Friday, December 31, 2010

Our 2010 Year in Review

One always faces the question of how best to sum up a year. We decided to simplify the matter and create a word cloud, summarizing our past year in a single picture:
The Zen Parrot's 2010 Year in Review, in a Picture!
Our wish to everyone is that the new year 2011 will prove better than the past year, unless you won the lottery in 2010!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Exercising Your Parrot

Our Hyacinth macaw Princess Tara flying in place upside down!

Too many parrots become perch potatos. Exercise is as important to parrots as it is to people. Probably even more for parrots. Wild parrots fly. Every day. Many (if not most) pet parrots simply sit in or on their cages every day. All day. The best aerobic exercise a parrot can get is flying. Even flying in place, as our foster Ruby macaw Cracker demonstrates:

Seven of our eight parrots are flighted, Two of our parrots, our Congo African grey Arua, and our Goffin's cockatoo Kid Kadra, fly regularly in our house. Two of our other parrots, our Hyacinth macaw Princess Tara and our foster Ruby macaw, Mr. Cracker, use their wings to fly in place. Princess Tara occasionally also flies in the house. Watching a Hyacinth macaw with a four foot wingspan pivot midair on her wing tip is a sight to behold!

Letting parrots fly, especially large parrots like cockatoos or macaws, presents risks. We feel that letting pet parrots fly outside, except in an enclosed flight aviary, presents risks to the parrot that can not be managed.safely. Therefore, we can not endorse flying pet parrots outside. There are still risks to flying pet parrots indoors, but these risks can be managed. If you wish to learn more about flying parrots indoors, and are wondering if this is something you want to encourage your parrot to do, there is a website you can visit with information about the risks and benefits of flying parrots indoors; Living With Flighted Parrots.

Meanwhile, even if your parrot isn't inclined to fly indoors, encourage your parrot to fly in place.

You'll have a healthier and happier parrot!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

All Things Parrots on Twitter: The Parrots Zygodactyl Daily Twitter Newspaper

In this new century, how does a parrot person keep up with all the information about parrots available out there on the Internet? It's not easy. But we've simplified things for you. We follow scores of parrot blogs and websites so you don't need to. And we compile the information into a daily Twitter newspaper, The Parrots Zygodactyl Daily. You can keep up with the latest writing about all things parrots by subscribing to this daily newspaper on our Twitter feed, The_Zen_Parrot. And the best part is: There's no actual paper that you have to worry about tossing out or recycling. It's all digital. Of course, there's nothing to put under the parrot cage either!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Living With Parrots: Parrot Blogs

All parrot care should be this easy! Our male Blue and Gold macaw Aboo was abandoned because he was considered unmanageable and unhandleable!

As Patricia Sund of Parrot Nation says: Parrots are "one hell of a lot of work." Whether you have one parrot or an aviary, where do you go to find useful and up to date information regarding positive parrot care and training? As a service to conscientious parrot owners, we are attempting to compile in one place links to the best parrot people currently writing and blogging about parrot care and training. If we have overlooked any parrot writers and bloggers you know of and follow, please let us know so we can add them as well. There is also a community of parrot writers who blog about parrot and wildlife conservation, many affiliated with The World Parrot Trust. We will leave these writers and bloggers for a later blog post.

We'll start with the generalists, and then move on to the specialists:

Living With Parrots

Patricia Sund with two of her Congo African Grey parrots

Since we already quoted her, we'll start with Patricia Sund's Parrot Nation. Patricia Sund's blog encompasses the world of aviculture, and especially the part of the world in which she lives with three African grey parrots in her Florida home.

Shadow, Katherine Rawson's Nanday Conure

Katherine Rawson is a writer and blogger who lives with a Nanday conure, Shadow. Shadow's blog is The Parrot's Point of View. Katherine has published the picture book, If You Were a Parrot.

Betty Jean Craige's female Congo African Grey Cosmo

Betty Jean Craige is a professor at the University of Georgia who lives with a gregarious Congo African Grey parrot named Cosmo, who has published her own book, Conversations With Cosmo.

Rosie Red Bottom: A Comedian With Feathers

From Georgia we travel 6,000 miles across the continent to Alaska where a parrot writer named Donna Hart Mann lives with her Congo African Grey parrot named Rosie Red Bottom and a Cockatiel named Percy. Donna documents her life with Rosie and Percy in her blog African Grey Parrot. Donna recently published a book about Rosie, Rosie Red Bottom: A Comedian With Feathers.

Bryan Xie's Black Capped Conure Kacy

Even farther afield, we travel to Singapore where Bryan Xie lives with his three parrots, Kacy the Black Capped Conure, Kermit the Senegal, and Kiki, an African lovebird. Bryan blogs about life with his companion parrots, including their care and training, on his blog Bryan's Angels.

Coco, a cage free Yellow Crowned Amazon parrot

Robin Cherkas lives in Ashville, North Carolina where she writes the blog Living With Parrots Cage Free, documenting her life with her cage free Yellow Crowned Amazon parrot Coco. As Robin tells me, while she's touched on virtually every topic imaginable regarding parrots and parrot care, her blog's primary focus is simply living with a cage free parrot, the symbiotic relationship between parrot and companion, teaching both the parrot and companion behavior/life skills that promote this harmonious relationship and parrot empowerment.

Rebecca O'Connor with one of her flock mates

In addition to being a parrot person, Rebecca O'Connor is a conservationist, falconer, and writer who lives in Sacramento with her flock including Ty, an African Grey parrot, Bali, a Red-Bellied Parrot, Loki, a Senegal, as well as two falcons and a Brittany. Rebecca writes about her flock on her blog, Heckled by Parrots. Rebecca has documented her career in falconry in her recent memoir Lift: A Memoir. We await a sequel about her life with parrots!

No doubt we have overlooked many parrot bloggers. Please forward their names to us so they can be added. From the generalists we will turn to the specialists. A future blog post will focus on parrot writers blogging about parrot care, training, nutrition, and flying. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mr. Cracker's Song and Dance: An Update on Our Foster Ruby Macaw

Mr. Cracker is a thirtysomething presumed male Ruby macaw who came to us two months ago when his parront was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Cracker had lived with this person for nearly twenty-five years. When we brought him home he cried for two days. And then he pretty much shut up. It took him about six weeks to decide he wasn't going to starve to death after all, and stopped literally inhaling all the food we put in his food dish. He would even eat lettuce leaves. We've never known a parrot to eat lettuce! When Cracker came to us he had been subsisting on a diet of sunflower seeds and peanuts. We have no idea how long this condition existed, but Cracker was probably literally starving to death!

Cracker was the parrot's original name, but the previous parront renamed him Alexander, because he felt the name Cracker was undignified for a parrot. Even though he does say Alexander, Cracker immediately let us know that he prefers the name Cracker. It may be stupid, but it's still his name.

After two months with our flock, Mr. Cracker is finally letting his true personality show. He has developed a friendship for our male Blue and Gold macaw Aboo, and Cracker starts singing and dancing every time Aboo comes upstairs to join the flock. Aboo lives downstairs, because he can't live near a window. We managed to record some of the song and dance routines for YouTube. We present, in High Definition, Mr. Cracker's Song and Dance:

Except for letting us know virtually right away that he preferred the name Cracker, as we mentioned, Mr. Cracker pretty much shut up for about six weeks. This seems to have coincided with the time he still thought he might starve. But over the past two weeks he has started talking, singing, and dancing up a storm! For a summary of his original vocabulary, please refer to our previous blog post introducing Alexander/Cracker. Now we can barely keep up with the words and phrases we hear from him daily. He carries on a regular conversation that is still too garbled to us to understand. But besides his previous and current names, he says Come here, Food, Eat your food, What, What you doing, Parrot, I'm a parrot, Good bird, Bad bird, Hello, and Hello there. Recently, when we get ready to head out the door in the morning to go to work, he has started saying Bye Bye! He knows what Give a kiss means, and he freely blows air kisses.

When he came to us, his chest, back, legs, and shoulders were plucked bare. Apparently the plucking coincided with the previous owner falling seriously ill about six months previous to his joining our flock. This photo of Cracker devouring some corn on the cob shows just how bare his chest became:

We started Cracker on a daily course of organic red palm oil spread on toast which he devours, because of the positive reports we've read about plucking macaws treated with red palm oil. Of course there's no way to know absolutely whether a change in environment, a proper diet, the red palm oil, or a combination of the above contributed, but after two months we are seeing significant feather growth on Cracker's body, wings, and legs. Although we continue to find plucked feathers on the floor, the volume seems significantly reduced from when Cracker first came to us. The next photo shows the change over the past six weeks:

Needless to say, we're keeping our fingers crossed! Our next step to to address Cracker's socialization. Mr. Cracker still won't less us touch or handle him, but we are told his previous parront was able to step him up on his arm whenever he wasn't on his cage.

Mr. Cracker is still in need of a permanent Seattle area home, with someone who has macaw experience, and preferably already has macaws in their home. We think Mr. Cracker will do best living with other macaws. For more information about adopting Mr. Cracker, and other parrots in need of good new homes, please visit Northwest Parrots Fund.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Zen Parrot Daily

Try as we might, it's hard to keep up with all the Republican stupidity in today's world! Nazi cross-dressers. Witches. War criminals. Total bimbos! Did we mention lesbian themed bondage strip clubs? Our personal favorite. So we created our own Twitter newspaper, The Zen Parrot Daily to help us keep track of all the stupidity in the country and the world today. We follow scores of bloggers and websites so you don't need to! Each and every day a new edition is issued compiling the best work of all our favorite writers and bloggers, including such luminaries as Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Emperor Bob, Greenpeace, The Sierra Club, World Parrot Trust, Mira Tweeti, siouxeqq, Ariana Huffington, the POTUS himself, and many many more! You can receive these daily updates simply by subscribing to our Twitter feed, @The_Zen_Parrot.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mr. Cracker Needs a Good New Seattle Area Home

Little is known about Mr. Cracker except that he may very well be a wild-caught presumed male Ruby macaw (Greenwing/Scarlet mix) believed to be about 45 years old that has gone through about five homes in his life. By the looks of him, his father was a Greenwing macaw and his mother a Scarlet. Cracker has no leg band, and is old enough to be a wild-caught parrot.

Cracker lived with his latest parront and a flock of Cockatiels in Seattle for nearly twenty-five years, since about 1987. Over the past several months, Cracker's owner developed a serious medical condition and eventually could no longer care for the parrot. For a time Cracker apparently was subsisting on sunflower seeds and peanuts! Fortunately arrangements had already been made to place Cracker in a foster home when the owner was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. That person didn't like the name Cracker, so he renamed him Alexander.

Cracker is a big bird! He probably weighs close to three pounds. Our female Greenwing macaw Roxanne is small by comparison. Almost immediately, Cracker let us know that his name is Cracker! Not a great speaker, he does say Cracker, I'm Cracker, Hello, Hello There, Eat the Food, Piece of Cake, and Goodbye, among other words and phrases. He has one tune that he sings often, and he loves to hop and dance. He is a voracious eater, probably because of his situation prior to foster care, and loves his fruit and vegies. His owner told us he doesn't play with toys. Not true! He had one ratty old toy in his cage. He now has a big steel bell that he loves, as well as many chew toys that keep him occupied.

Cracker developed a serious plucking problem that coincided with his owner's illness. His chest, legs, and parts of his wings are virtually bare. We hope that the plucking did not progress so far as to be irreversible, and that as he settles into his new life his feathers will grow back.
Cracker is currently in the care of Northwest Parrots Fund until his condition can be assessed, his diet regulated, and his suitability for rehoming determined. Cracker appears to favor men rather than women, and clearly needs a home with someone who has macaw experience, and preferably other macaws in the household. Cracker's foster home includes a flock of four other macaws, and Cracker clearly is enamored of the female Greenwing macaw Roxanne as well as the male Blue and Gold macaw Aboo.

If interested in adopting Cracker, or to learn about other parrots currently available for adoption in the Pacific Northwest, or if you would like to join our parrot foster home network, please visit Northwest Parrots Fund. Northwest Parrots Fund is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity registered in the State of Washington.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Parrots, People, Food, and Music at Seattle's Ballard Farmers Market

Seattle's Ballard Sunday Farmers Market is one of the premiere farmers markets in the United States, and probably has the most European feel of any American farmers market. The atmosphere of the market along Seattle's historic Ballard Avenue brings back memories of our college days when for a short time we had the good fortune to live at the Hotel Victoria on Paris' Rue Mouffetard, the City of Light's oldest farmers market. Click here to see images of this historic street.

However, one of the things we frequently see at the Ballard Farmers Market that we never saw in Paris is parrots!

Our parrots love visiting the Ballard Farmers Market. Especially our two Blue and Gold macaws, Aboo and Miss Bubba Boy. Every Sunday when Bubba sees us putting the avian flyer harness on Aboo, she goes nuts, and climbs off of her stand and scurries across the kitchen floor heading for the door even before we can get to it! We're not sure what she loves most about the market, but hopefully this video will give you an idea of how much the parrots enjoy their outings to the market. The video also features our Greenwing macaw and Diva parrot Roxanne, as well as the Camelot macaw Maiya. Presented in High Definition:

For your viewing pleasure, we append our first two Parrots Days Out at the Ballard Farmers Market YouTube videos. The original video features our Greenwing macaw and Diva parrot Roxanne, as well as our two Blue and Gold macaws, Aboo and Miss Bubba Boy:

The second Another Parrots Day Out at the Ballard Farmers Market YouTube video, one of our first videos presented in High Definition, features our Greenwing macaw and Diva parrot Roxanne, and our Hyacinth macaw parrot, Princess Tara:

If you have any photos or video of your parrots at farmers markets, or encounters with others' parrots while visiting a farmers market, please send them to us. We'd love to see and share them!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Feeding Parrots The Twelve Dirtiest Fruits and Vegetables Which Should Only Be Purchased Organic

With farmers markets and produce stands overflowing with fresh fruit and vegetables here at the peak of summer, the temptation exists to grab the brightest and freshest fruits and vegetables to bring home to feed your parrots. But are all fruits and vegetables equally safe to feed to your parrots? Fortunately for parrot people and others, the Environmental Working Group produces a list of the twelve dirtiest fruits and vegetables to watch out for, fruits and vegetables that are most heavily impacted with pesticides and other contaminants. These are fruits and vegetables that should only be purchased organic, or simply avoided:

Along with the list of the twelve dirtiest fruits and vegetables, the Environmental Working Group also provides a list of the fifteen cleanest fruits and vegetables, that are safe to consume even if not organic.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Feeding Parrots

What goes better with a movie than popcorn?
Especially if you're watching Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill!

We are pleased to introduce our latest YouTube video series, Feeding Parrots. Parrot owners know that parrots can be finicky eaters. Are you wondering what to feed your parrots for dinner? Some parrots have a choice between Mash and More Mash! Are your parrots literally fed up with Mash? Feed them some real food! Here's a tasty recipe for spicy Mexican rice and black bean burritos with peanut butter sauce. The best part is: There's absolutely no cooking and minimal preparation required! And the burritos are so tasty you can finish off any leftovers yourself! Presented in High Definition, Cooking for Parrots:

To eliminate the need to search YouTube for our other Feeding Parrots videos, we are pleased to append them here. Here's an idea for an easy to fix and nutritious parrot meal. Presented in High Definition, Feeding Parrots: Sunday Dinner:

And how about a meal suggestion for a weekend parrot treat? Here's our original Feeding Parrots video, Feeding Parrots: Sunday Brunch:

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

One Picture is Worth One Thousand Criminal Indictments!

Eleven oil rig workers killed. A way of life and an entire culture put at risk. An entire ecosystem despoiled. It's time to enact the corporate death penalty for BP America! The United States government needs to place the corporation into receivership and assume management of its assets.

For ourselves, we plan to boycott BP America and all its subsidiaries, including:

Travel Centre
BP Connect
BP Express
BP Shop
BP 2go
Wild Bean Cafe
Air BP and BP Shipping

If anyone knows of any other BP subsidiaries, please let us know so we can add them to the list.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Yet Another Talented Parrot

We are familiar with literate African grey parrots and macaws that can talk up a storm, or even carry a tune, such as our own Greenwing macaw and Diva parrot Roxanne. There are many fine videos on YouTube featuring talking African greys and dancing Cockatoos. But few of them can hold a candle to a recent vocal discovery.

A longtime friend of ours is the proud parront of a male Eclectus parrot named Sam I Am (or Sammy for short). So we've known Sammy for years. Recently, Sammy's parront had to undergo hip replacement surgery, so we ended up taking Sammy into our flock for a nearly six week stay. We knew Sammy could talk. We were astounded to discover Sammy's musical talent. Apparently Sammy likes to listen to jazz music, and is particularly fond of horns.

It is a singular thrill to discover an unparalleled singing sensation. All the more sensational when that talent is a parrot! It is with great pleasure that we present Sam I Am's YouTube debut:

We are additionally happy that Sam I Am's YouTube debut is also our latest YouTube video to reach 1,000 views! American Idol here we come.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Wild Parrots of Seattle

A Pair of Mitred Conures in Golden Gardens Park, Photographed January 10, 2010

We have lived in the Ballard neighborhood of North Seattle since 1999. We knew about the wild parrots in Seward Park (see below), but after moving to Ballard we starting hearing that there was a flock of wild parrots in this neighborhood. Unfortunately the only locations we could ever get were really vague, and not very useful as a starting point in trying to locate the parrots. After about ten years of hearing about these parrots we were starting to think they were just an urban myth.

But recently, our local neighborhood newspaper,
The Ballard News-Tribune, published a photo of the parrots, taken January 10, 2010, at Golden Gardens Park:

The parrots look to be Mitred conures, same as the conures of Seward Park across the city on Lake Washington. We would guess that the Sunset Hill parrots are an independent flock because of the distance to Seward Park on Lake Washington, but we suppose it wouldn't be impossible for the parrots to forage that distance.

After the photo was published in the Ballard newspaper, we started hearing from people who live in the vicinity of Golden Gardens who have seen the parrots, and who were able to provide an actual location to see the parrots. According to this information, the best location to see the parrots is the top of the gully above Golden Gardens Park, west of 29th Avenue NW near NW 85th Street:

From the aerial map, it looks like Edgewest Drive NW may be the best access to the area. But at least it gives us a place to start looking.

This is earlier information from May of 2009 posted about the wild parrots of Seward Park:

Columbia Citizens neighborhood blog has recently posted updates on the wild conures of Seattle's Seward Park, in the neighborhood of 49th Avenue and Hudson Street. Photos of the parrots taken May 19 and May 20 can be seen on the blog post by going to the following link:

According to one local resident: In years past, maybe ten or twelve years ago, we counted fourteen parrots at one time. More recently the numbers seem to be dwindling…these days we see three or four maybe in our neck of the woods—43rd Avenue and Ferdinand Street. I was told they've been around for a long time and originated with a bird (or two) flying out of someone's open window.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Northwest Parrots Fund

Miguel & Nino are a bonded pair of macaws
that found a permanent home at Zazu's House
Parrot Sanctuary when their owner
experienced a medical emergency.

We are thrilled to announce the establishment of Northwest Parrots Fund, a nonprofit charity registered in the State of Washington, and recognized as a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity by the Internal Revenue Service.

We have been involved with parrot rescue and rehoming for several years Once we got our first parrot in 1999, people started giving us parrots because they could no longer care for them. We have fostered and rehomed just about every kind of parrot from budgie to macaw. Several that we couldn't find good new homes for we ended up adopting ourselves, so we now have a flock of seven parrots, including four macaws, two African greys, and a Goffin's cockatoo.

There is a pet parrot overpopulation problem, and the problem is just going to get worse. With estimates of twenty to forty million parrots in American homes, parrots rank behind only dogs and cats in popularity as pets Yet while dogs and cats have been domesticated for thousands of years, parrots are only two or three generations removed from the wilderness, if even that. Because of the difficulty of caring for parrots, a true flock animal, unlike dogs or cats, current research suggests that parrots experience six or seven homes just within the first ten years of their lives! Parrots are essentially wild animals! Further complicating the situation, dogs and cats live fifteen or twenty years. Parrots can live a human lifespan. Pet parrots often outlive their owners. This problem will intensify as the Baby Boomer generation slides into retirement.

We decided to formalize our rescue efforts and work toward establishing a 501(c)3 parrot rescue and sanctuary. We've taken the first step of registering Northwest Parrots Fund as a nonprofit charity with the State of Washington, and are in the process of formalizing the 501(c)3 paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service. We have a founding board of five members including Betsy Lott of Mollywood, and Donna Burleigh of S & D Exotic Bird Rescue in Oregon. Recently, Christy Hensrude of Zazu's House Parrot Sanctuary in Woodinville, Washington graciously agreed to join the board.

We have also established a website where you can find more information about Northwest Parrots Fund, and read about its mission in detail, as well as donate to the effort if you so choose:

Please visit our website and let us know what you think about our effort.

Nino, the Blue & Gold Macaw, and Miguel, the Scarlet Macaw

Our Greenwing Macaw and Diva Parrot Roxanne's Newest Music Video: Roxanne

Our Greenwing macaw and Diva parrot Roxanne can sing two songs, recognizably well. The first is You Are My Sunshine, Gene Autry's 1940 hit song. The second is Roxanne's namesake song, Roxanne, by The Police. We earlier produced a YouTube video of Roxanne singing You Are My Sunshine, accompanied by the late great Gene Autry. We have now managed to record Roxanne singing Roxanne, so we paired her vocals with The Police. We present: Roxanne, singing Roxanne:

For your added musical enjoyment, we also present Roxanne's original music video, You Are My Sunshine, featuring the late great Gene Autry:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Modest Proposal Regarding Rehoming Fees for Parrots

Anyone who has checked out Craigslist lately, let alone the classified ads in your local paper, has noticed the ridiculously high sales costs masquerading as rehoming fees. Sometimes in the four digits! Or a new twist: The parrot is free, but the parrot's cage has to be purchased. Usually the justification for the high fees is that the parrot's owner wants to ensure that the parrot ends up in a responsible home, i.e., one that can afford the ridiculously high rehoming fee. More likely the parrot owner is simply trying to recoup the original cost of the parrot.

We have a suggestion for parrot owners wishing to rehome their parrots, for whatever reason, if they truly are concerned about the future welfare of their parrot. Go ahead and ask for a reasonable rehoming fee. But donate the fee to an avian veterinarian in the area where the parrot is relocated as a deposit for future veterinary assistance. If a parrot owner is truly concerned about the future welfare of their parrot, then they will want to ensure that the parrot has access to the veterinary assistance it will inevitably need. We believe this may be a simple way to help stop the cycle of frequently rehoming pet parrots, parrots that, according to studies reported by Mira Tweti in her new book Of Parrots and People, face relocating to new homes six or seven times just during the first ten years of their lives.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Training Your Parrot to Play With Cheap Toys: Paper Rolls

Our latest Training Your Parrot YouTube video features our Diva Parrot and Greenwing macaw Roxanne demonstrating a parrot playing with paper rolls, aka cash register tape. This YouTube video features outtakes from Roxanne's Parrot Soliloquy YouTube videos, so you'll hear the sound of the laundry room dryer in the background:

Just a word of caution: There are many kinds of paper rolls available. If you do use cash register tape, be sure to use Non-Thermal paper.

For viewers convenience, we are adding our earlier Training Your Parrot to Play With Cheap Toys YouTube videos following, starting with cardboard boxes:

As well as paper bags:

And our first and still most popular Training Your Parrot to Play With Cheap Toys YouTube video, featuring our Timneh African grey parrot Tillie playing with bottle caps:

Enjoy! We're always happy to hear about any suggestions for cheap parrot toys for future YouTube videos.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Proud to Be Canadian!

Especially since Team Canada whupped Team USA for the hockey Gold (once again)!

And Canada still has universal health care!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Our Greenwing Macaw and Diva Parrot Roxanne's American Idol Audition Tape

Our Greenwing macaw and Diva parrot Roxanne has developed a terrific singing voice over time. Like most, at the beginning she couldn't sing a note for the life of her, but she's developed a melodious voice. The difficulty has been recording it, because once the camera comes out she tends to clam up.

We've discovered that Roxanne tends to be particularly motivated to vocalize as well as sing when the laundry is running. So we've developed a trick of hiding the camera when we're doing laundry. Roxanne has two favorite songs: Roxanne by The Police, of course! She was named after that song. And You Are My Sunshine. We've had the good fortune of capturing snippets of both songs with our video recorder. We were particularly fortunate with You Are My Sunshine, because we caught Roxanne singing it to the dryer, which is noticably quieter than the washer. Mostly, Roxanne sings when the washing machine is running.

So, we're pleased to present Roxanne's American Idol audition tape, featuring a duet with the late great Gene Autry:

We think it's particularly fortunate to pair Roxanne with Gene Autry because we were interested to discover that it was Gene Autry who popularized the old Jimmie Davis tune in 1940! Additionally, Gene Autry is one of our all time favorite singers, and we have fond memories of watching Gene Autry, along with Roy Rogers, on the old Autry/Rogers Ranch show following school every day way back when!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Our Flock: Our Congo African Grey Parrot Arua

A fascinating aspect of having African grey parrots in the household is the ubiquitous background noise they provide. Unlike macaws or even cockatoos they always seem to be vocalizing. Anyone with an African grey parrot probably doesn't realize how much they enjoy the constant noise until they lose it. When our first Congo African grey parrot Corky died from heart failure in March of 2006 we faced the sudden quiet in the household, even with four macaws and a Goffin's cockatoo. We knew we wanted another Congo African grey.

Within a month we came across an unusual Craigslist posting for a female Congo African grey parrot which had lost its owner and needed to find a good new home quickly. The parrot was hiding in an apartment complex hoping the management wouldn't find out. We went to visit the parrot in its hideout, and it was love at first sight! The parrot came home with us.

Our Congo African grey parrot Arua, her first day home with us, April 2, 2006.

Arua is a confirmed female Congo African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus). Arua is a very large grey. The average weight for an adult Congo African grey is 400 grams. On her first visit to our avian veterinarian, Arua weighed in at about 480 grams. On first seeing her, our vet called Arua a fatty!

When we acquired Arua, she was believed to be about ten years old. Her owner was a Polish fellow living in Spokane, who passed away on New Year's Eve of 2005. Apparently he was not found for three days. We believe his name may have been Oliver, because that is a name Arua frequently repeated when she came to us (she never says the name any more). A Polish lady in Everett, Washington, brought the bird back from Spokane, and that is how she came to us, via Craigslist. In her first year or so with us Arua said many words we did not understand but which we believe were Polish. It's been awhile since she's repeated any foreign words. The only reason we know Arua is her name is because she constantly and consistently calls herself by that name.

Just hanging out. Arua is one acrobatic parrot!

Arua is our one parrot that not only knows her name, but knows the name of every member of the flock in this household, parrot or human. She says: Hi Hope. It took her awhile to get Michael correct. For the longest time it was Ickle! She knows Rox or Roxanne, Bubba, Boo (Aboo), Tara, and Tillie. The only parrot whose name she refuses to say is that of our Goffin's cockatoo Kid Kadra. She does not like Kid, who harasses her given the chance, and she ignore's him.

Arua tolerating a bath. Arua does not like showers, but prefers to bathe in her water dish.

Arua is one of the friendliest Congo African grey parrots we've encountered. Although she has a slight disposition for females over males, she will readily step up with just about anyone. Since she joined our flock she has developed her flying skills. Our first Congo African grey parrot Corky flew like a lead brick, but not Arua. Arua's flight feathers were clipped when she first came to us, but we let her flight feathers grow out, and her flying skills have improved from her first noticeably labored attempts to now being a competent flier. No doubt she has been encouraged to improve her flying skills because of the aerial harassment she gets from our Goffin's cockatoo, Kid Kadra. Initially if Arua wanted to get anywhere in the house she'd climb off her cage and trudge across the floor. She still hikes around, but now she's just as inclined to fly to her desired destination as walk.

In addition to her usual African grey vocalizations, Arua has a well defined speaking voice. We no longer hear any Polish words, but she continually speaks and continues to pick up English words and phrases. Interestingly, she tends to pick up words and phrases from the male of the house, but virtually nothing from the female of the house. I taught her to say Michael correctly, and I'm trying to teach her to say Don't break the door! That was a phrase our first Congo African grey Corky favored. Just like Corky, Arua will slam her cage door closed, at which time we say Don't break the door! A couple of Arua's favorite phrases are: Whacka Whacka, and Whoop De Doo! When she wants something to eat, she'll say: Who wants a cracker? If she wants more food, she'll say: You want more? She'll let us know if the food is Hot! Arua is a hard taskmaster. If she thinks a meal is taking too long to prepare, she'll scold: Are you done yet? She's always warning us to: Watch your tail! Or Watch your toe! Since our Timneh African grey parrot Tillie joined our flock, she's constantly admonishing us to Watch our Tillie! She likes Tillie. Alot.Sometimes she threatens us by exclaiming: I'll get your tail! When we make coffee, she offers the helpful suggestion: Add more water. Of course, she farts and burbs, occasionally comes down with a bad cough, and has a sneeze so fierce it's a wonder she doesn't fall off her perch. She's often wrestling with her toys, hanging upside down and whacking her bells. We warn her to be careful or she'll fall down and go boom. Sometimes she does. Invariably, she'll pick herself up, climb back up, and go right back to it.