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!

Higgins Worldly Cuisine Review

The last time we went out to a bird fair I picked up some of the Higgins Worldly Cuisine packets to try with my guys.  I’m always busy, so sometimes finding time to get all the ingredients together and make my own mixture is tough.  I usually just give them some of whatever we are making for dinner, but the Worldly Cuisines looked pretty tasty and I needed something else bird related to spend my money on.  

I bought the Moroccan Cafe Blend, which had a lot of rice in it, and my picky cockatiels usually like rice.  The back label said to cook the food on the stove top, but I’m really lazy and made it in the microwave by covering it and microwaving it for five minutes and stirring it every minute and a half.  

When I took it out, it smelled divine.  I know birds aren’t suppose to be able to smell, but Bella was on my shoulder and started getting excited and edging towards the microwave before she even saw the bowl.  Maybe she just knows by now her lazy mother takes all of her treats out of the microwave lol.  
As weird as it is, I always taste their food before I give them it, because in my opinion, if I’m going to give something to my parrots it has to be suitable for human consumption.  It was pretty tasty, even for a human!  It tasted kind of like plain rice with some apple and something sweet like brown sugar in it.  Anyways, it passed my taste test, so I mixed in a packet of ornabac because no one likes eating probiotics with their pellets and some of the Higgins Snack Attack Leafy Greens and Herbs to give it some extra flavor and dished it all out to everyone.  They all seemed to like it!

Bella, trying some of her Moroccan Blend!

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!!

Wow, what is this? He is writing!!!

Hi all

Wow, its been along time. I guess the right thing to do is write an apology to ever one. I’m sorry, Ive had a rough year, but I’m back and better then ever.

Now I know Hannah at least posted once to tell you a little about what I have been up to and I will get you updated on the in another post soon, but today I wanted to explain my view on animals a little so when I start writing you will know where I’m coming from. Some day I plan to work as a researcher for a zoo or conservation society. What this generally means is I try to do things in a more natural way, and stress things that are not quite as important to some people, like natural instinct. I always stress habitat (notice i didn’t call it a cage) design, diet, and quality of life. I think even if an animal is kept as a pet it should have the chance to live a “normal”  life.

I plan to be writing more now, and I hope to answer any of your questions about my opinions. Talk to you soon.  

The Sock That Saves the Day!

So, after getting exceptionally frustrated with Erin’s picking and all the failed products and theories I have tried to attempt to stop her picking , I decided just to put her to sleep.

Just kidding.

I’m not that evil and I certainly wouldn’t give up on my birdie like that.  I just wanted to see if you were awake. 

However, I did become exceptionally tired of her picking and have decided to take matters into my own hands.  I took Erin to camp with us over Memorial day weekend, and she didn’t pluck once the whole trip.  She had pins coming in and she was happy, her scabs were drying up and falling off, and all seemed to look up.  Then, I came home, went to work, and that evening every pin-feather was gone and she had a bloody mess on her chest again.  And at that point in time, I was so disappointed and so frustrated, I probably could have put her to sleep and felt like I was doing the right thing for her.  After all, if a bird is so unhappy that they mutilate their skin to the point of bleeding, wouldn’t they be happier not living?  And if the owner is the one who set the picking off by going away to school, shouldn’t they deserve to not have a bird?  And if the owner has taken the bird to a vet who didn’t find the problem, and now the owner doesn’t have money to go to another vet right this second, shouldn’t the owner just not have a bird?  At least that’s all what was going through my head Tuesday night after I discovered her looking like a plucked chicken again.

I took her up to my mother’s room and showed her the damage, basically just looking for someone else to blame for Erin’s problem other than myself.  My mom started to try to design different bird vests for Erin with her crocheting and quilting skills, trying to make a vest that did not allow her to get the left side of her chest.  If you look at Erin’s progression of plucking, it doesn’t really follow the pattern of classic plucking caused by behavior, nor does it follow the pattern of classic plucking caused by medical reasons.  Erin started plucking at the middle of her chest, just a small circle.  As she progressed, her circle got bigger.  By the time we went to the vet, Erin had cleaned the entire left side of her breast.  Anti anxiety drugs did not stop her plucking, but she also did not progress outside of that circle.  When I introduced the no plucking vest to her, Erin progressed more to the left side under her wing.  When I took her to camp, she didn’t touch her feathers until her chest would get dried up.  When I would see her messing with her chest, I would put some lotion on her, and she would go back to ignoring it and being happy to sit around or groom her other feathers.  Up until this point, I figured it was totally a medical reason, as I had changed everything I could think of and battled with every tactic I thought of and nothing helped. 

So, as I sat there and looked at Erin, I grabbed a sock, cut the toe off, put some holes in it for her wings and head, and pulled it over her head like a sweater.  And after a few minutes of tweaking and a few tries with more toes of socks, I finally had a sock sweater that fit her correctly.  And guess what?  The sock works!!

The sock covers Erin’s entire chest, under her wings, her sides, and even her back.  I thought maybe she would begin picking on top of her wings or her legs, but so far, she hasn’t touched them.  Now Erin’s plucking seems behavioral.

So, what I’m going to do is wait until Erin is fully feathered again before she gets any unsupervised time without the sock on.  Then, I’m going to wean her off of it slowly, but only letting her not wear it when I’m home and downstairs, then gradually reducing the amount of supervised time. 

My theory now is that Erin started picking because I was away at school, she wasn’t getting as much attention as she was used to, and she was just in general upset.  When I came home, Erin’s plucking turned into a habit.  As I tried to break that habit by sending time with her and giving her more new options in her cage to play with, Erin’s plucking slowed, but the itchiness and dryness of her new feathers coming in bothered her, so she began self mutilating and pulling out the painful quill feathers. 

Now that Erin cannot reach her pin feathers anymore, she has stopped plucking.  I’m sure she’s not very comfortable, but I just hope these pins grow into feathers quickly so she feels better.  And by the looks of it, she hasn’t damaged any follicles too badly that she can’t grow feathers back. 

And look at all those gorgous pins!

Our Adventure to Northview Animal Hospital!

Today I took Taylor to Northview Animal Hospital to see what was wrong with his swollen crop.  And it was quite an adventure just getting there! 

I am not by any means a confident driver.  I hate driving in places I don’t know, I hate city driving, and I hate being pressured by other drivers.  And getting to Northview involved all three!  I’m surprised Taylor didn’t die on the way there from fear of my poor driving or my screaming and cussing.  Mapquest lied and said I would be there in a half an hour and its a good thing I left an hour ahead of time, because I arrived just on time. 

Dr. Denise Pleban saw Taylor and I’m pretty sure she is my angel from heaven when it comes to finding an avian vet.  For the first time since I’ve started looking for an avian vet, I didn’t feel rushed with my time with the vet, I didn’t feel cheated, and I didn’t feel like I knew more than the person seeing my animal. 

Taylor had samples taken from his crop as well as stool samples and had grams stains run on both.  He was a little stinker today, and his crop was not nearly as swollen as it had been yesterday, so his physical exam was less than revealing.  His lab tests, however, revealed that Taylor has a yeast infection in his crop. 

I was pretty surprised that it was  yeast infection, because Taylor is 3 years old, and yeast infections are usually common in baby birds!  However, Dr. Pleban said he may have  a compromised immune system due to his rough beginnings.  He could also have a mechanical problem keeping his crop closed and away from bacteria.  If that’s the case, Taylor will have to be on medication for the rest of his life to keep him safe from infections in his crop.

As for right now, Taylor is on medication for ten days that I have to give him twice a day.  I also was advised to change his pellets from Kaytee to either Harrisons, Roudybush, or Zupreem.  So, I picked up a bag of Zupreem from the store on the way home, and amazingly, it seems like Tay really likes them!  Even better, I offered some to Erin to see if I can get them both on the same pellet, and she seems to like them as well!  Erin NEVER likes any other pellets than Lafaebers, which is a good brand, but expensive and messy. 

So now I just have to convince Taylor that his medicine is for his own good.  I already gave him his first dose and he acted as though I gave him a dose of cyanide.  He’s so over dramatic. 

DU Animal Welfare Club visits the national aviary!

The first public outing my club went to was one of my favorite places: the aviary! 

When I first brought up the idea of visiting the aviary, I got a lot of mixed emotion.  Mostly it was like. . .ehhh birdsss. . . . . . . Luckily, I knew that the aviary, while it IS all birds, has the best mix of hands on activities to make your ehhh birdsssss into YAY BIRDSSSS!

So, our bus never came.  I made everyone walk there. 

We finally got there, and everyone started to see it my way. 

Everything about the aviary is wonderful.  The birds are wonderful, the trainers are wonderful, the activities are wonderful.  All of our members got to participate in a hands on feeding activity.  And most left the avairy wanting their own bird lol. 

It makes me totally excited for Lance’s future! 

Where Has Lance Been?

Even I start to wonder that sometimes lol.  But, don’t worry, I assure you he is alive and well.  He just has been pretty busy.  That doesnt mean what hes doing is any less cool or not worth recording.  Actually, its the opposite!  But because he can’t get to it yet, I’ll give you the general over view and he can fill in the blanks once he gets time.

Lance has gone MIA because it is once again September!  And that means its band season!  . . . . .  Can you feel my excitement?  Actually, every year between the months of September and October, everything falls on the wayside for band.  Band becomes life, breath, bread, and water.  We eat, drink, breath, and sleep band.   And this year, even under new managment and partially non competition and show band, is still no difference.

See, one thing you’ll learn about Lance that you haven’t had the chance to do yet, is that when he commits to something, there is no half assed job in it.  Its one thing I love more than anything about him.  At the same time, its one thing I hate more than anything about him lol.  Mostly just because I’m jealous that everything else becomes equally as important as me!  For example, you will not see him skimping on a practice to come visit me.  You will not find him napping through a show because he’s tired or sick.  Lance just doesn’t do that.

So, right now, my boyfriend has done a little biting off more than he can sucessfully chew this year.  He usually takes a big mouthful, but for whatever reason inspired him this year, he decided to pack his senior schedule in like a sardine.   So, he now has band practice Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursday evenings from around 5 or 6 till 8 or 9 I believe.  He has football games Friday night and he has band competitions Saturday all day.   Sundays and Wenesdays he works at the Giant Eagle.  He also took AP Bio, AP Calc, Honors English, and Anatomy and Physiology for his senior school schedule.  So, the only ones who really see or even talk to Lance are those other sad losers who have devoted their life to marching around with turf turds in their shoes.  Which I will fully admit, I gave into peer pressure and joined when I was a senior just so I wouldn’t have to miss him the way I do now.

He has also, on Wenesdays, began his apprenticeship at the National Aviary, which is the one cool thing that needs to be written down!  I am totally jealous of his apprenticeship.  He literally goes and spends the day on the behinds the scenes stuff at the aviary.  He’s learning so much already!  And now, he is super super pumped about growing up and getting a job.  I have to admit, he definatly picked the cooler one out of the two of us!

At his last trip there, he said he was in the wetlands room.  He got to go into the kitchen and help sort out the bugs for the birds to eat.  Then, they went to the wetlands room with the guy who runs the shows there (I cant remember his name, Lance would know) and they did a show for the people who came to watch.  He said there is a conure who has a vitamin deficiancy and she hops up on a scale and takes her medicine like a little champ before snagging a seed and flying away.  Some of the other birds were hopping on people’s hands and the one bird knows how to poop on command!  The show didn’t last very long because the audience was stupid.  They were shying away and ducking from the incan terns and stuff like that.  Losers. 

After that, they got to go into the flamingo pet and let the flamingos come up to them.  He said you squat down in the mud and they come up and groom you!  So cool!  He said though, if they honk at you, you have to leave.  Thats their warning before they attack! 

Then, they all got to help train some birds.  Lance got to point train a bird who was afraid of even the trainer because he was too tall!  Being short isnt always a sin! He’s really excited about next week and what he gets to do then!


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.