My Tempting Ball of Blue Feathers

Today, me, Lance, and our friend Meg went to an exotic bird expo.  I had never been to an expo before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  I packed a hundred bucks and promised my parents I wouldn’t come home with anymore fids and went on my way.  Little did I know what I was in for.

Birds! Birds! Birds!  Everywhere!  Birds of all shapes, sizes, and colors.  Birds screaming, birds squawking, and birds singing.  Birds I’ve only seen in books, and birds I’ve seen in pet stores.  Birds were everywhere.  There were also bird products everywhere.  Food, treats, cleaners, perches, cages, toys, toys, and more toys.  I was extremely overwhelmed.   And best (or worst!) of all, everything was dirt cheap.  Huge, $30 bird toys for $9.  Java tree play stands for $50.  40 lb of food for $40.  And worst of all, the birds!  $15 parakeets, $75 cockatiels, and $200 breeding pairs of conures, mynahs, and parrotlets.

We walked around and played with some adorable baby catalina macaws, baby greys, and baby amazons.  They were all so adorable and cuddily it was hard to pass up the opportunity!  I love how cuddily baby birds are!  I wish they’d just stay that way forever haha.  

However, the worst temptation came in the form of blue fluff of feathers.  On table had a little blue parrotlet in a cage on his own and I stupidly asked why.  And of course, he was handicapped.  His feet were splayed in, much like Taylor’s.  The owner said that she bought the mother from someone who said she was only two, bred her, and the baby came out deformed.  She later found out that the mother was much older than she had been told and thinks that she didn’t have enough calcium to provide good formation of the legs of her chick.  Whatever the reason for his handicap, he was handicapped and I wanted him.  However, the thing  called parents stood in the way.

My parents aren’t the same type of animal lover as me.  Pretty much no one in my house sees things the way I do.  Animals for me aren’t just a piece in the puzzle of the American dream.  I don’t need my silky retriever to complete my white picket fence picture.  Animals for me are an entire lifestyle.  As pathetic as it sounds, they’re my reason for living.  They’re my family, my hobby, my favorite thing to spend money on, and hopefully someday my career.   And my most concentrated area of interest is birds, and my most concentrated area of birds is most definitely rescue and handicapped.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think I can rescue everything.  I know I can’t rescue everything.  But its not like I was trying to bring home a macaw or a cockatoo.  I just wanted a little parrotlet.  I wasn’t even bringing home another conure!  Just a parrotlet.  

Of course I was met with a resounding no.  My issue is that I live down at school the majority of the year and most of my pets live at home, so my family has to take care of them.   And because no one else can be of any use, my poor mom gets stuck taking care of all of them.  And all of their pets.  And all of the people.  And in some ways I can understand.  But at the same time, my heart was screaming to take the poor baby.  He would have fit in perfectly with my little flock of misfits.

Lance, of course, wanted it as well.  He made it even worse by throwing a full blown adult tantrum about how he’s at the point in his life that he should be able to buy pets, and he can’t.  I pointed out that his family refuses to take care of his animals while he is away at school and he should be happy to just have Jules.  He complained that while I have four birds, he only has one, so he should be allowed another.  I understand his dilemma at feeling helpless in the animal decision making corner, but his whining just made walking away from the blue fluff even more difficult.  And the depressed pouting that went on for the rest of the day was just a huge mood killer.  

Meg was also a really horrid influence, encouraging her motto of ‘buy now, beg for forgiveness later’ that has acquired her four guinea pigs, two birds, and a dog.  However, my father threatened that if I brought another bird into the house, he was going to let one of my others outside to fly away.  And being that I hadn’t clipped any of the recently, I didn’t want to tempt fate.  I don’t think he is really that mean that he would do that, but I also know he really hates Bella because she’s loud.  

If I was living at home, I totally wouldn’t have thought twice about it.  But, I feel bad leaving all my birds at home.  I know they don’t get the same care and attention that I give them just because they’re pretty much my whole existence, and they’re just the noisy birds to my family.  

Its kind of pathetic what a crazy bird lady I am already.  I should really get some new hobbies.  There’s just not much left since I got out of high school.  Believe it or not, there was a time when I had more to my life than feathers, homework, and boyfriend.  When I was in high school, I was in musicals all the time, I was in marching band, I was in community theater, and I had a horse.  I spent my school year in musicals and my summers at the barn.  However, after I graduated I had to sell my horse to go to college, I got too old to do community theater, and I no longer have the time or energy to participate in musical.  I lost essentially all my high school friends and because I never got involved in one activity that has a lot of the same people participating over and over again like musical did, I didn’t really form a group of really close friends.  I have friends, but few are as close as the group I ran with in high school and we’re all involved in different things so I don’t spend much time with them.  I’m in a lot of organizations, but most are more work that fun and offer little involvement during outside time.  So, out of all my hobbies and interests I had in high school, my rescue birds are the only thing that I enjoy that I have left.  

For $50 I could have given that little blue ball of feathers a good home for the rest of his life.  Although my mother informed me that there is such a thing as animal hoarding, I am far from being a hoarder.  All of my guys eat the best food, have more toys than they know what to do with, have large spacious cages, and are spoiled rotten.  In my spare time during the summer, I spend my hours baking birdie bread, making new toys out of dollar store items, trick training all my guys, and taking them outside on their leashes.  They all receive vet care and get plenty of attention and loving.  I take my birds to camp with me, take them out shopping with me, and spoil them rotten.  They’re my fids and I love knowing that they have a safe happy place to live when there are so many shoddy homes out there.  I like being able to save the birds that have been dealt the crappiest hand in life.  Even though you never know what you are going to run into with handicaps, I always say that even if they all drop dead tomorrow, I can rest easy knowing that I gave them a better life than they would have had anywhere else.

I hate being in the awkward stage between child and adult.  I’m expected to work and do school work, and manage all my time correctly, but I can’t make the decision to bring home a parrotlet.  I can vote, go die for my country, be held responsible for all my own bills, but I cannot rescue another bird.  Its quite frustrating.  And to top it all off, I really can’t change anything about my situation.  I can’t move out because I don’t make enough money, nor do I have a car.  I can’t save money because I have to pay for school.  I can’t stop paying for school because then I’ll be a hobo forever.  And really the only reason I’m going to school is so I can be around animal anyways!  Its such a frustrating circle.  I feel like I’m never going to be officially free.  

So, the moral of the story is, the people who look so ‘dumb’ and don’t go to college but run away after graduation, get married, and buy a house aren’t really that stupid.  Maybe they’re the smart ones, because at least they get to live.  

I’m sure at this point you’re quite tired of my rantings.  I’ll stop.  Thanks for getting to the end and not closing the page!  You’re a real trooper!

Basic Care and Behavior at PEAC

On Saturday, me and my friend Meg went to a PEAC lecture on pet parrot basic care and behavior.  I’ve been wanting to go to one of their lectures for a while now, but I was always just too lazy to go on my own.  It’s nice that I have a bird loving friend that takes it upon herself to motivate me to go to the things that I actually do want to do.

PEAC stands for Parrot Education and Adoption Center and Pittsburgh is lucky enough to be one of the cities that has this program!  They are more of an educational program, running solely off of volunteers dedicated to spreading awareness of proper care of parrots.  Something that is right up my ally!

The lecture was held at my favorite place, you guessed it, the National Aviary.  It was given by the manager of training and came complete with its own packet of notes and parrot friendly cook book!  It was very informative and I had a great time learning new ways to enhance my flocks life.  My favorite tip was the idea for making perches.  Apparently, all my money spent on concrete perches, wooden perches, natural wood, rope, and calcium has all been in vain.  They recommended going out into the woods and chopping off some bird safe branches and notching them for your cage!  I have thought of that in the past, but I always had some worry that I may poison my parrot by giving her fresh wood.  However, they assured me I could kill parasites by baking on a low temperature and they have been using this idea for quite some time and haven’t had any problems.  They also said that a life on dow rod type perches and concrete could really injure your birds feet.  After I thought about it, that’s kind of a ‘duh!’.  Birds are meant to be perching on tree branches, not slippery sleek wood.  That totally explains why Bella always sits on her natural wood or rope perches and just poops all over the dow rods.  I should have listened to that conure a long time ago!  Unfortunately, there were no suggestions for better perching for handicapped birds 😦  Sorry guys, the rest of you will have to make due with what I can create.

I, of course, became a member that day, so now I can say I am an official member of the Pittsburgh PEAC group.  Hehe, what a resume builder!  I am also a member of the hunting for fruit tree limbs club!

 

Bella Won Her First Contest!

The amazing Avian Fashions had a special halloween giveaway on their facebook page earlier this month.  Being the crazy bird owner I am, I entered my sassy little conure for a chance to win a halloween suit.  Amazing, we WON!  I was so excited I literally called all my roommates into the room to make sure I wasn’t misreading.  Here are some pictures of Bella in her new costume.  My mom and sister took them, so theyre not that great.  But, Bella doesn’t really like to behave for them.  I’ll be going home soon and take better pictures, but atleast you can get an idea of what she looks like in it.

Here she said ‘I had enough of this!’  My mom said she wasn’t really sure about the hat at first, but she’s being a little trooper about it.  She doesn’t seem to be afraid of it, but I guess she likes to try and take it off and chew it.  Sigh.  We’ll have to work on that when I get home.

Anyways, Avian Fashions is great.  I wrote a little blurb about them and how much we love them on the side panel, but I would definately recommend checking out some of their products at http://www.avianfashions.com/

They’re suppose to be coming out with feather hoodies for smaller birds sometime in November!  Guess whos paycheck is already gone?

For some reason, I find it so much cutier to dress birds up than dogs.  Maybe its because all the dog clothes is so tacky and hardly functional.  But, bird diapers are stylish and totally functional!  They make my life so much easier!!

The AWC Visits the National Aviary!

For our first off campus animal experience of the year, I like to take our new Animal Welfare Club members to visit the National Aviary.  Its close, its affordable, its highly educational, and the aviary does a terrific job of getting all my members interested and involved with the animals.  I like that everyone gets their hands on a bird.  Theres no better way to get people interested than to let them actually interact with them.

So, on Saturday we all met and hiked over to the North Side.  My mom and my sister were recruited into our group due to our sudden drop in numbers, so they met us and walked over with us.  I like making everyone walk because it saves money, saves gas, and lets everyone get a chance to walk through the city and see everything as well as talk to each other.  And soon we were there!!

I rushed everyone to the first feeding, as I usually do, because I like getting everyone involved as fast as possible.  I find that when I suggest the aviary, I get a lot of deep sighs and dragged feet.  Unfortunately, its usually overshadowed by the much more well known Pittsburgh Zoo.  However, once I get everyone there and get them all going, they seem to enjoy it a lot more.  Even though the zoo has more animals, the aviary definately has more interactive possibilities.  Here are some my members feeding some rainforest birds!

We then rushed to get in line to feed the lories.  Feeding the lories is probably my favorite thing, because it means I get to get my picture taken with exotic birds on me!  Even after owning my own parrots, I still feel like a little kid at Christmas when all the Bella sized colorful parrots begin flocking to me.  I think it has something pyschologically to do with the idea that ‘they like me! they like me!’, not just ‘they want the nector’.

Everyone had some time to roam and explore before we took our Training 101 class.  I was super excited about taking a bird related class because, well, I’m a weirdo.  I very much so enjoyed the class, and learned a lot that I feel will help me when I’m trying to train stubborn Bella.  I have yet to find something that will motivate that conure.  We also got to meet the beautiful Gonzo, a yellow naped amazon, who was hilarious.  She reminded me of another little green bird that likes to growl and make her handler a liar. . . We also played a game where we made Chris be a bird that we had to train.  Here we are trying to train Chris to do jumping jacks.

After our class, we followed our instructor over for the Wings! show.  I had to choose between Wings and the skydeck, and even though I’ve never seen the skydeck and I know Lance was furious at me for not choosing the skydeck, I felt like Wings was more general for all of our members and would be a good ambassador to the bird world.  As I predicted, everyone was amazed and most of my members flooded the stage to donate money to saving the birds.

For the first trip of the year, it was a great start!  I think all my members who went enjoyed themselves and I think they are all excited for the rest of the year and the things we have coming!