Thursday, April 30, 2009

Has Your Bird Got Rhythm?

According to scientist who studied the parrot celebrities Snowball and Alex, parrots are the first creatures apart from humans to be found to have rhythm.

They watched Snowball dancing to the Backstreet Boys played at different tempos and found that he adjusted his movements to match.

Now my birds are not really dancers... no matter how much I turn up the music and dance around like a fool. But every now and then Marnie will get into it and I have noticed she has close to perfect rhythm.

All in all, I think this is just another bit scientific proof that our birds are as intelligent and cognizant as we know they are

BBC Article on Dancing Birds

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Loss of a Friend and the Terror of Fingerless Gloves

Well it's been a while since I updated on here (note to self... must get better about that), and a lot has happened. Some good, some bad and some kinda average.

In bad news, Inyoni, the spitfire 1 legged female lovebird has passed on to the rainbow bridge. Her energy and fire will be missed.
Her mate Ndeke was very quiet for a week after her death, but after a cage move around and he realised that he now gets all these awesome things like bird bread and warm mushy foods, and a happy hut because I no longer have to worry about these things triggering a laying session. So he's acting normally now... perhaps even a little more content now she is not demanding feedings and nagging him.
A necropsy was performed (I cannot stress the importance of this for any bird owning home) and no contagious cause of death was found. I had her cremated and am waiting for a nice day to take her ashes out to the greenbelt so she can fly free.

Darwin has been a cause for concern as he had a seizure last week (possibly he had one in January too). I stepped him up to put him in the travel cage to go to the vet for a nail trim (he's squirmy and I have not trained the nail trimming behavior with him yet), as he came out of the cage he just dropped from my hand and was seizing on the floor. I scooped him up and into the travel cage and hit the road to the vet (calling them to let them know I was bringing in an emergency). After about half an hour he came back from the far away gaze and was his normal self.
Gram stains showed nothing and we pulled blood for CBC and Chlamydiosis on Monday... everything came back normal with the slight exception of his Calcium which was on the low end of normal... so we are going to up his calcium intake and retest in a month... hopefully this will be the cause.

I think it important here to share some of the foods I will be adding to his diet (remember, he's on the allergy diet of rice pellets... he just recently started getting an organic allergen free sprout mix).
So, now I am hanging fresh organic dandelion leaves in his cage (he is unimpressed), offering a small bite of cheese every day, and almonds.

I also finally bought full spectrum lighting, after much research about the issue of CRI, Kelvin and flickering. My research identified the minimum CRI and Kelvin and informed me that the issue of flickering was all down to the base. Older bases were not designed to keep the flicker rate down, but that there should not be any problems with flicker with newer bases.
So I bought two full spectrum bulbs from featherbrite and a clamp light with a cage over the bulb (this is found in the reptile section). The stronger watt bulb is in the overhead light in the bird room, and the clamp light shines the other one direct on his cage... I really like how it turned out and am already planning on getting a second clamp light and bulb to brighten up Ndeke's lower cage.

And then there is Marnie.
I recently tried wearing elasticated fingerless gloves to help with my arthritis, and Marnie was not impressed!
Although she would take food from my gloved hand, and allowed me to scritch her with it, she would not step up on it... I'm not sure if it was the look or it or the feel, but she was having none of it.
So desensitization started.
I started by having her on my lap and slowly brought the gloved hand closer and closer, consistently reinforcing calm behavior. Eventually I had my gloved hand right next to her feet and from there I slowly began to touch them with the fabric, and finally I put my gloved hand flat on my leg and used the treat to persuade her to step on to it. Once onto the gloved hand I reinforced her for that and staying on there... and now she steps up onto the gloved hand without hesitation!

Finally, check out the Austin Parrot Society for info on our next meeting, a foraging toy workshop, and let me know if you want to be added to the mailing list!