Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bathing Your Parrots

Our female Congo African grey parrot Arua loves to bathe in her water dish. Taking a shower? Not so much.

Some parrots love to bathe. Some parrots would rather not. Bathing is an essential part of feather care and maintenance. Most parrots and other birds naturally take to the water to bathe. Just try keeping your outside bird bath full during those hot summer days! Some parrots are highly particularly about how they bathe. Other parrots are not. Be thankful if you have a parrot that belongs to the latter category. If the former category, just keep plenty of towels and wipes handy. It's another problem entirely if you have a parrot that refuses to bathe. Then you'll need to experiment with different solutions to try to encourage the parrot to dip its toes in the water.

Of our eight parrots, four of our five macaws love to take showers with us, perched on our hands and arms in the bathtub. Our foster Ruby macaw Mr. Cracker probably would as well, if we could get him to step up. Instead, he prefers to bathe in his water dish. Somewhat modest, he doesn't like people watching him bathe, so if we're in the room when he wants to take a bath, he'll politely pipe up with a Bye, Bye, until we get the message, and leave the room.

Our male Goffin's cockatoo Kid Kadra loves to bathe and would probably take a bath daily if we were up to it. His preference is a spray bottle on the shower rail in the bathroom. Barring that, he'll sit on the shower rail and bathe in the spray of the macaws taking showers.

As our male Goffin's cockatoo Kid Kadra demonstrates, sometimes a bath just needs the right soundtrack! If a shower is not in the offing, maybe a parrot just needs to settle for a soak in the nearest tub, or water dish, especially on those hot summer days:

Our female Timneh African grey parrot Tillie will tolerate a spray bottle on the shower rail. Usually she'd rather not. On those occasions that Tillie will take a bath, she can get quite animated:

On those rare occasions when Tillie really really wants to bathe, no parrot enjoys a bath as much as she does!

For sheer entertainment value, we can't beat our female Congo African grey parrot Arua. Arua loves to bathe. But in her water dish, not the shower. She's very large for an African grey. Our avian vet Tracy Bennett called her fat the very first time she met Arua, but that's another story entirely. Plus, her water dish is very small. A Number 1 Fenix crock. That's a lot of parrot in a confined space. Much water displacement:

We've tried putting out large water dishes and trays for her to bathe in. She ignores them. So now, when she jumps into her water dish, we just lay out the towels along the side of her cage.

If you have a parrot resistant to taking a bathe, two things you can try. If you can take a cage outside on the porch or in the yard on a warm day, let a hose spray across part of the cage, but leave room for the parrot to retreat to if the bird doesn't want to get wet, or wants to get out of the water. If you're not able to take the parrot outside, get a parrot perch for your shower, and let the shower flow over part of the perch so the parrot can choose to take a dip or not. Just keep trying different methods until you find one that works for your parrot.

Of course, some of our parrots will tell you that the best part of any shower is the blow dry following the shower!

Our male Blue and Gold macaw Aboo is a cowboy when it comes to taking baths. He'd rather not, until he becomes so gamey even he can't stand it. But the blow dry? Just loves it!

Happy Bathing!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Perfect Iced Coffee to Cool off Summer

Summer is here, almost (except maybe here in Seattle). What better way to cool off than with a perfect glass of iced coffee? Iced coffee is not just a simple matter of plopping some ice cubes in your coffee cup. If you do that, you'll just end up with tasteless diluted coffee. Yuck!

There are probably as many recipes for iced coffee as there are coffee traditions. Here are a few of our favorites. With a little effort you can create a great glass of satisfying iced coffee!

For traditional iced coffee, how about a recipe for Perfect Iced Coffee? The obvious drawback to this recipe is the requirement to allow the coffee to steep for a minimum of eight hours. If it's hot and you're thirsty, who wants to wait eight hours? But if you can wait, this is a good basic recipe. Best to make before bed and let steep overnight so it's ready first thing in the morning!

For quick and fresh iced coffee, nothing beats the Japanese Iced Coffee Method. Instead of keeping cold-brewed coffee sitting and oxidizing in your fridge, the Japanese Iced Coffee Method brews each cup fresh.

A variation is the Steep and Strain Method, also known as New Orleans Iced Coffee. The secret to New Orleans Iced Coffee is a coffee concentrate made by steeping coffee grounds in cold water. Again, the drawback is the requirement to let the coffee concentrate steep overnight.

If you're feeling adventuresome, try some iced coffee that is flavored and spicy. We like Thai Iced Coffee, which has cardamom infused into half and half. This may be a stronger iced coffee than many Americans are used to. But hey, life is short!

We think that vanilla and coffee go together like Laurel and Hardy. For a great flavored iced coffee, here's a recipe for Vanilla Iced Coffee.

So you've got a perfect glass of iced coffee. What could make it better? Well, there's homemade Coffee Ice Cream!

So there you have it! Our suggestions for beating the heat this summer. Or just drinking damn fine iced coffee. If you have any regional or national recipes for perfect iced coffee, please let us know. We'd love to try it out as well.

Our final suggestion for making that perfect glass of iced coffee: Forget the Folgers, or even the Starbucks. Start with a really fine coffee, such as the Triple Certified Organic Shade Grown Fair Trade Peruvian Rainforest Coffee that we sell at The Parrot Cafe. Additionally, use fine water as well, not just regular tap water unless you live somewhere like Seattle, which is blessed with exceptional tap water. Think about it. Coffee is ninety percent water, so if you use poor water you'll end up with a poor coffee drink. Use a filter if you can.

Monday, June 13, 2011

How Does Your Parrot Communicate With You?

How do you communicate with your parrot? More importantly, how does your parrot communicate with you? How does your parrot for example, tell you when he or she is hungry or thirsty? With our parrots it's simple. They tell us. In plain English! At least some of them do.

When our female Congo African grey parrot Arua wants food she tells us: Apple. This is actually a change from her original word for food: Hot. So when it comes dinner time she starts asking for Apple. And when we give her her food dish, she confirms that it is in fact Apple. Of course Apple, or even Hot, is certainly better than the extreme pressure that she used to put on us when we were fixing birdie meals, when she would  insistently repeat: You Done Yet?

Our male Blue and Gold macaw Aboo draws a distinction between people food and parrot food. When he wants people food Aboo says: Hot. When Aboo wants parrot food he says: Crack. Presumably Crack is short for cracker, and not the other thing. But Aboo is a rescue bird, so no telling! When Aboo is thirsty, he occasionally says: Water.

Our female Blue and Gold macaw Bubba Boy (no, we didn't name her) also tends to say Hot when she wants to be fed. Makes us curious if they learned this word independently of each other, or learned it from each other. We're pretty sure Aboo started saying Hot when asking for food before the others picked it up.

Sometimes but not always, our foster Ruby macaw Mr. Cracker simply says: Food when he wants food. No mistaking his meaning there. Mostly when he's hungry he dances for his food. If he's really hungry he starts whacking his treat box.

Since we originally posted this story, Mr. Cracker has come up with a new phrase we've never heard before, and almost a complete sentence by macaw standards. We like to sleep in on weekends. One Saturday morning recently we awoke to Mr. Cracker calling out several times: Cracker. Food. Come here! Nothing like waking up to a demanding macaw.

A lady of few words, our Hyacinth macaw Princess Tara will on a rare occasion say Water when asking to drink water from the kitchen faucet. We all know that the best water in the house comes from the kitchen faucet! When she's hungry and wants to be fed she just starts honking, and anyone who's been around a honking Hyacinth macaw knows how ear-splitting that can be!

So that's five out of eight parrots in our flock that can actually ask for food or water by simply asking for food or water! So how about you? How do your parrots communicate to you that they are hungry or thirsty? Or any of their other needs and desires. Both of our Blue and Gold macaws for example, say Let Out, or Let Me Out when they want out of their cages.

Of course we're partial to our littlest parrot, our female Timneh African grey Tillie. When she wants our attention she doesn't scream or honk. She just pipes up in the sweetest little voice and says: Hi Sweetie! It's Me!