Sweet Mabel

Saturday, 31 December 2011

I named her Sachi because it means

Joy and/or Colorful Wisdom. She is my white capped pionus parrot as well as my FIRST big parrot. I met her in August 2007 when she was 11 weeks old and at the time I knew very little about parrots. When I walked in to the petshop that day I certainly did not expect to spend any money or become a parrot owner. I had read about the maximillian parrot in Birdtalk and had daydreamed about having one down the road but nothing very serious because I had never even held a parrot before and was somewhat afraid of their beaks and nails.

I cannot remember why I was at the petshop that day but I do remember being in the parrot section and noticing a sign that said Pionus. When I looked up I saw my little green Sachi all by herself in a cage that I would only recommend as a sleep cage. She was very very green and had the most beautiful parrot eyes that I had ever seen. I also noticed that most clients overlooked her because of her plain color. Until that day I had not known that there were different species of this Genus. The salesperson at the store noticed that I was looking at her and asked me whether I wanted to hold her. I remember panicking and wondering what to do.. In my nervousness and surprise I managed to still blurt out Ok.

The salesperson unlocked Sachi's cage and turned her over to me. To my total amazement Sachi stepped up on my hand and just perched there calmly and looked at me with her big pionus eyes. It was as if stepping up to me and being on my hand was the most natural thing for her to be doing. I was in pionus lala heaven.

What did I do? I ran home and read all I could about pionus parrots for 2 days and then I called up the petstore and reserved my Sachi. I was so happy to find out she had not been sold yet. I visited her every single day until she finally weaned at 17 weeks old. Boy was I glad when she decided that she was done with formula.

Her favourite pastimes are eating, receiving scritches, observing her surroundings , showers, and being with her favourite human (me). She will turn 5 years old in May 2012 and is the calmest of all my 3 parrots. For more information regarding pionus parrots, I highly recommend a book called  The Practical Pionus by Russ Shade and the pionus parrot website. Both are very informative references for those who are interested in these wonderful parrots. Here are some links for additional info..

Monday, 26 December 2011

The Way Emma African Grey Likes To Make Up New Words!

Emma has a new word today. That word is Straw-Paya. I've been teaching her how to name fruit and instead of saying strawberry and papaya separately, she prefers to say Straw-Paya. She also says Straw-Blueberry, Emmaberry, and BA-nanaberry (big emphasis on the BA part). The other fruit word she likes to repeat ad nauseum is Cherry. It goes without saying that Emma cracks me up all the time with her wit and creativity. The other day I was bringing her to her cage for the night and she said *I love you SO tired* LOL. Today I heard her say *Almond is going to go take a nap*. One of my favourite Emma expressions is I love you forever and almonds. I really don't know how I ended up with such a little chipper girlie. When I signed up to be an african grey parront I was expecting a parrot who would be incredibly intelligent, yet very reserved/stoic. Knew I would be happy but never imagined THIS enchanted with my Emma. She's my heart and I love her so much.:)
Here are 3 videos,  two of my favourite Emma videos and the Straw-Paya video. Enjoy the photo of the very first day that I met her.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Parrots Treasure Toys Arrived!

These are parrot toys that deliver and EXCEED expectation. More importantly, they are the toys that your parrots REALLY WANT!

A wonderful box arrived in the mail during the holidays and the contents did not disappoint! It was my order from Parrots Treasure. A wonderful small business located in MO, USA. Even though it was my very first time ordering from them, they've actually been around for over 25 years!! The two people in charge are Dawn and Lisa. I'd glad to report that they also provided wonderful service which OF COURSE made ME very happy. Thank you!!

I had first heard about this small parrot toy making business through my buddy Merlie. She had first seen their crafts at one of the bird fairs. I checked out their website but still wasn't completely sold so I sat and waited for a few other parrot owners to try them out. The feedback from *their parrots* was better than great. Indeed I was intrigued and finally decided to take a chance and placed an order during the holidays. What can I say? These toys are incredibly UNIQUE!

Let's not even mention how delightful and adorable they are in person. Just holding them in your own hand feels special! I don't think think you'll find anything quite like them on the market. They have this vintage-like vibe/ wholesomeness about them. What's more fundamental is that your parrots will TRULY appreciate them. They're the type of toy that your parrot will find so interesting and challenging, they can't help but be drawn to them. Yes!! They will WANT to play with these toys.  Since these toys are so well crafted, they will also hold up to those AVID wood chewers like my Mabel and provide a necessary challenge. Don't mistake this to mean that these toys will remain forever because they will be ignored and treated like an eye sore by your parrots. It means you will be happy because of money well spent and your parrot will be provided enrichment that will provide oodles and oodles of beak exercise. Even my Emma african grey who has never been much of a wood chewer felt compelled to chip into her Parrot Treasures hanging Parrot Toy. I hate clutter and I really dislike holding on to untouched parrot toys.
I'm sure that most parrot owners can relate to the frustration of feeling like you wasted money on toys that your parrots have no interest in. Unfortunately I feel your pain and dislike having to admit that I've wasted money in the past as well. Here's one of my personal philosophies, *wooden toys that are untouched or undestroyed are a waste of my hard earned dollars.

For my first order I asked for 2 bags of Yum Yums (they came highly recommended), a Rattle, 2 parrot toys, and an Elephant toy. I ordered them without pine nuts in the foraging holes because I prefer to put those in myself. Dawn & Lisa were even nice enough to make the holes a little larger so I could even stick in whole almonds for ADDED foraging fun. As a token of appreciation they also generously threw in some a free Yum Yum samples too.

You won't be disappointed when you purchase from Parrot Treasures. Money well spent for you and most of all time well spent for your beloved parrots! Like the adage says, a Busy Beak is a Happy Beak! Enjoy these photos, videos & of course a link to purchase these lovely toys. As you can see in Emma's video, she's very motivated, yet equally frustrated because she has to work for her treat. I love it!


Monday, 19 December 2011

Absolutely Fantastic Foraging Blocks!

I cannot tell you how UBER pleased I am with this recent purchase!! Yes, yes I know that I had said I wouldn't be writing another blogpost until 2012 however plans have changed because I am now nursing a bad cold, a very sore throat and some congestion. I will try to make this blog post short and sweet by sticking to the essentials. So far the only thing that has perked me up today has been receiving wonderful videos of my parrots enjoying their amazing enrichment blocks. Unfortunately no videos of Sachi (white capped pionus parrot) because she screams bloody murder when she sees someone other than me pointing the camera at her, however here are my two other lovelies. They are both enjoying their fabulous and very interesting foraging Enrichment Blocks. 

I am told by my birdsitter that these blocks are both Solid, simple and even more beautiful in person. Don't let their minimalistic appearance fool you! The creative duo behind these blocks are Kris and her husband. They are located in the USA and in the state of MN. Each foraging block is made out of untreated Douglas Fir wood and stainless steel eye rings, all crafted one at a time for your parrot's chewing pleasure. Not produced on an assembly line by people who don't know your name. I love this and I also enjoy supporting the small entrepreneur!!

If you don't know this already, Kris is ALSO the brains behind The Parrot Enrichment Activity Books. As you can see from these videos, Emma and Mabel are truly captivated and occupied trying to figure out how to remove their yumptious Almond still in shell and Avian Organics truffle from the block. Upon my return I look forward to sticking all kind of other yummy goodies inside like, kale stalk, swiss chard stalk, pine nuts, pecans, carrot sticks, dehydrated sweet potato ...etc, etc, etc.

I am usually one who lets OTHER parrots and their owners experiment on a product before I decide to drop my $$, yet this time I took a chance and am extremely glad I did so because I also took advantage of their recent 20% off sale! YOu can bet that I am also giggling because I went ahead and purchased a block as a gift for someone else and am happy to share that Kris even offered to make a mini appropriately sized for a budgie and at no charge.:) What a kind gesture!!

Thank you Kris and her hubby for the wonderful, speedy and personalized service. Thank you for such a GREAT product that my parrots and I can truly appreciate. Intelligent enrichment for our intelligent companions! Here are 3 videos and the Parrot Enrichment link for the rest of you...

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A note to my Lovely Severe Macaw Mabel..

One of the great things about travel by airplane is that it gives you so much time to just sit and be. Sit without doing. Sit and think. Think about things you'd normally push to the curb because everyday life is just so busy. So I sit here on my flight to Miami and I write to my severe macaw Mabel.

My sweet Mabel, I owe you a heartfelt appology. When I first brought you home in October 2010, I sincerely never imagined that I'd feel the way that I do about you today. I misjudged you, for this I am very sorry. You are a true delight and I am happy to declare that I adore you. Yes, even the stuff that drives me a bit nutty (like when you decide that it's fun to unscrew everybirdie's perches from the outside). Of all my 3 parrots, you are the one that makes me giggle the most. They say laughter and smiling is great medicine. I'd say you are exactly what the doctor ordered. One of the reasons why I felt compelled to bring you home was because I felt bad for you. I felt sorry for your poorly state and I felt guilty that the human race had let you down. I felt a mixture of pity, sadness and dread. I felt guilt that all captive parrots are doomed to a life of playing the lottery. What I mean by this is that they have no control of what type of home they end up in or whether they even end up in a home at all. They have no control of their fate. Sort of reminds me of russian roulette. I felt pity because I had first met you in 2008 and had not given you a second glance when I was at the petshop to visit my Emma african grey. I couldn't have cared less about mini macaws and feeling of dread was mostly because I was also convinced that I had no business mingling with ANY type of macaw. As luck would have it, imagine my utter horror when I discovered my thoughts were consumed with feeling sorry for a SEVERE MACAW!!?? The one species of mini macaw that did not have the most attractive reputation as a companion parrot?!! When we both arrived home that day I felt relief for you and for me I felt nausea mixed with MAJOR panic. I remember thinking that purchasing you was the most impulsive and reckless thing I could have done. I wanted to run for the hills and found myself wishing someone had throttled my neck and  talked me out of bringing you home.

So what did I do? I made a mental note to keep you on a very short leash. If you made my life difficult in ANY way, I'd have to find a more appropriate home for you. I was prepared, on the alert and hyper cautious with you. I didn't trust you and suspected you were going to turn the switch on me at any given moment and pull some HORRIBLE psycho/aggressive severe macaw behaviour on me. I was going to keep you at arm's distance and that I did for SEVERAL months. Part of me would like to believe that your severe macaw intelligence foiled my plans but honesty will make me admit  that I was SO wrong. You didn't make my life hard at all. Having a 3rd parrot had proven to be quite the balancing act for me but that had nothing to do with you. If anything, you've been pretty wonderful. You've been such a great eater since day one. YOu are so appreciative of every toy that I offer you and you have mastered everything that I have set out to teach you. To my great surprise, one of the many things that I REALLY enjoy about you is how tactile you are. Previously, I used to think that the norm with ALL parrots is limited physical contact. With you, that's not tolerated. YOu want daily doses of full body contact and the more the better if possible. I must say that I am quite content to oblige because it feels so good for me too. I really don't know how severe macaws as a species have achieved such negative publicity. I can only guess that unequipped humans are at the source of the problem. There is really nothing like being loved by a severe macaw and I feel extremely lucky. My sweet Mabel, Thank YOU for your foresight that day, thank YOU for choosing me that day. Love this photo of you!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

One of the MANY things that I enjoy about Mabel is..

how enthusiastic she is about playing!!! She just LOVES to investigate and is inquisitive about every new thing that I introduce to her. Such a BIG Pleasure to purchase for her and you can bet that my spending has INCREASED substantially since living with her. This is truly such a HUGE perk for me. I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't know for sure, however I bet there is categorically nothing like living with a Severe Macaw. Especially one who adores you! I thought I couldn't want for more since I already had my DREAM Emma African grey. Mabel has proved differently and with her I feel like I can have my cake AND eat it too. She's the parrot I never knew I wanted or thought I needed.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Serendipity? What's that got to do with it?

For me and Mabel? Alot!!

So get ready for a long blogpost today. As per the online Oxford Dictionary : the definition of Serendipity is: the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way:a fortunate stroke of serendipity

There is no way that anyone could have ever told me a year and a half ago that one day I'd live with a severe macaw. There's no way that I'd believe that one day I'd even allow a macaw to perch on me. I would have balked and told you that this could be one of the most assinine of things that I had ever heard. Previous to Mabel I couldn't care LESS about Macaws. I didn't dislike them. I just didn't think anything of them and had had the tendency to look past them. Perhaps even look right through them. They weren't on my parrot radar. So much for all of that! 

Here's the story of how I first met Mabel. It wasn't an official  *meet and greet*. In 2008 I met my dream parrot Emma African grey at a certain petshop. Since Emma was only 10 weeks old at the time, I had to wait until she was completely weaned before bringing her home. I used to visit her every single day. When Emma was about 16 weeks old I happened to notice that a *new* baby parrot  had arrived. There was already a sign on her cage indicating that she was SOLD and the person who had reserved her had named her Chloe. I paid no mind. Mini macaws were not very interesting in my opinion and I was into *calmer and quieter* types of parrots not the flashy and LOUD ones.

Emma weaned at 23 weeks old. As mentioned, I visited her every single day. At the time I also noticed that Chloe's owner rarely seemed to visit. In fact I never had the chance to meet or see her. I remember seeing Chloe become very animated when she would see me come in to visit my Emma. Once again, not my type of parrot. Even though I had zero interest in her I do remember feeling sympathetic that she was not getting the out of cage time that she deserved. Fast forward to fall 2010 - about 2 years later. I was at the petshop to gather info about aquariums and as I was passing by the avian section I happened to notice a parrot who seemed so desperate for interaction. She was banging her beak wildly on the cage bars. Her feather condition was unkempt and ratty looking. Large dark splotches all over, beak was overgrown and nails were far too long. I remember thinking that this bird had a very crazed look about it. Such bloodshot eyes which seemed to be begging me to come closer. Not the type of parrot I would normally pay attention to. I asked the petshop staff about this bird out of curiosity. Lo and behold, they informed me that it was the same severe macaw that had arrived over 2 years ago. But what was she still doing here? Why did she look so poorly?!! It turned out that the same person who had put the deposit on her had changed her mind once the parrot was weaned. Apparently Chloe had bitten her during a visit. She decided she was done with this parrot so Chloe was now for sale AGAIN and had been living in the petshop for the last 2 years!! I was stunned, saddened and mortified at this news. I thought back to my Emma who had left the petshop a long time ago and all the great stuff she had experienced. I felt hurt for this parrot. How unfair and how sucky life had turned out for her. The petshop staff explained to me that she was also known as the *aggressive and mean* bird. It was not easy to sell her. They all knew that she wasn't really mean. She simply lacked hands on attention and this is why she lunged when anyone came close and bit if anyone handled her. Many of them were afraid of handling her so they avoided letting her out. Unfortunately this is often the fate of many parrots who land in petshops. If they aren't sold fast enough they are often *forgotten* in the hustle and bustle of business. Ensuring that a parrot remains tame requires actual work and commitment. If you neglect, you get what Mabel had become or was becoming. I spoke up and told them that if they wanted to sell her they would have to start spending more time with her, otherwise who would want to purchase her. I also felt bad for the lack of toys that she had in her cage. She had a toy but it was really not a great one. Made of extremely hard wood and too large for her to get her beak around.

That night I went home and couldn't get this parrot out of my head. I felt grief for her. I worried about her fate. Who she'd end up with and whether life would turn out even worse than what she had already experienced in her short life. In the meantime I did my own personal research online about severe macaws and felt even more stressed out about my findings. There were alot of positives written about the severe macaw but when it came to the negatives I found out that of all the mini macaws, this species has a reputation for being rehomed or abandoned the most. This is usually due to their *attitudes, behavioral problems and loudness* etc. What ALSO alarmed me very much was the lack of info from actual severe macaw owners.

What a dilemma! I couldn't understand why I couldn't get this parrot out of my head. I felt tortured with worry. I worried about her staying forever at the petshop. I worried that she'd get sold to someone who was not equipped to give her the life she deserved. I decided to make a personal commitment to visit her regularly and bring her some fun enrichment. When I arrived at the petshop the store personnel were so happy to see me. They had taken my advice about spending more time with Choe to heart. They had started to take her out more *inspite* of being afraid that she'd bite the Sh%T out of them. She had made progress and was apparently friendlier. One of them asked me if I wanted to hold her and before I could blurt or yell out NO, he handed her over to me. I wanted to faint and scream simultaneously. What happened next blew me out of the water. Chloe was evidently very happy to be on me. Her eyes started to pin like mad and she didn't bite at all. She REALLY liked me. I wasn't sure I liked her even a little bit. I really wasn't used to seeing that type of eye pinning and found it a bit unsettling. She did bring her beak down to my hand but it was just to explore. I was amazed but very suspicious. We ended up hanging out for about 45 minutes and of course she LOVED the toys I had brought her. I went home happy but more perplexed than before I had arrived at the petshop. For some reason I felt responsible for this poor bird. I felt protective of her too. I didn't want any harm to come to her yet I didn't understand why I cared at all. I already had 2 parrots. More than enough. I also already had 2 of everything I needed for them. I did not need a 3rd wheel. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I cared and I just couldn't walk away. I have always felt strongly about helping those who are unfortunate or who had been dealt an unfair hand. I have a general hate for injustice. The next day I went back to the petshop merely to visit with some toys for *Chloe*. The store manager told me that she had spoken to head office and they could sell her to me at cost. Wow! What good news, yet I didn't feel equipped to bring home another parrot. Definitely not a severe macaw, especially after everything I had read about them. As I opened Chloe's cage to offer her a toy she just hopped on. She lit up! It was so obvious that she was EXTREMELY happy to see me and everyone who was watching saw the same thing too. It was at that moment that I realized that that *Chloe* had made a decision to come home with me and even though I felt uncertain about her I didn't have the heart to leave her in the petshop for another day. What happened next was pretty astonishing. It was as if she knew that she was leaving. She really started to perk up and couldn't stop doing somersaults and bopping up and down on my arm. As we  walked around the petshop to purchase some perches and stainless steel bowls I told her that her name was no longer Chloe. Her new name would be Mabel and Mabel means Lovable. Here are some photos and a video taken on her first day home in October 2010.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Fantastic Soap Box Perch from Oliver's Garden!

Emma african grey Enjoys this beautifully hand crafted perch with a CAPITAL E!  It was made by Susan Tuck the owner of Oliver's Garden. Her african grey Oliver is Ceo and he oversees operations to make sure everything complies with his high standards. LOL!! A wonderful Canadian Based company. I am SO happy that my Emma is VERY happy and puts this perch to great use on a daily basis. I get the strong impression that she feels very comfy on it. She uses it for gazing out the window, snacking, playing or practicing her famous monologues. The perch can be sold with or without Stainless Steel washers and comes in 3 different sizes. I have just placed an order for ANOTHER one! If purchasing thoughtful and creative enrichment matters to you, if purchasing from a place that cares about Bird safety is a priority, do check out Oliver's Garden, and she DOES ship Worldwide. You will be just as delighted as your parrots. Here are a few photos and a video of my Love Love Emma.