Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Browse of Various Kinds

Today was a good day for my birds... or maybe that should be a good day for me being able to enrich my birds?

For some reason I have lived in the same condo complex for nearly 5 years and never registered that just over the fence by the flood pond is a lot of bamboo... and when I mean a lot I mean 20ft by 20ft of it. It's never sprayed on either side, and conveniently lower branches hang over the fence within grabbing distance. Today, when walking my Dachshund Mina, I finally noticed it!
I pulled several branches/tops down and snapped them off, returning to the house with a good handful. Now all my birds have fresh bamboo browse to destroy in their cages. Tomorrow I think I shall gather some to add to their playscape.
Bamboo is awesome stuff where birds are concerned. The thicker parts can be cut up to make foraging toys, wedged between cage bars to form perches, or can be placed between bars to be shredded. The frondier end pieces can be woven through the cage bars to provide shredding goodness for all sized birds.

After my good fortune (and guilt at not noticing it earlier) with the bamboo I set about making a batch of chop and freeze. This is a time saving mix of veggies, dried fruits, nuts, herbs, grains and legumes which is hacked, mixed and then frozen. A couple of hours of making it one day, leaves you with weeks if not months worth of quick foods for when schedules are tight. I like to break mine up with bird bread, fruits, fresh veggies and a little of whatever I am eating if bird healthy.
This most recent batch consisted of: Mustard greens, red kale, dandelion greens, yellow bell pepper, courgettes, carrots, quinoa, a bean mix, millet, dried amarillo chili peppers, dried goji berries, dried apricot, dried pineapple, dried mango, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, chamomile, red leaf raspberry, hibiscus, spearmint, flax seeds, OptOmega oil and Palm Oil. All organic of course.
The thing I really love about doing it in this way is that it can be made of whatever organic produce you can get at the time; No mustard greens? Use some collard greens instead. Can't find fresh chili peppers? Use dried instead. This way not only can you support seasonal produce, but you can also provide your bird with something new every batch. Indeed, every meal they get of it will be different in it's balance of ingredients.
You can increase the enrichment factor by not making all the ingredients of uniform size. Carrots for example can be put in whole, sticks, chunks and circles. Each requiring a slightly different approach from the bird to eat.
My top reason for doing this chop? My birds on the kitchen counter "helping"! In the case of my CAG Marnie it is stealing large amounts of goodies and then getting mad when I make her give most of it back to put in the mix. Lucha the amazon will instead gently take small pieces of chopped up foods and eat it off to one side. A highly enriching past time for both!

When doing this chop mix I always put some of the ingredients to one side for separate enrichment uses. Today a couple of mustard green leaves and carrots were kept back and hung on a stainless steel skewer.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hand Fed Offers No Guarantees

I have been hearing a lot lately of people saying "I don't want an older bird because it might have been wild caught, I want a hand fed one so it will be friendly"
Sitting here watching Marnie ( 8yr hand fed CAG), Puff (10 yr hand fed CAG) and Lucha (30+ yr wild caught Lilac Crowned Amazon) on the playscape, it strikes me that this is a hugely over simplified view.
Hand fed does not guarantee a friendly bird, no more than being wild caught means a mean one.
I have three excellent examples right in front of me; Puff, Marnie and Lucha.
The easiest and without doubt "friendliest" bird is Marnie, who was hand fed, was treated well all her life and is friendly with others (as long as I am not there).
Now if one followed the quote in the opening sentence then the next "friendliest" bird is Puff... WRONG! The next one would be Lucha, who was wild caught, brought into the USA and had not had the best of lives... however with patience and positive reinforcement is a very sweet bird, who actively seeks attention and whose idea of heaven is a beak rub. Now I'll admit he will bite if you ignore his extended warnings and touch him below the shoulders, but on the whole that's not a major thing.
The least "friendly" bird is Puff, who was hand fed and then had a series of mistakes and bad attempts at "training" which saw him turn from an inquisitive little grey ball of fluff into a mistrusting, bite first find out what the human wants later guy. This is not his fault, and he is making slow progress now he's in a calm, enriching environment where he is allowed to make choices in his interactions with humans. The other day the stood on his door perch waggling his leg and saying "step up?" while I was getting the others out onto the playscape. Needless to say I wanted to ruffle his head feathers and kiss his beak (just as Marnie loves)... but I contained myself knowing that with Puff such an action would result in removal of one or more features of my face.

Now I know some folks are now saying "Ahh but these were rescues, a hand fed baby is something completely different"... well not so! My friend Emily's female Eclectus Cah'ya was a hand fed baby and was far from a sweet hand tamed baby... and she was raised by a first class breeder.

So what is the whole point of this post?
People should judge each bird on it's own personality, behavior etc... not by whether it was wild caught, hand fed, old, young, rescue, specific species, brand new baby or for any other generalised catch all.
By being open and allowing each bird to stand on it's own merit and get to know you, you will greatly increase the chance of finding the best companion bird for you... and maybe where you would least expect it