Don’t We All Get Tipsy and Talk to Our Parrots?

Its for You, Cockatoo!

It's for You, Cockatoo!

I’m looking forward to seeing Iron Man 2 for many reasons, most of them involving Robert Downey, Jr. I have to admit though, that I’m really looking forward seeing Mickey Rourke who has always been one of my faves. Spending a couple of decades getting his face busted up boxing only endeared him to me more. (I also love boxing and didn’t quite make it in the ring either.) Mickey Rourke with a cockatoo though…that really has my interest.

It was Rourke who asked that a cockatoo be added to the movie. He felt his character needed to inspire at least a bit of empathy from the audience. And what inspires more empathy than a man who gets drunk and argues with his parrot? Hey, Mickey …you, me, a bottle of tequila and the parrots? Call me.

Rourke did more than just hire a cockatoo however, he wanted to make a difference in a parrot’s life. You may remember that Rourke was out and about the awards circuit for The Wrestler, frequently quoted thanking his dogs for the difference they have made in his life, for helping him through. Rourke gets the value of a reciprocal relationship with a pet, so he adopted Sunny, a cockatoo on his seventh home from Best Friends. You can read the whole story here. From what I understand, Sunny was actually used in the second half of the movie.

And in case your wondering about a happy ending, Rourke is frequently seen around LA, Sunny on his shoulder. I admit Sunny looks a tiny bit traumatized by the paparrazi, but who wouldn’t be? He will never be a cockatoo lacking for enrichment, that’s for sure, not while he’s exploring Los Angeles with Rourke.

Parrots Don’t Scream

KoKo by DDanzig

KoKo by DDanzig

You think I’m nuts, right? In fact your parrot is screaming right now. A normal serenade, the sort of noises parrots make in the jungle is perfectly acceptable and should be accepted. Not everything is screaming, some noises are natural behavior.

Screaming is a learned, not a natural behavior. At least, the sort of screaming that makes us the most crazy and that can be managed. Screaming is something that a bird learns to do in order to control its environment. Want attention? All you have to do is scream. So screaming is a frequent, prolonged, repetitive behavior.

Don’t want your parrot to learn to scream? Start by only responding to sounds your parrots make that you do not mind so much. All your parrot really wants to do is interact with his environment, so give him a whistle or sound you will answer or appear when he makes. Try to make sure that raucous noises are never followed by attention or treats. Be clear with how to get rewarded. You parrot and your ears will appreciate it!

Man’s Best Friend…

…is a 50 year old macaw who once belonged to his ex-girlfriend’s mother. How does that happen?

Check out the story from the Lansing State Journal.


Blue & Gold Macaw

I guess we parrot folks are always on the lookout for the right home for our birds for if something happens to us. Ruth, the macaw’s owner knew when Jeff LaFlamme and Skipper met in the 1970s that it was a perfect match. What I would really be interested to know is what happened in the years in between…Ruth passed away in 1989. In small ways Jeff is living with his ex-girlfriend (he’s single) and her mother for the rest of Skipper’s life. He seems to be quite happy with it though and enjoying Skipper’s company immensely.

Although my mom is the obvious choice for my African grey, I have to admit that I have an ex-boyfriend in mind for Ty if anything ever happens to me. And two friends were decided upon years ago for my Senegal and red-bellied. It is more about what the birds told me than anything else.

Do you know who your parrots want to live with if something happens to you?

Something for Sunday

If you’re not really a football fan…like myself. Here’s a couple of things you should dial into this afternoon…

Animal Planet has Pepper, an African Grey parrot slated to sing the national anthem for the two-hour Puppy Bowl event. Kickoff starts at 3pm. Honestly, I have no idea what the Puppy Bowl is, but I’ve seen about 20 tweets that a parrot is singing the national anthem. Turns out that parrot is Pepper, an ambassador for Phoenix Landing (I’ll be presenting a lecture at one of their Chapters in Virginia late this year.)  So I’ll be watching.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

My other suggestion is to listen to me blather on. I’ll be talking with Jennifer Shaw on Petline, from CFAX radio in Victoria, Canada at 4:30 pm. It will the be third time I’ve been on and I just love chatting with Jennifer. She’s a fantastic host. Stream it here.

Three Traveling Tips

A friend on Facebook noticed that I had just taken my traveling circus on a 7 hour drive and was wondering if I had any tips on the trip. Here are my top three:

Traveling Ty

Traveling Ty

1) Take a Day — Make a List

It takes a full day of your routine to remember all of the things that will make your life easier on a trip. Keep a piece of paper out for a day or two and jot down the things you will need as they occur to you. When you go to pack your car, it will ease the stress and stop you from worrying about what you forgot when you get to driving.

2) Make it Comfortable

Make sure your birds perches are lined up with the motion of the vehicle. Birds need to be able to lean into braking and excelerating in order to be comfortable. This will help with flailing and car sickness.

3) Bring lots of towels

Towels can be used to clean up messes and catch bird created detritus in hotel rooms. They can also be used to cover cages when birds are uncomfortable with headlights in the dark, semi trucks blowing by or any other big and scary. Take the tip from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the next level and make sure you’ve got plenty of towels.

Anybody else journey with their birds frequently? What are your tips and tricks.

A Parrot by Any Other Name

I’ve gotten superstitious about naming my animals over the years. However, all of my parrots were named 14 years ago, when I wasn’t quite so concerned about things like self-fulfilling prophesies.

For example… naming your Senegal parrot after the Norse god of mischief, LOKI, may not be the best move…

Loki has spent years living up to her name.

You can read about the time I went to work and accidentally left her out of the cage in my book, A Parrot for Life. Who would a thunk a little bird could unleash so much destruction?

I learned long ago to come running when I hear the African grey say sternly…”LOkiiiiiii!”


My African grey, Ty actually has a much longer moniker:

Pscitticus erithicus tyranosaurus vox.

I thought he sounded like a dinosaur when he was six weeks old. To this day, he has a “terrible lizard” voice — at least if lizards are good at exaggerated mocking.

I haven’t had a day of respect since the day the grey learned to say, “boo!”

It’s been non-stop mockery from the parrot and Pavlovian response from me ever since. (I know, he’s not REALLY mocking me, but I sound like a dork when he does his Rebecca imitation, so close enough!)

Apparently, idiots are great parrot enrichment.  Just ask the rockstar with the Dino DNA.

So what’s the story behind your parrot’s name?


Parrot Fumbles Football Game

I’m not one of those people who take their parrots with them everywhere. I’m certainly not opposed to it. You end up with a well-socialized bird that gets tons of your attention. However, this family in the UK learned the hard way that there are certain places where your parrot might be a wee bit disruptive.

I try to get the Senegal out of the house as much as I can because she loves a good drive. But the grey would much rather stay at home. He couldn’t get any clearer with his body language…feathers slicked, chewing on his nails, making this lovely high pitched squeak that drives me nuts. I could get him over it, desensitize him, make sure that outings are a positive.

Honestly though, it’s not a priority for me. I suppose that’s trainer speak for “I’m really kind of lazy.”  But come on, just because I wrote a book doesn’t mean I’m the perfect parrot owner. It just means that I know what a perfect parrot owner would look like and therefore can depend on a lifetime of self-flagellation.

Kidding. Love your parrots. Enjoy your home flock the best way you can. But really…even you perfect parrot owners should leave feathered sports fans at home and let them watch their team on the flat screen.

Love and Germs

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!

Well, maybe.

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.

by ZekaG

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.