Sweet Mabel

Saturday, 21 January 2012

That Defining Moment between ME and Severe Macaw Mabel

If you've been following my blog, you would know that previous to Mabel I had a big disinterest and a huge fear in all types of macaws. Even after I brought Mabel home, I kept her at arm's length and remained partially disconnected from her. This stemmed from being suspicious of her and not having the confidence to believe I could deal with what ever came our way. A part of me even felt that Mabel was secretly plotting to take over and rule me. I know that sounds a bit irrational but that's how I felt and I definitely did not want that happening.

What changed? Well, I decided to purchase one of Barbara Heidenriech's E-downloads. The specific one would be Train Your Parrot to Step up.

Prior to this I also wasn't the type of person to spend any amount of money on parrot training information. I figured that there was enough FREE info on the internet and what ever I couldn't figure out, I'd ask other parrot owners on some of the parrot forums I participated in. One of my early and very stressful challenges with Mabel was getting her to STEP up. When she was in the mood to oblige, things were GREAT. When she didn't feel like it, it was BAD. Her bites were the worst that I had ever experienced. Her beak would just slice into my skin like a Chef's knife. Each time she nailed me I would feel such resent and exasperation towards her. I found myself running regularly to the washroom to tend to my cuts and dealing with new ones before the old ones had a chance to heal. This irritated me very much because it was physically painful and none of it was very pretty to look at. 

Occasionally I felt that it was my fault for not having pre-planned my move towards her but for the majority of the time I felt that I had no choice but to bite the bullet and accept her powerful bites. My knowledge when it came to macaws was all intellectual. NO hands on experience. I didn't want to continue living this way. I had to admit to myself that I needed help. If Mabel and I were going to make it together I needed Expert Help!! So I turned to Barbara Heidenreich's site and came across that E-download which I mentioned above. After I paid for my purchase I still felt skeptical but didn't think I had anything to lose. A few days later I finally took the time to view and read the download and this is where I was introduced to the miracles of Positive Reinforcement. I still wasn't convinced that this *stuff* was going to work but as mentioned, was skeptical enough to give it a try. Going to give it my best shot and see what materialized. It took about 4 consecutive days and 3 five minute sessions each day for Mabel and I to start understanding each other. I'm sure it happened alot quicker than that but I also kept telling myself those previous successes must have been dumb luck flukes. Yes, I was still determined to remain suspicious of Mabel but alas, I was finally convinced.

I cannot tell you how incredible this was for me. I found myself feeling less contracted around her and starting to feel my distrust and coldness melting away. After using Barbara H's ebook, I somehow saw Mabel in a very different way. I saw a parrot who was extremely intelligent and one who couldn't wait to finally have a closer relationship with me. More importantly, I finally felt empowered. I knew how to communicate requests to her and receive what I wanted in return. My days of frustration with Mabel were over and today we have a very close and loving relationship. Spending that $24.95 was the best money I've ever spent since having my severe macaw. I am so grateful and cannot believe how much I would have missed out on if not for Barbara Heidenreich. Thank you so much!!

For the rest of you, I strongly recommend the E-book mentioned above. It doesn't matter whether you are new to parrots or very experienced. What you will get out of this training material is so useful and more valuable than you could ever imagine. Basically, this E-book helped give me the tools to learn how to TRUST Mabel, HOW to communicate my requests to her, BUILD trust with her, and in return FORGE the wonderful and gratifying relationship that I have with her today. Here's a letter I wrote to my sweet Mabel back in December so you can really understand why this means so much to me. The second link explains why I named my blog` Mabel Serendipity. :)

Friday, 20 January 2012

Our parrots NEED Humidity...

and quite simply this is something I only started taking serious about 2.5 years ago. This applies especially to folks who live in dry climates like Arizona and places like Montreal where VERY cold winters exist, hence dry air because of indoor heating. I'm not going to go in to the what nots and the reasons for why all of this is imperative. Instead I will provide you with links at the end of my post where many kind individuals have already taken the time to write about all this and of course I thank them VERY much. I hope you find this topic compelling enough to make your own informed decision and purchase a humidifier for your parrot's living environment if you haven't already.

What I will write about is my rotten experience with humidifiers in the last two years. Perhaps you will pay heed and learn from my mistakes. When I decided that I was ready to purchase a humidifier I did ALOT of internet research and I asked a loads of questions. I finally decided to purchase an Ultrasonic Germ Guardian humidifier. My biggest reason for choosing to purchase this one is because I REALLY liked the notion of never needing to purchase replacement filters. I love saving money and felt thrilled to know that such smart technology existed and even convinced myself I was also helping the environment. What a big mistake that proved to be. I ended up going through 4 of these Germ Gardian ultrasonic humidifiers since December 2009!!!! Did you catch that? Also keep in mind it isn't like I used them all year round. Only during the winter months when the heat was on, yet each machine only lasted me a few weeks. The first one lasted about 7 weeks. The second about 5 weeks. The 3rd about one month and the last one didn't even last 2 weeks. It did not matter that I was scrupulous about maintaining and cleaning all 4 of them. They all died on me. I must have read that darn manual ten dozen times thinking I may have missed one very significant detail about taking care of these machines!! YOu are probably thinking what a dumbass for having gone through 4 of the same machine. She must be bullheaded and weird? You would be right and yes I feel like a big Lollipop right now. This week the last one gave out and I decided that I had truly had enough. It stopped working about 5 minutes before I was headed out the door and running late for an important meeting.

Words cannot express how frustrated and irritated I felt to have to leave my parrots home without a humidifier in January. That day I also decided I wasn't going to do anymore internet research, I was going straight to the humidifier experts. After asking alot of questions about ultrasonic, warm mist, cold mist humidifers I finally decided to purchase a Bionaire Cool Mist humidifier. Their best seller and only one return in 2 years because of some leakage problem. It looks exactly like the one posted below. No more Ultrasonic humidifiers for me. I wasn't Even tempted to look at the Ultrasonic Air-O-Swiss ones they had on sale. Not worth the $$ or the aggravation. So far I am really liking the Bionaire and truly enjoy not having to watch a huge spray of mist jetting out of the machine which is very characteristic of ultrasonic type humidifiers. Not to mention the amount of white dust those ultrasonic machines spray all over your walls and furniture. Yes, a MESSY byproduct of these types of machines too.:(

To maintain my brand new humidifier the expert also advised me to buy these water treatment tablets to help decrease/prevent mineral build up. If you don't use these, in time this problem can affect the performance of your machine and shorten the life of the humidifier. It was also explained to me that maintenance should be at least once a week. This means taking everything appart and disinfecting the tank as well as cleaning the filter reservoir. The filters need to be replaced with new ones every 30 days and I am also happy to report that I have observed that I can run my current humidifier on MAXIMUM for at least 24 hours without running out of water. 

In hindsight, I bet this is probably why those 4 Germ Guardians died. Mineral build up due to the tap water conditions, yet nothing in the manual stated that it was probably a good idea to always use distilled water or add something to treat the water. If I had known this in advance, I would have NEVER purchased an ultrasonic humidifier. Ignorance is definitely NOT bliss! :(

To conclude, I just want to say that I personally believe *ultrasonic* humidifiers are relatively new and NOT worth the extra expense unless you have money to burn and time to waste. They also don't seem to be easy to maintain. Until they have been on the market for alot longer and I witness real life testimonials of high and enduring performance I am just going to stick to those good old fashioned humidifiers with the wick and the fan. Yes there are added filter and maintenance expenses but at least it will work when I NEED it to work. Stress is known to kill, so anything I can do to minimize stress in my life is a HUGE plus for me. Please do take the time to read the informative links below too.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

How good are you at providing toys that really matter to your Parrot?

I look at the video below of my sweet Emma and I smile both outwardly and inwardly. It was 2009, she was 11 months old at the time and had received the unique Alex Toy as a Christmas gift from our wonderful friend Newf. Watching Emma enjoy this toy was such an eye opener for me because she had never responded that way to any toy that I had purchased for her. I had had no idea that she enjoyed leather knots and footie sized toy parts. I felt both fascinated and intrigued by all the attention this toy was getting. I found myself wondering *how had Newf known that Emma would adore this toy so much?* The toy lasted a good 3 weeks before it looked pretty sorry. In the meantime there were oodles and oodles of toys that I had bought in the past that still looked as good as new or pretty close to it. Some of them I had purchased over 1 year ago but still refused to let them go because I hated admitting that I had purchased the wrong toy and admitting that I may have wasted my money. Their primary usage seemed to be *cage decoration*. This didn't seem right to me and I really felt that I wanted to be the one to purchase toys that my parrots were captivated by. Toys that would be destroyed. Toys that would be favourites, toys that would be used and abused sort of speak. I realized that I had been spending money on the wrong type of toys and had not offered enough variety to get to know what my parrots would genuinely enjoy.

I've been a parrot owner for almost five years and it took me almost 3 years to really *get it* when it came to purchasing parrot toys for my feathered babies. In hindsight, it really seems like I had been purchasing aimlessly with very little thoughtfulness as to whether Emma or Sachi would *truly* be interested in a particular. It was ignorance on my part. I just didn't know. I figured that a parrot toy was a parrot toy and of course they would love it. Why wouldn't they? It never occurred to me that my toy selection was the problem. Not that Sachi and Emma weren't interested in toys. I used to say to everyone. "I spend alot of money on toys BUT they aren't interested!!!" "What a waste of money!". The truth of the matter is that it does not work that way. Each parrot is an individual and each of them have unique preferences and different play habits and Beak exercise is very important. In my case, Sachi (pionus parrot) enjoys naturally soft shreddable toys, or ones that can easily be destroyed. When it comes to wood she really likes the thin variety, i.e the pine on Oliver's Garden small Chunky Monkey. She also loves undoing knots on miniature sized foot toys.
Emma my grey loves soft soft shreddables, shiny toys like those from Grey Feather Toys, any toy with leather and hemp knots because she loves to remove plastic toy parts like pony beads and plastic alphabet. These days her favourite wood chipping toy is the medium sized Fantastic Foraging Block. Mabel my severe macaw seems to appreciate any toy offered but her favourite ones are those that involve wood. She likes HARD wood and would prefer that it not be more than 3/4 inch thick because she loves making wood chips out of everything. She also ADORES mechanical toys. She is VERY good at unscrewing wing nuts and would probably spend the whole day unscrewing everything she could get her beak on if I let her. In fact every time she is out of cage, I must also take time to unscrew all the perches on everyones cages or else Mabel will do it for me. Yes, good times.
It took attentiveness, observation and a genuine interest from me to learn these things about my parrots. So take the time to get to get to know your parrot. Find out what makes them tick. Know that what they like will probably also change over time. Offer a variety of enrichment, let them choose, and don't do like me and assume that all parrots should merely enjoy wood or a certain type of toy. The Alex Toys can be purchased from TNT toys.

When you purchase this toy you also help the Alex Foundation.


Friday, 6 January 2012

Emma Enjoying her Juicy Fruit!

That fruit would be a clementine. She really relishes clementines. In fact my whole flock does. I thought this was such a funny video because you can really see how much she's enjoying it. At one point she looks like she's just about to inhale it. Emma has no shame! In other latest Emma news~ her new word today is *Happy?* As usual when she decides it's time to publicly add a new word to her vocabularly, she'll use it in every context. For example, Emma would you like some Mashie? Happy? Emma what are you doing? Happy? She understand me perfectly well but at the moment she's fixated on her new word and is very selective about when she'll respond appropriately to a request. She did respond appropriately when I told her that I was leaving for the grocery store and would be buying some apples, almonds... then she interjected to add "and some corn? Of course I paused and finally decided to reply "alright, some corn too. I really don't like to offer corn. Only purchase it in the summer when it's in season at the farmer's market. So while at the grocery store I was in the frozen foods section and remembered Emma's request and found myself debating as to whether I would really buy corn. Keeping my word, won out. I bought my grey girlie some corn.

Anyway back to her new word. I've never heard her use the word Happy until today. She actually says it in a questioning tone as if to ask "Are you happy?" I guess I must say this quite often to her and the other birdies. I was reflecting upon it today to figure out in which context would I use this word so often? I think I figured it out. Occasionally after I give them something they enjoy. Perhaps a treat, a head scritch, a cuddle, etc. I'll then ask them if they are content by saying Happy? There is also the probability that I've also used it in a very sarcastic and irritated manner too. This happens rarely, however it does occur. Like that time when Emma decided it was great fun to fly into the kitchen and land on the flour canister. It was a back and forth situation of perhaps a dozen times where she'd fly to the canister then I'd go and remove her until finally she knocked it over. Then there was flour EVERYWHERE and of course I was not happy. :( I probably snapped outloud "Happy?!!" Anyway, I can never stay irritated with any of my parrots for very long. Especially not Emma. She's truly my heart parrot.

Kris Porter Fantastic Foraging Blocks in Action!

As a follow up to my previous thread ..

I felt so inspired today! This would be thanks to seeing Coco's awesome photos of her flock enjoying their new foraging toys! Thank you Coco!  It truly never occurred to me to insert whole pieces of carrots and entire leaves of greens in the foraging holes. I really enjoyed the way she presented everything in her photos and decided to try some of that myself today. This time I included carrots, green collards and Avian Organic parrot truffles. I look forward to a repeat performance tonight and will try cauliflower, swiss chard and sugar beans. They all made huge messes, however let me say it was completely worth it. I was grinning the whole time.

If you've ever had trouble figuring out how to teach or motivate your parrots to forage, I strongly recommend these toys because they really do mean time well spent for your parrots AND it's actually EASY and FUN for YOU.

Kris is also in the midst of designing Mini sized ones for parrots like senegals, lovebirds, quakers, cockatiels, budgies.. etc.

Would you like to offer unique & effective foraging toys for your companion parrots? Do go straight to the Avian Enrichment expert herself, Kris Porter. Here's the link to her site and please enjoy my 3 NEW videos located at the bottom..