Do power lines affect the health of birds, when they perch on them?

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Questions about birds I answered on Quora the week of 3/13/17

Do power lines affect the health of birds, when they perch on them?

I can’t speak to power lines but I know that Quaker parrots are colonial animals. They build large nests where a whole colony can live enabling them to survive brutal Chicago winters.

A heat source they seek out and build their nests in is electrical transformers. CommEd has access to a number of Quaker rescues who will come and get the birds when requested.

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Wondering if you can guide me on care of my umbrella cockatoo.

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Wondering if you can guide me with the care of my umbrella. Her vet is away on sick leave for a few months. I am her third owner.

I live in a two-room 35 ft camper trailer with six dogs and the bird. She likes to be around them – in her cage – and when they get treats she expects ( and gets) her own. They are her flock.

She has been a feather shredder since long before she came to me, about three years ago. She is also very indifferent to food. Her owner before me cared for her well and tried her hardest to get her to fresh fruit and veg. Her primary diet is Zupreem fruit blend, though specific preference is the pink. But she isn’t even very interested in eating.

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This manifesto will make you a better caged bird keeper

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My name is mitchr. I am an avian influencer. Full transparency – my day gig is selling products just for pet birds – I spend approximately 20% of my work week scanning about 20 Facebook bird groups and niche (species specific) forums like this. The content I write has one purpose which is to make you a better caged bird keeper.

I think serving dishes filled with any sort of commercial bird food without offering foraging and enrichment opportunities 24/7 in and out of the cage is the single biggest problem with getting our birds to eat properly.

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Pepper our two and a half year old African Red-bellied Parrot

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Catherine,

Sorry for the delay.  I had full intentions of providing you with my take on the African Red Bellied parrot several weeks ago and life got in the way.  🙂
irst of all, let me introduce Pepper our two and a half year old ARB.  I am emphasizing two year old because we are going through what I can only hope is the terrible 2s stage and not a life long trait with him.

For a bit of history, this is not my first rodeo.  I was very active in owning, caring, training, and taming parrots many years ago.  I go back to the days when most were wild caught birds that required significant patience and attention.

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Your 2017 caged bird keepers to-do list

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My bird(s) will get proper lighting using a timer to provide an accurate light cycle

I will get my bird(s) DNA tested so the next time I ask mitchr a question he will know if the behavior may be sexually oriented

I will work with my flighted bird to make him or her a better flyer. If my bird is not flighted I will consider allowing the wings grow out for a more confident bird that screams less. Continue reading “Your 2017 caged bird keepers to-do list” »

Clicker training videos for birds – from tricks to flight

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It is opaque to me as to why cage bird keepers refuse to embrace clicker training. We spend hundreds (thousands) of dollars on birds, equipment, toys, accessories and food (thank you very much) but we spend so little time actually “training” these incredibly smart animals.

Much like those taking their dogs for a “drag” in the morning on my way to work – I see no control exerted by the humans.

Isn’t having a pet that responds positively to your behavior requests infinity more enjoyable?

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Scientists fundraise for conures

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Did you know the sun conure may be facing extinction in the wild, and you can help? There is a real need for more surveys to establish their status in nature. The 2014 estimates published on the IUCN database are between 1,000 and 1,499 mature birds. Some of the last known sun conures live in Guyana, a country with a small human population and a lot of forest and savannah grasslands.

The IUCN page mentions that the trade in wild conures is “ongoing” because “due to the ease with which birds can be attracted to bait (e.g. corn) and the large distances they will travel, it is easy to trap all the individuals in an area.” Quoted from Jamie Gilardi.

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Don’t tell your bird she’s eating pellets so she can eat her pellets

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Bird food pellets developed in the late 20th century have been a definite boon to avian nutrition. They offer a fully engineered diet that can be life-sustaining for most birds over decades.

Bird food pellets offer the lowest cost per pound/calorie of any food as well as the least mess.

The flip side of that is we tell people there are no pellet trees in the rain forest so pellets can be counterintuitive to a bird. They lack the many textures and flavors that seeds nuts fruits and vegetables offer.

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OH NO someone has stolen my parrots! SunDance, Pepper and 19 other parrots: missing!

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My first medium sized parrot was a loving sun conure who spent all the years of her life with me. She chose me one day when I was in a pet shop when she was just weaned, about 8 weeks old.

Today I know I got her for the wrong reasons. I was fast learning a lot about my budgie Sydney and twice-found cockatiel Cocoa. After two cold winters in Denver, my husband and I were at last returning to Cape Canaveral for his job on the Space Shuttle. Before leaving Denver I said I wanted a bike for riding the beach and a parrot to ride with me. When SunDance picked me, little did I know she would have an absolute horror of bicycles. No matter how I worked with her, she never overcame this fear.

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(*´∀`)ノ Holy crap we just rescued 2 more birds ヽ(゚〇゚)ノ

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File under: riding the cosmic coaster

About a month after Popcorn had passed Catherine and I made big plans to get a new bird after we launched the new Windy City Parrot. I casually mentioned that I was thinking of an African bird like a Senegal.

Sometimes when we get deliveries of bird food a bag is broken or torn and cannot be sold as new. We get credit for that bag and we store them in a refrigerator in the back of the store. We give these bags to our local customers as it is too expense to ship them.

A couple weeks ago Catherine casually mentioned that we were ready to begin a serious search for a new bird.

Carmel, a very good customer of ours was in the Birdie Boutique one day. We give her a lot of the food because we know she passes it on to a local rescue run by a woman we found was named Pat.

Turns out we knew Pat from the bird fairs years back when we were vending at the bird clubs and events.

Peaches, a Senegal parrot, clearly did not like all the other birds in Pat’s rescue. Senegals tend to be quiet.

At the same time we had made a decision to get Bacon, our newly rescued budgie a cage mate because he was clearly unhappy alone and we knew it would take a long time to socialize him. What the heck – we asked Pat if she also had a budgie she could spare.

Cosmos speaking to us -> the day after Peaches came into our lives, I had to do some banking in our new bank. We set up some new accounts and I really hadn’t paid attention to how money was coming and going.

Funny story – one of the accounts that I expected to have $10 had $954. Some dumb credit card processing center had somehow sent this money to the wrong account which I had been chasing for two weeks and was getting nowhere.

Thank you Peaches <- THERE’S YOUR SIGN

The video explains it all.

the digital journey

Subject: Senegal

Dear Pat, It was good to talk to you again. Time flies by so fast. Yes, Mitch and I are looking for a new forever bird. We had Sunshine, our Indian Ringneck, for many years until he passed. I bought him at a GCCBC bird fair about 30 years ago.

Then we went a couple of years bird-less until Popcorn flew into our lives; she was a great little girl. Sadly we lost her to her hormones and most likely cancer. I wish we knew then what we know now.

We were able to stop her hormonal behavior with the 72 hour light cycle we put her through, but by then it was too late. We have had others try it on their own birds and it works.

We currently have a tiny male parakeet foundling who is not tame and does not want to be from what we can see so we are going to get it a buddy in a week or so as we are waiting 30 days to see if the owner shows up.

We would love to see the Senegal you were talking about. Please send me any information, regarding a rescue. We have never adopted before, but we want to have an older bird, not a baby at this point in our lives.

Dear Pat, Thank you for the pictures of Mishu. She looks cute. Does not look mean, LOL, but has a look like “what are you doing?” Is she flighted? We do believe in allowing a bird to fly but also know a bird in a new environment can fly right into danger.

We would clip once, so she would not be able to harm herself. Then when the feathers grow back, she would have full flight available forever. When we brought Popcorn home she had to be clipped as she was just so confused and within a month had molted and grown new feathers; that was great.

Mitch works at home most of the time so he is able to allow the bird to be out. Every room has a stand as we feel if a bird lands on something and destroys it, it is not their fault if we have not provided a stand for it.

We never allow them to fly around other rooms unless we are with them. We have a lot of doors that can be closed keeping the bird in the same room we are. I don’t know if you have seen our BLOG or are signed up for it, but seeing it would show you what sticklers we are at bird care.

senegal parrot on back i womans hand with bracelet on wrist

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Hi Catherine.  I am a caregiver for my elderly mother so weeknights will not work for me.  I can bring her to you maybe Thursday or Friday this week.  We will start off with a foster contract to see how it goes for a month.

I typically do a home inspection but not necessary for you.  Her name is Mishu which was given to her by a former owner.  He purchased her from a Rolling Meadows bird show breeder.  I was there the day he got her so I know she is six years old.  

This was the son of a good friend of mine who was living with a girlfriend.  When he got home she was furious about bringing the bird home.  Told him “it is me or the bird”.  

So I have had her her whole life.  I’m sad that I am offering her a new home but know you will give her the best home possible.  I have been her only human interaction so I am not sure if she will warm up to Mitch. All I can suggest is give her time.

Let me know if and when I can drop her off to you.  I assume you will use Popcorn ‘s cage for her.

Dear Pat, Wow, that is quite a story, but it is nice to know her history too. We would be honored to try to see how it works out. Yes, we would love to do this. Mitch works from home currently so he would be with her all the time. He intends to work from an office being set up by the shop at some point (going slowly) and then he would take her with him to a cage in the office. It would be a rare day that she would be left alone all day.

Yes, you can do the home inspection, you would be coming by so all would be shown anyway. We are cautious bird owners, toilet seats stay closed, garbage cans stay closed, no open glasses of water or other beverages. 

We currently have the parakeet in Popcorn’s cage and we intend to get a buddy for the single parakeet and then put them in a new cage. So we have to do some set up at home before we can bring home Mishu.

Next week would be better for us so we can get another cage for the keet ready.  The keets will live at home and not travel with us, they won’t be in the same area and will always be caged for their safety.

Hi Catherine, Next week is better for me also.  I like the proposed schedule you will have for Mishu.  Feel free to change her name.  I’m not sure she recognizes it.  She loves attention and will come to the front of the cage to come out or for head and neck scratches.

Where are you planning to get another parakeet?  I got Carmel a beautiful parakeet as a partner for her single bird.  She takes all my rescued parakeets. Let me know if you want a male or female.  This time Wednesday or Thursday next week is OK for me to bring Mishu to you. Probably around 1 pm after I make lunch for my mom. Whatever works for you. Talk to you later.

Dear Pat, It all sounds wonderful. Nothing should be rushed when it comes to a new family member. I will discuss it all with Mitch later tonight. I know he is excited about the prospect.

We have been together for 15 years, I had Sunshine when I met him and they were fine together but of course Sunshine was my bird. When Popcorn came into our lives they bonded so well. He could handle her so well, but she did not care for me unless he was not around for awhile. It was all on her terms if she rode on me around the house, let me pet her, etc.

Mitch was not new to birds prior to our meeting, his ex had a ringneck, a toe biting cherry headed conure and a sweet white capped pionus so he was no stranger to parrots when we met. LOL.

Dear Pat, Mitch is all in on the plan. We will be bringing in a new cage for the parakeets as quickly as possible, something from Prevue we can pick up by Friday.

Yes, we would be fine with you picking out a buddy for Bacon. A boy, we don’t want to breed them, just let them enjoy being budgies together. We think by the feathering, and the eyes that Bacon is about 9 months old. Color-wise something to go with a Blue and White budgie, LOL.

Hi Pat, Wednesday is good, Mitch will be here. And yes, Bacon is a boy, it was up in the air for a bit as it was very light blue and when we took a couple of pictures it faded to white so we thought it was a girl, but the blue is deepening a bit. So we want another boy to avoid eggs. I will try to snag a couple pics to send anyway.

bacon the budgie in his cage close up

We are getting a cage in for the keets tomorrow. I want a fancy one for them but it is not in the budget right now so I am getting a decent sized cage and stand for them, 26 x 14 x 36 high. We will furnish it for the keets, can’t wait. I so want Bacon to be happy. He really looks so sad all alone. He has no interest in us.

Great on the clipped wings, has she always been clipped? If her nails need it, please it would be nice so we don’t have to subject her to that. We do our birds nails ourselves but it is never a bonding experience. LOL. We are getting excited.

Catherine, The cage for the parakeets is more than adequate size for them.  I personally don’t like the fancy ones (with the indented roof lines at the top).  It is wasted space and the birds wouldn’t go there.  They like to perch high up. Have you thought about introducing them slowly to each other by putting them side by side in separate cages for a short time?  It gives them a chance to get to know one another before putting them in the same cage.

As with all my birds no matter the breed, I include a separate food and water cup for each bird on separate sides of the cage.  Unfortunately, birds can starve a mate by being aggressive and not sharing their dishes. I know a few of my clients that it has happened so it is good to observe their behavior.  

You may not encounter this since one of the birds is quite young and should adapt easier to an older bird. Just like people, the older birds get set in their ways which can be problematic . . . LOL.  If you do want to keep them separate for a short time,  I have an inventory of cages you can use.

I truly hope the adoption of Mishu will be successful. Not all of them go smoothly.  I have had several for one reason or another that failed.  I wanted to prepare you in the event it happens.  I truly believe a bird chooses the family to love.  Giving Mishu time to settle in will be the test.

I am excited for her to join your family.  It will be a sad day and I may shed some tears.  She loves me so much but it is the right thing to do for her. As I mentioned, I will ask you to sign a very simple temporary contract that states she will be in your care until we both decide to make it a permanent adoption or return her to me.  It may take more than a month to come to that decision.  I am open to a time frame. 

Looking forward to seeing you and Mitch on Wednesday with Mishu and the new parakeet.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Dear Pat, We have been thinking about you and everything a lot. We are excited. The keet sounds adorable. Mitch is working on the cages today. I wish I could be there for the arrival. But Mitch plans to record it all.

Hi Catherine,  I am prepared for my visit tomorrow to bring Mishu and the little parakeet.  It will take me almost two hours in travel time.  I will be coming via Milwaukee Avenue past Dr. Sakas office.  

We can talk about making some fresh veggies for the parakeets.  A friend of mine uses a food processor or chopper to make the veggie mix as small as possible. The ingredients are the same for all birds.

This little parakeet is so adorable.  I believe it is a male. He is only 11 weeks old and fully weaned.  I’ve watched him eat seed, drink and eat some millet.  He is very tame.  

Pat, The keets diet – Maybe you can help me with the keets on getting them to eat well too. I am familiar with them being given nothing but seed and water and then they die young.

That is not what I want to do of course. Right now I started with a good Budgie seed mix by Hagen Living World that has seeds, dried fruits and veggies and tiny pellets. I also added some Leafy Greens and another mix by Higgins Small Fruits & Veggies, but want to encourage fresh food. Not so easy when the bird is so tiny.

I figure I can start with a hunk of romaine clipped to the cage, but beyond that, I am stumped. I admit parakeets are not in my list of birds I have had before. I did have a good number of beautiful Australian Grass keets years ago but they were big enough to eat my usual veggies and fruit mixes I gave to all the birds.

Catherine, Mishu is a very good eater.  All (even the doves) get a vegetable mix that includes plain pasta at 7:00 am every morning (all other food has been removed).  It is left in the cage for no more than 3 hours.  They are then given a mix of seed and pellets (more pellets than seed).  I mostly use Higgins brand for the seed and Zupreem for the pellets.  I also sometimes use Roudybush and Higgins In-Tune pellets.  I like to change it up so they don’t become bored.  Then at dinner time they get fruit. She loves apples very much.

I placed her on the jungle gym this morning while I was having a discussion with my mom’s hospice nurse. Mishu began crying and swaying back and forth.  The nurse said it sounded like a kitten.  She could be mimicking cats I had before they died of old age.  She wanted me to pick her up.  I also heard her trying to talk. I think she has unlimited potential.  I feel bad that I have not been able to give her as much attention she deserves.  She has out of cage time everyday.   She is not a vocal bird so she will not make a lot of noise.

Pat, I am not concerned with her talking, although if she does, that is fine too. At her age it is doubtful she will start. My male ringneck started to talk at 6 1/2 months old and was a sponge for new words until he was about 3 then had no interest in learning more.

bacon 7 eggs budgies on thermo perchg

We just set up the new cage for the keets, it is HUGE. I think they will be fine. I will be ordering another cage light for the keets cage as it is a dim corner.

I just cleaned up Popcorn’s cage (also the temporary Bacon home). Take a look, it you think it is too busy you are welcome to tell Mitch what needs to be done.

Both cages are not perfect, they don’t have grilles that slide out so I put paper on top of the grilles to make clean up easier. But until we can order new ones, they will be fine.

It will be very exciting to come how to a house full of chirping again. Mitch said he would be waiting for you on the front steps, LOL.

Dear Pat, Which Higgins seed mix did you use for Mishu? I am guessing a Conure Mix?

Higgins Sunburst Conure bird food blend is a nice one, it has Higgins Intune Pellets in it and I can also feed additional Intune Pellets available in a separate bag. I will bring them home tonight.

Catherine, That Higgins blend is good also.  I’ve been ordering Higgins Safflower Parrot and the Sunburst Conure mix as well so that is perfect.  This month I’ve changed the pellets to Zupreem.   You will find Mishu is not a picky eater and should do well for you.  I was going to bring a supply of food for her but sounds like you have what she likes.  I try not to order any blends with peanuts or sunflower.

Pat

P.S. Tell Mitch I will be bringing my female cockatoos along but will leave them in the car. They will be fine. My husband works from home and has a conference call during the time I will be away.  They scream if I am not there to quiet them.  They are quiet in the car so don’t worry about your neighbors.

Post The Arrival of Pat and Parrots:

Hi Mitch and Catherine.  I am very pleased on how the transition of these two birds went today.  I have high hopes that the parakeets will become best buds.  It took them all of 5 minutes before they were sitting side by side.  

If I could put a caption to it “you blink I am dominant one” . . .lol.  Since Eggs is only 11 weeks old please observe him eating and drinking.  I had his dishes on the bottom of the cage in case he couldn’t get to them higher up.  I forgot to give you some millet to give him a little to supplement his diet.

I am also happy Mishu stepped up to Mitch.  She was a little tentative but will get better in time (it might have been the facial hair).  She went right inside her cage to settle in.  She does like to be out on top of the cage so I’m not sure if she will with the light on top.

You’ll have to see how it goes.  Other option would be a separate device like a small jungle gym so she can get away from her safe place (cage).  It would be best to work with her away from the cage.  Don’t be afraid to stroke her neck and head and make those mouth gestures she loves to do.  Give me an update in a day or two on both of them.

Catherine, I gave Mitch 3 small bags of veggies.  He froze 2 of them.  Use the one we left out giving her 1/2 today and 1/2 tomorrow.  After that it will become rancid. I left you a list of ingredients I use to make it.  I forgot to put fruit on the list.  

She loves apples and anything else you want to try.  You can use the same menu for the keets just mash it up real good.  As you said you can clip some dark leafy green lettuce inside the cage as a treat.  Also gave Mitch some almonds for Mishu.  She can have 2 or 3 almonds or walnuts a day.  I’ve read recently that birds could have scrambled eggs in organic coconut oil only 2 times a month.

I probably sound like a nervous Nellie so I will close for now. Any questions let me know.  We can work thru any issues that may come up. Thanks and good luck!  I am up around 5 am daily which means I go to bed between 9 and 10 pm.  Feel free to contact me anytime.  I also have text capabilities.

Pat

written by catherine tobsing
approved by mitch rezman
approved by nora caterino

your zygodactyl footnote

Bacon (the budgie) In Our House – A Blue Bird of Paradise Finds Us

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Editor’s note: We have quietly rehomed a number of large birds found by the Chicago Police and Fire Departments over the years. We found Popcorn, (a citizen calling to say a white bird was stuck in the bushes). We post pictures to Facebook and local neighborhood groups.

Here’s the story if you’ve not seen it: read this

How To Tell If Your Budgie Is Male or Female – As Well As Age

While we were having dinner together, I casually brought up to Mitch that I took in a stray parakeet today. A man passing by saw it in a tree and asked me for a net and a ladder to catch it. I supplied him with the items, not knowing if I would ever see him again much less my ladder and net. But only 5 minutes later he returned with the bird in the net and a big smile on his face.

man with rescued blue budgie in net

button-all-hagenbutton-all-hagen-lw

He didn’t want the bird as his concern was mainly for the bird’s survival and safety as he knew it would not know how to find food in the wilds of Chicago. I think he enjoyed the chase and having saved the bird.

He gave me the bird to find it a home and left. So I put it in a small cage we keep on hand (this has happened before), gave him some fresh food and water and parked him in the shop for the night. I identified it as a boy due to its light blue cere. He was eating when I left him.

Editors note: In case you don’t know, the cere is the area on birds where the nostrils are located. In adult parakeets it has a somewhat leathery appearance while parakeets under one year of age have a smooth often pinkish-brown cere in both genders. Once the budgie reaches about one year of age, the cere will, in most mutations, turn blue in males and anywhere from dark pink to deep brown in females.

2 green budgies on branch one sleeping

button-all-hagenbutton-all-hagen-lw

A few of the mutations are a bit difficult to differentiate this way with absolute certainty, but Bacon is not a member of one of these subsets. Catherine was therefore able to easily be sure that Bacon is a male of greater than one year of age. 

So, I was concerned Mitch would grouse that now we have a parakeet to deal with for awhile since he is used to a bigger bird, but no. He perked right up at the news and went right into the shop to get it. He was gone awhile because, of course he came home with the bird and an armload of supplies and treats.

Refresher post from 2 months ago Birds are like soul mates & should find you – right?http://www.windycityparrot.com/blog/2016/07/07/birds-like-soul-mates-find-right/

Mitch immediately started setting up Popcorn’s old cage. Changing the light bulb, changing out old toys and perches for new ones. Then he brought over the little cage to the big cage for the transfer. Bacon (the budgies new name, LOL) was not startled enough by my tapping the cage to leave the cage so I reached in and scooped him out bare handed and deposited him in the larger cage. I felt him try to beak me but not hard, his struggles were strong but not wild. I think he may be partially tame. He did not bite.

Right now he is fully feathered so he will stay caged for his safety. He saw the Tidy Seed Feeder with food in it and he was kind of confused dancing around trying to figure out how to get the food, then just scurried over to the side of the cage, climbed down and hopped right into the feeder. Took about 2 minutes in case anyone wants to know how hard it is to get a budgie to eat out of one. LOL.

Editor’s note: BTW Bacon (who I named in about 4 minutes) the blue budgie was brought to our home. No post was found in our three Ukrainian neighborhood Facebook groups for a lost bird. No small bird missing on Parrots 911 and my guess is the bird probably escaped from a pet box store – I’ve seen their caregivers in action.

Mitch was totally jazzed. He was glowing at our new little house guest. He immediately set up the camera to record the event and I hoped the little guy was as happy to be here as we were to have him here.

Let’s talk about parakeets, a misunderstood species. You’ll look at Bacon and call it a budgie although technically it is an American “pied” parakeet with clear marking on its wings (making him a “clear flight” mutation) and unusual color markings across its abdomen.

button-all-hagenbutton-all-hagen-lw

The reason we do not outsource that advertising is, unless you’re a caged bird keeper you really don’t understand – the keeping of caged birds.

I’d like to remind the audience that there is only one species of dog but more than 10,000 species of bird. We specialize in approximately 350 species of parrots and 372 species of parakeets.

Yes Martha the budgie is a species of parakeet but there’s another several hundred dozen more that we need to chat about (roughly 372) Or so we’re told.

http://www.windycityparrot.com/blog/2016/09/14/growing-list-every-parrot-parakeet-species-planet/.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again “every conure is a parakeet but not every parakeet is a conure”.

So here’s this many conure species alone – you may have never heard of.

many sun conure parakeet on branch

Getting back to Bacon, I’ve had him out of the cage a couple of times during his stay.

I’ll open the door to his cage while I’m working having all the other doors closed in the room so he can’t get too far but he hasn’t shown an interest in coming out of the bird cage.

Yesterday I thought he might like to take a shower with me. I grabbed him in the cage & got him onto the shower rod but the sound of the running water spooked him and he flew directly to some crown molding.

I didn’t catch him up there. He flew off and made it to the shelf in the shower where I grabbed him.

button-all-hagenbutton-all-hagen-lw

Today I pulled him out of the cage and had him on my hand for a while. then he flew off to more crown molding (between 8 and 9 1/2 feet above the floor). I was able to trap him between the window and shutters so I returned  him to his cage where he was clearly happy to be.

In that we had a similar issue when we rescued Popcorn, if he ends up staying with us, we’re going to follow the same protocol and clip his wings one time to restrain his confidence and then give him flying lessons and teach him landing zones as his wing feathers molt out and grow back, which they will quite quickly.

To my darling wife Catherine

I know you’re concerned that budgies are not considered parrots and we were talking about a bigger bird. I think we will still eventually get one. But Bacon is a magnificent creature – and budgies are very smart.

If bacon is here to stay, I see a long-lasting, loving relationship for the three of us because the 3 of us have one thing in common. We speak bird.

written by mitch rezman
approved by catherine tobsing
approved by nora caterino

your zygodactyl footnote