Sunday, July 24, 2011

Do Parrots Dream?

We were jolted awake this morning at about 5:30 am with the sound of a humongous thump, followed by the furious flapping of wings. Just getting light enough to see, we scrambled out of bed to check all the parrot cages to see which parrot fell off its perch. We found our female Blue and Gold macaw Miss Bubba Boy clinging to the side of her cage, quite agitated and somewhat disoriented. We suspect that a bad dream caused her to fall off of her perch.

Our female Blue and Gold macaw Miss Bubba Boy enjoying apple cider at the
Ballard Farmers Market.

Which got us thinking while we were trying to fall back to sleep (just who wants to get up at 5:30 am on a Sunday, really!). Do parrots dream?

It is pretty well established that parrots are capable of cognitive reasoning. Parrots can carry out actions purposefully, and they are capable of quite sophisticated problem solving. So it would not be any surprise to us that parrots dream and even suffer nightmares.

Although the episode this morning was a first for our female Blue and Gold macaw, this was not the only time we've been jolted out of bed in the dead of night by one of the parrots falling off its perch. Of our eight parrots, three have experienced falling off their perches during the night. Other than Miss Bubba Boy, our Greenwing macaw and Diva parrot Roxanne,

Our Greenwing macaw and Diva parrot Roxanne, named for the song.

as well as our female Congo African grey parrot Arua, have fallen off their perches during the night on multiple occasions.

Our female Congo African grey parrot Arua, just hanging out!

We wonder if birds with greater brain power such as African greys are more prone to dreaming than other birds? We have thought that possibly the parrots were startled during the night by some sound coming from outside the house which may have caused them to fall of their perches. But in at least two cases we can recall, we were wide awake in the night when the falling episode occurred, so we can rule out external causes.

Other times we'll be lying awake in the dark of night and hear one of the parrots start to vocalize. Our male Blue and Gold macaw Aboo will softly start speaking to himself, in a voice barely audible.

Our male Blue and Gold macaw Aboo playing with our Hyacinth macaw Princess Tara.

Is he talking in his sleep. We'll hear our foster Ruby macaw Mr. Cracker laughing out loud in the middle of the night. Is he reliving a prior event in his dreams. Old enough to be a possibly wild-caught macaw, we wonder if he's dreaming of his life before? Mr. Cracker will also on occasion start up a conversation with himself.

Our foster Ruby macaw Mr. Cracker is old enough to be a wild-caught macaw.

And then there was the night we were awakened by our female Blue and Gold macaw Miss Bubba Boy laughing maniacally in the dead of night as if she were an ax murderer ready to commit a crime. Needless to say, we didn't get out of bed!

So, what do you think? Do parrots dream? We think so. And unfortunately experience nightmares as well. If you have any experiences with your parrots dreaming, please share them with us.

Monday, July 18, 2011

We're Having a Contest. Our First Ever!

Here's your chance to win fame and fortune! Well, at least fame anyway. And some nifty prizes. We're looking to update our logo for the Parrot Wranglers trade association: the International Parrot Wranglers Association. Oh, and the winner will receive an honorary lifetime membership in the International Parrot Wranglers Association. Not a parrot wrangler? Not to worry. We'll make you an honorary Parrot Wrangler. We just need your graphic arts expertise.

Wait, there's more! The winner will also receive a couple of embroidered shirts from Seattle's Parrot Cafe, as well as one of our new caps:

A Parrot Cafe tee-shirt from Seattle's original Parrot Cafe
(size Large only, various colors)

One of our new tee-shirts
(size Large only, color Stone)

And last, but not least,
One of our new TheParrot caps
(one size fits all, color Khaki)

So here's the contest details: We need you to start with this photo of the International Parrot Wranglers Association mascot, our male Blue and Gold macaw Aboo. Aboo is a cowboy in every sense of the word, and a perfect parrot to serve as spokesparrot for the International Parrot Wranglers Association and model for our new logo.

Just right-click on the image to download a copy of the photo, or message us and we'll email you a jpeg format copy.

The new logo for the International Parrot Wranglers Association needs three elements added:

A Cowboy Hat!

A Lariat!

And Every Modern Cowboy Needs a Pair of Sunglasses!

Of course, these are just examples. We know that you can come up with better artwork, and the winning entry will be the one that utilizes the three elements on our spokesparrot in the most creative fashion.

The completed entry must be submitted in a jpeg format file. Of course, all entries become the property of the International Parrot Wranglers Association and The Zen Parrot. We don't know when the winner will be declared, but we'll know the winning entry when we see it. And then we'll declare a winner.

Good Luck! And Happy Trails!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Seattle Method Cold-Brew Iced Coffee

We don't have a lot of reason to drink iced coffee here in Seattle. Today in mid-July we're lucky to hit 70 degrees! But on those few odd days when it actually does get warm here (say 80 or so) we like to switch from hot coffee to a substantial glass of really good iced coffee. There's more to iced coffee than just pouring brewed coffee over ice. All you get is a glass of lukewarm diluted coffee. See our earlier blog post for various iced coffee methods we like. Most are easy, and some are even quick.

Over the years here in Seattle we have developed our own cold-brew iced coffee method, which we have given the innovative name Seattle Method Cold-Brew Iced Coffee! This method is simple, although not quick. Try it out, and we guarantee you'll experience the smoothest and creamiest coffee drink you'll ever make yourself!

Coffee, iced or hot, has two primary ingredients: Coffee and Water. Use low quality coffee or poor water and you will invariably end up with undrinkable coffee. We recommend you start with with 100% Arabica coffee beans, such as the Triple Certified Organic, Shade Grown, Fair Trade coffee we offer online under our own label at

Additionally, unless you live somewhere like Seattle or Anchorage with exceptionally fine tap water, use filtered water. Remember, coffee is ninety percent water!

We use a twelve (12) ounce Bodum press (also known as a French Press) for making our Seattle Method Cold-Brew Coffee. Perfect for one or two people. To serve more people, or for making a larger supply of iced coffee, just use a bigger pot. Be sure to adjust the amount of ground coffee accordingly. If you don't have a Bodum press, any kind of glass container will do. You will just need to use filters to separate the brewed coffee from the grounds.

We use whole bean coffee, which we prefer to grind ourselves. Whole beans store longer than ground. Much longer! Grind the coffee coarse for a Bodum pot. If you use a filter system, grind medium-coarse. We recommend four (4) ounces of coffee per each twelve ounces of water.

But the grounds in the Bodum press, or other glass container. Add water. Simple. Then just wait. At least eight (8) hours. We generally prepare the coffee just before bed, and let it sit overnight on the kitchen counter. No need to refrigerate. It's not going to spoil. Plus, the ice will cool it off! Be sure to energetically stir the coffee into the water, or you'll just have a clump of wet coffee grounds sitting on the top of the pot in the morning! If you're using a Bodum press, leave the plunger off the press for the night.

In the morning, you'll find a thick crust of coffee grounds on top of the pot which you can almost cut with a knife. Once again, energetically stir the pot. You will magically see an eye pleasing and mouth watering Crema develop on the top of the pot, just as if you were pulling a shot of espresso. Be sure to thank the heavens. This is where the flavor of the coffee resides!

Now place the cover on the Bodum pot and push the plunger down as far as it will go. Or if you're using some other glass container, filter the coffee to separate the grounds.

You will end up with the equivalent of four shots of espresso. Only with twice the caffeine. A little known fact regarding espresso coffee: the steam extraction method utilized by the espresso machine only captures about half the caffeine in a regular cup of joe! Four shots of coffee; enough for a couple of glasses of iced coffee (unless you like it really, really strong). And about the grounds. Don't just throw the coffee grounds in the trash. Coffee grounds are one of the best sources of nitrogen for plants that there is. Dig the grounds into your garden and flower beds, Best fertilizer that you don't have to pay for (since you already paid for it)! And that's another reason to use organic coffee.

You can serve the coffee either hot or iced. If hot, just add the desired amount of water. If iced, just add ice! No need to add extra water. Unless you like whimpy coffee.

Add the coffee!

Top it off with the flavoring of your choice! You can use syrups or milk. We're partial to organic soy milk.

Kick back. And enjoy!
Let us know if this isn't the finest iced coffee you've ever tried.