, they’re elephant and people food as well, but isn’t there some saying about how working for them sucks?
I’ve also heard of folks who won’t feed their bird a single peanut because the dangers of aflatoxins, a toxin left behind by mold. Something to worry about? Perhaps, but mold is everywhere. You could kill a friend with a loaf of bread if you left in the refrigerator long enough to get a nice coating of aspergillus.
You will hear all sides of the feeding argument —from the dangerously careless to the stressed-out paranoid. My advice? Just use your common sense. If it isn’t good for us, don’t feed a bunch of it to your parrot. Ask your avian vet for a list of what is poisonous and should never be given to your bird and avoid what’s listed. Give your parrot the things you would eat if you were on a balanced diet — brown rice, lots of veggies, a little bit of fruit, a few nuts for a snack and change things up to make them interesting.
Oh… and don’t chew food for your parrot. If you want to show your love, just drop a spoonful of warm oatmeal into your friend’s bowl. To him it will taste just as good as regurgitated friendship.
Do you have stupid pet peeves? I have many and don’t admit to most, but today I’m going to share one with you that absolutely drives me nuts. Perhaps its because I’ve written five young-adult reference books and have had to learn a lot of taxonomy. (Try learning all the species of endangered owls and trying explain their taxonomic differences to middle school kids. You’ll have a taxonomy fetish too!) So what does this have to do with the implications of chicken eating parrots? EVERYTHING!
Check out this taxonomic table which I have prepared for today’s scientific lesson. Pay attention class! Here we go…
Cannibalism is defined as “the practice of eating the flesh of your own kind.” So, my interpretation would be that you must eat the same species. So if your parrot chomps on chicken marrow, it’s not even close to cannibalism.
I’m willing to throw you a bone though (get it? throw you a bone??). We’ll skip over belonging to the same genus all together. Let’s say you must be of the same FAMILY in order to be a cannibal. Okay, most of us get squeamish at the idea of any primate on the plate for dinner, fair enough. Note that according to the taxonomy, chimpanzees are then too closely related to the eat without moral question. What about parrots and chicken? Nope. Criminy, they aren’t even of the same ORDER!
“So what!” you say. It’s still birds eating birds. Okay, you know what makes them birds? Their CLASS. So, here’s the kicker. Humans and cows and sheep and pig are all of the same CLASS….mammals.
What’s that you say? You love a good steak or a pork roast? You CANNIBAL you!!
Yes, chicken and parrots are as far apart on the taxonomic tree as people and cows. So the next person that makes a comment about how parrots eating other fowl are cannibals gets a BIG FAT F.