Look What My Neighbor Brought Me!

I was outside trying to weed out the flower beds this morning when my neighbor pulled up and rolled down his window.  

“Here!” he said handing out a small conure sized woodpecker-ish type bird.

“Where’d you find that?” I asked.

” He was standing in the middle of the road.  I  think he got hit by a car.”

I get this a lot.  I’m willing to bet that anyone who owns birds gets this a lot.  However, a lot of people also know that I want to go into avian medicine and seek me out as well.  And I always like trying to help.  This particular neighbor is a huge animal activist, has two rescued pit bulls and a rescued boxer, doesn’t eat red meat, and breaks for butterflies, so it didn’t surprise me that he would stop his car to pick up a bird.  

The bird was actually a red bellied woodpecker.  He was stunned and dazed when I got him, so I put him in a brooder and covered him with a towel to avoid him going into shock and promised my neighbor that if it was something I couldn’t handle I’d take him to the local wild life center.  I took him upstairs to my upstairs bathroom, an area that my birds have never and will never have access to.  Then, we closed that bathroom door and surveyed the damage.  

The woodpecker didn’t have any open wounds or broken limbs, but he still wasn’t acting like a wild bird.  He did start screaming and trying to bite me as I put him into Bella’s old cage, which was a good sign, and he was fluttering around and perching just fine, but he wasn’t as responsive as a wild bird would normally be.  So, I decided to let him hang out in the bathroom for a few hours and see if he improved or if he was going to the wildlife center.  We were going to a cookout later at a friends house that was near the woods, so if he was feeling better it would be the ideal place to release him.  So, we left him with some pedialyte and meal worms and checked on him every half an hour for signs of improvement.  

We also started looking up everything we could about red bellied woodpeckers.  They common in this area and are classified as least concerned in the endangerment rankings.  They eat insects, mostly worms, larva and moths.  They nest in tree cavities that they hollow out and are very important for all of the food webs and ecosystems because their empty tree hollows provide nests for many other species of birds.  They’re also often mistaken for a red headed woodpecker.

Each time we checked the woodpecker he was more alert and more responsive.  I think he might have just gotten stunned off a windshield or a mirror and needed a little down time to recover in a safe place.  By the time it was ready to go to the party, he was trying is hardest to get away from us when we checked him, and even went as far as to scold us for invading on him.  We decided to take him with us and see if he could fly away.  We packed him up with us, took a few pictures, and took him up to the cook out for a release.  The home that we went to visit was only a few miles from where he was found, so if he really wanted to, he could find his way back.  However, I think he’ll be much safer and happier where we released him.

As soon as we let him go, he was gone without a glance back.  We later found out that the area had many other woodpeckers, so hopefully he went and found so friends.  I’m just glad that he was ok.

I can’t wait until someday I can treat more than just a bird that needs a little rest, but I am happy that I can even do this little bit.  He was such a cutie too!

The Solution to my Cook Out Dilemma!

I’ve finally figured it out!  The answer that I have been pondering since I became a vegetarian!  How to find something substantial to eat at friends get togethers!

I’m quickly coming up on my one year anniversary of being a vegetarian, but this will be my first summer as an herbivore.  In the last year, I have struggled through learning what is available at fast food restaurants, have survived eating tons of stir fry at school, and have eaten strictly side dishes at holidays.  However, with Memorial Day being a mere day away, I realized I was faced with yet another tough challenge; how to eat at cook outs without starving to death.

The typical American cook out consists of burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, and occasionally fruit salad or house salad.  I have never considered house salad a meal, and I definitely do not like potato or macaroni salad enough to gorge myself on.   This leaves me with the dilemma of either not attending, being hungry, or bringing my own food.  

I’ve always hesitated at bringing my own food.  To me, it  feels like I’m telling the host that I don’t like what they have to offer me.  I don’t want to dirty their kitchen by cooking or make extra dishes.  I don’t want to demand special treatment from anyone either.  After all, I’d be pretty irritated if someone came to my house and demanded I cook them a steak.  

However, today I was invited to a cookout and I finally found the answer to my situation; vegetable foil packets!!  I figured that my host wouldn’t have much that was veggie friendly, so I went to the store and bought some fresh veggies.  I cut up some yellow squash, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and onions and threw them on a piece of aluminum foil.  I squeezed some lime over it, put some salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano on it.  Then, I wrapped up the foil and made a nifty foil packet.  

My family makes vegetable foil packs all the time when they grill their steaks and need veggies on the side, so I just made my personal sized.  When we went to our cook out today, I took my little foil packet, threw it on the grill next to the burgers and hot dogs and had a meal in just a few minutes.  While everyone else was hanging out with their burgers, I had my little foil pack.  I still had plenty of room for sides, so the host didn’t feel that I didn’t like their food, I didn’t make any mess because my foil was my pot and plate, and they didn’t feel bad about not having food for me.  It was perfect!

I’m going to another cook out on Monday and I have all my left over veggies ready and waiting. I’m super pumped I figured this out this early and not at the end of summer.

 And besides, it was so darn tasty!

2nd Morning with Chop.

So today is my second morning serving chop and I have had 4/5 with at least moderate compliance!  Yesterday, all of the little guys sat around hungry in their cages, waiting for their pellets to return.   I used my age old trick of laying down a towel, throwing some food around it and placing them all on the towel and pretending to peck at the floor while exclaiming ‘yum yum!!’ like an idiot.  It usually works and they all will at least try some food.  Moving from the floor to the bowels in the cages is a learning curve though.  

Yesterday it was Miles who started eating like a little fiend, which is good because it inspires everyone else to try some.  However, when I put the bowels in the cages this morning, everyone ran away like I was trying to poison them.  So, I tried my second favorite trick.  I sat down next to the cages and ate my breakfast.  Mmmm that inspires everyone to go eat, as birds are communal eaters and my guys LOVE eating with me.  I also mixed in some pellets and some seed into their dishes today in an attempt to bring them to the bowl.  

 I look over and little Erin has her face buried in her dish.  Erin, who took an entire YEAR to convert successfully onto pellets, was eating the new food as her breakfast.  She has definitely gotten more adventurous and more bold when it comes to food.  Miles saw Erin eating and had to go over and start his breakfast too.  Bella eats anything, so she had already eaten some yummy banana and some of the seeds in her dish.  Even Jules, who was disgusted that I wanted him to try a new food yesterday, went over and grabbed a little food from his dish.  The only one I haven’t seen eating it yet was Taylor.  

So it wasn’t 100% acceptance.  But it was definitely something.  And for the bird who took a year to convert from seed to pellets, its definitely a big step.

My First Attempt at Chop!

In the past year, I have become obsessed with nutrition.  I think it has something to do with becoming a vegetarian, or maybe more recently it has been spurred on by preparing diets at the aviary and how good they look, but regardless of where it stems from my new found joy has led me to researching more natural animal diets.  

A long while ago, I had began researching more natural bird diets for my guys and I stumbled on  The Chop Blog.  It made me really want to try this method of food with my guys.  Unfortunately, living down at school and my mom taking care of the birds made it difficult to try it.

Now, I’m home for the summer and commuting next year, so I decided it was time to give it a go.  Lance and I were out shopping and I suggested looking at appliances.  Lance is a huge sucker for appliances, so he gladly obliged and we left with a little 8 cup food processor.  We hit the produce and bought some fruits and veggies and went home to give it a try.

I was a little hesitant to make a big batch of it because I don’t know if my guys are even going to eat it and our freezer is in need of a cleaning out, so we decided to start with a mini batch and see how it went.  Before I got home from work, Lance had soaked the bag of beans all day and started cooking them, started cooking the wild rice and barely, and had thoroughly cleaned the food processor and all the little Rubbermaid containers that we purchased.  I had read online that uncooked beans are poisonous to birds, so I was really freaked out about using them.  We soaked them for about nine hours and cooked them for another two and a half until they were pretty soft to the touch.  We might have over done it a little but better safe than sorry.  

We drained the wild rice and chopped up some of the beans and mixed them in.  mmm yummy.  We added some flax seed and dried oatmeal.  

Lance was having a good time using the food processor.  He also informed me that if we decide to have an actual wedding and a bridal shower, he was coming with me to make the registry.  I called him a Susie Homemaker and he actually agreed with me lol.

  Then we chopped up some of the vegetables we got.  We added kale, some frozen peas and corn, some boiled sweet potato, frozen green beans, and fresh carrot.  I added some blueberries chopped in fourths and a few whole ones for texture.  

We mixed everything together, drained it one last time, and bagged it all up.  We filled up our little containers first, but didn’t have enough to avoid bags.  Ideally, we’re trying to stay away from bags because they’re more difficult to reuse and we’re trying to be more environmentally friendly.  Plus, the little containers hold enough for all the birds.

I threw one of the containers in the fridge last night to thaw.  This morning, I added a little extra banana, mango, and apple to the dishes, especially to Bella’s.  In the wild, conures eat mostly fruit while parakeets and cockatiels eat a lot of grains and seeds.

Bella seemed to enjoy it.  Unfortunately, my little guys are not to impressed with my culinary skills.  They’ve avoided it, which is a common small bird tactic.  I’m hoping that the more I serve it, the more they’ll get used to it and start eating it.  

 Ultimately, I think that our first attempt went well.  Next time I won’t be so afraid to make a larger batch, but I’m definitely going to have to clean out the freezer first!

I’m Still Alive, I’m Just Living Too Much

I feel like I have abandoned my poor blog and it makes me really sad.  Although there is no real good excuse for two or three empty months that are without one post, unfortunately at this point in my life I’m usually either too exhausted or too busy to actually sit down, clear my head, and write.  

See, my last post was right before spring break.  I camp back from spring break and had a week filled with tests.  Shortly after that the pressure of upcoming finals was upon me, and then I struggled through finals week to make it to summer break.  Honestly, this has been one of the most challenging and difficult semesters of my life.  I have never felt closer to a heart attack than I had this semester.  My course load was heavy, the material was extremely difficult for me, and some of my professors were sub-par yet demanding.  I didn’t enjoy it one bit.  I spent the majority of this year broke, exhausted, and stressed to the point of constant tears.  I didn’t get to do anything I enjoyed, such as salsa dancing or blogging, and instead spent all my free time working or studying.  The one positive was that Lance was down on campus to help me hold it all together.  Without him, I would have been lost.

However, that’s all done and in the past.  It is summer break for me and although I am as swamped as ever with things to do, I feel much better about everything.  I’m home with my pets and ultimately, I prefer work to classwork because at least at the end of a work day, I know I am done.  At the end of a school day, I still have to study.

So, being the crazy person I am, I’m working two jobs and an internship this summer.  I got accepted into the Aviary’s intern in the avian hospital.  I went back to Petscapes.  I’m also continuing my job as a vet tech with Luv My Pet.  It’s exhausting, but ultimately its rewarding and I’m learning a ton.  

I’ve got a lot to write about.  I’ve got a lot to talk about.  And I’m planning on keeping up.  After all, its when I get most busy that I get the best things to talk about!  Plus, with all the great stuff I’m learning about the birds, I’ve gained a whole new perspective on bird care already and I can only imagine it will grow from here.

Bare with me bloggers!  We’re going on a wild ride!