Monday, February 23, 2009

Catching Up on Things

Well it has been hectic here and I haven't posted in a while, but I feel sufficiently guilty and promise to work harder on it in the future... honest!

Training News
Training is on hold for breeding season for Lucha. Although I was having problems with focusing when we were working on crate training on the floor (my toes are a high value reinforcer apparently), he has now gotten to the point where any attention quickly leads to eye pinning, cheek puffing and tail fanning, quickly followed by a display illustrating just what a handsome amazon he is. I am lucky in that for the most part, I can still get him to step up when in this mode and move him back and forward from cage to playscape... but training is just way to overstimulating and he gets focused on displaying and not training.

Marnie is still a little smarty pants know it all... she has been a little fussy about stepping up to go to bed (after all, she's 7 now and can stay up late and watch horror movies or so she tells me), but I have been working on that by getting the treat and doing a short (1 minute) run through of turns, waves and shakes, before asking for the step up and giving it to her on the way to the cage for bed.

Darwin is still an adorable little snot, still looking for his forever home and still recalling.
He still hesitates a little when I am asking him to come down from the top of the playscape, but time, patience and consistency will approve his reaction time after the cue. Next up I think I will start teaching him some silly parrot tricks such as turn around and wave.

Austin Parrot Society
We had our first meeting yesterday and I have to say I was very happy and impressed with the folks that came. 16 of us in total, but we all seemed to have the same goals and concerns for our parrots. I am really looking forward to developing the society as a focal point for the parrot community in Austin... more details on the meeting can be found at the Austin Parrot Society Blog

Wings of Love Bird Haven
I spent valentines weekend up at Bird Haven with my friend and Partner In Crime Emily. I spent the time educating the volunteers and the birds on positive reinforcement. I was really wonderfull to see almost every bird really get into the training and improve with just two short sessions. I will do a proper write up about this weekend soon.

From Beaks to Barks
Speaking of Emily, she is my pet sitter as well as my friend, and she has featured my birds as February's Pet of the Month on her Blog.
Check it out Here

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Weatherford Parrots Update

I would like to thank everyone who responded to my original post with offers of help and/or donations. Much has happened since then, and I wanted to give everyone an update so that you can direct your energies and assistance in the most productive way possible with minimal confusion or wasted time.

GREAT NEWS: Parker County Animal Shelter has talked the city out of auctioning off or euthanizing any of the birds! All birds that are considered “unadoptable” are being sent to reputable sanctuaries, where they can live out their days in ease. As for the rest of the birds, they are either being adopted directly out of the shelter itself, or passed on to a few reputable rescue groups. Last time I spoke with the shelter director, they were still sorting out which rescues were getting birds. For right now, they are going to try to keep as many in-house as possible. *If you do not live in Parker County, they will not adopt a bird out to you.* So, contrary to my last post, most of you are not eligible to adopt birds through them. This may change, but for now they want to keep their birds within the county. I will not keep posting updates about the shelter. To keep up with the latest news yourself, or to make a donation to them, please visit their website:

Having said all of that, Wings of Love Bird Haven took in another two birds this week, one of which is a macaw in very poor condition. So, while much of the immediate crisis of auctions has been averted, Bird Haven is still in desperate need of help. These are their specific needs (anyone who makes a donation can get a receipt for tax purposes):

* Monetary donations to cover medical expenses, purchase food, cages, and other supplies.
* Large cages that will house Greys and Eclectus all the way up to Macaws and Cockatoos
* Organic, dye-free pelleted food and/or fresh, organic produce
* Sprout seeds
* Newspapers

My friend and I are still heading up to Bird-Haven this weekend, so if you want to make donations in kind (sprouts, veggies, newspaper, pellets etc) then please let me know and I will come and pick up this week.

They do not need toys or smaller cages right now, although they might in the future.

And of course, as always, they are in need of good foster or permanent adoptive homes.

To make a donation, contact Bird Haven directly with any questions, or to fill out foster or adoption applications, please visit:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Parrots in Need: Weatherford Hoarding Case

I have swiped the text of this post from my good friend Emily. She's already written everything I want to say, so it's easier than writing a completely different set of text which says the same thing.

A little over a month ago, over 100 parrots of all sizes and species were seized from a home in Weatherford, TX, where they had been found in squalid conditions. These birds were all taken to a local county shelter which has little funding and even less experience with birds. This shelter is simply not equipped to properly handle and rehome all of these birds. A nearby avian rescue, Wings of Love Bird Haven, is doing everything they can to help alleviate the burden and provide these birds with proper living conditions, medical attention, and forever homes. However, their resources are limited as well. Anything you can do to help will be greatly appreciated.

How You Can Help:

*Donate cages, playgyms, and/or toys. My friend and I are going up to Bird Haven on the 14th, so if you have anything to donate, we can take it up there for you and bring you back a receipt for tax purposes.

*Donate money directly to Bird Haven

*Sign up to attend Barbara Heidenreich’s workshop at Bird Haven in March

*Apply to Bird Haven to adopt or foster a bird

*Apply directly to the Parker County Shelter to adopt or foster a bird - or call: (817) 598-4111

If you do adopt or foster a bird from this situation and need help with any behavioral issues, I will be happy to help you for free.

If they are not able to find suitable homes for these birds through adoption, Weatherford’s City Manager has stated that they will probably auction the birds off with minimum bids. This would be detrimental, as many of those birds would likely end up in unethical breeding situations or in homes similar to the one they came from. Please help if you can, and spread the word to anyone you know who might be able to help.

I would like to also encourage everyone to contact the City Manager and tell him exactly why an auction is in the worst interests of the birds. With no possible way to screen bidders for safety, ensure that birds go to homes suitable for their individual needs or ensure that they will not immediately go into an unethical breeding situation or a home just like the one they are seized from. We parrot owners know that just because you can afford a bird, does not mean you are capable of giving it a good home.
Here are his details:

Jerry Blaisdell - Weatherford City Manager

UPDATE: I contacted the City Managers office via phone today and was told the City Manager was off sick and they would ask him to return my call when he comes in. I made it clear that I was calling to discuss the potential auction of the birds and how I felt it was detrimental to the birds future health and safety. Maybe if we all leave messages asking to talk to him in objection to the auction it will send a strong indication of public feeling on the matter

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Training During Breeding Season

It's that time of year again and last week marked the first puffy dance of the season for my Lilac Crowned Amazon Lucha. The recipient was my African Grey Marnie, who as usual looked blankly at this dancing amazon and walked away when he started regurgitating for her.
Of course Marnie is not the only recipient of puffy dances. Toes and feet are also displayed for regularly if he can get close enough, no matter if you have socks on or are hiding your feet in your pants leg, Lucha dances away before giving them a present.

With Lucha's crate up training this is causing a problem. I don't have a dining table (the birds cages take up the dining area), so I had been setting the crate on the floor (tile, he has problems walking on carpet or bedding) and sitting on the floor to target Lucha into the crate... which worked well until last week. Unfortunately I have not worked out a way of sitting on the floor which completely hides my feet. So now while I am attempting to target Lucha, he is far more interested in serenading my feet... and as reinforcement is in the eye of the bird, he finds my feet of infinitely higher value than even an almond in the shell.

So how does everyone else deal with training their hormonal bird?

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of an Amazon puffy dance then I have a little photo story below. You'll have to imagine the growling, clucking whine he makes.

First you puff up all over, but paying special attention to the cheeks and trousers. Begin flipping wings and waddling back and forwards...

With a flip of the head change direction...

And the other way...

One more repetition...