Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Oasis on Channel 10 News!

One of my favorite organizations is
The Oasis Sanctuary in Benson, AZ. Anyone, not familiar with The Oasis can find out more at rescue. The Oasis is a very special place and I'm looking forward to making a trip in April to see the work they do first hand. I know that it will be a memorable trip because I'll be able to visit with the birds in their care. As an Oasis member, I received an email today sharing news about a TV Special Report broadcast in which they participated. The news coverage focuses on parrot smuggling, overbreeding and neglect. I believe this broadcast will be something every bird lover should see, so I'm sharing Sybil Erden's (The Oasis' Founder and Director) email below:

-------Cross-post freely!!!---------

Dear Friends of the Oasis ....

Channel 10, the FOX TV affiliate in Phoenix, Arizona is doing a Special on Parrot smuggling, over-breeding and neglect. They contacted us and came down to document some of the birds we have here who came to us under less-than-perfect circumstances....

The reporter, Keith Yaskin, called to let me know that we will be on the 9 PM News on Fox 10 in Phoenix, on this coming Monday, November 5th.

For all of us outside the Phoenix area, we can see the Special Report any time after 10 pm on Monday by going to then scrolling to the bottom of the page and finding "Specials". Then go to Special Reports and you will meet some of our birds who had a difficult time before coming to the Sanctuary.

Hope you enjoy the report!


Sybil Erden, Executive Director
The Oasis Sanctuary

I hope that you'll watch the report ... we all need to be aware of the circumstances that many birds endure so that we make the best decisions about how we care for our birds and support the pet bird industry. I hope you'll join me in supporting the much needed work at The Oasis Sanctuary.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Recently I placed grates over the trays in my bird cages. That isn't my favorite thing to do because my cages are very large (80" wide by 40" deep) so I find it easier to open the cage door and remove the soiled paper. With the grates in place I have to pull out the tray which adds a bit more work since I have 8 cages to clean.

This change is only temporary to help the bird sitter who'll be taking over bird chores while I make two short out-of-town trips. I'm not trying to create a bigger work load for the sitter, but rather prevent her from having to open the cages to clean. If she did that, the birds would be out in a flash and she'd have to put them back in. I told her she wouldn't be handling the birds ... so I needed to change the cleaning routine.

Where is all this leading? Now I have to clean bird poop off the grates every night. While I was really moaning about having to do this, I've found it surprisingly easy. But that's entirely because my new cages have a finish to the powder-coat that makes removing bird droppings and food an easy task. All I have to do it spray the soil with a couple of squirts water (with Pet Focus disinfectant added) and wait a couple of minutes then easily wipe off the debris. No problem. Trust me, that wouldn't have been the case if I was still housing my birds in their old cages. They were powder-coated, but once soil dried on the surface it was a big pain the neck to remove it ... done only with several water sprays and lots of scrubbing. With 13 birds housed in 8 cages daily cleaning was truly a chore.

My new bird cages are sooooo much easier to clean, so I can't figure out why it took some extra effort the other night to clean an area of the grate in Bailey and Sadie's cage ... my B/G Macaws (photo above). There was something offered in their diet that day that caused some of their droppings to stick to the grate like cement. Well, perhaps that is an exaggeration ... but it did take an extra spray or two of water and a few minutes soaking time to remove this small area of poop. Normally, their droppings lean to the watery side because they really chow-down on their fresh veggies and fruit which have a high water content. While I haven't done so yet, I'm going to be introducing some organic natural food mixes and different birdie breads into their pellet and fresh food diet. These new foods are being shipped as I write this. So soon I'll find out how these new foods may not only contribute to the birds overall good health, but how they might impact my daily cleaning routine. I really don't think I'll have future "cement" removal chores in store for me ... mostly because of the finish on my new bird cages.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Wilton, is my 17-year old female Umbrella Cockatoo. I've known Wilton since the day she hatched even though her parents, Bill and Olivia, carried out the parenting duties the first three weeks of her life. Her parents were special birds and started life as handfed babies themselves. They were so tame and trusting they let me inspect their babies in the nestbox without fuss or fear. So I watched Wilton develop and eventually, and quite reluctantly, removed her to begin the handfeeding process so that she'd grow up trusting humans, too. While it was my decision to take over her upbringing it bothered me to disturb the natural process of her parent's baby-raising activities. I'm getting pretty wimpy over the idea of having to clip a bird's wings, too. I suppose after all the years of living with exotic pet birds I've become more unsettled about altering their natural lives as pet owners, like me, feel they must do. But I'm digressing.

Wilton is an incredibly smart bird ... she doesn't miss a trick and is full of curiosity and enthusiasm about everything in her environment. I delight in giving her bird toys ... she's just a trip to watch interact with them. You know that TV ad from a few year's back where Mikey's brothers gave him some breakfast cereal they weren't so sure they'd like ... with the comment that went something like ... "give it to Mikey, he'll eat everything". Well, Wilton is the cockatoo equivalent of Mikey. There isn't a bird toy that Wilton has ever "met" that she refused to play with. Perhaps it's her extraordinary intelligence and energy level that demands that she have something to do ... something to figure out ... take apart ... and just plain be challenged with. She doesn't let me forget for even a day what it must be like for these intelligent critters to be deprived of things to do while they sit patiently (or not so patiently) in their cages waiting for their owners to play with them or provide some stimulation.

I ordered a boatload of bird toys recently ... a boatload is necessary because I have 13 birds, lol. I decided to give Wilton a crack at them first just to discover her "level of approval". She hasn't had a go at them all yet; however, so far the winner is the neat acrylic toy that you see her playing with in the photos. There is something about those little dots on the dice cubes that no cockatoo can resist ... so, of course, Wilton just couldn't let that toy alone. She just has to find a way to remove those dots. Once that is accomplished (it'll be tough to do, hee hee hee) then she'll just have to figure out how to remove the dice from the toy. That's going to be pretty hard to do, too. I think Wilton might have met her match with this toy. But we'll see. This is one toy that will remain a permanent fixture in her cage until the time comes she tires of it. Now it will be interesting to see when that will happen ... or IF it happens. I'll give you an update.

Check out all the toys at ... with lots of new ones coming soon!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


When I created this blog 2 days ago about pet birds I didn't consider that sometimes the latest news would be something sad. Today, news arrived ... very sad news. It breaks my heart to pass it along. It comes from Dr. Irene Pepperberg regarding Alex, her beloved African Grey who is the world's most famous African Grey Parrot and avian research subject extraordinaire.

It was announced today that Alex passed away last Friday; however, the announcement was delayed until today to allow his grieving human colleagues at Brandeis University time to deal with their shock and be able to talk about it. So far the cause of his death is unknown. An African Grey's average lifespan is 50 years. Dr. Pepperberg purchased Alex from a pet store in 1973 and he spent these last 30 years in her care as a research subject as well as dearly loved friend. I'm sure everyone can appreciate the devastation Dr. Pepperberg feels, as well as those of her colleagues who worked with Alex for 8-12 hours a day his entire life.

As bird lovers, most of us know all about Alex, so I won't digress into the facts of his amazing life. Other than to say Alex's accomplishments were legendary as researchers worked with him to better understand the avian brain. For example, he could count up to six including zero and last month pronounced the number seven for the first time. Recently, his continuing cognitive ability was demonstrated by the ability to take distinct sounds from words he knew and combine them to form new words. He also expressed his desires including frustration with repetitive research, as well as scolding two other African Greys at the research center to "talk better" when they mumbled.

"Alex" is the most popular name chosen by Grey Parrot owners in respect for Alex's accomplishments. In fact, my own African Grey was named Alex when I adopted her. Shortly, thereafter she was sexed and discovered to be a female. Keeping as close to "Alex" as I could, she was renamed Alice. I like to think of it as the female form of Alex. Alice calls herself "Allie" which reminds me daily of her original name so Alex is often in my thoughts. I like that.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Alex and the dedicated work done with him. His advanced language and recognition skills have allowed us to have a better understanding of the avian brain. Perhaps Dr. Pepperberg's Thursday goodnight routine explains it best ... she told him it was time to go into his cage, and said to him "You be good, I love you. I'll see you tomorrow". Alex responded "you'll be in tomorrow".

Alex, no matter how many tomorrows remain for me, you'll always be upmost in my thoughts.

Monday, September 10, 2007


My first experience at blogging began over 2 years ago with the creation of Birdwatchin' Buzz, a blog dedicated to my interest in backyard bird watching. It 's been fun chatting about various bird watching subjects and also to just write down my wandering thoughts as they relate to my interest in birds. Birdwatchin' Buzz came into being as a result of the first website I built,, which is very much alive with frequent visits from those of us that love the hobby.

I'm not sure why I decided to begin internet projects with the bird watching theme because
exotic pet birds are my truest passion. I love bird watching, too ... but that interest really developed because of the experience of living with pet birds for over 22 years. So one day earlier this year I decided to build another website .... one that is devoted to helping bird lovers provide the best environment and lifestyle for their pets. That's when was hatched. And that has led to the idea of creating this blog devoted to sharing thoughts and experiences about my life with pet birds and providing opinions about various products offered on the BirdCagePortal website, among other things. So here I am at the beginning of a project that may just carry me through my remaining years, lol. Blogs, by their very nature, are never finished and it will definitely be that way for me.

I'm finding things a bit challenging right now, however, because there is so much to accomplish with these projects that I get a bit overwhelmed now and then. So some of my posts might be on the short side, but that may be good because I have a tendancy to be long-winded at times. Just my nature I guess.

In any event, if you are reading this blog I'd like to extend an invitation to revisit and see what's up. I welcome comments and invite you to share information you believe is important for bird lovers to know ... good and bad. An educated bird lover is empowered to provide the best care for their bird and perhaps even help others improve the lifestyle of their bird. And that's what we all want for these amazing and dearly loved critters, isn't it?