I’m Heart-Broken!! Murphy and Gabby – Rainbow Lories

Murphy and Gabby are Swainson’s Rainbow Lories – Aside from their personality, they are absolutely identical. They’ve been with me for about 7 years. They are (were) inseparable. Shortly after I first got them, Murphy became incredibly sick. I was having to take her to the vet every week or so, for shots and weigh-ins. Gabby had to go along, because even separating them for an instant, triggered heart-wrenching contact whistles until they were reunited.

2 months ago, one of them – I don’t know which – got hung up in one of their stuffed toys, and started screaming bloody murder. The other one jumped on the first, and they both proceeded in tearing each other apart. Unlike a lot of birds, there is no “beak-fencing” or “toe-jabbing” during an argument. Lories lock up hard and in a matter of the few minutes it took to separate them, both were badly bloodied.

Now I understood this fight, no matter how gruesome and upsetting it was. One was screaming, and the others’ instinct for survival kicked in. Nature tells them to silence the one that is possibly attracting a predator.

I got out a travel cage, and put Murphy in it, and put Gabby back in the big cage after some much needed doctoring for both. I butted the travel cage up to the big cage so they could get close, but not actually get in contact. After about 2 weeks, I let them get back together, and after a little posturing, all was well. They groomed and cuddled more than any Lovebird pair I’ve ever seen.

All was well until 2 weeks ago. I was standing next to their cage, and they were rolling around on the floor, with this somewhat happy noise that I usually hear when they are bathing. As I stood and watched, to my horror, blood and feathers started flyin’. I scrambled to get into the cage and try separate them. They were at it so hard, I had to just grab one by the tail, and pull them both out together. I had to forcibly pry them apart. And no sooner would I get them apart, than they would run at each other again. Fortunately (for them anyway) I was the only one bit and bleeding this time.

I didn’t understand this fight at all. There was no screaming; no cries of pain and fear. And Murphy, it turns out is the aggressor this time. Gabby, up until now, has always been the dominant of the two. I understand it even less, since after 2 weeks of separation, they still will not tolerate each other. I tried to let them get back together with no success. Murphy immediately goes for blood, and poor Gabby runs for his life. It just breaks my heart! They have always been such a loving couple of birds – they sleep together curled up in a hidey-hut, they feed each other, groom each other constantly – or they did – not anymore. The really sad part is, that while they are separated, the contact calls are constant. The same calls Gabby made whenever Murphy was being examined by the Vet and he was still in the cage. They sit – Murphy in the travel cage, Gabby in the big cage, facing each other – all the while chattering and whistling as if wanting to be together.

I will wait another 2 weeks and s try it again, but I’m afraid that if it doesn’t work, they will have to be permanently separated. I can’t sit and watch them 24/7, and the thought of them having another go-round when I’m not around to break it up physically sickens me. Though no more than them having to live permanently separate from each other. As I’ve said before, it breaks my heart, and brings tears to my eyes, even as I write this.

Thank you for visiting – if any Lorie Guru happens to read this, and has any thoughts on what is happening, I’d love to hear from you.

Flap happy,

“There is no greater delight than to watch two love birds, twittering and chirping merrily as the first rays of the sun appear over the tree-tops.” ~Unknown

Fred – Bare-Eyed Cockatoo

Hmmmm, where do I even begin with Fred. First off, he’s a Bare-Eyed Cockatoo, and the reason I almost didn’t get BabyDoll. Fred is definitely a rescue. He had 3 homes and 2 stints in a pet shop before me. When I got him, he had been in a pet shop (the second time) for about a year.
I blame his first home for many of his worst issues. From what I could find out, they took young Fred home, placed him in a nice enough cage set up in the family room. One very important thing they forgot was to put up a gate, at least temporarily, to prevent their 2 very large dogs from running up to the cage any time they felt like it. To compound the issue, the cage was fairly low, putting Fred at eye-level with the dogs. People’s stupidity, or if you prefer, ignorance astounds me. It is amazing how many “educated” adults fail to realize and acknowledge a parrots prey mentality. Unless you prove otherwise, they view just about everything as something that is going to eat them. Nature has programmed them that way for survival.
After about 3 months, Fred’s first owners brought Fred back to the pet shop, and begged them to take him back. Even though they shared their dogs intense interest in him, they couldn’t understand why Fred SCREAMED non-stop. Now if you never heard a Cockatoo scream in distress or fear, it is a blood-curdling noise comparable to fingernails on a blackboard magnified 100 fold.
Fred didn’t fair much better in his next 2 homes. They both had dogs, and though they didn’t allow the dogs to inspect Fred at will, they both went with the opposite “faux pa”. Every time Fred screamed, they came running – “awww Fred, poor Fred”. Bad move….. Now I’m not saying that should completely ignore a distress call, but running to it every time it screams, only teaches it how to call you to come. Both of those 2 homes did seem to really care for Fred, but were over-whelmed with a large ‘Too with emotional issues.
When I met Fred, his screaming had been reduced to a minimum, being there were no dogs in the pet store. Now I have 2 dogs – an English springer, and an African Mastiff, but I felt confident (or cocky depending on your point of view) that I could help Fred overcome is early bird-hood trauma. That coupled with the fact that it was painfully obvious, he would have no other choice than to live his life in my friend’s pet shop. I just couldn’t stand that thought..
After a trip to the vet, standard fair for new arrivals in my home, Fred was introduced to my already abundant “Noah’s Ark”. I’m not sure, but I think the presence of all the other birds in my house was somehow a small comfort. When we got home, I kept his travel cage covered for a bit, to lesson the trauma of a new and strange environment. The cage I had set up was (is) huge. Its actually a double meant for multiple Macaws. he now lives in one half – Laci my African Grey, his next door neighbor. One big plus for Fred is the cage is very tall (almost 8′). He can get well above head-height if he chooses (not something I’d recommend for every bird, but that’s another post).
After he got settled in and comfortable and happy enough to munch some lunch, I let the dogs out of the bedroom. Now my birds have their own room with a gate; the dogs can only walk by, not go in the room. By the way, my dogs, unlike most, have no interest in the birds whatsoever, except for the occasional treat that the birds fling at them. Fred’s initial reaction at seeing the dogs was as expected – he started to scream. I responded in a very “matter of fact” tone of voice that it was okay, and quietly ushered the dogs outside. Fred almost immediately quit screaming; he actually seemed confused at the dogs lack of interest in him.
Over the next week or so, the routine was the same – if Fred saw the dogs, and screamed, I simply (not all gushy) reassured him it was okay, and took the dogs outside. When Fred saw the dogs and didn’t scream, I rewarded him with his favorite treat, warm carrots and honey. Amazingly the screaming stopped (where the dogs were concerned) fairly quickly.
It took Fred nearly 6 months to fully settle into the house and the daily routine. Now Patches (my Springer) has NO interest in the birds whatsoever – the walking marshmallow could care less, even if one flies to the floor. Suie my African Mastiff’s only interest is the bird’s food – including seed. In the beginning if she ventured to close to the gate in her never ending quest for goodies, and Fred became upset, I simply (gently) scolded her and ushered her away from the gate. It didn’t take long for Fred to figure out that Suie’s only interest was his flung food.
These days Suie is a constant source of entertainment for Fred. Fred will deliberately drop seed, peek over the bars to see if Suie is picking them up, and them grab a foot-full of seed and pelt her with it. Her being startled by this, amuses Fred and he starts laughing. if she won’t come over on her own, Fred actually calls her – “come here, Suie, Suie, come here”. She gets pelted with seed if she actually falls for it – which she does, every time. The other favorite entertainment? Fred waits for Suie to lay down and dose off. Fred has learned, that if utters a certain screech, Suie will jump up, run to the front door and bark. Fred being so high up, he can see the driveway and anyone it long before the dogs – that’s actually how that started – now when Fred is bored, he gets amusement from sending Suie to the front door barking. At that point Fred and several of the other birds start barking, and Suie just wonders off to the bedroom to sleep.
Fred has lots of other issues – he is after all a ‘Too – but I’ve rambled enough for one day.

Thanks for visiting
“You can learn many things from your children. How much patience you have for instance.” ~Franklin P. Jones

Chewie – Hahn’s Macaw and my Oldest Child

Chewie is one of the 3 ‘mini-Macaws”. he’s a little jewel and one of the funniest to watch going a bout his day.
A little background – My bird room was my sun-room; it’s 24′ by 18′ and windows line 3 sides. The 4th side is all open to the living room. I put up wooden blinds to filter the light, but more to keep the birds from being startled by outside critters, birds, and my neighbors. Chewie’s cage doors are never shut. He has no interest in flying though he is fully feathered, his wings un-clipped. He can climb and crawl around his cage at will, though he never ventures to the floor or to any of his neighbors cages.
His favorite activity is to climb to the top of his cage (quite high up) and watch the outside world between the small gap between blinds. I’ve sat and watched Chewie from the living room for hours, fuss and talk at whatever happens to be in front of the window – from lizards to the neighbors cat, to the lawn man.
The funniest to watch/listen to is when the neighbors cat is walking the fence. Chewie repeats endlessly “here kitty, kitty, kitty – come here, come here, its okay, whatchadoing?” I try to stifle my laughter so he doesn’t realize I’m watching him, but sometimes its just overwhelming. When he does realize I’m watching him, the content changes to “whaaaaat?” “Hi Chew Chew – Peek-a-boo.” Actually “Peek-A-Boo” is the ‘rooms’ favorite contact call. Once Chewie starts it, the whole room will repeat it over and over, and over – in 12 different ‘voices’. 9 times out of 10, their day starts with round after round of “Peek-A-Boo”.
I hand raised Chewie – I’m Mom. He won’t tolerate anyone else but me; he’s bitten other’s in my household quite badly. Amazingly in his 13 years he’s never bitten me. And before you think that’s normal – its not. Being bitten at some point – even by a bird that adores you, is a fact of life. At some point (usually) its because you inadvertently ignore or miss a body language signal, and you get bit. It comes with the territory. Of course how you handle it determines how frequently it happens, or even if its ever repeated. A good example is Max, one of my Yellow Streak Lories who will bite the ever-lovin crap out of me, if while I’m holding him, my attention wanders even for a second.
Even though Hahn’s Macaws are not listed real high on the list for extraordinary talkers; Chewie’s vocabulary is pretty impressive. He very softly says “good morning” only in the morning – he does not say this at any other time of the day. The same can’t be said of “nite-nite”. It seems to be a favorite phrase, and at times is repeated so much, I almost regret teaching it to him. A small list of his vocabulary includes “come here; whatcha doin?; knock it off; what’s your problem?; awwww its okay; kiss-kiss (followed by the kiss-kiss noise); hi chew-chew; chew-chew-chewy; Bubba-Boy (my roommates nickname for my dog Patches); Suie quit; Suie hush; the wolf whistle; the microwave and my old phone. Chewie also barks like a dog, though it does sound more like a Chihuahua than a Mastiff. Chewie meows like the cat, coughs and sneezes like me, and thankfully has only one swear word – “shit”, which he unfortunately picked up from me since its my favorite phrase when I screw up. I have to laugh though, as there have been times when I’ve dropped something in the bird-room and Chewie says it before I can. Chewie has been an absolutely wonderful addition to my family. Big Macaw attitude in an itty bitty bird…..

Thanks for visiting………………………

“Friend Good!” ~Frankenstein

BabyDoll ~ My Small Goffin Cockatoo

BabyDoll is a Goffin’s Cockatoo, and one of my youngest. She is a semi-rescue. After ‘rescuing’ Fred (my Bare-eyed Cockatoo), I swore I would not get another ‘Too. Not that they’re not sweet birds, they are, UNLESS they have been badly re-homed, abused, neglected, even accidentally taught bad habits, they can be absolute monsters. OR in the case of BabyDoll – forced weaned. Force weaning is the morally reprehensible practice of unnaturally accelerating weaning to get a bird on the market faster. In general the larger the bird, the longer they take to wean. Macaws can take up to a year to properly wean, Greys and Toos anywhere from 4 to 6 months. There’s really no hard and fast rule, but there are general guidelines. But you can’t go from spoon feeding one day, and solid food the next, with no further spoon feedings. It amounts to the same thing as bottle feeding a human baby one day, and the next day handing the child a hamburger.
It wasn’t immediately apparent, BabyDoll was forced weaned. When I first saw her, she cried whenever you got close to her cage, not uncommon with young birds in new surroundings. I thought she was cute and cuddly, but outside of that, I had no real interest in buying her.
After several weeks (I visit this particular shop once or twice a week) the “baby crying” not only didn’t stop as it should have, but became incessant. I continually pressed my shop owner friend, and bit by bit learned BabyDoll’s childhood. The breeder had indeed been in a hurry to “get rid of BabyDoll”. She had made a grievous mistake with BabyDoll’s older sibling, and it had died. Actually it was killed by the breeder’s Husky, when she left it on the kitchen table to go get the mail. Aside from the loss of income for the bird, she was supposedly too upset to take anymore time with BabyDoll, but assured my friend BabyDoll was fully weaned and indeed ready to go into a shop – LIE!
One of the clues (aside from her admissions), that BabyDoll was force weaned was her beak. Young birds beaks are not putty, but can become misshapen, and “scissor beaked” if too much force is repeatedly applied to one side, such as with a syringe during feeding. Think of it like a toddler becoming buck-toothed from sucking their thumb.
BabyDoll’s incessant crying – one of the physical and psychological side effects of force weaning, was becoming apparent to doom her to live her life in the pet shop. My shop owner friend said that while everyone who considered buying her thought she was “cute as a bug”, they couldn’t stand the constant crying and begging, which didn’t stop even if you picked her up. She actually got her name because the crying sounded so much like a human baby crying.
Some may say I’m a sucker for the ‘underdog’, but no one else was going to “step up to the plate”, and I bought BabyDoll. Before we went home, we paid a visit to my Avian Specialist at the vet’s office. He very gently reshaped BabyDoll’s beak, to give her a better chance of it realigning normally. She received several different nutritional shots, since she was severely underweight, and undernourished. After much discussion with my vet, it was decided, that I go “back to the beginning” and hand feed her in an effort to wean her correctly. For those that think hand-rearing and weaning a bird is a cakewalk – think again. Its a serious commitment, that takes an extraordinary amount of time and care in the best of circumstances, let alone compounding it with psychological issues.
When I got home with BabyDoll, I started from scratch, feeding her every 3 to 4 hours as if she had just been taken from the parents. She had no problem accepting hand feeding, since that’s what she had wanted and needed all along. When her weight came back up to an acceptable weaning weight, I gradually added a seed, nut, pellet, fruit and veggie mix to her mealtimes. She “weaned out” of her own choosing (as it should be) in about 2 months. As she showed less interest in spoon feeding (I hate syringes), we played more with ‘big bird food’. The incessant crying stopped in about a week after getting home, since she was getting what she needed. There was the occasional begging around meal time, but not the heartbreaking squalling. She still has serious mental issues we are working on, but that’s a whole other novel.

Thanks for visiting…..
“Nature is the art of God.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pluck and Feather – Mated pair Swainson’s Rainbow Lories

Some of my babies are difficult or near impossible to photograph ~ Pluck and Feather for starters. They are a mated pair of Swainson’s Rainbow Lories. I’ve actually tried to photograph them, but the god-awful noise they make at even the slightest sight of the camera, probably amounts to some very un-repeatable swear words.
Pluck got her name, because my poor baby’s previous mate either found her feathers extremely offensive, or was just overly amorous. She has her wing feathers, some body down, a few cheek feathers, but that’s about it. One of my roommates teases she’s the ugliest bird on the planet. Feather, her current mate, on the other hand, is absolutely perfect. Hence the names Pluck and Feather. The only problem Pluck’s previous plucking has caused, is she seems to have adopted the same bad habit. Her chicks have to be removed from the nest, almost as soon as they start to pin. All the babies feathers are fair game, but especially the top of their head. They come out of the box looking like a teeny, tiny Friar Tucks. I have to remove them soon after she starts this, so the feather folicles don’t become permanently damaged. I actually hate to take the chicks from them, and if it weren’t for the plucking, I wouldn’t until they were just about weaned – they both “cry” for a couple days after the chicks are removed. I’m happy to report though, that all of chicks have grown up to be perfectly feathered like ‘Daddy Feather’.
Pluck is incredibly shy, retreating to her nesting box whenever I approach. Feather, however is not. His swaying and posturing leave no doubt whatsoever, that should my fingers come just a bit too close, he would gladly rip them open for me. And don’t be fooled, just because Lories are nectar eaters, doesn’t mean they don’t have a beak sharp and strong enough to do just that.
If you ever have the opportunity to own a Lorie, breeder or not, you wouldn’t be disappointed. They are a wonderful bird species, whether they view you as parent, friend, or just a tasty snack.

Thanks for visiting………
“Dogs come when they are called; cats take a message and get back to you later.” ~Mary Bly

Hmmmmm Where To Start?

I guess I should start with a little disclaimer.

I am NOT a vet – Have NEVER been a vet – and don’t proclaim to know as much as a vet. I don’t proclaim to be a bird psychologist either. I am not the be all, end all to bird wisdom. I’m just sharing my life with parrots – 12 large parrots, 27 smaller guys, spanning 13 different species, and 17 years.
Half my flock have been hand-raised by me – the other half are rescues in one form or another.

Everything I share concerning my birds, is not meant to be a prescription, or remedy, or solution, or method carved in stone.

That being said, if some of my trials, triumphs, remedies, thoughts, heart aches, heart breaks, solutions, and/or humorous antidotes, prove to be useful, helpful, and/or entertaining to you, that’s good too.

Thanks for visiting…
talk to ya soon….

“Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.” ~George Eliot