Hector D. Byrd hatched 30 years ago today! I feel so lucky to have her in my life. Her cage is in the center of our living space, halfway between the kitchen and my desk space, so I spend a lot of time with her every day. She’s sort of become my therapist. She’s always there for me to talk to, and she’s a great listener. She’s not a cuddly bird, but she loves to whistle, destroy anything made out of cardboard, and eat nuts! Her happy chirps and whistles have become part of our home. Love my red tailed Jungle Chicken!
My Logan girl has had a rough couple of weeks. About two weeks ago, she jumped on the back of the couch and peed a couple of drops, yikes! The boy cats had been chasing her, so I thought maybe they had just made her really nervous and I didn’t worry too much about it. Then I found a cat bed covered in pee. Hmmmm something wasn’t right. That night, Logan went over to scratching toy, climbed up on it, and peed a couple of drops again. The next morning I took her to the vet. Poor baby has some kind of urinary infection. The good news is that we caught it. A simple antibiotic shot seems to be clearing it right up, and she is back to her old grumpy self.
Since I got the CatLink boxes, I haven’t been using Pretty Litter, but I do have a couple of bags of it. When I had to confine Logan for a couple of days, I used the Pretty Litter in the extra litter box for her. I have to say, the crystals were turning red, a sign of infection. This morning, a couple of days after her antibiotic shot, the crystals are back to normal yellow. I guess they do work!
Speaking of the CatLink boxes. I still love them. It is truly life changing to not worry about cleaning cat boxes all the time! About once every five days, I open up the bottom, take out the waste litter in its easy little bag, throw it out, and put in a new bag, so easy! When I change out the bottom, I usually add some more clumping litter, and that’s it. Worth every single penny we spent on those boxes! With the optional step in front of the box, there is even very little litter tracking. Truly cat owner heaven!
Time to bring Hector more nuts and some new cardboard boxes, a perfect birthday for my feathered friend!
Bean and Puck have been super busy lately. Not sure if they are sensing a change in the weather or what, but there is lots of running, climbing, pouncing, and wrestling. Bean has become obsessed with watching hockey. We worry he is going to take down the TV one of these days!
The other pets are doing well. Cali had her spring Cytopoint injection last week, and is feeling so much better! The Dragon is eating everything in sight!
Hector is doing great. She’s been very vocal lately and often whistles back and forth with me in the afternoon. Sometimes it is distracting trying to get work done, but I wouldn’t change a thing!
Clipping Hector’s nails shouldn’t be that big of a deal. She’s really good about being held in a towel. I don’t have to trim her nails all that often as she does wear them down on her different perch surfaces, but it has been time to cut them for a couple of weeks. I’ve been putting it off because I need help. I can towel her, but I need a second person to actually clip her nails. We had some time this weekend, so I convinced the husband to help me.
Everything was going well. We got the first foot done in no time. Hector was calm, even making her cute little psss, psss, psss sound, like she is whispering a secret. We got to the second foot and Hector was curling it up tight, so we had to separate out her toes. Second to last nail accidentally got cut too short, ugh. It wasn’t too bad, so we clipped the last nail, and I got some cornstarch.
It seemed like the bleeding was stopping, so I kept holding her and talking to her, I started rubbing her head. Well, silly me, she had a bunch of new pin feathers coming in, and I guess I rubbed one the wrong way, now her head was bleeding!
Thankfully, I’ve read that the best way to stop a pin feather from bleeding is simply to pull it out, and this was a super tiny feather on her head. I was able to grab it with tweezers and pull it out and the bleeding stopped immediately. One problem solved!
Of course during all that, her short nail started bleeding again. Every time I thought I had it stopped, Hector would decide she was done being held, she’d try to get away, and the nail would start bleeding again.
My husband went to look for a Styptic pencil, but we couldn’t find it anywhere so he headed to the drugstore. I’m busy trying to keep poor Hector calm. I brought her outside because she loves to hear the outdoor birds, and that worked for a few minutes. As long as she was still, the nail was fine, but as soon as she struggled it started bleeding again.
Drugstore number one didn’t seem to know what a Styptic pencil was! Off to store number two!
I had the idea of making a cornstarch paste with some water and kind of encasing her nail in the paste. It seemed to be working. By the time Dave headed towards the second store, the bleeding had been stopped for awhile and I was feeling better about not having to rush to the emergency vet. I didn’t want to take a chance on putting her back in her cage and messing with her toe until the Styptic pencil was in sight. I continued to hold her, offered her some water, took her outside again as a distraction.
She seemed to be doing well, so I finally put a towel in the kitchen sink and let her stand on her foot. Success! No more bleeding. I offered some of her favorite snacks while she was hanging out in the sink, but she wasn’t interested in any of them.
Hector was NOT happy about being in the sink. After a few minutes, I didn’t want to stress her out anymore, so I put her back on her cage. She was pissed at me, and made some of her nasty loud coach-whistle sounds, but she seemed OK. I checked on her constantly over the course of the afternoon, and by dinner time she seemed totally over it. She was holding up that one foot at first, I’m sure that nail was a little sore, so she got lots of extra nuts and even two banana chunks to distract her. Today she is acting totally normally, other than not wanting me to pick her up, I can’t say I blame her.
Although I can trim Hector’s nails at home, next time I’ll leave it to her vet. Birds are so delicate, and we were very lucky yesterday. I’m thankful that I’m not a panicky kind of person so I was able to stay calm and take care of her, but next time I’m going to trust in the professionals so if anything does happen, she is already in the right place to get help. It’s also a good idea to take her to the vet for regular check ups, so I can just do both at once.
We also have a brand new Styptic pencil in the medicine cabinet that will hopefully be handy and easy to find nice time we need it!
I know how to have a fun weekend! Yes, pandemic is putting a damper on things, but I found a new pet project to brighten up my weekend!
Hector has been very entertaining lately. A couple of weeks ago she started coughing. I was really worried! Every time she coughed, I would get up and go check on her, but she seemed fine, breathing was good, no discharge, eyes looked good, eating, drinking, pooping normally, I was stumped! The next day she coughed and I ran to check on her and she started laughing. I realized she was coughing for attention! It’s developed into a new routine around here: Hector coughs, I ask if she is OK, “oh poor poor birdy! Is my baby bird OK?” She coughs again, maybe a couple of coughs in a row. “Poor Hector! what a terrible cough! Maybe you need a treat?” She laughs, I bring her a treat. This is what it is like to be owned by a parrot.
As I’m writing today, Wena the dragon is hanging out on the back of my chair. Bean is very concerned that she is going to eat me, or maybe he just wants to play with her, but here’s the look I’m getting.
The gliders are settling in really well. I’m still not sure they like me, but they don’t bite me, so it’s all good. I’ve been reading that a lot of glider owners use mosquito net bed tents to let their gliders run and play. While I think this sounds like an awesome idea, I also know how incredibly messy my boys are, and they believe the entire world is their bathroom. I wasn’t excited about the idea of cleaning up a tent, as well as not wanting to buy or store the tent.
Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo have been hanging out with me in my glass shower stall. It’s a double stall, like bathtub size, and it works out really well. The boys can run around, and when it is over, I can just clean the shower. The problem is, other than the corner shelf unit, there isn’t much for them to climb on in the shower. This weekend, I had the best idea!
This pile of PVC was a homemade parrot stand I made for Hector years ago. She never liked it, so it has been up in the attic. Rebuilt, I was thinking I could convert it into a climber for the gliders!
I took the original structure and made sure it fit in the shower, and it did! Next I took a bunch of the fleece pieces I had for the gliders and hung them from the stand to give them more climbing options. I wasn’t sure if I would need to wrap the PVC in fleece or add something to make it easier for them to climb.
As soon as I let them out in the shower, two of them climbed right up the PVC pipe! They had no problems with it at all, especially Miney, the tiniest of the 4 by far. He is also the craziest! Every night Miney is the one running like a maniac in the wheel. Climbing this structure was definitely right up his alley. It took him maybe 2 seconds to figure out how to get from the structure I built up onto the shower head. At one point, he was running up one side of the fleece and down the other, over and over again.
Mo found himself a comfy spot on the 2nd layer and mostly hung out there.
Meenie enjoyed climbing, and went all the way to the top, but was a bit more cautious than crazy Miney. He explored carefully and checked out all the different parts.
My Eenie is my big boy. He’s chunky. He’s the one I most often find at the food bowl when he’s awake. He never left my body while they were out this time. His friends would come over and pester him, but he just hung out with me.
He sat in my lap, he hung out on my shoulder, he did some climbing, but only on me. At one point he tried to climb across my face, ouch! Thankfully the scratch is small. Not looking forward to trimming nails again, but it might be almost time.
Eventually, Miney really got into crazy mode, and just started running and leaping. He made his way to the shower head, then made the leap to the top of the shower doors. From there he was looking around and I knew I was in trouble. I put away the other three boys, and watched Miney leap about 8ft from the top of the shower doors to the towel rack. Scooped him up from there, and they all went back to their cage.
I’m sure over the next few weeks I’ll be adding/changing toys to the climbing structure, but I’m so excited to have it! Now I don’t feel the need for a messy tent, and the boys have a great new play area. I just have to figure out how to keep Miney from the gap at the top of the shower!
Next project I’m working on is creating a BioActive terrarium for the Dragon! I’m learning all about substrates, clean up insects, and safe plants. I’ll update soon.
Ok, so this product really isn’t for birds. It’s for human hairspray, but it is by far the best sprayer I’ve used for my African Grey.
Hector doesn’t like baths. I’ve tried the kitchen sink, the bathtub, shower perches, floor of the shower, spray with different bottles, etc. I had an old spray bottle that she came with that sprayed a light mist that she would tolerate.
I mist her pretty regularly, and then give her good soaking baths in the kitchen sink every couple of weeks. It isn’t her favorite, but she tolerates it, and as bird owners know, they are necessary to help keep her healthy.
Recently I saw an Amazon ad that caught my attention for a fine mist sprayer. It’s for hairspray, not birds, but it’s just an empty sprayer so it can really be used for any liquid you chose. I fill it with some warm-ish, water, not too hot, not too cold, and it sprays a lovely fine mist. The more you use it, the less you have to pump the sprayer as it builds up pressure and just sprays. Hector showed her delight by flapping her wings, spreading them, stretching, and preening.
This little wonder sprayer: is amazing. Hector actually seems to enjoy the sprays from it. For $8, definitely worth a try if you have a bird that doesn’t love baths.
Got a bird? If you do, you know they aren’t easy pets. They require a lot of attention, cleaning, play time, more cleaning, and feeding. I’ve owned birds off and on for as long as I can remember. I posted about my history with birds in the “Before Hector D. Byrd” post if you want to read more.
Every bird I’ve owned has taught me something. With Maverick, my amazon, I started to learn a lot about feeding parrots. I also came to the conclusion that I wasn’t happy with any commercially made parrot foods. I feed commercial parrot pellets, but mostly as a supplement. My birds have always had homemade food. It took Hector some time to get used to my food, but now she devours it. She anxiously waits by her bowl for her breakfast every morning. If breakfast doesn’t come fast enough, she whistles and bangs her bowl.
My feeding routine for Hector is that she always has a fresh bowl of pellets in her cage. I’m currently feeding her Zupreem Fruit Blend. Not only does she eat these pellets, and not just throw them, but she also likes to sort them. They pellets are different shapes and colors. Sometimes I’ll check her bowl and find there are only orange pellets left. Other times, she sorts out a different color. Food and entertainment, all in one bowl!
Just recently, I discovered Bird Street Bistro, and it seems to be the first food that can replace my homemade mix. I’m so excited! No more special shopping trip to get all the ingredients, and no more setting aside a couple of hours each month to mix up a batch.
Bird Street Bistro mixes are all natural, no added fillers or preservatives. They have about half a dozen different recipes to add variety to your birds diet. Prices are reasonable. When I first checked out their page, I was thinking their mixes were a bit pricey, but when I started to price out my own grocery list when I buy products to make my own recipe, I realized how reasonable their prices are.
I started with the Parrot Food Sample Pack. Knowing Hector isn’t a big fan of beans, I asked if I could swap out the Cajun Bean Feast flavor, and received their AppleBerry flavor instead. Different formulas need to cook for different amounts of time, but it seems that all can be done in about 20 minutes, and some take much less time.
Knowing that Hector LOVES cinnamon, CinnaSpice Delight was the first flavor I tried. Making this food could not have been any easier. I simply added water and some of the dry mix to a pot, brought it to a bowl, covered it, and let it simmer for 15 minutes. The whole house smelled so good while it was cooking! `The ingredients are wonderful, rice, millet, split peas, barley, couscous, currants, carrots, oats, barley, apples, etc. I love the different grains included in this mix.
After cooking, I let it cool to room temperature, then watched Hector devour it. Since Hector is already eating a similar, homemade version of this food, she had no trouble converting to it all all. I had some of my homemade food available, so I could mix the two foods if needed, but Hector was happy with the new food right away.
For birds that are converting from a different diet, they may need a little encouragement to eat a food like this. It took me MONTHS to get Hector to eat my homemade mash when I first started out with it. Patience is key with parrots. Don’t give up, be persistent, eventually they will give it a try. Don’t stress over wasted food. I always used to remind myself that the cost of vet bills for bad diet in the future would be WAY more than the cost of the food Hector was wasting. There are tips on the back of the bags to help get you started.
The next flavor I tried was the Southern Feast. My favorite part of this one is that it cooks in 3 minutes! Just add the mix to boiling water, stir for 30 seconds and remove from the heat and let sit. Hector also approves of this flavor. This one has couscous, wheat, millet, oats, carrots, peppers, quinoa, almonds parsley, cayenne pepper, basil, cumin, and kelp.
Mixing up one batch of Bird Street Bistro according to their directions gives me about a mason jar full of food, plus another meal. It works out well for me to make it, feed Hector, then store the mason jar of food in the fridge and I have fresh food for 4-5 days.
Instead of Hector having to eat the same batch of food for a month plus, now I can switch up flavors for her every time I make a batch, so she is getting a new flavor every few days. Bird Street Bistro comes in resealable bags, so I can make a batch, then I just put the rest of the dry mix into the freezer for storage. It’s so convenient! I also like that I have less stuff in my freezer since I don’t have a month’s worth of mason jars, I just have a bag of Bird Street Bistro, and the fresh mix in the fridge.
I will be trying the other flavors soon, and I expect that I will definitely be ordering more. With a product like this on the market, I see no reason to go through the time and hassle of making my own food.
The only negative I have about this product, is the veggie content. I feel that my homemade blends contain more veggies than Bird Street Bistro blends that I have tried so far, but it is hard to tell by looking. My homemade blends had bigger pieces of veggies for sure, but I’m wondering if Hector will actually eat more veggies with the new blend because she can’t pick them out. I’ve always supplemented Hector with fresh veggies on top of her homemade mix, so I will continue to do that while using Bird Street Bistro. I also need to check out their Viva La Veggies flavor and the Hearty Veggies. I have Viva La Veggies, but haven’t made it yet. I’ll also check out the Hearty Veggies next time I need to place an order. Based on the pictures on their website, it looks like both of these flavors have more veggies than the flavors I’ve made so far.
Another thought I had on the veggies was to add another product I use which is a chop from a company called Texas Natural Freeze Dried Products. They make a variety of freeze dried foods for parrots and humans. I like to keep some of their Freeze Dried Chop on hand for a quick breakfast for Hector if I forget to make or defrost her normal food. Their chop is a great product that contains a ton of veggies: kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sweet peppers, yellow squash, red cabbage, apples, and strawberries. I can easily add a bit of this freeze dried mix to the Bird Street Bistro if I want to add some extra veggies to the mix.
I’m really excited about Bird Street Bistro foods. In the long run, it will save me time and money. I’m impressed with the high quality ingredients and the ease of use. I like the convenience of making up a batch that lasts a few days. I like the variety of grains in the product which not only help balance the birds diet, but also give it different shapes and textures to pick out of the food. Something I know Hector enjoys.
I know a lot of people think of birds and think they eat seeds. In the research I’ve done, I’ve grown to believe that seeds are not a healthy diet for captive birds. They are too high in fat and can cause liver disease and other problems later in life. Hector doesn’t eat seeds. She does get sunflower seeds as a very rare treat, but never as part of her regular diet. Mostly for treats she gets almonds(in the shell), cucumber slices, sometimes a whole grain, unsalted cracker with a little bit of almond butter, carrots, peppers, etc.
We often call our cat, Puck, Pucky-Boo-Boo, or even just Boo-Boo. I have no idea where it came from, but it stuck. Right at this moment, my beautiful grey parrot is marching around on the floor calling “Hector Boo Boo, Hector Boo Boo” She must be jealous or something, we have never called her “Hector Boo-Boo!”
She’s very proud of herself, when I laughed at her, she started laughing too! Of course soon after she headed back to her box construction, well destuction project.