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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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’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’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!

The Dollar Store: The Ultimate House of Bird Toys

Today Lance and I decided to go around to some of the local dollar stores and see what we could find to make our own bird toys.  With Bella being an avid shredder and Jules easily figuring out toys, Erin being a plucker and Taylor being afraid or uninterested in most toys, our toy bill can be astranomical.  Early on, I started trying to copy some of the more common toy designs and build them myself or design my own toys, particularly for the handicapped birds to help alleviate large bills.  I’d read online that a lot of other toy builders go to dollar stores to find good bird building materials, so we figured it was worth a shot.  We went to two different dollar stores and this is what we found:

Dollar stores are the ultimate bird toy store!

All of those awkward little pieces that you’d never know where you can go can be found at the local dollar store for pennies.  Plus, there is so much awkward things crammed into a dollar store, its hard to not get further inspiration for different toys just by looking around. 

Here is a list of everything we walked out with:

  • 1 crate for storing bird toy materials
  • 2 sleeves of cotton rounds (80 count each) for bird diaper liners
  • 1 sewing kit for threading bird toys
  • 1 2pk of ice cube tray for making frozen bird desserts
  • 1 rope loop dog pull toy
  • 3 packs of multiple colored tissue papers
  • 2 packs of solid color tissue paper
  • 3 packs of 12 wiffle golf balls
  • 1 pack of 4 large wiffle ball
  • 2 bags of pony beads
  • 1 pack of wooden beads
  • 1 pack of 200 count straws
  • 1 pack of 100 count paper cup cake liners
  • 2 spools of all natural twine
  • 4 bags of basket/bag shreds
  • 2 decks of playing cards
  • 1 150 count of coffee filters
  • 1 set 60 count kraft sticks

All this plus a bamboo butterfly net for Lance for $30!  Thats a lot of bird toys for the price of one, literally.  I’ve already gone through and started making toys.  So far, I’ve made 14 pinatas for Bella to shred out of old toliet paper rolls, news paper, and tissue paper.  I also recreated a rope swing that I bought for $16 for a dollar.  Its amazing what a little creativity and dollar store items can do lol.

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. 

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!

 

Long Time, No Write

Ewww. . . Its been a long time since I’ve wrote.  I hate when I get off track and stop writing for a long time.  But in reality, my time is super precious and I haven’t had very much of it.  I’m going to try harder, blog, but I can’t be promising anything.

A lot of great stuff has happened.  First, and probably most importantly, I have started a club!  Its an Animal Welfare Club, and we do great things like visit animal shelters, zoos, aviaries, and host fundraisers benifiting animal rescues.  Starting this club has been an emotional and stressful process.  I have never really taken the inititive to do something like this before.  However, it seemed like a good thing to do.  Duquesne has nothing regarding animals, I miss my pets so I’m sure a butt load of other people miss theirs, and it seemed like it would be a great thing to put on a resume to a vet school.  “Founder and President for 4 years of the DU Animal Welfare Club”.  Yep, it has a great ring to it 🙂 

If I have been busy, Lance has only been busier.  I explained before how the smarty bit off more than he could chew his senior year at school, but hes doing well all the same.  Hopefully, he’ll be back on board pretty soon too. 

Our birds are all doing well.  I went home a few weekends ago and made a startling discovery.  My birds are not being handled enough!  They are turning feral!  Everyone was biting and nipping and running!  They still loved to have their heads pet, and pushed their little heads against your hand to pet them, but they are not getting out enough.  I believe next time I go home, I need to buy everyone a bunch of new toys so they don’t start getting worse.  I’d just think, that with 5 people in that house, one of them could take the inititive to take the birds out pretty often. 

I’ve decided that Erin will be attending college with me next year.  I am going to try to become an RA, and if I cannot become an RA, I have a friend who has two parakeets of her own whom she misses dearly.  Erin is so quiet, no one would ever know she was there.  And she would probably love being down here, where she can be out for the majority of the day. 

I’m already so looking forward to the day when Lance and I can get a pet friendly apartment or rent a small house that allows animals.  I cant wait to have my birds back with me. 

And I really can’t wait to grow up and move out to wyoming, and have our farm!

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.