Sunday, April 6, 2008


Although my pet birds spend a lot of time outside of their bird cages, which provides some sense of freedom, it is a far cry from what a wild bird enjoys. While inability to fly saddens me, I'm grateful they have adapted well to their life in captivity.

Perhaps my frustration over my pets being unable to fly free is one of the reasons I enjoy bird watching. It is inspiring to watch the wild ones fly about, coming and going as they wish.

Living with and learning about my incredible pet birds, earning their trust and becoming their friend is an experience I would not trade for anything in the world. I'm blessed for the experience. They truly are my passion. At the same time, bird watching offers the opportunity to observe natural behavior providing a special joy of its own.

Bird watching and backyard bird feeding is alive and well in my area.
I live in a semi-rural area of northern San Diego county with a lot of nurseries, avocado and citrus groves, etc. It's an area with a strong natural and agricultural flavor ... a place that wild birds and creatures populate and is a wonderful place to live.

I spoke to a neighbor one day and discovered that a mountain lioness would bring her cubs to drink water from their pond every year. The pond adjoins a vast undeveloped area. They never considered trying to discourage the mountain lion, but rather enjoyed the fascinating spectacle. Fortunately, the mountain lion just drinks water and then moves off to the less inhabited areas. Another neighbor found a coyote nursing her cubs on the back deck of the home he was trying to purchase. The home had been empty for awhile ... evidently long enough for
the momma coyote to feel comfortable enough to bring her youngsters there. We have a lot of coyotes in the area and I've even seen them crossing the street while on a couple of my walks. These examples might explain the degree to which wild creatures still inhabit our area. However, most of the animals I'm personally able to enjoy are cottontail rabbits, ground squirrels, rare visits of a ferret or two, and the peacocks. The wild song birds, raptors, etc. are another whole subject to chat about another time.

Even though peacocks and peahens are not "wild" in the truest sense of the word, they aren't
domesticated either. We have some peacocks in our area that roam free and several of them seem to like our property enough to be regular visitors and they hang around during the day. Currently, a pair has found an inviting place to roost on our tile roof in the evening, too. I enjoy them a lot ... they are beautiful ... and I get a kick out of watching them admire their reflection in the chrome wheels of my SUV or in several of the glass-paned doors leading into my home. They also like to nap on our deck. My baby Jardine Parrot likes to visit with peacocks through the glass door. They seem fascinated by the little parrot, but will move away from the deck if any of my pet birds are outside on their playgyms.

Over the past several years peahens have made regular visits with their babies in tow. I've enjoyed watching the young ones grow up. Male peacocks have been regular visitors, too,
usually sticking close together attesting to their immaturity. I've never seen a mature male in the company of a female until this month. A very handsome couple spent their day with us. The peacock was courting the hen, fanning his tail and strutting about for over 2 hours providing the opportunity to take a bunch of photos ... two of which I've included here. It was fascinating to watch him display but I couldn't tell if the peahen was as impressed as I was. However, I did notice them taking a nap on the deck a little while later, so I guess she's still looking him over :). Maybe this attraction will ultimately produce some babies. I hope so, as it is truly a joy to watch the young ones grow up.

Monday, March 31, 2008


I had an interesting experience a week ago. Because of a friend who rescued a severely plucked and distrusting blue and gold macaw, I ended up reviewing some bath products made especially for birds. My friend's new family member is the most severely plucked Macaw any of us have ever seen, which includes people with a lot of rescue experience. I'll be sharing his story and photos, but am leaving it to another time. Because this Macaw hasn't had enough time to develop new trust in people in order to be handled his new owner was hoping to find way to bathe him. So far that's the missing link in an incredible effort that is devoted to providing the attention, love and medical care he needs. So I decided to see if I could suggest something that she could use on the Macaw to help his skin feel better and heal.

I've always bathed my birds thoroughly with water either outside using a garden hose set on misting, or with the aid of a Shower Perch in the bathroom when the weather is cool, or even by mounting a Bird Bath to the outside of my smaller guy's bird cages. However, I've never taken the opportunity to learn about the various products that are made to condition skin and feathers, reduce feather dander, and perhaps even help feather pluckers, etc. Fortunately, my bird's feathers have always been in good condition and beautiful so I suppose that is the main reason I'd pretty much ignored the bath products for birds that are available today. I figured that bath products were more for birds whose feathers weren't in optimal shape. That assumption was wrong.

I ordered a couple of products I discovered so I could try them out before recommending them to my friend. So far, I've used one of them. That is the one what I want to tell you about. Cutting to the chase, let me explain that this product comes in 3 formulas for Parrots, Cockatoos and African Greys. These formulas are made by Mango Products. So far I've used the Bath Spray for Parrots on my two Blue and Gold Macaws (Sadie and Bailey), and Bath Spray for Cockatoos on my Moluccan (Fagan).

Fagan was first into the shower for a good soak-to-the-skin bath which is one of the ways I normally give him a bath. But I can't do that on a regular basis, so in between that kind of bath he gets much less intensive showers and misting. However, I've been really busy lately so he was quite overdue for a good bath. After giving him a bath I allowed him to dry almost completely ... he was just a little damp under his wings. At that point, I sprayed him all over with the Mango and let him dry completely in the warm outside air. Afterward I couldn't believe how soft and beautiful his feathers were ... even though they looked good before. Another good thing is how much the Bath Spray has helped manage the cockatoo powder. Anyone with a cockatoo knows the challenge of keeping it off your clothes, furniture or just out the the air ... owning a Cockatoo requires use of a good air filtration system! Since Fagan's bath and first spray with the Mango I've just misted him lightly with the Mango a couple of times a week. There has been a significant reduction in powder since I started this routine. I've even noticed that when he snuggles against my dark clothing I'm not covered with as much powder from holding him. Its pretty amazing. But even better his feathers have remained as beautiful and soft as they were after the bath I described.

Encouraged with Fagan's result, I gave the same type of thorough shower bath to Bailey and Sadie, allowing them to dry in the warm outside air, too. Then I sprayed them with the Mango for Parrots. That is the formula for birds with preening glands. The result was the same ... beautiful, soft, tightly zipped feathers that just shined ... they were gorgeous. Another benefit I noticed is how much Sadie enjoyed preening her own feathers after being sprayed with the Mango. Usually she leaves this task to Bailey ... who thoroughly enjoys performing that function for her. Sadie even started grooming Bailey, which I'd never seen her do before. I found this change in her behavior very interesting.

The formulas for these Mango products differ a little from each other. The Parrot Bath Spray is for those birds that have an oil gland they use to preen themselves and keep their feathers in good condition. I believe it is a little different formula than the ones for Cockatoos and African Greys ... the birds that produce powder that keep their feathers clean and in good condition.

Next on the list to get a shower/Mango Spray are my 2 Umbrellas Cockatoos (Solly and Wilton) and my African Grey (Alice Marie). Then it will be David, the Hyacinth's turn and so on through the whole group. I can hardly wait to see the result!

For more information on the Mango Bath Products:
Mango Parrot Bath Spray
Mango Cockatoo Bath Spray
Mango African Grey Bath Spray

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


It's been awhile since I last posted, but that is going to change now. I suppose those of you that live in a constant state of overwhelm might understand the unintentional neglect that has been thrust on this blog. I decided that it was time to take some determined steps to manage my time better so I can fit all my favorite things into my busy schedule -- which includes posting to this blog. I've made some progress so I'm ready to get back to blogging. But all this explanation is digressing.

What I want to share today is about the continual improvement of the BirdCagePortal website. There are just tons and tons of products (including bird cages) yet to be added and a number of new features in the works. Today I'm introducing the first new feature which can be found on the Home Page. Right in the middle of this page you'll find the word "New!" Under this heading will be a constantly updated list of the most recently added features and products. The latest new features are listed in the box above.

One of the reasons BirdCagePortal was created, and it's most important mission, is to help inform pet bird lovers about what it takes to care for a bird well and at the same time offer the best supplies to create a healthy and comfortable environment for your bird.

INTRODUCING our newest information which is listed on the Main Menu under BIRD CARE BASICS. While birds are pretty hardy creatures they cannot expect to live a healthy and happy life if they endure any kind of mis-management from their perhaps well-meaning, but uninformed owners. Bird Care Basics provides information which I hope will help to broaden your understanding of the needs of pet birds, and perhaps answer a question or two. While offering this information is intended to help you in a convenient easy-to-access way, sometimes it is better to be able to chat with a real live person. So I invite you to do that by sending an instant message via our Live Chat button and once connected if further discussion would be helpful we can always arrange a phone call. That's up to you. The bottom line is that I'd like to help you and your bird in whatever way I can ... through sharing information and referrals, as well as providing all the supplies, including bird cages, that pet birds require.

I hope you find BirdCagePortal's contribution to good bird care informative and helpful. And if you'd like to contact me personally I'll look forward with great enthusiasm to speaking with you ... Shari

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.