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 🙂

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!!

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!

Make Your Own Bird Toys, Issue 1!

As a quick update, Taylor still has a swollen crop, but is looking happy and healthy (other than the large bulge on his chest) in his hospital box.  He has eaten the entire sprig of millet I gave him last night, as well as part of his seed and pellet mixture.  I also caught him drinking this morning, so he is eating, drinking, and pooping, all essential to life!  Tay also has an appointment down at Northview tomorrow at 11:40.  So, hopefully we will find out what is wrong with him and remedy it!

I also found a vet to shadow over the summer on my days off from Petscapes!  I called Dr. Hope today from Hope Veterinary Hospital and he said I was welcome to come anytime, for surgeries on Tuesday and Friday mornings, to office hours throughout the week. I am so pumped!  So, I’m sure I’ll have many good things to write about!

However, today I decided to do a fun installation about making your own bird toys.  Bella enjoys shredding things up, and therefore goes through toys like water.  Because the average bird toy runs around $5-$10 depending on how complex and big it is, I have decided to start making a lot of my own.  So, I am going to share some of my secrets with you.  Shh. 

I don’t really name these things.  This particular toy is a basic paper shredding toy.  It’s ideal for budgies up to conures or amazons.  I wouldn’t want to make this toy for a macaw, because they would probably look at it and it would fall apart.  So, this is recommended for smaller shredders.

Materials:

  1. Two or more pieces of colored paper, your choice
  2. Yarn or another type of string
  3. Scissors
  4. a bird to keep you company.  Little Erin is our model today, because she’s just so darn cute.

Step One

cut the pieces of colored paper into strips width wise.  Depending on your birds size, you may need to cut these pieces wider or thinner than mine.  I made a matching toy for Erin and her strips were much thinner.

Step Two

Bend the strips back and forth to make an accordion style piece of paper. Bend each strip separately.  Its faster to bend them all together, but then they all spoon each other and it doesn’t make as fun of a toy.

Step Three

Continue bending until you have enough strips bent to make a decent size wad of paper.

Step Four

place all the strips together at the center and tie with yarn around.  Wrap a few times to make a tougher toy and make sure there are no loops that can easily catch a bird leg.  Leave a tail of yarn for tying into the cage.  Erin decided she wanted this one.

Step Five

Tie new toy into bird-cage.  Here is an angry Bella with her new toy.  She wasn’t happy I let it invade her space.  I kinda like pissing her off though because she looks so dinosaur like when she puts that little ruff of feathers up on the back of her neck!

 

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