Bella Antics

If there is one thing Bella loves to do more than anything, its get into trouble.   Whether its ripping up something she shouldn’t be shredding, pulling the buttons off the remote control, or climbing off her cage and taking a walk around the house, if there is a rule, Bella is out to break it.

Today, we were busy clipping the smaller birds wings and nails.  Bella was happily sitting on her cage waiting her turn.  When we turned back around, this is where we found her:

We have ten foot ceilings in my parents house and Taylor’s cage is suspended from the ceiling on a rope pulley that my dad made so he could see around the room and feel like he was tall even when he cannot fly.  Bella, however, enjoys crawling up the suspension rope and getting stuck near the ceiling.  Once she gets up there, she acts as though she can’t get down (maybe she can’t?  I don’t know.) and screams until you use a wooden perch to try and retrieve her.  

She’s a very naughty bird.  

I always know when she gets quiet that shes up to some mischief.  

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Bella’s Story

I was sitting here trying to think of something interesting I could post about, and I decided that it might be interesting to write an installment about each of my birds and how they fell into my ownership.  I’ve written a little blurb about each of them in the Our Flock section, but it doesn’t really highlight the extent the extent and the urgency that I took some of them out of.

Bella’s story is by far the most interesting and involved.  She makes everyone else seem pretty lack luster to be honest.  And if there was ever an animal that I wish I could see what they went through when I wasn’t around, it would be Bella.

Bella was born and bred at the little pet store I work at.  She was the youngest of a clutch of three chicks, and there were only two clutches laid, so she was the youngest of six chicks.  Her parents stopped producing shortly after Bella was hatched.

I first met Bella sometime in August right after I got my job at the pet store.  Because the store is family owned, we often take in people’s animals that they no longer want and put them back up for adoption, hoping another family will come and give them a home.  These animals have a smaller ‘rehoming fee’ instead of a price tag and often go home with their cage and their toys that they came in with.  Bella had come back to the store after being purchased two years prior.  Red throated conures are pretty rare, and not many people in this area have heard of them so I didn’t even know what she was when I first saw her.  I had been thinking about getting another bird, maybe another cockatiel or a green cheek conure, but there was definately something about Bella that drew me to her.  My boss told me that she had been bought for a child, who no longer had an interest in her and the mother couldn’t stand her screaming.  She then went to live with an old lady who took pretty good care of her, but died.  She went through a few relatives while they sorted out the will and such, and then she went back to the child and the mother who hated her.  Finally, in desperation, they brought her back to the store because they couldn’t stand her anymore and just wanted her gone.

Bella was nervous and nippy at the store, but she wasn’t mean.  Her rehoming fee was far less than what she had origionally been marked at, and for a two year old red throated conure, she was a steal.  Bella was quickly put on layway by an older man.  

However, as time went on, Bella still sat at the store.  The man stopped answering our phone calls.  Three months time passed and Bella’s layways was voided at the beginning of December, just in time to be homeless for Christmas.  

Christmas Eve came and another guy came into the store and expressed an interest in Bella.  He had come and bought several animals from us before, but it never seemed like he kept them very long.  He always was rehoming or reselling his  pets for some reason or another and it really didn’t sit right with any of us at the store.  He asked to buy Bella, and my boss gave him a speech about how she had been through a lot and if he wanted to take her, he needed to be prepared to give her a lifetime home, as she had already been through so many changes and her sweet, trusting demeanor had already been compromised because of it.  He assured us that he has been thinking about getting a bird for a long time and that he loved her, blah blah blah.  He took Bella home that day.

The Christmas season went by, and two weeks after selling Bella my manager started telling me about she didn’t think that guy had her anymore.  She said that he came in to buy crickets, but nothing for the bird, and when she asked about her, he just kind of mumbled and didn’t really say anything and left in a hurry.  We all had our suspicions and everyone felt really bad.

A few weeks later, I was googling bird toys in Pittsburgh.  Somehow that brought me to Craigslist where I was staring face to face with an ad for a red throated conure.  

I immediately emailed the guy, trying to find out the birds name even though I was almost sure it was her.  I went to work and showed my boss and manager, and I tried to come up with a plan on how to execute a rescue.  

The guy emailed me back and I found out that Bella was not being sold from the origional guy who bought her.  He had apparently sold her again, and now this guy was selling her.  I was disgusted.  The asking price was a whole $150 more than she had been rehomed for at the pet store.  I emptied my savings account while my parents were at work and drove someplace I had never heard of before to go rescue a bird.  I knew it wasn’t very smart, but it was something I had to do.

When I got there, I was led down to a basement bedroom.  Bella was in a ferret cage between a big lizard and a snake.  There were no windows in the room and everywhere I looked there were reptiles.  She bit me as soon as I tried to pick her up, but I didn’t really care.  I asked for a box and handed over the money and belted her into the car.  

Halfway home, I realized I was in trouble.  I had no cage for this bird, no food except for the Walmart seed mixture he had given to me, no conure sized toys, and I didn’t even have any perches because all of my birds were handicapped!  Plus, my parents, who had said no more birds three birds ago, were going to kill me!!  So I went to the only place that I thought could help me; my work!

And help me they did.  When I showed them Bella and told them what I had done to get her, they gave me a cage, food, perches, toys, everything I could need to get her started at my house.  They thought I was crazy, but as animal lovers, they understood.  Then I had to think of a way to break it to my parents.  I texted them both ‘you’re going to kill me’.  They’re immediate thoughts?  I wrecked the car or was pregnant.  So much faith in me.  Needless to say, they were relieved when I texted them a picture of a green parrot.  Relieved, but still not happy.

Later than night, Bella decided I was her human.  I was trying to talk to Lance on the phone and crawled up into my loft bed while my mom was trying to become friends with Bella down on the floor.  Bella had been sitting on the top of her cage, but as soon as I crawled up out of site, she crawled down and began pacing, trying to find me.  My mom ended up called me down because she was going so nuts trying to find me.  I think my mom was disappointed; she has always wanted a bird that would ride around on your shoulder with you and that wants to be with you.  I think she was hoping Bella would bond with her and be her bird.  Bella had different plans though.  

At first, I couldn’t stand Bella’s clingy-ness.  She wasn’t just content to sit on my lap and get her head pet like my other birds.  She wanted to climb up next to my head and snuggle into my hair.  She wanted to hide under my ponytail.  She wanted to preen me, constantly!  And when I wasn’t around, she screamed.  Getting her settled in was a hard time period.  She drove me nuts being so clingly, she drove everyone else nuts screaming, and she started getting aggressive towards everyone.  If someone wanted to sit next to me on the couch and Bella was out, she would climb off my shoulder, walk over, and attack them.  

Thankfully, Bella has settled down and become much more laid back from where she was.  She still bites; especially strangers.  When I come back from school for breaks, she goes into ‘clingy conure phase’ but after a few days goes back to being self sufficient.  And she still screams.  A lot.  

I’m very happy I rescued Bella.  I’ve given her a chance at a new life that she wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t taken her.  Aside from being moody and loud, Bella is very goofy and adventurous.  She is playful and silly, and she loves making people laugh.  She’s has opened up and become very loving at times, and loves to cuddle next to me or preen my hair when shes out.  She loves going out for car rides and visiting pet stores, but she still doesn’t like being handled by strangers.  She’s tough and go with Lance, mostly because she hates that he takes my attention away from her.

And ultimately, I believe she changed my life.  Lance says that it was the day I brought her home that I decided I wanted to be a vet.  He said that when he asked me why, I said ‘because I have this bird, and I like helping her, and I want to help other things’.  Honestly, I don’t remember it all that well.  The days after bringing Bella home were a big blur.  But, I’ll trust his judgement on it lol.  

And even though I’m at school half the time and she’s here, Bella’s species can live to be 25 to 30 years old, and shes currently 4.  I think we have a lot of time to get to know each other 🙂

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!!

Bella’s New Cage!

I bought Bella a new cage through http://www.birdcages4less.com/ and it came yesterday.  So far, she isn’t real thrilled.  Because it was so big, I had to move it out into the dining room instead of the living room, which she doesn’t like, and its just new, so she doesn’t like it.  But, its huge and filled with all kinds of great perches, so I’m sure after she settles into it she’ll enjoy it.  While she thought I wasn’t watching this morning, she crawled over and started investigating some of her new toys.  And she thinks she has me fooled lol.

I was very happy with the service, price, and value of bird cages 4 less.  My cage shipped relatively quickly (7 days) and came in good condition.  It was easy to put together, and it is a huge cage for $150.  Plenty of space for Bella to explore!

Model Rival Training Technique Video

I decided to do another video blog on the how we use modeling to trick train our birds.

Modeling works well for us because not only is the second bird watching the first bird and seeing that responding to a command in a particular way gains a treat, it also gives the bird a rival to compete against for the attention of the trainer.

Modeling can also work if you have only one bird.  You just need a willing human who doesn’t mind acting as he second bird.

Birds are very watchful and learn a lot just from watching what is going on around them.  Miles has even learned how to ask for a treat simply by watching Bella do it so many times.  Miles has never been trained to ask for some food, yet he knows how!

The Benefits of Friends with Birds

Let’s be realistic.  People who own birds are predominantly a little crazy.  Bird lovers spend ridiculously large sums of money to purchase and care for an animal that is loud, messy, destructive, and in some species, has the ability to send you to the hospital.  They give up their non stick cookware, strong scented cleaners, in exchange for an animal that may choose to adore their bratty teenage kid instead of them.  And then after they have compromised their lifestyle to fit their birds needs, they are still met with comments from non bird friends, asking why they care so much when it is ‘just a bird’. 

At least we can all breathe easy and know we are not alone.

Aside from providing the support to know we aren’t crazy, our bird crazy friends can also benefit us in other ways.  Here are some new things to think about the next time you get coffee with the owner of the macaw or the lovebird breeder.

  • bird socialization
  • combining orders from online for free shipping
  • brainstorming for bird solutions
  • bird outings and playdates
  • reviews for bird products/vets/groomers/stores/toys
  • swapping different magazines and books
  • mutual bird sitting
  • bird shopping buddy.  Who else wants to spend a day at petco examining different perches?
  • But mostly, just to have someone who understands the frustration when your bird chews your baseboards, and your joy when he masters a trick

I have been truely blessed with having not only a boyfriend that loves birds as much as I do, but a friend who does as well!   My friend Meg owns two beautiful birds, a ringneck named Tiki and a cockatiel named Harley, posts bird related links on my facebook wall, and doesn’t mind discussing the pros and cons of different brands of pellets.  Sounds like a bird friend out for my heart.  She was also iFeathers very first follower, and in some ways, are responsible for getting us through our first year of blogging.  Its a lot easier to write consistantly when you know someone actually cares about it 🙂 

Just the other day we went on a bird outing to buy pellets with Bella and Harley.  We stopped at Panaras to eat dinner, as Panaras is one of the few places that offers outdoor seating so pet people can dine with their pets.  We take turns going in to order, one of us bird sitting and the other getting food.  After going in to get my food, I came out to Bella straining in her harness, begging to be picked up, and screaming.  We had a small group of people congregating around our table drawn by our interesting choice in pets and Bella’s excessive screams, and Meg was explaining to everyone that she wasn’t dying, just upset that her mother walked into the store without her.  How many of your other, non bird owning friends would be cool with that?

So, if you don’t have any bird friends, consider joining a bird club, a message board, or just asking people if they have parrots.  Its really a great thing!

The Joy of Sharing

Camp was great, especially with our feathered friends with us. One of my favorite things about camping or going out with our birds is being able share our birds and our knowledge about them. Hannah’s little brothers friends, Gary and Ryan, both enjoyed meeting  Jules, and even their mother liked to learn more about him and Bella. He climbed on them and allowed them to pet him.

Other times when we took the dynamic duo out shopping, people, ranging from pet store attendants to kids on the street, love to hold, play with, or even just look at these wonderful birds. I love watching my bird interacting peacefully and the questioning looks on the human faces. Sometimes even the pet store attendants do not know something, especially about Bella, and Hannah and I enjoy explaining it to them.

I find through these experiences that sharing birds and showing people what nice animals they are is one of the greatest joys a bird owner can enjoy. And though it is fun, it allows us a way to show people that birds are clean, nice, and well-mannered animals.   Also through proper education we try to decrease the amount of unwanted birds in this world. If every bird owner did this I believe that there would be less discrimination of birds.

Discrimination Against Animals!

Everything at camp wasnt quite that great.  We had an issue that really got me fired up.  Saturday morning, we decided to go to the camp lodge for breakfast instead of cooking our own.  So we loaded up and headed to the lodge.  However, when we arrived there, we were quickly greeted by a nasty ‘you’re going to have to take your bird outside.  This is a restaurant.”

Jules, stealing some of Lance's toast

   

I spent three weeks in Germany a few years ago and one of the things that really resonated with me was how accepted animals were in society.  Dogs were allowed in stores, on trains and buses and in restaurants.  Everywhere you went, people took their animals with them.  There were no ‘no pets’ signs on doors, nor were there any mean people telling you to ‘take your bird outside’.      

It was a camp lodge.  Not a five-star restaurant.  Not a fancy steak house.  A ruddy old camp lodge that served greasy meals on paper plates with plastic silverware.  Real classy.    

 My dad tried to reason with me.  ” its health codes.  restaurants aren’t allowed to have animals in them for health reasons.”  Well, that fired me up even more.  Because honestly, my birds are cleaner than most people.  My birds wear diapers, so they make absolutely no more mess than a human infant.  In fact, my birds are quieter than most people’s kids, cleaner than most people’s kids, and more well-behaved than more people s kids.  And I don’t see one restaurant that has a ‘no kids’ sign on the door.  I take responsibility for all my animals and their behavior, which is more than most parents can say.  Still, I am the one shunned to the patio.      

 Not to mention, this is my life style being cramped by the opinions of everyone else.  And that’s not fair.  How many years of my young life did I have to sit in the same restaurant as smokers, even though I’ve never picked up a cigarette in my life?  And that was absolutely hazardous to my health and it was just recently banned!  How many times have I had to sit next to a noisy, screaming, sticky two-year old when I have an adverse nature towards children?  And I have never once complained or said ‘get your kid outside’.  And now I am being discriminated against for having a feathered kid.    

And if anyone would have mentioned the fact that people fear birds, I probably would have decked them.  I never force people to embrace the type of animal I hold dear.  I never force them to pet my birds, or touch my birds, or even take notice of my birds.  However, I am a member of society as well, as so are my birds.  So to deny me the pleasures of my life for someone else’s fear is wrong.  For example, I have a horrible, terrible, irrational fear of latex balloons.  I hate when they pop, I hate the squeaky noise they make, I hate everything about them.  However, I cannot expect to walk into a balloon-less world because I’m terrified of them.  And I certainly don’t see any signs on the restaurant door saying ‘no balloons’ because they bother me.    

 Needless to say, I did not purchase a breakfast and instead sat at the cigarette covered patio table and ate Lance’s toast, fuming about the discrimination I had just faced.      

 $%@& you, food industry owners and pet haters.

Camping with the Fids!

Lance and I just got back from a weekend camping trip!  However, when we go camping, we take some of our birds with us!          

all packed up and ready to go!

   

Bella and Jules both have travel carriers that we can put them in if we want to go somewhere or if its time for them to go to bed.  It’s also unsafe to ride with your bird out of the carrier on the car ride, so both birds are strapped into the car with a seat belt in the backseat in case of a crash.  Think of your bird as a toddler.            

Birds like a routine, so constructing one is very important to their well-being.  For example, Lance and I wake up and take the birds out.  We offer them their pellets and seeds twice a day, and water four times a day when out of the cage.  While they are in their carriers, they each have a dish of pellets and dish of water.  They usually stay out for the majority of the day, spending the hottest part either bathing, or inside the air-conditioned trailer.  When evening comes and the bugs come out, the birds go to bed early.  Mosquitos can give your bird a disease.            

Bella and Jules enjoying breakfast

   

Camp for us is mostly just relaxing.  We don’t really do anything fun to record, but sit around and talk and play with our fids. My brother and sister and dad ride dirt bikes, and we went on a day trip to Cabellos, but for the most part we just sat around.            

Traveling with your birds is also a good way to educate people about parrot ownership and about what great pets birds can be.  You’re always sure to draw a crowd when you have a bird.          

Bella spending some quality time with her daddy