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Easy Ways to Avoid Bird Boredom

(Kaytee Fan Blogger – Harley’s Dad)

Boredom in a bird can lead to many detrimental problems. These can include screaming, plucking, and aggression.

Here a few things to try and make the environment around your bird more interesting.

Harley my macaw has a knack for being able to destroy a toy in minutes. When he does this I grab the bits that are still usable and not soiled and refashion them into another toy.

To do this one good thing to keep around is scissors, cotton rope, and screw links. Just restring the remaining bits and rehang them in the cage.

You can change the place they are hung and the manner in which they are hung. Get creative. I have to try and keep the things attaching the the toys to the cage away from that beak or it will be toast.

Other things I have tried are phone books. I do own a tiny hand drill so I will drill a hole through the phone book and hang it up in the cage using scissors and cotton rope or stainless steel chain. Harley has a fun time shredding it to bits. It makes a mess for me to clean but he sure has a ball. I have read you can push old paperback books through the bars of the cage too.

Another thing I try to keep my bird entertained with, as he does love chewing on paper, is putting his food in paper lunch bags. I put it in a lunch bag and crinkle the top and place it in the regular lunch bowls. He takes a few nibbles before he realizes his dinner is in there.

One last cheap and easy thing I do is string up bits of cardboard. I am still going through boxes and so every once in a while I have an empty cardboard box. I also have paper cutter. I just rip apart the box and then use the paper cutter to make any and all shapes. If I can shove a skewer through the cardboard I do or I can even use the drill.

Main thing is to get creative. You’d be surprised how many items you already have can be use to entertain your bird.

(When in doubt please check and see if an items is safe for your bird.)

Love is in the air!?!

(Kaytee Fan Blogger – Harley’s Dad)

It’s official. My bird loves me. No, I mean really loves me.

I had read the averages for blue and gold Macaws reaching sexual maturity. I also read about green wing macaws reaching sexual maturity. Since my macaw is a mix of both I thought I had time. He is 6 but I was hoping it wouldn’t happen for a little while.

The other day I was resting my hand on his perch and I was watching something on TV. Next thing I know he is all over my hand. I didn’t freak but just went and washed my hand.

The second time it happened, it made things really awkward. I feel like I am in an office situation where I am being harassed and I don’t know what to do. I think I’ll have to make myself less bird sexy.

In all seriousness I have read the best way to keep this from happening is avoiding the things that trigger the response in the first place. I will try to keep my hands off his perches and watch his body language. He has not gotten angry when I move my hand and he stops and I hope it doesn’t get to that point.

Of course I will try to be less attractive to birds too.

Arizona Hummingbird Disaster Relief

This is not a story I wrote but I do feel like sharing this. Click the link for more info and to learn how you can help.

Basically due to fires in Arizona a lot of migrating birds have lost habitat and food sources. There are ways to help the birds especially the hummingbirds. Please click the link to learn more!

The wonderful Kaytee is doing what they can but they could use your help! Click link to find out how.

Screaming Is it really so bad?

You might be wearing ear muffs now or your ears are ringing due to the noise.

There are reasons for screaming or vocalizing in birds.  Lets explore some of the reasons and remedies you might try to lessen the noise.

First and foremost you cannot eliminate all vocalizations and why would ya.  It is what birds do.  From personal experience I always have to remember that for Harley, my macaw, I run the fine line of getting him to be so quiet he doesn’t say any of the words he has learned and I do want him to talk.

Second most important thing is to not give up.  As a bird owner there is a certain amount of noise you are going to have to tolerate.

One of the main causes of screaming is boredom. Sure you have all these toys and maybe even windows for your bird to look out at but it can still get bored.  Try moving the cage to another window if you can.  Change out the toys and move them around so your bird interacts with them in different ways.  Even just hanging a toy upside down will make it different and interesting.  Change the perches around.  Make them different heights and different angles.

Another reason for screaming could be that your bird just wants attention.  Being cooped up in your coop all day without you is not what your bird wants.  Most birds that come from pet stores are hand raised and because of that desire to be around humans.  If you can’t take your bird out of its cage for whatever reason try doing all you can in the same room as your bird.  I used to read “Parrots For Dummies” out loud to my bird when I first got him.  My theory was it helped him get used to my voice and presence.  Watch TV together.  Action movies with all the noise are favorites in my home.

It could be that your bird is screaming due to actual fear.  There could be something in its environment that is stressing it out.  Maybe another pet is near or even another animal outside the window.  Try to look as see what you might find scary if you were a bird.  Even other birds outside can excite your bird.

Those are a few ideas and things you might try to curb some screaming.  Here are some thing you don”t want to do to quiet your bird.

Don’t yell back.  This will actually encourage more screaming.

Don’t squirt your bird with water.  This is mean and won’t have your bird liking bath time.

Don’t cover your bird’s cage.  Sure this will quiet it down but it is only a temporary solution.

Never tap your bird’s beak to quiet it down.  It can actually be painful to your bird.

I hope I have given you some helpful tips on getting to the root of the screaming issue.  Please remember that some screaming is normal but screaming all day is not.  If after reading and googleing this issue things have not improved don’t give up but you may even need to visit a vet to eliminate any health issues.

This video is long but you do hear some screaming.  I try to talk to him calmly in the hope of encouraging speaking.

An Alternative to Treating Adrenal Gland Disease in Ferrets

Let me start by saying the treatment option I am presenting is an option that has worked for me.  Please consult a vet to see what option is best for you.

My ferret, Rob Lowe, has adrenal gland disease.  This disease is very common in ferrets and I read no one knows why.

Even humans have adrenal glands.  What they do, in a nutshell, is produce extremely important hormones.  Those hormones regulate blood glucose levels, electrolyte levels, and increase musculature among other things. They even produce some amounts of sex hormones.

I found out Robbie had adrenal gland disease by taking her to a vet.  She had the classic symptoms.  She had hair loss from about the waist down.  She had a pot belly.  The most telling sign was her swollen vulva.  What this meant was that the glands were producing sex hormones that were causing this.

If your fuzzy is diagnosed with this illness don’t be too upset, you have options.  Surgery is one but it has its risks that you must consider.  I have read about some cutting edge implants that provide continual low doses of certain hormones needed to balance out the ones being produced by the diseased adrenal glands.

The option I chose was supplementing her diet with melatonin.  Please note this option does not cure the disease.  It only slows the progression.

I am also giving her a multi-vitamin and ferretone.  The multi-vitamin and melatonin are in her water bottle and the ferretone is given as a treat at least once a week.

I have been doing this for only about a month and her coat is full and her vulva is looking near normal.  Her energy is back up as well.

Please note that this is not a cure and you must consult a vet to weigh your options.  I felt at Robbie’s age this was a good option.  I will stay in touch with the vet to see where the disease progression is at and I urge you to do the same.

Please google adrenal glad disease in ferrets and read up on your options before and after consulting your vet.  The more you know the easier it will be to come up with a treatment plan that is right for your situation.

To clip or not to clip?

There was a heated debate online about clipping your bird’s wings.  I just wanted to explain my point of view on the subject.

Harley has been clipped since before I got him about 3 years ago.  I believe he wasn’t allowed to fledge, meaning learn to fly, prior to his first wing clip.

The most Harley has ever “flown” was when I had to get him out of a tree.  He fluttered down and ended up gliding half way across my 1 acre and landed on my fence.

My bird rarely flaps his wing although I encourage it as often as possible.

I share this only to let you know Harley is clipped and is not a flier and he rarely flaps his wings.  I asked him if he wants to fly but he just stares at me.

What got me going about the debate was that it inferred clipping a wing was cruel and inhumane.  They also went on to say that birds that are flighted have less heart disease than clipped birds.

What they failed to mention about the articles was the fact that exercise and diet go hand in hand in preventing heart disease.  You can have a free flighted bird that eats a horrible diet and still has heart disease.

Bottom line is I know free flighted is optimal but clipping is a viable option.  Not all situations allow for free flighted birds.  I can just imaging someone in a tiny NYC apartment having a large macaw flying around knocking everything off the walls.  Not to mention no matter how diligent we are our homes are not hazard proof and flighted birds may be more at risk for these.

They also say that brain scans show hight function in birds that are flighted.  This may or may not be the case but everyone’s brain scan is different.  People with ADD or autism can function “normally” but their brain processes the same items differently than what is seen as “normal.”

One commenter in this debate pointed out that a free flighted bird can be harder to deal with and someone could leave a bird in cage more often in order to not deal with a flighted bird.  So in this case the bird suffers.

As you may have seen from my pictures I try to take Harley out and about the town as often as possible.  If he were free flighted I know it would be less and a lot more work but because he is clipped I try to compensate by getting him as much stimulation as possible.

I know flying is what birds were created for but as a companion animal wing clipping is a viable option and you must do what is right for your situation.  Whatever you choose should not leave you ashamed or feeling bad.

If you are thinking about this issue and whether or not you are going to clip please do all the research you can and evaluate the pros and cons for your situation.  Everyone’s situation is different and you must do what you feel is right. A flighted bird that is allowed to fly around the house is going to have its own issues that you will have to deal with.  A clipped bird is going to have its own issues as well and you will need to make sure it get exercise.

Please remember that to clip or not to clip is just one part of many on the road to providing optimal care for your bird.

Below is one of Kaytee’s own videos explaining wing clipping.

If you like please subscribe as Kaytee has some of the best pet care vids on the net.

The Tale of Two Gerbils

Working at Kaytee I have interacted with many small critters and had them as office pets, occasionally bringing them home on the weekends, but never actually having one all of my own.

Recently that all changed. I adopted two little gerbils, Potato and Pancake from a friend at work. Potato is blond and is more outgoing of the two. Pancake is black and seems to be very shy and reserved. My guess is that they are about 1 year old. I have a dog and I had a rabbit as a child so pet care is a part of my life but it seems a bit more new this time. I have two young children at home so I know they would be more then thrilled by the arrival of two new members in the family. But, would I be ready?

I packed up all the items needed to take care of the little guys, soft granule bedding, a CritterTrial, some Forti-Diet Pro Health food, a tube-0-hay and an Igloo for them to hang out in. Working at Kaytee really has its advantages! So I packed it all up and off we went on our 30 min. drive to pick up the kido’s and show them their new housemates.

Two sets of big blue eyes and smiles from ear to ear, “oh mom, I love you, thank you, thank you, thank you”. This is the response from my 4 and 6 year old daughters. Needless to say the response from my spouse wasn’t quite so enthusiastic. So, in the house we went with all of our supplies in tow. The girls already bickering on who gets to hold what. I have to admit there was a moment of “feels like this might not be a good idea”.

About 20 min. later the cage was all set up, bedding was in, food & water was full and the boys were checking out their new cage. The kids begged to hold them but I insisted that we let them check out their new digs for a little bit and get used to their new surroundings. This didn’t well with my kids but soon enough they realized mom wasn’t giving in on this one and found it fun to sit and watch them running around in the cage.

Finally, the excitement for the evening settles and we let the little guys settle in for the night. We go about our regular routine and the kids get distracted from the new pets for awhile. We all get ready for bed and as I give kisses and say goodnight my oldest says “mom thank you so much for bringing the gerbils home, can I hold them when I get up”?

I will hear this question every night for the next 12 days in a row…. : )

Bite Size

I was reading an article in the new Bird Talk Magazine and it discusses experiments done with pellet size.
The article does discuss colored block preference experiments being done at University of California but another out of the same college deals with pellets size.
I found this very interesting and prior didn’t notice that Harley loves a certain size but now I think I see a pattern. I know he likes the orange ball shaped pellets from a certain fruity bird food. As for other items he does use his feet to manipulate as often as possible.
The article goes on to say that they controlled the light (12 hours on 12 hours off) and of course the size of the pellets.
Doing this they found that with small pellets the birds spend only 42 minutes of a 12 hour day foraging. By manipulating the size of the pellets, making them larger they were able to get the amazon parrots to forage up to 3 hours per day.
They are not real sure why this is but it is the pattern that emerged.
They also mention that foraging time in the wild differ from species to species and differ in the seasons but that out goal should be to try and achieve natural species behavior.
(You can read this article I am referring to in the September issue of Bird Talk Magazine.)
That is why I really love the Natures Benefits line from Kaytee.

Just look! kaytee


This week I decided I needed to step back for a moment and take a breath.  I needed to examine myself and my pet’s situations.  Was Harley happy?  Is he lonely?  Was my decision to supplement Robbie’s diet with melotonin the right choice?  I don’t know the answers for sure but these pics make me think they both enjoy their lives with me.  Hope you enjoy them too.

And please take a moment to fill out this survey for Kaytee.  You could win some prizes!

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So tired from being so cute!
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Here is another survey Kaytee would like you to take for Small Animals. Click the hyperlinked sentence below.

I am sure prizes are involved for taking it!

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