It’s Just a Bird

It’s just a bird.  The words I hate hearing more than anything else.  I mean, how do you explain to people that your bundle of feathered joy isn’t ‘just a bird’ to you?  The hard facts in life is that if you are not a pet person, or a bird person, you probably won’t get it.  

Obviously, from my past posts, this whole blog, and all the numerous pictures I have posted of my feathered kids (fids for short), you can tell I love my birds.  They are not ‘just birds’ to me.  They are an important member of my family.  They are like my children.  So when I have people telling me that they are ‘just birds’ it definitely gets under my skin.

I especially have this problem when I start explaining the medical care that some of my birds require.  All of their handicaps require unique care and sometimes I have to do things that to normal everyday people are a little crazy.  A good example of this is Taylor.  When I explain to people that he has to be on medication forever to keep yeast from growing in his crop, that he has racked up around $500 in vet bills in his short life, and that his feet are so turned in I have to find or make special shelves to sit on, I get a lot of grumbling about how I am crazy and he is ‘just a bird’.  And sometimes I have a hard time understanding why they can’t see what I can.   About how he has overcome his handicaps, he has learned to be happy with what he has, and he is a terrific, sweet, and funny boy.  To me, he is a success story and he inspires a lot of hope in me and makes me look at life a little differently.  To everyone else, he’s ‘just a bird’.

I even get a lot of people who try to turn my own science major-ness against me and claim that according to Darwin, survival of the fittest rages and if he was in the wild he would be dead.  And I agree.  If any of my birds were in the wild, they would be dead.  But what they don’t understand is my birds would not have these problems if they were in the wild.  My birds are mostly a product of human made mistakes.  Inappropriate diet to the breeding parents, over breeding, in breeding, and just general not understanding what the term ‘bird breeding’ meant are the reason my babies are so crippled.  Also, they are not in the wild.  They are in my house and I have the means to care for them and make them comfortable, so why wouldn’t I?  Our science is great enough to help with the problems that inexperienced humans have created.  

To me, saying ‘its just a bird’ is an insult.  My birds are my choice in life and no one else should question that.  They are my hobby and my calling.  I enjoy caring for them and I enjoy having them in my life.  To me, saying ‘its just a bird’ is like telling a parent ‘its just a child’ or an expectant mother ‘ its just a conglomeration of cells acting as a  parasite off your body’.  Children are not my calling in life, yet I do not question the motives to why other people want to have them.  That is their life choice, and its no ones business but their own.

So my other animal loving friends, how do you deal with people when they say ‘its just a bird’ or ‘its just an animal’?  Leave me a comment!  I’m interested in knowing how everyone else deals with this, because to date I haven’t found a response that just gets people to leave it alone!


Adventure to Northview, Part 2!

I knew as soon as I came home on Friday that Taylor’s yeast infection had returned.  We have been battling this stupid yeast now for several months, and it was time to return to the vet yet again and try something else.  We also decided to take Jules, because he has had very runny poop for quite some time now.  We never took him before because it was so touch and go; one day he would be perfectly fine, the next he would have runny poop, and then he would be fine again.  We also knew that he liked drinking a lot of water and eating wetter foods, so we thought that could be the cause of his mushy droppings.  But, we figured just to be safe we’d take him in with Taylor and have him checked out.  So we made an appointment and yesterday we went on another adventure.  

The thing I hate most about Northview is getting there.  I have to drive from the south hills, through Pittsburgh, into the north hills.  I have to drive on busy highways with evil drivers and people who want to  run me off the road.  Let me admit now, I am not a very good confident driver.  I have never driven to Northview without crying on either the way there or back.  I always feel so bad for Taylor.  I’ll start screaming and crying and saying we are going to die, and he starts talking back from his carrier in a little voice “Pretty bird.  Pretty Pretty. ” and he always says it like a question, like he doesn’t know if he’s a pretty bird or not.  He always tries to make his mama feel better lol.  

So, we got to Northview in, I don’t know how, one piece.  I have a lot of trouble finding someone who can see my birds and actually know what they are talking about, but Dr. Pleban is a saint.  She’s very sweet and soft spoken and gentle with them, and she’s always seems to know what she’s talking about, which is more than I can say for many of the other places I’ve gone to.  A few tests later and we had our results.  

Both Taylor and Jules have a bacterial infection in their gut that is resulting in the smelly, nasty poop.  It’s not something that will make them really, really sick, but it makes a mess out of their feces.  We’re guessing Taylor got it from Jules, because on his last visit he had a clean stool test.  However, its only transmitted through feces, so that means that Taylor had to eat some of Jules’s poop.  Yuck!  Good thing everyone has their own cage so it won’t spread to anyone else.  Taylor also had another yeast infection.  She said that he doesn’t have as much yeast as last time, which means that our boiling water and probiotics were helping, just not enough.  She also said that due to how flabby and flacid his crop looks and feels, she believes that he has a mechanical  problem where his muscles are not fully functional in his crop. She said she has treated another cockatiel with the same condition and feels that it is something that goes along with his handicap.  Taylor is now on a maintenance medication that he will have to take for the rest of his life.    

When we went to check out, I felt like we were taking a pharmacy with us.  We have four different types of medication.  Taylor has three of them, and Jules only has one.  Both are on a medicine for the bacterial infection.  Taylor also has his medicine to get rid of his yeast infection, and then he also has his maintenance medication.  When we left, Lance had sticker shock; we paid more in our visit yesterday than we did for both birds put together.  I was well prepared; to date, Taylor has cost me roughly $500 in health costs.  He was a $40 cockatiel.  

Lance and I came home and bleached everything.  We bleached every cage, every toy, every food and water dish.  We literally bleached and cleaned for three hours.  We shouldn’t have any other outbreaks in the bacterial infection.  Most likely, Taylor picked up bacteria from a toy that Jules had had and hadn’t been washed recently or drinking out of the same water when they were out playing.  The vet also said that Taylor was probably the perfect target for the bacteria because his immune system is weaker than the other birds because of the yeast infection.  She said because white face is such a recessive gene, even though its beautiful, it can also come with other health risks, such as a compromised immune system.  We still don’t know where Jules got sick from initially, but he could have had it since we brought him home.  

So, now our babies are on the mend and everyone should be good and healthy!  


Next Semesters Classes!

I’m really excited for my coursework next semester!  

I have Organic Chemistry 2 plus a lab, which I could do without, but don’t bother me.  After General Chemistry, I will take anything else happily!

I also am taking Genetics, which is really exciting.  I love trying to figure out why things look the way they do, and how traits are passed on and what not.  For a really cool little test on what color your future children may have, try this neat link.  Lance and I a 50% chance of having blue eyed children and a 50% chance of having green eyed children.

I am also taking Bio Seminar, which is just a lecture that happens once a week on different topics by different speakers from places other than Duquesne.

I’m finishing up my last university core, Faith and Reason, which my roommate is in now and said is a discussion based class on religions and cultures.

I’m still doing research on the Tiger Ranch cats with Dr. Morrow.

And, the one I’m most excited about, I’m taking Animal Behavior!!! I’ve been wanting to take Animal Behavior since I came to Duquesne, so I’m really pumped.

Oh, and biostats 2.  But I’m not so excited about that lol.

The Major Snob Gets her Hand Smacked

I will admit it right now.  I am a huge major snob.  If you have no idea, a major snob is the typical college student who believes that their major is either better or harder than any other major on campus.  And I may be one of the biggest major snobs on the whole campus.  

Before you read further, if you are going to be highly offended by me talking about my major, believing being a science major is tougher than virtually any other major, or are going to go into a chronic rage about me belittling the work involved in other majors, do yourself a favor and go read a different post.  I’ve never said being a major snob is a good thing, but I also never claimed to be perfect.

So, I am a major snob.  I believe being a science major is rougher than most other majors.  Why?  The amount of time and effort I put into my homework and studying is unbelievable.  Most of my science classes are based off of four equally impossibly hard tests.  Getting extra points that might help bolster your grade is hard.  The tests are detailed and tricky, and it always seems like the material you are most uncomfortable with makes up the bulk of the exam.  Not to mention that science throws the distribution of credits per hour to the wind.  Science majors are forced to take labs, which are usually worth one credit.  However, that is one painful credit.  Lab’s usually last about 3 hrs, and writing the lab report and doing the equations afterwords usually takes even longer.  All for one lousy credit.  And I think my least favorite thing about being a science major is you never know when you are done with your work.

 For example, my education major friend often has to write a paper, come up with a project outline, and on some odd days make a puppet or something else creative like that.  I, however, have to study for an upcoming tests.  So, she writes her paper, makes her puppet, and draws up a project outline and she knows shes caught up.  However, how exactly do I measure when I am done studying?  Is it when I memorize everything on the page?  Is it when my head explodes from thinking?  Is it when I get done with a chapter?  And no matter what choice you make, you always feel guilty making it.  It’s always the wrong one.

So, the other day I posted an annoyed status about being a science major.  It sounded something like this: “I’ve come to the conclusion that I am a huge major snob.  If you’re not a science major, you’re weak”.  I’m not one to complain on facebook, but I had just gotten done pounding my head with cellular and molecular biology, redrawing diagrams, and learning all about how the effector acetylene cyclase forms cAMP from ATP, which then goes on to activate protein kinase A and so on and so forth.  I had a moment of weakness, I was bitter that other people were outside enjoying the nice day, and I posted a crabby status.  No big deal.  People complain on facebook all the time.

The response I got from that simple post was overwhelming.  People telling me to walk in their shoes.  People telling me I had no idea what it was like to take 18 credits and work a job.  People telling me their major is so misunderstood.

This would be a good point to verify that I work two jobs, take 18 credits, do undergraduate research, run and manage the AWC, shadow, and volunteer.  I feel the pain.  

Like typical Hannah, I didn’t back down.  I fought my case, refused to budge, ticked everyone off, and had someone defriend me in the process.  It was absolutely amazing to me.

I think the funniest part of the whole thing was that none of the people who are my friends now wrote or posted anything.  It was all people I went to high school with and haven’t talked to in three years.  I couldn’t believe that these people who had no clue what I go through on a daily basis, and who don’t really even know me or how I operate would have the nerve to attack me specifically to defend their majors.  It was incredible.  One girl even compared my comment to posting ‘Hail Hitler’ on my facebook.  When I posted it, I really didn’t think it was quite that serious.

Honestly, I have no problem with what career people decide to pick.  I mean, we need teachers, business people, journalists and writers, and what ever else in the world.  It takes all sorts to make a world.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t whine and complain about the amount of work I have to do in my own course study.

At least I learned there are three things to never discuss with people; politics, religion, and what major is best.

The AWC Gets Some Kitty Love While Giving Back to the Animals

Last weekend, I took my Animal Welfare Club to Frankie’s Friends to help volunteer at a cat rescue!

For those of  you who do not know, Frankie’s Friends is a cat sanctuary and organization that focus’ on helping feral cats, cats from abuse cases, and stray cats.  It  has a mobile surgery unit for traveling places TNR events, and it also houses all of the survivors of the Tiger Ranch case.  So, for our service project this month we went to Frankie’s Friends for the day to cuddle cats and help repaint some of the darker rooms and give them a warmer and homier touch.

Frankie’s Friends is like kitty Disney World.  These cats have a huge, three story house to roam through, their own sun room, loft beds, their own live in vet tech, a safe outdoor cat porch and gazebo with little cat doors leading in and out, and all the toys, scratching posts, and kitty beds they could ever want.  Many of the cats have chronic health problems and will have to be monitored for veterinary care, so living at Frankie’s Friends with all their kitty friends is the best option for them.

These are probably the sweetest cats I’ve ever met.  I must admit, before I started working with Dr. Morrow, I wasn’t a huge cat person.  They were probably one of my least favorite animals to own as a pet.  However, now I really see what wonderful animals they can be!  The FF cats are amazing.  They’re at the door as soon as you walk in, and you are surrounded by a sea of cats.  They’re all purring and rubbing up against you, and some get saucy and try to bat their friends away so they get more petting.  They don’t mind being picked up and cuddled or toted around the house with you.  Trying to motivate my members to actually leave the cats alone and paint the walls was a little challenging, but once we got started they were all game for the work.  

It was amazing how quickly the rooms came together when we all started working together on them.  We painted one room a pale yellow, which totally transformed the room, and we painted the loft room lavender with white trim.  It was so cute!  

That cats did not appreciate being banished to the upstairs loft for the day, as we tried to cut down on the amount of cat hair we got on the walls and paw prints on the floor.  Orion, one of the older members of the sanctuary, sat downstairs to oversee our work, but everyone else wasn’t very happy. Being that they are color blind, I’m sure they didn’t see a point.  But the house looks a lot better now.  

I love rescue animals.  I love everything about rescues, but I think most of all I love knowing that I helped make a difference for an animal who couldn’t.  Let’s face it, animals don’t have voices.  We have to speak for them.  Without dedicated people in the world who take the time to speak for the animals, their lives would be nothing more than an existence that always ended in abuse or neglect.  One thing I see in my members, and I’m sure this sounds totally cheesy, is hope for animals.  There’s a slow shift in the relationship between humans and animals.  Eventually, we are going to look at ourselves as the protectors of the animals and the providers, instead of looking at them as though they are here to please us.  My AWC  members remind me on a daily basis that there is hope, and there are people out there who want to help, and who want to make a difference.  That’s why education about animals, animal abuse, and animal health is so important.  The government does not fund a free program to teach people about pets in high school. They’re not part of our curriculum.  We need active and dedicated people to spread the message and educate people about those who can’t educate them themselves.  Everyday, the animals make me sure that this is what I want to do with my life, and everyday, my AWC members remind me that there are people who care, just like me, who want to be a part of the movement.

I’ve Officially Become a Bro

I will say straight up that I am not a normal girl.  I laugh at immature things, I hate drama, I can’t stand having to try and figure someone out, and I really like being able to get away with wearing jeans, a t-shirt, my hair in a ponytail, and no make up.  That being said, I have issues making friends with other females at times.

I also have a long term boyfriend.  Although you can be friends with single girls, if you’ve ever been in a long relationship and had single friends, I’m sure you’ve experienced the difficulties associated with it.  Its like as soon as you get serious about a guy, your entire friendship circle begins to change.  You can’t talk about all the hot single boys you want to try and impress, you don’t care about going to a club and getting phone numbers, and you start getting really, really annoyed that all the single girls whine that they will never find someone and having to reassure them that they are not ugly.  So, if your anything like me, you throw up your hands in defeat and spend the majority of your free time with your boyfriend, because its just that much simpler than either dealing with the SGS (single girl syndrome) or trying to find new friends who have boyfriends, who might dump them next week and join the single ladies club anyways. 

So, lately I’ve been hanging out with Lance pretty much twenty four seven.  And while I’m hanging out with him, we often hang out with some of his guy friends.

Oh. My. Goodness.  Guys are the easiest people in the world to get along with.   They’re laid back, they’re game for everything, and they don’t whine about how unattractive they are to the opposite sex.  Guys just usually go with it.  And because I have Lance, I’m totally off limits to all of them, so it makes being friends with them that much easier.  I’m just like another bro.  

I started to get a little concerned about my boyish ways and I asked Lance if I acted too much like a guy.  After all, I enjoy playing video games, making immature jokes, and eating pizza.  I was relieved, however, that he thought instead I was the perfect mix.  I could chill with his guy friends, which makes his life a whole lot easier, yet I could still rock a dress and heels.  Phew.  

Bird Brain

Although I am a bird lover and a pet owner, I am also a science major and I often think like a science major.  One of the things I’m obviously interested in is the psychology of the avian.  And having Erin down at school with me has provided the perfect opportunity for me to conduct some of my own mini science activities.

Obviously, I am not taking Erin into the labs and seeing what type of bacteria affects her or what type of medicine does what to her.  She’s not a testing bird, shes my fid!  But the way her mind works fascinates me sometimes.

Recently, I noticed that Erin seemed much more interested in my writing utensils.  And by interested, I mean she’s been climbing onto my homework and attempting to take my pencil out of my hand.  I have her out on my desk while I do my homework, so at first this was really annoying.  I started giving her one of my extra pencils with a worn out eraser on it to keep her occupied while I was doing my homework.  And little Erin, who never plays with anything, started going to town on the pencil!  She would bite at it, pick it up and toss it around, pull it around the desk, and even graduated to throwing the pencil off my desk into my trash can.  I didn’t really think anything of it until I accidentally gave her a pen one day to play with instead of her usual pencil.   Immediately, she was back on top of my homework, trying to take my pencil away from me.

Maybe this just seems really stupid, but to me it was kind of interesting; why does Erin only like pencils and not pens?

I started giving her other writing utensils.  Highlighters, markers, dry erase markers, pens that look different from my normal pen, colored pencils.  Out of everything I have offered Erin, she prefers my mechanical pencils best.  But why?  Markers and highlighters are much more colorful, pen tops are easier to chew, and colored pencils have exposed graphite!

My hypothesis is that because Erin’s cage faces my desk and she spends so much time out on my desk while I am recopying notes, working problems, and doing labs, Erin is seeing me play with the pencils and therefore, they are the best toy option.   Birds are observational.  They love to watch and learn.  I spend a lot of time scratching away with my mechanical pencils, and I’m sure Erin watches this and things that pencils must be the best toy ever.  

Do any of your birds make toys out of everyday objects that you use often?